Disclaimer: Blah, blah, don't belong to me...blah, blah, blah...

*SPOILER WARNING* Naturally, being an Oriya-centric fic, this has volume 7 and 8 spoilers (that'd be the Kyoto Arc -- last 4 anime episodes).
I go by manga, not by anime.



The full moon cast a spell on the night. It turned the mundane world into a kingdom of magic. It enchanted trees and cats into mysteries and shapeshifters. It performed alchemy on grass sere and leeched of color by winter, changing it to silver and platinum...

"And it bewitches the libido of middle-aged businessmen all over the city, making me all the more prosperous," Mibu Oriya told himself in clipped tones, trying to shake his mood. To further that vain effort, he also tapped his pipe, loosing fine tobacco ash from its bowl.

His ears picked up the nearly inaudible click his actions made, but did not process it into any sense. He directed thought-darkened eyes once more toward earth frozen by moonlight, but did not focus. His mind's eye superimposed another image, in the same frozen metallics...

"Where are you?" Where in heaven, purgatory, or hell are you, my friend?

Neither the breathed nor the unvoiced questions were answered, of course. Muraki Kazutaka's presence was nowhere that Oriya knew of, to answer him.

His sigh frosted the air in front of his frowning face. He realized he was still tapping his pipe and stopped the motion. Instead, he reached to his side and picked up the envelope containing his custom blend of tobacco.

He refilled the bowl of his long, slender pipe, revelling in the velvet feel and the rich aroma, even before it became redolent smoke.

"He ha- has only the pretension of fine taste," the long-haired man told himself, forcing smugness over the stumble in his words. "He puffs those cigarettes as if smoking were something like taking his shoes off at the door."

Oriya attempted to ignite feelings of superiority and refinement as he lit his pipe. Memory and moonlight, however, prevented such false peace of mind.

~"It's an indulgence. People of taste should pursue it as luxury, with elegance," An Oriya younger by a few years told his silvered friend.

"Are you saying that I'm vulgar, Oriya?" Muraki tried to look indignant at the implications, but the other man could see the humor flashing in his left eye.

"Nope. *I* didn't say it at all..." Oriya exhaled smoke in a deliberate stream toward the ceiling, masking his smile, while still catching Muraki's return grin in the corner of his eye.~

The present Oriya shook his head, trying once more to clear it of the cobwebs of the past and the spiders of present doubt. He then had to push the dense, soft fall of his hair back in order to bring his pipe to his mouth.

He inhaled deeply, striving to draw the warm tobacco smoke to the frozen places inside himself. He held it inside his lungs for a moment.

~"I will disappear...I will not cause you any further trouble..."


He expelled smoke and spent air in an inelegant explosion and watched the smoke battle frozen breath in the air before him, fighting over which would color his exhalation. Of course, the smoke won, and hovered in the air around him long after the frost dispersed.

Shien, they called it, purple smoke. Oriya kept smoking his pipe, watching again and again as, under the full moon, purple smoke defeated silver frost, every time.

"That damned shinigami," he muttered. He knew it was likely unfair, but he blamed that purple-eyed man. Whom else did Oriya have to blame for the loss of his only friend?

That man had bewitched something inside of Muraki -- or broken it, like his insane mother had. Then, he had destroyed him...

...and Muraki had let him...

Oriya clamped his teeth down on his pipe, and scrunched his eyes tightly shut.

~"Would you cry even one tear for me?"~

"Like hell!" He shouted at the full moon, rearing up in leashed fury. He threw his pipe at the moon-silvered grass. I'm going to find you and kick your ass!

He would go down to the only place he knew to look. That shinigami had taken Muraki, one way or another. To hell or to a dark maze in his mind from which he could no longer escape.

Oriya no longer had the power to help his friend directly, but he would somehow run down the path of his rage, and go alive into Meifu. He would stare down purple eyes and demand that that man return Muraki to him.

Only that man could do it. Be Muraki Kazutaka dead, insane, or still striving for those damn purple eyes, only the man who held those same damned eyes could bring him back.

Trembling with resolution and rage, Oriya grabbed his katana, not caring that it would likely be useless. He exited the yard of his establishment silently. He crossed a dark street that the full moon glimmered into a black, secret river in the night.

Mibu Oriya was crossing the River Styx, he was going to Hades to sing his anguish and anger, and retrieve the soul of the only person who was worth the risk.

~to be continued~

NOTES: Well, this wasn't orginally going to be a series, but when I finished writing, I realized that it was really a prologue...and my beta reader demanded continuation (and she's evil, so you don't want to cross her). Anyway,
-- To get the title, you must be familiar with the Greek myth of Orpheus.
-- Shien is the Japanese word for tobacco smoke and it literally means purple smoke. Groovy, ne?
-- The first flashback is one I made up. The others are flashes of lines Muraki actually said in volume 8.
-- This is not a romantic fic. Yeah, Orpheus went to Hades to get his beloved wife, but Oriya is not the sappy romantic type. How many good friends do you think he has?