The Corners of a Third Eye
"You...will never tell this tale. You fear what others might say. Ultimately you only fear yourself."
- Satori Komeiji
The Ground Below
Many Years Ago
"Run, sister! We have to move now!"
Satori Komeiji urged her sister onwards as a keening wail filled the air around them. Koishi did not understand what was going on but she obeyed without question, immediately rising to her feet and sprinting across the length of the cavern just as the sound coalesced into a solid form and struck the outcropping where they had been taking shelter. A resounding boom echoed with such force that the two satori sisters were thrown from their feet and pitched face first into the ground. Satori recovered first and grabbed her sister by the hand, hauling her up and running down one of the side caverns as the blind spirit sought its prey. They gasped for breath while simultaneously struggling to still their breathing as this particular spirit hunted by the sound of air as it went through living bodies.
The creature hissed, a sound more like forcing the air away from the space it occupied than an actual act of breathing. Slowly it too grew still and silent, waiting for the slightest mistake, that momentary lapse in concentration that would give its prey away. Somewhere in its bestial mind, the spirit knew that the prey was young and weak. They had eluded it this time but it was only a matter of time before it had them and when it did, it would latch on to them and drain first their breath and then their flesh for itself. Even such a basic creature could understand the pleasure of the hunt, and the kill.
The moments passed...one, two, three. The water dripping from a nearby stalactite was like the tolling of a bell to Satori as she watched the presence of the monster through her one good eye. The spirit's killing intent was directed straight at the two little youkai who had eluded its grasp, it was merely waiting for them to show themselves before the hunt ended. Then in an instant the intent vanished from its heart, redirected at another, more promising prey some distance down the northern tunnels. It was strong and the spirit greatly desired to feed on that strength, compared to the faint and flickering essence of two young satori. Surely enough, there was a rush of air as the invisible spirit turned and hurled itself in the direction of the new target. They were alone again.
Satori exhaled all at once, the third eye on her chest blinking once before returning to its usual steady stare...at nothing. Koishi looked up questioningly and the eye turned to her at once, allowing the two sisters to communicate in a way no others could. The honest truth, the deepest meaning of words, all could be understood by those with the power to read hearts and minds. As Satori read the truth of her sister's feelings she could feel the manifold emotions that infused the silent words. There was fear and apprehension certainly, but there was also concern for her older sister; even in the face of such a terrible crisis she would ask if her sister was alright.
In the darkness Satori smiled wanly, the experience of hiding their presence and using her third eye to watch the hunting spirit had taken their toll, and as Koishi read into her sister's heart, she saw both weariness and reassurance. The danger was over and Satori had run herself ragged but they would both live to see another day and in the end, that was the most important thing. Koishi smiled too, her face illuminated by the fires from Hell below the caverns as they reached up in brilliant reds and oranges. They were the only light in this dark and desolate world.
Satori nodded, "Come on, let's go home."
Through the darkness the two sisters walked in silence. This section of the underground was empty and uninhabited, save for the evil spirits that often came here to prey on anyone weak and unfortunate enough to get lost. Even Satori and Koishi had known the risks and were only skirting the edges on their way to a different part of the Ancient City. Together they formed a part of the unfortunate lower class of youkai who had not yet learned to fly on their own power and thus escape the predations of the earthbound spirits. Of course there were still those that could fly but anyone who had developed enough power to stay aloft was certainly capable of handling themselves.
"Tell me again, sister", Koishi broke through the silence, "tell me about the home we'll have someday."
Satori looked at her for a moment before replying. "Someday", she began, "we'll have a big and beautiful house with windows that catch the light from the hellfires and make all sorts of colours and shapes. We'll make the light dance and have friends who come to play with us every day. It will be so big you could fly for hours and not see all of it. No one will ever come in if we don't want them to..." her voice trailed off.
Both of them had closed their third eyes for this. Neither of them wanted to know, yet somehow they always knew in the back of their minds, that a dream like this could never be. Yet it was a game they loved to play and not a day went by when they didn't live out that dream, even for a moment.
"Can it be like the houses they have on the surface?" Koishi asked.
"I don't know what they look like", replied Satori with an amused smile, "I have never been there."
"The bridge princess told me! She hears lots of things from the surface."
"So she does, so she does..." Satori reflected. The youkai who guarded the one safe footpath from the Ancient City to the caverns closer to the world above, a bridge princess, was in an ideal place to hear all sorts of gossip. Satori had read her heart once and found a small crack in the otherwise kind youkai...she could see that the crack was widening day by day but wasn't able to find the source so she had put the problem out of her mind.
"Can we have a house like that?" Koishi asked, pointing at a vast and decrepit building in the distance. From their vantage point the two sisters could easily catch a glimpse of the Forsaken Palace, a ruin from a time even before this land became a territory of Hell. No one knew who had built it, only that it had always been there.
"Go back to sleep, sister. There's still some time until morning. Don't worry, we'll be safe here."