Sometimes I wonder why I was so naive. Years ago I used to fantasize that my master had accepted my emotions, and we had true trust, in which he would return my own trust. As his aide, I am not supposed to love him. I am supposed to be his pet who obeys everything he says. One who will not get in his way. One who will never become a burden.
Only a few years have he been the supreme commander of the Nura Clan when I had finally realized my place. I am ice. I am cold, bitter, and silent. I am snow. I am strong, merciless, and I freeze anyone as I please. But I am Yuki-Onna. I am one of the aides for Master Rikuo. I can no longer do as I please. My actions are made only on the command of my master. And so I had lived up to my icy dub of 'Snow Woman'. Because that is what my name means. And it is all thanks to Ienaga Kana. The Kana that I had once saw as my rival. One that I had once hated.
She had taken the accursed warmness that had once lingered inside me as she took the love of my master. I know see her as my light to my true self. One who had been sealed inside a cheerful smile. But no. I do not miss the young and innocent snow girl I had once been. She would only bring demise to the supreme commander of the Nura Clan. Besides, now master looks up to me more.
His day form seems to appreciate the fact that I do not intrude in his personal business that much anymore. And his night form seems… I can't quiet say, but he gives me the duties I deserve. He seems to appreciate that I am not so naive and useless, because I know that he is annoyed at the countless times when he has to come to my rescue. But do not worry master. That will not happen again. And it has not happened again.
I still smile for my master's sake, though. But I just don't mean in it like I used to. Long story short, I could care less about myself, the world, and him. And yet, I am still forced to guard the one person who will never truly look at me, and smile.
Now I do as master says. If he says stand aside, then I will. If he says, stay here, then I will. If he says die, then I will. With no sign of hesitation seen or felt. I rarely go to school anymore. I do if master tells me to. But if not, I stay put at home.
Speaking of school, my master is now in high school as a sophomore. I'm very happy for him, as is Aotabo. He grows stronger day by day, his night form and his day form. But once Kana moved away, master was devastated and I knew that he needed my protection more than ever. I started to train harder and harder so I could match with his enemies.
Every day I would learn new spells, finishing a single spell book in a month or so. I'm very proud of my power now. I'm very glad that I let my old self go. She was always getting in my way.
"Now, now, master. You should not move around so much. Your fever is quiet bad." Yuki-Onna said to her master with her tea sitting neatly in my hands. He has a bad fever ever since his battle with a water yokai the other day. "You may never heal at this rate."
Rikuo snorted as he lay in his bed. A normal sized compress on his head, and no longer a small glacier inside a plastic bag. "Tsurara, it's just a fever…" He mumbled. Eyes rolling, and his palms clenching and unclenching for no apparent reason.
"Very well then master, if you believe that you are not very sick, I'll tell your grandfather that you will attend today's meeting…" She said as I took a small sip of her tea. Not a single hint of sarcasm in her voice.
"No, no, it's not like that…" Her master said, assuring her. "Sheesh, Tsurara… You underestimate a lot of things these days…"
"I find it as a get away from exaggerating everything like I used to." She replied sharply.
Rikuo stared at her in utter silence. He barely recognized her anymore. No more perky and happy Yuki-Onna. No more cute little giggles or blushes that once had been one of the things he saw unique in her. No more innocent and clumsy little Yuki-Onna. Sighing for no apparent reason, Rikuo averted his gaze to the ceiling and closed his eyes not long afterwards. Yuki-Onna scoffed and muttered, "The young master is so naive…"
Suddenly, Yuki-Onna heard footsteps coming down the hallway, her attention quickly directed towards to sound. Then, the door slid open. Creaking sounds the door made rung in her ears unpleasantly. Someone should really fix that stupid door.
"Oh, Ao. You scared me, there." She said, sighing and returning to her tea.
"Yuki-Onna, Master Nurarihyon wishes to see you." Came Aotabo's low voice.
"Hmm..." She sighed nodded, but looked at her master. "Will you need company while I am not here, master?"
He merely shook his head subconsciously. Yuki-Onna nodded her head and went out the sliding door towards Master Nurarihyon's living room, leaving her tea behind. She didn't really have any attention in finishing it anyway. She just like the sensation of the steam on her face.
"Master? Are you sure about your decision?" Karasu Tengu asked to the old man sitting before him.
"Yes, I'm sure." Nurarihyon nodded. "If things go bad, she might not be able to control herself."
"But master... It would seem the opposite of the fact that she is unstable, don't you think?" Karasu Tengu argued.
"Do not let her appearance deceive you. She is changing too much, too quickly, and that could cause irrational emotions in which she may become more aggressive towards everything that she dislikes at the time. Even towards my grandson himself. Yuki-Onna has become overly obedient. That can be very dangerous if Rikuo were to give her the wrong order, or something that he doesn't really mean. And Crow Demon, have you noticed how strong she has been getting? If she were to loose her s in an extremely unstable state. Other than self-control, she will be highly capable of killing the unfortunate person. If Yuki-Onna couldn't revive what she threw away, she will no longer be eligible to be my grandson's aide. " Nurarihyon explained.
"Ah... I see..." Karasu Tengu nodded, slowly absorbing the information. "She will have to either choose to be the same, or change for the worst..."
"That is correct. My decision will be for the good of her, and the clan." Nurarihyon said, crossing his arms.
"Ah yes, Yuki-Onna. Come in and sit." He nodded. "Crow Demon, back off for a while, would you?"
Being the loyal servant he is, Karasu Tengu bowed respectfully and sat on his small cushion while Yuki-Onna came in and sat on the cushion before the old man. "What is it, master? Have I done something wrong? Am I going to be punished?"
"No, no, Yuki-Onna. You have not done anything wrong. I am just... Concerned about you. About your condition." He said, trying to push his point.
"What do you mean?"
"I can confidentially say that you have changed. A bit too fast for your own comfort, and I do not want you to permanently become what you are now." Nurarihyon said firmly. "As I have come to notice, you are turning cold, and bitter. You barely go to school unless my grandson tells you to. And you have lost most of your emotions such as happiness, and compassion. But most importantly, you have lost your free-will. It is because of those reasons that I have decided to send you to Mt. Nejireme so that you can calm down, and find who you need to be, in peace. If you couldn't, Rikuo will no longer be your master."
"Who I.. Need to be...?" Yuki-Onna repeated, slightly taken aback. "But... What does that mean...?"
"Yes. Who you need to be. Not what you or anyone else wants you to be." The old man said. "Once you believe that you have your answer, come back and tell me. But I do hope you can survive. Yuki-Onna, do not worry about your duties while you are away. Aotabo will be fulfilling them for you."
"Yes... Of course master." She nodded. "How soon will I be leaving?"
"I suggest you go this afternoon. The sooner you start your journey, the sooner you will find your answer." Nurarihyon nodded. Yuki-Onna blinked slowly and nodded, showing him her smile. One that she does not mean. After bowing in respect, she stood up and headed back to accompany her master. Not long after the door slid shut, Karasu Tengu spoke up and said, "Are you sure about sending her away without the young master knowing?"
"Someone is bound to tell him anyway." Came Nurarihyon's blunt reply as he calmly shrugged his shoulders.