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"She used to take evil spirits out from a person and feed them to her daughter…"
"Kayako was killed because she was foolish. I did not make her what she is now."
Thirteen Hallowed Nights
The Second Night:
By Corvus no Genmu
He looked up towards the modern Japanese house and his frown deepened more at the sheer amount of energy he could feel perpetuating it. Even though he was not one to see these things easily but he knew the darkness was there. The silence that seemed to surround the house was evident enough but the fact that there were no signs that any animals were near the area in some time was as evident as the sky being called blue. He glanced upwards and saw a flock of ravens go out of their way to fly around the properties of the house with the few stragglers unable to fully miss it lose some feathers in the process of a very quick retreat.
That, in itself, unnerved him if only slightly.
He looked down beside him, at the young girl dressed in a plain blue kimono, decorated with flower blossoms colored a brighter shade. The both of them had agreed that white wasn't her color, not anymore, and he found it amusing at how often she'd change her mind about what color was her favorite, though green seemed to come around the most out of all the rest as was evident by the hair band that kept her black hair pulled back and out of her face. However, now was not a time for amusement but concern. He knew what he was getting into and he had spared her no details of what could, and most likely would, happen.
He would not emulate her adopted parents; he would look out for her because he actually cared about her, now that she was here beside him. He had offered to find her a home with people he knew would love her unconditionally no matter the past that she'd keep hidden from them but she had refused, clutching him like he was the only lifeline she had in this terrible storm known as life. So he kept her by his side, against his better judgment. His conscience was speaking to him now whether the idea of having her here with him on this dangerous escapade he was about to undertake was a sound one.
She'd be safer back at the hotel, he thought, but will they follow her through me? He didn't know the full power of the family but he knew of the victims or lack of them as it was. Unlike his young-bodied charge, they hadn't left much behind to show just how they killed or in what manner the victims had passed.
If they passed on at all.
He sighed and met her blue eyes with his green ones. She shook her head, already knowing the question he was going to ask. Her grip on his hand tightened and her eyes seemed to shine. That was another thing. She was becoming far too attached to him and he worried of how she'd react when he finally dies.
He dared not imagine his own reaction if she were to die before him.
He sighed once more and turned to face the house, a sense of foreboding trying to poke its way into his heart but he pushed it back with practiced ease. What was life without a bit of thrill now and again? He whispered to her to keep close but walk two steps behind him so that he'd enter the house first. She made a quip about lady's first and he couldn't help but laugh. In the past two months that she had come into his life, she'd find a way to put a smile on his face and a bit of laughter in his ancient soul.
That alone made her more precious than silver and solidified his bond to her.
They walked slowly towards the house, pausing just before the door. Knowing it was already futile to ask her to retreat to safety; he stepped up onto the porch and, opening the door, stepped inside towards his doom with his companion following two steps behind. He shivered, a foggy breath escaping him before normal temperatures were met with relief from both visitors of the house. He looked down at her as she looked up at him, her blue eyes sparkling with fear, her palms sweaty. He smiled reassuringly at her and said that they would be fine, but it wasn't herself that she was worried about.
She knew he had a… gift? Yes, gift was definitely the right word to use. His gift was what granted her, her freedom and it scared her that he had such power to do the impossible. He will be fine, she assured herself, if he can stand against me, he can stand against anything. But the process of being human introduced to her many new varieties of emotions that she had never felt before, doubt being one of them. She knew as much as he told about his gift, which in itself was not much at all, and she was concerned about this escapade.
Oh, she didn't fear for herself, not one bit. If she died, it wouldn't be that different… except… She looked up at her savior. Dying could mean a return to the well but it would mean being separate from him.
She didn't like that, not at all.
She had asked him why they had come here, to the opposite side of the world, on an adventure that he didn't know if he'd walk away from, and he told her not to be too concerned over him, that he would be okay. Their first meeting proved that he cared little about himself and the way he acted whenever she spoke of how he could die from this… family… he'd shrug it off as though it were nothing out of the ordinary for him. If he didn't care enough about himself to try and keep himself safe, she'd be the one to protect him.
With everything she had.
He started walked slowly to the living room but soon paused, nose twitching at the scent of… blood? No, he shook his head and took another whiff, not blood though it was just as sharp to the nose.
Days old smoke… freshly poured gasoline…
He glanced down at the floor, burns were evident through most of the front foyer but someone, or perhaps in this case something, had managed to put out the flames in time to keep the house safe. However, there was still gasoline puddles hidden in the odd corner and a small spark would be all it would take to get the house on fire once more. He looked to her, and saw that she too was aware of the gas and had her eyebrow raised in confusion. Wasn't this what they had planned on doing?
No, he shook his head and gently pulled her along to the living room, a slight change of plans was in order. He smiled to himself, perhaps rushing into pyromania wouldn't be necessary if what he read about the family was correct. He sat down on the couch and motioned for her to do the same. He pulled out a small book and looked to her, seeing both her confusion and delight at the familiar text.
