Forsaken Character Chronicles Book 1:
Chapter 4: Rejection
It was a very curious thing, this diary. It had many, many entries from cover to cover and all were, to a degree, very succinct in nature. They were designed, in essence,to contain only what the original writer would need to recall the memory. Nothing more. Just like any other diary.
However, there was a little something off about it. It wasn't the fact that incantations—however nonsensical they were—nor the conversational tone that my mother wrote in. It was the fact that, whatever I read, no matter what it was, always felt so very real. Each entry had a presence that projected from the memory on the page right into my mind. It was almost like being there. I thought for a moment that mom would have made quite the author if she knew how to write like this.
Regardless, I walked home steadily from school. The autumn wind lapped playfully at the pages as I braced them with my fingers.
May 25, 20XX
It was another sunny day. Despite how normal this was for a semi-summer's day, given what's happened recently, I shouldn't have been surprised something attacked. Unfortunately, I was...
"So, when you add the pesto to the red-bean paste, you have to—have to—let it bubble on the stove for a little bit. That allows the sauces to meld properly..."
Two girls walked down a suburban sidewalk, chatting up a storm. The former, a shorter, younger, chestnut-haired one, listened almost fitfully at the description of the food entree that was being detailed. The girl—Yuzu, her name—was enjoying the chatter of her older, bustier, and taller companion. This was certainly better than the alternative of focusing on the bad mental images that come with the blow-by-blow instructions on how to make wasabi-laced ravioli with a red bean basil sauce.
It turns out that the older girl—Orihime—was quite content on keeping up conversation. As sister to one of her closest friends and a fellow household cook, Yuzu was regarded as a cross between a protege in cooking and a younger sister. Secretly, however, Yuzu reserved Orihime's recipes for references on what NOT the combine together. Nevertheless, the two enjoyed the conversation/humorous culinary debate as the older led the younger home.
"Orihime was my guard today. Every time she goes on a culinary tangent (this time it was some sort of spicy ravioli with a red-bean herb sauce thing), I have to hope that I never EVER pick up any ideas in weird food combos. Karin would beat me so fast if I even tried it..."
I blanched at the thought of the meaty, spicy, cheesy pasta with the herby, sweet pasty sauce on the top. The horror. I wonder what other things Ms. Orihime came up with back then.
As I thought, two noises knocked me out of my own head. One was a voice, the other a car horn.
"ANZU! Look out!"
I stopped suddenly, my swinging arm not six inches from the car door. I found myself looking at the visage of the driver, an older businessman who now looked as if I spat on his shoes. He sped off in a huff as I turned to face the voice that called me.
A little girl about my age with shoulder-length black hair came running toward me. Usually she has practice at the jiujitsu club at school, but I suppose today was different—apparent by the fact that I'm not a smear on the road right now. She lives next door to me and is a common presence at my house. We read, play games (video, board, card, or otherwise), chat and/or do homework, not necessarily in that order. However, recently, Ofuda Nagiko has been practicing on me the moves she learned during practice.
"Geez, you idiot! You think you can look up every once in a while? The guy almost made you into an apricot pancake!" Nagiko said, half-angrily, but with the undertone of teasing that childhood friends do.
"An Anzu pancake, huh? Very cute," I stated dryly at her bad joke, looking unblinking into her eyes, sparking the staring contest typical of us. This descended into a bout of laughter. I never really knew why the staring contests of ours were so hilarious. They just were.
"So..." she trailed, punctuating her beginning statement with a punch to my arm, "what had you so distracted anyway?"
"Oh, just my mom's diary," I said simply, "Don't worry. She gave me permission to read it this time," I added blandly as she administered the raised-eyebrow-of-disapproval. I explained what I just read and described Ms. Orihime's knack for the unknown food combination and Nagiko's face steadily twisted to that of slight disgust.
"Well, I was gonna ask if you wanted to hit that one ramen place, but I seem to have lost my appetite somewhat," she said with a slightly miffed expression. This was met with a laugh from me.
We have a bit of a ritual in place about walking home. After we've done what we've needed to do (i.e. eat out, get supplies, shop around, etc.), Nagiko demands to be escorted home. This is never a problem, seeing as, again, we live right next to each other, but there is an almost scripted chain of events by which I ask something to the effect of "Do I have to?" Unfortunately, since the start of last year and therefore the start of middle school and the start of Nagi's training in jiujitsu, this custom was disrupted. Since, apparently, club broke early and we're walking home, I assume she couldn't resist.
"I hereby demand, as reparation for your grievous destruction of my appetite, that you escort me home," she said in her typical haughty manner.
"Now why would I go and do that?"
"Because," she pouted, turning about from her overly regal tone, "you wouldn't leave little ol' me walking by myself, would you?"
