DISCLAIMER: Both Mononoke characters belong to Toei Animations and copyright owners.. I do not intend to gain anything from writing this story. And I must express my great appreciation to Songbird of the End who help me beta this story :)
STRENGTH OF THE WILL
CHAPTER 1: REUNITED
++++Warning: Rated M for upcoming chapters. ++++
The rain pouring down so hard outside of the inn, it curtains the whole city with the deepest shade of gray, sending waves of piercing coldness straight through every corner of the room. As similar as summer brought jollity to life, the rainy season brought somewhat melancholy and loneliness into every lonely spirit, making it so hard to breathe or even enjoy the peaceful melody of raindrops as it carried serenity and pleasurable coldness within the air.
Sitting by the windows, Kayo lessens herself from dreary surroundings by observing any passerby who happens to walk through her sight. It is better to let her thoughts wander somewhere else before cloudy weather and gloomy atmosphere once again fulfill its purpose from preying on her gaily spirit.
It has been a year now since her first steps on Edo territory by the Sorairisu-Maru Vessel. A life after her early retirement from retainer duty at Sakai house turns out very well to the point she would dare call the great change of her life. For her current job at this old-fashioned teahouse, Himeyuri Inn, might requires longer work shift and granted her a meager payment each month, but the way she was capable of managing her fate within her own hands made this new career worth it. And as humble an upbringing as Kayo had, she finally found herself closer to real achievement for the first time in her life.
But…underneath the optimistic standpoint she possessed for the world, especially when life was full of expectancy and joyfulness at a time like this, the girl realized that there is a place in her heart where something is still missing. The so-called fifth element, which forever be the reason every life in this world originated; love.
Love at first sight. The classic cliché which causes her heart rumbling so hard with anticipation each time she think of him , though she would never bold enough to use such a term to conclude her feelings towards the mysterious kusuriuri she met only couple of times. Yet for the least, the girl must admit to herself that with particular stunning individuality, as well as his unforgettable kindness, strength, and wisdom that made the man himself a type of a guy that no woman could ever resist.
Secretly, Kayo wonders if he, the one who she does not even know his given name, could ever know that he became pretty much the concrete subject for most of her daydreaming? Ever since their last encounter during the trip at Dragon's Triangle, what she could only wish for is for her to be fortunate enough to meet him one more time, hoping that this time she would be able to get an opportunity to know him a little better or at least talk for a little bit more.
Then again, how likely would it be for the same coincidence to happen three times in a row? She questioned herself, too diffident to figure out the possibility. Therefore, as long as the question remains unanswered, all Kayo could do is wait and see if fate would be so kind to her.
The sun had set by the time Kayo finally pitched her thoughts back to reality. It would not be long before nightfall, and then the customers would crowd in, just like every ordinary day in rainy season, seeking for a cozy place to stay and a cup of warm sake. Therefore, there was no reason to waste more of her valuable free time with such girly fantasies.
Looking out the window for one last time, the young woman gave a brief glance over the view of distant horizon, admiring its unfeigned beauty to cheer herself up a bit, the gradually moved to the seat next to the entry, waiting for her long-tormented night duty to come.
Late at night, the merciless downpour continues on its run whereas the nightlife in the old commercial district was finally brought to an end; all the hostels and teahouses were concurrently closed down along with the dying light on the most front gate's lanterns, leaving only the streetlights' dim glow amidst the crazy monsoon.
Unable to do anything better than hang around inside Himeyuri Inn, Kayo found it irritating to be trapped inside her own workplace under the influence of the ferocious climate.
Her nightshift had finished almost an hour ago, and she should be in the bath tub revitalized her worn out body with a nice warm bath instead of waiting for the end of this frenetic rainstorm, which would definitely take at least another hour or two to blow over. Besides, staying in the reception area surrounded by ancient embellishments does not seem to be a very good idea, judging by her previous experience on spiritual matters.
What do I suppose to do during the time like this? She inquired herself, trying to think of any possibility to reach home properly before the need for sleep finally drove her insane.
Considering this climate condition it would be wiser for her to remain safe and dry under shelter— maybe rent the simplest room to stay here for the night. That way she could reach home easily during the day and spare some time to rest before the beginning of the next shift without taking her chances outside in the middle of a mighty rainstorm.
However, she could not afford to spend her hard earned money on such extravagant stuff when she could transfer the same amount into four ample meals, or a pair of nice durable geita. Beside, sleeping on her humble futon is always free and she promises herself to put this thought into action as soon as possible.
Having finally come up with the best solution, Kayo headed home during the darkest hour of the night with a kerosene lamp in one hand and borrowed umbrella in another. Luckily, the overnight Himeyuri crew had lent her the umbrella so she doesn't have to walk home soaking in the rain, for the young lady is quite certain that her elevated wooden sandal would be a bad combination when mixed with the slippery earthen walk path.