If he remembered correctly, they had left off on chapter three. Without answering her unspoken question, he began to read the text on the crisp pages of the book, pulling her close to him with one arm. He read for some time, pausing at the end of every chapter to see if his voice, notorious for its soft-spoken nature, had lulled her to sleep but the fervor of her desire to keep him safe from harm pushed back the lulling power of slumber. He had noted her starting to nod off at times but had managed to keep herself awake with a firm shake of the head. It wasn't until he had nearly reached the end when she had finally succumbed to sleep, still unused to its strengths on her.
She never noticed the young boy that sat on Jacque's opposite side, also leaning over to look down upon the book and its illustrations. He closed it slowly and looked down at the boy beside him, who looked no younger than Samara, and gave a single raised eyebrow at the sight of his obscenely white skin. The boy stared up at him, a neutral expression on his face, as his mouth opened to let out a loud feline yowl. Jacque frowned and with little hesitation, smacked the boy hard in the back.
The boy coughed, blinking in shock before coughing again. He leaned over, his coughing growing louder and hoarser until something flew out from his throat and landed on all fours on the floor. The cat hissed and shook itself from the water that coated it before turning burning yellow eyes first upon the duo of Jacque and his charge. It hissed again, revealing very sharp needlelike teeth, before facing the boy who stared at it in surprise and wonder. Letting out a miniature feline roar, the cat pounced upon the boy, claws flashing, and slashed at the stunned boy's face.
The boy screamed and fell back onto the floor, startling Samara awake. Jacque placed a hand over her mouth and shook his head, his eyes never leaving the feline as it circled the boy, fur raised in righteous kitty fury. But the boy was paying little attention to the cat that had once been his pet, his hands were touching his face were the cuts were bleeding not blood, but droplets of white. With every drop that fell, the more the boy kneeling in front of the duo began to gain more of a normal flesh tone until, eventually, there was a seemingly ordinary Japanese boy kneeling down in front of them, tears running down his face.
He looked up at the duo sitting on the couch, smiling even as tears fell down his face and his western clothes melted into a traditional white kimono made up in the way of the deceased.
And he was gone.
The cat sniffed, seemingly satisfied, and sat back on its haunches, licking a paw clean before looking up at the one who had freed it from the boy's throat. So, what now? It seemed to ask.
A scream unlike anything ever heard by either of the pair had them both on their feet and looking about before their eyes fell upon the tall figure standing up on the stairs, long black hair wavering as crooked hands flayed about. The woman turned towards the stairs, falling onto her hands and knees, crawling/sliding down them until she reached the foyer. Her neck bent at an unnatural angle, dark shadows swarming around her form as she screamed once more in her in death-rattle voice. She rose upwards, the shadows lifting her up into the air, and reached for them, advancing slowly like a snake on the hunt.
Samara gripped his hand tight and moved to put herself between him and the woman, her own powers shining like steel in her eyes, but he pushed her back behind him. His eyes were narrowed and sparkling but he was frowning with determination. He would not let this woman harm her, she knew this even before he said it just by the look of his eyes, and by the way it was acting the feline looked ready to back him up. It was standing on her other side, back arched and ears back, nearly spitting with rage.
Motioning to the cat, he stepped forward, closer and closer to the woman as she rattled in her broken voice while the small obsidian feline moved to stand between Samara and the woman towering above them all. Jacque looked up at the woman, either unimpressed or just plain uncaring of her stature and nature over him, and reacted in a way that surprised everyone.
He punched her.
The force of the blow was hard enough in the stomach that she was actually pushed back against the living room wall, eyes wide with shock and her death rattle choking on itself. The wall was bent inward from her impact but on either side of her bony torso was a deep hole as though a pair of oxen horns pierced the woodwork. A snort of a disgruntled bovine, a swish of the tail and yet there was naught but Jacque with his hand still clenched tight though faint traces of dust fell from his hand like dark snow.
The wretched woman's stomach convulsed once, twice, before she fell onto her hands and knees once more and up heaved the contents of her stomach. They were as slimy as they were dry and they were as dry as they were slimy. They had as many legs as a snake and as few limbs as a centipede with eyes of red, black, and white staring listlessly around them. They twitched and shook themselves mightily along the ground, squealing and shrieking in agony of the light of the sun that kept the darkness around the woman from embracing them.
Whatever they were, Samara knew they weren't human and found them disgusting but was unnerved as their eyes drew over towards her and gazed at her with a familiar hunger that sent cold shivers down her back. She took a small step back, barely moving at all, and held her breath as the demons began to draw close until a loud yowl made them pause. The cat was still standing before her as her living defense against them.
