Pinkshuchan: LALIHO! Hey everyone! Pinkshuchan has returned with the next chapter of Feudal Journey. In the last chapter, Shuichi managed to save himself and Eiri from Tsuchigumo, one of the powerful yokai created by Yuki. Eiri, in result, felt guilty for what happened, even though he couldn't control what happened. Here's the next chapter. Enjoy!

Chapter 39

Survivor

Days had passed since they left Izu and Eiri and the others moved east as they continued their journey. They had bumped into a traveller same as them that told them that he ended up here after he left a village not that far from where they were a few days ago. They decided to go there in case any powerful yokai; yokai most likely created by Yuki, were there. Yet as they continued onward, Eiri couldn't let go of the guilt he felt for Shuichi back at Izu. He couldn't let go about what he almost did. He almost killed Shuichi, the most important thing in the world to him. How could he not feel bad about that?

The monk was the only one that was quiet in the group. This caused a bit a tension with the others, especially Shuichi. They all began to worry about him, but Shuichi was the only one who thoroughly understood what the problem might be. Nonetheless, he slowed down so he walked the same pace as Eiri and spoke up to him.

"Are you okay Yuki?" he asked in concern.

The monk just stayed silent. He knew that if he said something about what was troubling him, Shuichi would keep saying something like 'It's not your fault.' So he kept quiet. That didn't mean the pink haired boy was going to give up on getting the older man to tell him what was bothering him. He ran in front of Eiri and turned into a kitsune, making sure to block Eiri's way forward.

"Get out of the way Shuichi!" he growled.

"Not until you tell me what's wrong!" the kitsune snapped back.

"Shuichi, something going on?" Hiro called out from ahead.

Shuichi just looked over at him. "Don't worry about us!" he called back, "You guys go on ahead! We'll meet you there. I can follow your scent if needed."

The others didn't bother to ask what it may be. Instead, they just walked on; knowing Eiri and Shuichi would catch up when they're ready. Once the others were far ahead, Shuichi faced back at Eiri. "Care to tell me what it is?"

Eiri shook his head furiously. "It's none of your business!" he replied as he tried to push his way past Shuichi. But the kitsune would not allow it. He was going to find out what the problem was-!

He then realized something. "Yuki," he spoke softer, "Could it be that you're depressed with what happened back at Izu?" Eiri's eyes widened, but he didn't respond. Shuichi could tell he hit the bullseye. "Yuki, you know it wasn't your fault-!"

"I knew you would say that," Eiri muttered, interrupted Shuichi, "That was why I didn't want to tell you. Sure, I was possessed, but I didn't do anything to free myself from it. I could've fought back just as I was forced to kill you, but I didn't."

"You don't think I felt that way too?" The monk looked over to see tears coming out of the silver kitsune's eyes. "You don't think I felt that way when I was possessed by the Dark Venom, how weak I felt when I saw myself trying to kill you and the others when I couldn't even do anything to tell myself to stop? I hated that I tried to kill you and I've had so many thoughts in my head telling me that I should leave you and the others because of what I did. But I didn't. Even though I almost tried to kill you, I know that it wasn't part of my will, and because of that, if I make my heart stronger, then I can do anything to help and protect you."

Eiri just stood there, gaping at what Shuichi said. There had been so many times when the monk felt that his lover was stronger than him, able to overcome anything thrown at him. But now, he realized that the latter had the same insecurities as him; that he had moments when he blamed himself for people or himself getting hurt. He walked over to the kitsune and wrapped his arms around the soft silver furry neck, resting his head against Shuichi's.

"Shuichi," he spoke up softly, "You know that it wasn't your fault when the Dark Venom possessed you and forced you to try to kill us."

"Exactly," said Shuichi, "And so it wasn't your fault when the demon possessed you to and made you try to kill me. So let's just forget these things happened and just continue on. Soon, you and I, along with the others, will defeat all the yokai created by Yuki and Yuki himself, getting rid of all the Dark Venom, and then, we'll plant a big sakura tree with yellow chrysanthemums."

Eiri agreed and got onto Shuichi's back, riding him to catch up with the others. It didn't take that long though because they weren't that far ahead, or maybe it was because Shuichi was too fast to outrun. When they had caught up, Eiri got off Shuichi's back and the kitsune turned back into his human form and they headed for the village.

But things were not good when they got there. They reached the area where the village was supposed to be only to find a valley of burnt wood, broken stones, and corpses all over the place. Some of them looked like destroyed houses that still look like they would be in tact.

This had to be the ruins of the village they were told about.

"Wait, I don't get it!" said Tatsuha, confused, "Wasn't this place supposed to be a beautiful village? Did that traveller we meet trick us?"

"I don't think so," Suguru replied, "We only met him a few days ago after walking for many days after leaving Izu. These humans looked like they were killed recently. I would guess they were killed last night."

"If so, what killed them?" asked K.