Expecting her to follow, I started walking. "First of all, you live next door. Have been about as long as I could remember. Even if I wasn't, if you were to 'walk by yourself'', you would have to take the long way home." I turned toward where she was walking next to me as my face turned dry once more. "Second of all, you lost the right to pull the "poor-ol'-me" act when you held me up in one of those joint lock thingies."
She laughed. We walked. We chatted for a spell, but we ended up opening the book and reading some more.
The peace simply didn't last. It was expected. Ever since Ichigo and the others managed to rescue Orihime from the clutches of the hollows within Hueco Mundo, the frequency of attacks upon Karakura Town have increased dramatically. It was as if the hollows were attempting to gain a semblance of vengeance for the powerful Espada that the group managed to defeat. Though, by the Hollow's very nature, that was an impossibility. Regardless, the hollows were emerging to attack the targets with a high enough spiritual signature to detect—dormant or not. This made a two-fold threat: a threat for the defenseless who would not be able to detect their violent deaths at the hands of the spirit monsters and a threat to those whose powers have just recently manifested—people such as Yuzu.
At this very moment, one hollow was staring down both Orihime and Yuzu, the former ready to launch her weapon, the Shun Shun Rikka, into action.
The hollow in question looked like a grotesque amalgam of a rattlesnake and a beast that would be usually found in the Jurassic era. The head of the snake-beast was adorned with a fist-sized, rough-cut jewel the color of dried blood and the eyes of the serpent were piercing, but had the feel of being absolutely devoid of anything that you would see in the eyes of anyone human. The mouth was a gaping maw which seemed to never see the light of day adorned very simply by two horribly jagged fangs the color and texture of stained bone. The body was covered by an armor of bleached scales. However, halfway down the back of the beast, there were a black spot that seemed, from afar, like something that would seem to be another scaled area. Under closer inspection, it was revealed to be the hollow's hole: a fact exemplified by the snake's rearing back to attack, hissing in anticipation. The head alone added many, many points to the intimidation rating.
The name "Tsubaki" and the command "Koten Zanshun" were but whispers on Orihime's lips as the masculine fairy burst forth from her hairpin and hurtled toward his foe, wrapping himself in a cloak of energy.
The reaction was blindingly quick. A coil and a twist made it so the glowing blade flew by harmlessly. Disengaging after the miss, Tsubaki circled around and hurtled back toward the writhing mass of hollow, scoring a glancing blow from behind. The hollow brought up his tail in recoil, turned towards the un-shielded Tsubaki, and slammed the fairy into the dirt.
Orihime gasped as she saw her friend fall. The snake then turned and lunged towards the girls once more, but Orihime quickly brought up a familiar triangular shield with a hoarse yell of "Santen Kesshun." The limited effective range of the shield was quickly known as the writhing snake rained blows from all sides. A strafe of the shield prevented numerous grievous blows, but the occasional feint and twist was something that kept Orihime on her toes, preventing her from pushing the snake away.
Yuzu was left behind during these rapid exchanges between serpent and shield. After a short while of while her friend do battle, Yuzu began to focus downward onto her hands, attempting to will a spell into existence.
"Ye Lord, mask of blood and flesh, all creation, flutter of wings. Ye who bears the name of man..."
She muttered in nervous and puzzled frustration. Yuzu could see the immense strain upon Orihime's face as she now attempted to split her focus between the warding between her form and the snake and the healing ward now surrounding and restoring Tsubaki. Darting to the side and raising her hands offensively to get a clear shot, she called out, "Destructive Art 31: Shakkahou!"
Answering her call was a simple puff of smoke.
"Oh, come ON!"
We sat in a pregnant silence, reading the details of the fight as it drug on for what seemed like miles on paper. We would a park bench to sit on since Nagi demanded to see the diary and neither she nor I were wanting a repeat of my close call earlier. Apparently, she found the story as engrossing as I did.
Throughout the read, she buffeted me with questions. The cascade started with a single question: "What's a hollow?" I flipped back to previous entries ad explained what I would. It wasn't my story, after all. More questions soon followed. Relatives and friends of relatives she's never net were mentioned. For example, Uncle Ichigo was one she remembered, as was Aunt Orihime, if only because of the bright hair. Aunt Karin and Aunt Rukia only tickled Nagi's memory, and the scant memories of them surely didn't contain anything pertaining to the fighting of bloodthirsty monsters.
Then came the question that was prodding me in an annoying fashion.
"Is this stuff even real?"
It was very much true that the events I've read so far could be compared to the stuff of fantasy novels. But, there's an air of sincerity that comes with the words on the page. When reading the diary, the images seem to pop out at me, making me believe it as truth. Of course, this kind of thing happens all the time with any fantastic story, but one fact prevents me from dismissing this as a work of fiction.