Its fur standing on end and spittle flying from its hissing mouth, the black feline slinked forward, tail lashing, as the demons began to back away in fear. He held out a hand and the cat paused in an instant, looking up towards Jacque in confusion before grinning widely, its mouth resembling a fanged crescent moon. It slowly backed away to sit beside Samara with all the dignity of royalty.
It knew what was coming.
Jacque's emerald orbs seemed to flash with light as he reached into his jacket and pulled out a simple bottle of water, which he was quick to upend over the demons writhing on the floor. Steam and smoke rose up in a quick explosion as the demons burst into flames, the water eating upon them like acid until there was nothing left.
He smiled to himself. He honestly didn't think that would have worked but he was glad of it all the same. Holy water was holy water, no matter the faith in question. He turned his eyes back to the woman and frowned, she was gasping for air that she didn't need, her skin still an unnatural pale tint and her neck bent at that same awkward angle as before. He stepped towards her but had to jump to the side as she tried to swipe at him with her hand. When she tried again, her grabbed her by the wrist and held firm, his eyes cold as he reached down with his other hand and forcibly grabbed her neck and twisted.
The sound of bones sliding back against each other was loud in the silence that followed as the woman stiffened in his grip before suddenly gasping for air without the distinct croak in her throat. Jacque released her then and stepped back and watched as she slowly slumped to the ground, gasping for air and shivering as spirit fire began to appear around her.
A swarm of glowing orbs floated upwards gently, several flying straight up towards the sky, pausing only long enough to bob a 'thank you' at Jacque, while a remaining pair began to circle one another and seemed to embrace each other, their shine increasing in luminescence. The orbs separated and circled merrily around Jacque's head, one bouncing atop his hair while the other pressed against his cheek. Jacque blushed faintly at the feeling of warm lips pressing against his face, a hand roughly brushing his untamed locks before smiling as the orbs of light danced merrily with one another as they floated upwards towards the ceiling. He smile grew with their disappearance before a sudden sound of tears and despair brought a frown to his face as his emerald orbs focused once more on the woman lying on the ground before him.
"Go-Gomen… Gomen nasai… gomen nasai… gomen nasai…"
He stared at her for a moment in silence before sighing to himself and looking skyward, his eyes questioning something that Samara could not see. However, that did not mean that she didn't feel… Her…? Yes, that's what it was, a Her. But who was She? Samara didn't know it but she was at that very next moment, the closest she would ever physically be to Heaven.
A ray of sunlight shined through the window, bouncing off every reflective surface it could find until it finally fell upon the weeping woman. Samara's eyes widened in shock as she watched the woman shrink in… no… she wasn't shrinking, she was getting younger until she was nothing more than a babe before vanishing out of sight.
"So… a second chance at life…" She looked to Jacque, whose eyes were still skyward. "Interesting choice…" He looked to Samara and seemed to have suddenly realized something, his eyes growing dark. His eyes traveled past her down towards the feline sitting beside her feet. "Nibi."
The cat's grin grew and Samara took notice of a second tail appearing beside the cat's original as a pair of feathered wings, black as midnight, sprout out from its back. The cat licked its paw and shot a look up to the boy as though to ask again, What now?
His eyes narrowed. "What?"
The cat sniffed and looked up towards Samara before looking back at Jacque and sniffed once more before yawning. Clearly, it wasn't interested in Jacque's assumption of what it wanted. The boy frowned but didn't push it further and looked towards Samara. "Let's go back to the hotel and rest. Then, we'll go to that Cherry Blossom Festival." He smiled, the light back once more in his eyes.
She positively beamed at him and wrapped her arms tight around his waist. He was safe, that was all that mattered to her, that's all that would ever matter to her. The cat grinned and jumped up to land on his shoulders, letting itself hang loosely on his neck. She couldn't help but giggle at Jacque's disgruntled look before gazing upon the cat itself who smiled warmly at her and purred. She blinked in surprise, few animals ever came near the two of them and those that did, did not treat them warmly though there was a few… strange animals that had acted differently towards them, as if they knew that neither Jacque nor Samara would hurt them.
The cat of two tails was obviously no different than them, though the wings were rather odd. As little of an education she had received in her last life, she knew that cats, especially cute ones as this, did not have wings like a bird.
The cat seemed aware of her confusion and lazily flicked one of its tails against Jacque's ear.
Jacque himself ignored the cat and took her hand gently in his own and, together, they left the house behind; all three completely unawares of the eyes that followed them. The eyes of the dead and damned. A steel-clawed hand stretched out of the shadow before pulling itself back, the light of the sun burning it. The eyes glared the death they wished to place upon the trio. Though it were but an agent to the Master, it too was a powerful being, a champion of its own forces and it recognized what Jacque had done.
The house ignited into an inferno that raged despite the fire-fighters' best efforts and only died when there was truly nothing left to burn.
A patient hand rectifies the wrath of the wicked.