She starts pacing along the alleys in the careful steps, trying her best to get herself closer to her destination under such terrible climate condition without tripping her legs or smudging her only uniform with the splash of mud. In normal circumstances, the distance from Himeyuri Inn to her current resident would take only half an hour on foot. However, at this rate, it will surely take longer than that to manage the route through such heavy rain.
30 Minutes later, after she managed to reach the main street, crossed several bridges, and was soaked to the skin; Kayo is only couple of streets away from home. And with that, the young woman began praising herself for making the decision of facing the rain instead of stay the night at the Inn.
But in that moment of glory, the young women soon realized that she has some company following her closely behind.
For fear that something bad might happen, Kayo forces her legs to speed up as fast as their could in heels, her hands shook with primal fear while sensing that "they" too were moving faster each time she attempted to raise her speed and were trying to fool her by altering their steps every time the young women tried to loose their track.
And though the girl never considered herself a sex symbol, Kayo knows better than to take a risk with this particular situation— for a predator would always devour the nearest prey whether it fit their appetite or not. Also, she knew with all her womanly instincts that something really bad will happen to her if she fails to escape from such a perilous state. . She then hastens her pace to almost running, trying her best to arrive at her destination which is now only one final bridge away.
Unfortunately, it seems all of her attempts were futile when her stalkers decided block the path and make their existence known.
Based on the limited light from the lamp, Kayo estimated that the party was comprised of seven men looking harmless and decent on the outside with lust burning in their hooded eyes. Most of them were complete strangers, but she recognizes two of them who had just delivered the supply at Himeyuri Inn a week ago. And most important of all, none of them had intended to cover.
"Well, well, well. Look what we have here," Said one of them, breaking the silence and causing Kayo to nearly jump out of her own skin. "How are you doing this evening, sweet little thing?"
"Um,well, I- I am fine. Thank you. Would you gentlemen please let me pass so I could go home safely?" the young woman replied, whereas requesting them politely to open the path for her and knowing that it would not really work out.
" Oh, baby, like hell we would do that when you have such full curves in that tight kimono"
"That's right. Show us your great tits!" someone yelled.
" Yeah. Let's see what they look like naked." With that, the oldest guy smiles nastily while two of them separated from the group and circle around her to observe her. And now Kayo is trembling miserably but must pretend to be brave not to let herself look as "prey", while her feminine curves are being stared at by the outlaws.
"Gentlemen. Please, I beg of you. I-I have money! You can take it all. But please, don't hurt me," she pleads, drawing her purse from her kimono and presented them all of her savings which is in total of 10,000 Yen—it may be not much, but this is all she has.
"Good bargaining. What do you guys thinks? Rob her or rape her? "Asked the bald man, who appears to be their leader, judging from the gang's respect towards somehow, the merciless look in his eyes made a chill shoot up Kayo's spine. Here, they treated her like an injured animal with its chance of survival depending on their decision. But it is her life and human integrity they are talking about.
There was the moment silence, and the verdict came out as one.
The young boy laughs. "There you have it, mis-HEY! SEIZE HER! THE BITCH IS RUNNING AWAY!" he yells even as he turns around and sees only emptiness where Kayo was, and two of the gang members laying on the ground, clutching crotches that had been stomped on by a heavy geta. Apparently, while they were voting, had successfully defended herself and ran away.
"SOMEBODY, HELP! THEY ARE TRYING TO RAPE ME!" Running in the rain, Kayo screams at the top of her lungs, hoping that her voice will wake the entire neighborhood. But in this downpour, all anyone could hear was the sound of the thunderstorm. And her valiant escape is made useless when one of the molesters grabs her snatches her long hair and cruelly tackles the young woman to the ground.
"DON'T! PLEASE DON'T DO IT! SOMEBODY HEL—AH!" Kayo is fighting with her teeth and nails while she continues yelling. But a hit to her stomach almost knocked her senseless. But since her pride refuses to give up, the young woman is still struggling fiercely to protect her modesty, even as their brute force makes such struggles futile. They begin to pin her down and lift the hem of her garment to reveal her shapely legs.
"ENOUGH WITH YOUR STRUGGLING, YOU WHORE! YOU ARE GOING TO BE RAPED OVER AND OVER AGAIN AND THEN SOLD TO A BROTHEL! YOU HEAR ME, YOU LITTLE BITCH?" While the leader spoke, four men held down her limbs to keep her from moving while the other two used their knives to cut off her outer robe. Her outer rope was torn open, revealing her inner slip—and Kayo can do nothing but hopelessly cry for help when their group leader settled himself between her thighs and started to untie his pants.
And just when Kayo was about to give up, a voice like velvet resonates through the frantic rainstorm whose familiarity causes the young woman's heart to skip a beat.
"Excuse me for interfering, you gentle—No. Rude men," Declared the anonymous voice."But this lady is my acquaintance, and I insist all of you release her and leave her alone. Immediately."
To be Continued…