It was my mom's diary. By default, I, as a son, believe what my mother tells me. If that's not enough of a case, everyone who knows my mother says that she is a terrible liar. To date, she was yet to lie about anything to Nagi and I. Even so, the dust and age on the book were all too obvious for my mother to have written any time before several years ago. Even if it was fiction, if she was making a fantastic story, why call it a diary when there would be better ways of presenting it? Why would my mom make a main character that was a mirror of her younger self?She is not the narcissistic. Not in the slightest.
These thoughts swirled wildly in my head, boiling down to a simple reply to Nagi.
"I really don't know."
Yuzu gasped in horror as Orihime was thrown back, a patch of broken skin and blood on her temple the evidence of a clean blow by the hollow. Mid-incantation, Yuzu could only watch as the snake reared back in triumph. Hastily finishing the spell, a concerned Yuzu dashed forward. Her head pounded with terror. She ran and muttered and the snake reared back to strike and she jumped forward and the snake jerked back and...
Yuzu found herself crouched between Orihime on the ground and the snake beast. Her two arms, her right braced with her left, were extended away from her body. Panting as a result of her frenzied rush, she looked onward in shock as she gazed nervously into the cloud of smoke covering where the snake's head was just moments ago. It was silent for a very stagnant moment.
The air then was ripped by an anguished half-roar of the hollow. Yuzu sprang up at the moment, attempting to prop up Orihime onto her back. It was a valiant struggle to get Orihime to the nearest point of cover when the snake attempted to purge the fire and smoke from its open maw. Quickly spotting a parked car, Yuzu moved as quickly as she could to get them to relative safety. As Orihime was set down, her hairpins fell from her limp form. The hiss of an enraged hollow echoed in the background as Yuzu picked up the unlikely weapons.
A sharp jolt of energy met her as she touched the plastic, causing Yuzu to drop them for a moment. Confused, Yuzu grabbed the pins, ignoring the energy surge, and held on tight.
Flashes of memory filled her vision: a helmet shaped hollow, a schoolyard filled with students with blank eyes and small roots small roots sprouting from various parts of their bodies, a black cat, Ichigo. Three words also echoed in her mind. "I reject," and "shield".
Filled with an energy she didn't recognize, Yuzu straightened. One of the memories made itself known at the sight of Orihime's body.
"Ayane, Shun'o," Yuzu said, almost robotically, "Souten Kisshun. I reject."
Yuzu opened her eyes at the sound of shattering plastic. Opening her fingers, she noted that two thirds of one hairpin were broken, replaced by two fairies. The fairies, confused, looked around quizzically, seeing as they heard their master's call only to find another person holding them. However, upon seeing Orihime prone on the ground, the fae flanked her at her head and feet and energized an ethereal shield. Within, Orihime's broken skin peeled away and evaporated, revealing the peach-tan skin that usually resided there. The wound healed quickly and, after a few moments, Orihime roused with a sharp intake of breath, a shudder, and a wince. Her eyes fluttered open and, in surprise to see the inside of her own shield, sat up, dispelling it unconsciously.
Orihime turned to Yuzu, still clutching the hairpins. "How did you..."
The cound of crunching metal and sight of their car cover being effortlessly thrown aside interrupted the question.
Orihime and Yuzu scattered. The former quickly snatched the whole pin from the latter as they both ran for cover. The snake-beast, split between the two targets, decided that the one that spent most of the battle expending energy on useless puffs of smoke prior to the firebolt moments before. Yuzu turned around, believing she was far enough, only to meet the quickly approaching jaw of the serpent.
"Santen Kesshun!" Orihime cried.
A orange barrier whipped up to meet the teeth inches from her face. Orihime, across the way, looked harried and worn, had eyes that burnt with the will to protect. This was not a new development. The fact that, Yuzu, somewhat attuned to the energy of the barrier in front of her, could see the fae carrying the shield, was.
The snake turned toward the now-exposed adversary. Sensing their master in danger, the shield dissipated and the three took off and took their part in the now familiar battle between serpentine part and ethereal ward.
Yuzu blinked and looked down at the piece of hairpin that was still in her hand. A small remnant of a voice rang in her mind.
"...I am able to reject things from both sides of my barrier. Use me to break through."
Yuzu, struck by inspiration, lifted her hand. "Tsubaki," she said, as if reading from a newly-written script, "Kouten Zanshun! I reject!"
In her outstretched hand, the piece of hairpin shattered, revealing once more the masked male fae. Compelled by the command, he hurtled forward.
Meanwhile, across the way, Orihime heard the call of her own attack. She looked past her foe for a moment and saw Tsubaki rushing with abandon. The snake, in response, seeing Orihime falter, dodged to the side, avoiding Tsubaki and jolting towards Yuzu.
Yuzu could only watch as Orihime called out commands like a general in an army. "Tsubaki, bounce off the shield! GO!"