Shuichi looked around and began sniffing the air. He then kneeled to get close to a few corpses before sniffing them out. Eiri figured the pink haired boy knew something. "What is it?"

The kitsune hanyou stopped sniffing and looked at the others. "Suguru is right that they had to have been killed last night. Their blood is spilt everywhere. Yet even though the scent of human blood taints the air here, I can faintly sense some traces of yokai blood, oni to be exact."

"So this village was destroyed by oni?"

"I would guess. But something else isn't right. For me to even sense oni blood here with lots of human blood clogging my senses, there would've had to have been lots of oni blood spilt."

Eiri began to think. "We should probably split up. If we're lucky, we might be able to find survivors who can tell us what happened. When we're done searching, we'll meet back here."

And so they split up to search, each one going their own direction. All of them searched and searched, but none of them really found anything but the destroyed houses and the rotting corpses drenched in blood and covered with flies. Not a single survivor in sight.

But then, Shuichi found something. He looked down at the ground to see a few giant bodies; bodies that looked like they wouldn't belong to any human. He took a closer look at them and sniffed their corpses.

They were oni corpses.

Why were there oni corpses? Was it possible that something destroyed the oni right after they destroyed the village? If so, why? He figured it had to have been a yokai that killed them, so why would this yokai want to kill the yokai destroying the village?

Suddenly, Shuichi heard sobs from close by. Unsure of what it was, he cautiously walked to where he heard the sobs to see a small tunnel in the ground. He looked in it to see what looked like a child stuck in there. He had found a survivor. The child form noticed Shuichi and moved back a bit, trying to keep out of reach from the pink haired boy. Shuichi could sense the boy's fear and tried to calm him down from where he stayed.

"It's alright," he assured the child in a motherly tone, "I'm your friend. I want to help you. I'm not here to harm you in any way."

The child just stared up at Shuichi. Slowly, the child began to trust the latter's words, and eventually moved closer to be taken out by Shuichi. The kitsune hanyou took a good look at the child. The child looked like a small 8 year old boy with short bright light brown hair and big blue eyes. He wore a jinbei a darker brown than his hair and his feet were bare. He was covered in dirt and blood from head to toe and had a few cuts on him, but he was pretty much alive.

Shuichi put him down so he could stand on his own only to find the boy fall as soon as he had nothing holding him up. He looked at the boy only to notice that there was a big wound on his knee that was so bad it was bleeding. He looked around for something to help ease the bleeding until he saw some cloth that looked saved. He ran over to it and ripped a piece off big enough to wrap around the boy's knee. He then went back to the boy and tended to the wound.

"Are you the only survivor in this village?" he asked the boy as he finished tending to the wound, "Do you know anything about what happened in this village?" The boy only lowered his head. Shuichi sighed before trying to stand up. But the boy grabbed his leg.

"Please don't leave me!" the boy sobbed in a soft almost quiet voice, "Please don't leave me alone here!"

Shuichi knelt down to him. "I won't leave you alone here," he replied calmly, "You'll be safer with me than left alone here." He picked the boy up and carried him back to where he was to meet the others.

As for the others, they were already back to their meeting spot, talking about what they found. They all had the same answer; they couldn't find anything other than corpses and burnt down buildings. It was when they saw Shuichi holding the little boy that their luck had changed. That little boy had to be the only survivor left in the entire village. But how could one little boy save himself from an oni attack when everyone else in the village couldn't?

Shuichi explained everything about how he found the boy and what little he found out. The boy was a little shaken with their being strangers around him, but he found himself calmer being held in Shuichi's arms. When asked about what happened to the village, he explained that he didn't remember anything. The only thing he remembered was falling asleep as soon as night fell, and when he woke up the next day, the village was destroyed and everyone was dead. He trembled out of fear upon seeing everything and eventually fell into that hole he knew nothing about. He thought he was going to die until Shuichi came and helped him.

Eiri sighed. "So it's unknown why the oni came here and why. This feels like something done by the Dark Venom, but it doesn't seem like it."

Shuichi looked over at the monk. "Yuki, what are we going to do about him?" he asked in worry, "He's too young to take care of himself and it's too dangerous to leave him here."

"It'll be too dangerous for him to come along with us as well," Eiri replied.

"At least if he's with us we can take care of him and protect him from anything coming after us. Please Yuki! We can take him with us then find a safe village that will take care of him. This is really all I ask."

Naturally bringing a child with them would be risky, but Shuichi was right about one thing; it wasn't a good idea to leave a child alone, especially at a place recently attacked. He sighed. "Alright," he replied, "We'll take him with us. But as soon as we reach a village we'll dump him there, got it?" He then led the others out of the village. Shuichi was the last to leave with the boy in his arms; the latter staring at the village one last time before it left his sight forever.

Pinkshuchan: A mysterious little boy. Will he be a good thing to take with them or a bad thing? Who knows? I'm not going to tell. Anyways, Read and Review everyone!