A wild turn by the offensive fae and a gunshot-sounding clash sent Tsubaki towards the back of the serpent's head. The hollow never saw it coming.
The remainder of the walk home was one filled with paranoia concerning another attack and a heavy silence, probably concerning the strangeness of the ability that Yuzu had demonstrated today. Today, it was not a kidou she used. It was an ability that was unique to a select few. Even then, Orihime's fae were unique to her. It shouldn't be possible for anyone else to use them.
Orihime was far too quiet for the rest of the walk. Yuzu found herself missing her cheer.
We stopped reading because we were running out of light. Actually, that really didn't matter since the park lights that illuminate the paths clicked on, but that, coupled with the orange-red sky of sunset, gave a hint as to us leaving towards home if we wanted to get dinner.
Nagi and I made it home in one piece. We talked about our usual things: school, other friends, her clubs, my video games, other books that we've read. Our conversation carried us all the way home, as it usually did.
I'll never admit it out loud, but I really did miss this. Perhaps I'll stay behind and do some study hall stuff so we can do this like we have in the past. It means I can do less homework when I do get home. Maybe...
The night, or even the twilight hour, can be one of the most fearful times. Most people fear the hunched over figure of the suspicious person walking across the street. However, in this town, there are more terrifying things to worry about. Worse over, they are the types that do not require the shade of night to hide well. So, this figure, hiding in the shadows that come naturally with the figure's very existence, peered hungrily at a girl and a boy, walking and reading a book.
Another possibility of the suspicious is that people other than the target can suspect and cause disruptions in the plans of the menacing. However, seeing as few people can even see this figure, even in the clearest of days, this figure has nothing to fear.
A/N: This is probably something that is LONG overdue: an introduction! This is my first fanfic in this section of the site so I'm sure you all haven't even heard of me (especially since my other story isn't that great). My name is Mitsumaru and I hope you enjoy the story. I'm sorry this chapter has taken so long but, in between college and work and now summer activities, I don't have much time. However, I do want to get back into writing, so hopefully it won't take me quite as long (Three freaking years between the last chapter and this one? Holy crap!) to get the next chapter of this out.
However, there is a little bit of confusion about the storyline and the timelines I'm using. You see, there are two timelines I'm writing about throughout the course of this one story. The one with Yuzu as the main character is the main one, but the timeline with Yuzu's kid is the second one. It is approximately 25 years between the first storyline's end and the second storyline's beginning. I won't give away anything, but, at least for now, the second storyline involves Yuzu's kid wrestling with the believability of the story while reading along due to pure curiosity of Yuzu's past. The first storyline is one I can't quite say much about without ruining the surprise.
As an experimentation of a writing style, I am flip-flopping between the two timelines. It'll likely be a tad confusing, but they are separated in a way that I hope still remains clear. If you've taken a literature class that deals with the frame narrative, the model of this story is loosely based off of that style. If you don't know what it is, feel free to look it up. My teacher didn't explain it very well so I had to do the same at first.
And now, review responses!
Miyaa: I was trying to go for nostalgic or recollective, but I guess contemplative is close enough! I also always thought that Yuzu was being left out of the action. Even in the episode with the ghost cat, she was still just a support role while Karin and Jinta did the actual fighting!
Tatsy: Thank you very much for your complement! I try to at least make myself better than some of the other fanfics I read. The beginning was somewhat hard to write out, but I'm glad you like it!
ClUeLeSs~: Thank you very much! I have sided somewhat with the Grammar Nazis in the regard that the fanfic must be readable to be good, so I just try to make my story grammatically correct and the style just follows! I'm a little embarrassed to say that that little plot bunny was my fault. I intended to use the figure of speech, but I guess it came out wrong (I edited the chapter to see if I could clarify it a bit). Thank you again for the praise, though. I did try to give Yuzu the Forsaken Character some more depth in this story than the series did, so I hope you do like it. By the way, as an answer to your question, Yuzu is approximately 12 years old at the hollow incident.
Whoami: Yes, the mom is Yuzu. Her child is not also named "Yuzu", but Yuzu's child is reading Yuzu's diary. Look above in this chapter for the names. Finally, yes, Yuzu's surname is different in the story's present time frame; I just haven't revealed yet. The surname in the heading of the story, "Kurosaki", refers to Yuzu back during the first storyline. I hope I was helpful in clarifying!
Revolation: Thank you for the complement. Hopefully, I've gotten better since I started this story back in high school (holy crap, it's been a while)... When I got this particular review, I was stuck in a rut of college, but this review did get me to start planning storylines again. Thank you for that.
Istangtao: Glad to see that you see this story the way I was trying to convey it. Thank you very much! To be honest, if this matters, I started writing again after I got the review notice in my email about this review of yours. In that respect, thank you.