Taken from notes (Literally): Each year determines animal. They gain gifts. Based off of ideas from YouTube and "Aspect of Crow" by Jeri Smith-Ready.

Just a concept I thought of and wanted to get off my back and I saw was rather popular. It's a one-shot, but enough reviews or whatnot and I may consider this my next project. Either that or ask me to inherit the story and the ideas :) Year of the Rat!

Oh: Nushi is NOT Kuni! Nushi is the true son of Susano. This story takes place after Chibiterasu and Co.'s adventure.

The beginning will be the background, but I promise to get dialogue in!

Happy Easter! I mean Thanksgiving. Dangit.


Year of the Wolf

"Is he part of a prophecy? That boy is unnatural."

"Unnatural? You say my son is not normal compared to the other children? For Amaterasu's sake, you know he's like the others!"

"If only he was like the others."

If only he was…

Kushi felt haunted by the elder's last words. The look in his eyes told her that the son she bore will be cursed instead of blessed by the goddess Herself. She refused to believe such superstition and eagerly awaited to see her son grow up to be a fine man without anything to drive him down. Nobody knew the magic bestowed by Amaterasu nor do they want to talk or think about what it could be. The beliefs that Her power will be extraordinary and at the same time, frightening if any child is inexperienced or ignorant of what could blow up the land ached in the elder's aging mind. He stated simply that nobody should try to be born in the Year of the Dog – when the sun shines the brightest.

Most of the time, new travellers arrive to receive the gifts or native Kamikians remain to start their family. When a child is born, the ceremony begins a day after. The villagers are always in awe at the ceremony never knowing what year it is until one god appears in person. The brush god or goddess appeared in a splendid arrival and always in a human form, concealing clues to who they are. Once they placed their gifts on the infants, the god backed up and transformed into the particular Year. The child is marked with a Year.

The brewer and the warrior acted strange and nervous when they bore their son: Nushi. Susano the warrior claimed it was in honor of their first son who left on a journey. Everyone nodded, but remained unaware of the true reason. Nushi turned a day old and that was when She came.

Susano proudly held his firstborn and everyone crowded around and left a clearing for the god to appear. It took only minutes until a beautiful female appeared before them. The voice that rang was majestic and consisted of mixture of Japanese and a foreign accent. The villagers were mildly confused at this stranger, but Mr. Orange already conjured what he feared the most.

Nushi wailed at the bright light tickling his eyes. The goddess only smiled as her hand hovered over the crying child. From her hand was a red glow growing and growing until it blanketed Nushi. Susano blinked and his fatherly instincts nearly kicked in yet the bestowing already ended and the goddess backed up.

"A female god?" "Nushi will be a creative cook like his mother." "No… He'll be tranquil as water like his mother." "Why his mother? Oh please, he'll be clever and agile like his father."

The voices clang as the goddess transformed. They instantly paused when they heard a chilling howl. Amaterasu's howl of declaration.

Nushi belonged to the Year of the Dog.

"Nushi! Time of breakfast!" The brewer called out.

Nushi, who still remained in bed, moaned painfully. He was not looking forward to another day of getting bullied.

"Nushi!" She ranged out. "Your food is getting cold."

Too bad! His rebellious self wanted to shout back. He groaned at the laziness underneath his eagerness to learn and weariness of the other gifted ones. He was told he was a gift, but a cold laugh crawled into his eardrums. How was he was a gift when everyone told him he didn't belong? Blasted Zodiac and the Years. Curse them all. He thought bitterly. He just wanted to be normal. The steam that rushed out of him turned to sweat when the door opened.

Kushi sighed when her son refused to show his face. She noticed how her husband marched into his room so quickly and dragged him out by force while she saw Nushi desperately struggle in a fight not against his father, but the blazing ferocity of the wolf coming out to fight the man. She already realized the Year had its downsides with the animal instincts that ran through the children's veins.

"Take it easy, Susano." She pleaded, softly.

"Easy? Tell that to the little wolf cub here." Susano muttered, looking towards the boy to prove a point.

"H-He can't help it, you know. It's part of the wolf aspect."

"Blah, that's all I hear for excuses. This is not a zoo and I expected better of Fido…" He trailed off just thinking of the good wolf that changed his son. "If only he was some other Year or not at all – then he wouldn't be in such a darned mess."

The brewer shook her head sadly and turned away as Susano scolded their son and Nushi regained his human conscious. Nushi blinked, rubbing his head, and gave a puzzled stare at his father. Susano shrugged and muttered 'Amaterasu help the so-called gifted.' Under his breath and went outside to give his family some privacy.

Nushi looked at his mother. "Do I have to go?"

The sound sounded so sad Kushi swelled up with tears. "Yes… I'm sorry Kuninushi. I really am."

Nushi hardly ever heard his full name, but only when his mother was emotional. He keenly sensed her sadness and blamed himself on the way to the clearing.

The gifted children suspiciously watched Nushi come to the clearing. They all whispered to each other while Nushi sat alone and looked at the sky. The teacher was a young woman with bright eyes and a youthful face, but she taught the children and pretended Nushi never existed. It pleased those who disliked the Wolf and they managed to stir up rumors on purpose. Everyone whispered out loud each fictional line, but Nushi snorted in response. He learned to toughen his skin and ignore them.

"Hey it's Wolfboy!" Ikazuchi, gifted by Gekigami, teased. Everyone else joined in the laugh.

Typical day.

"Hey Nushi! Fetch!" One girl laughed, throwing a stick south.

. . .

"What's the matter? Trying to avoid attacking us like animals?" Another said.

Idiots that don't know they're animals themselves?

Ikazuchi grew irritated at the non-responding boy. "HEY! Pay attention you oaf!" A spark of yellow struck Nushi and loud gasps echoed across the clearing.

That does it. Nushi spun around and clawed at the Tiger, growling like a wolf. Ikazuchi took a pleasure in retaliating, and sent sparks flying (and I had that Taylor Swift so—wait, why am I interrupting…) against Nushi who took a few blows. Both already received cuts and bruises from each punch made.

"Where's your magic? I thought Amaterasu gave you unlimited power" Ikazuchi taunted him.

"I don't have any! I just have this darned temper." Nushi shouted back. He tripped and fell backwards; weight was pressed on his chest by the older kid's foot.

"No magic? That's pathetic." The Tiger pressed extra weight on the injured Wolf.

Nushi wheezed, but his eyes were set on the older boy. If he died here, he would die defiantly. "I would rather not have any either."

"ENOUGH!"

Nushi and Ikazuchi were startled by the voice. They recognized it and it belonged to what they thought was the young teacher. She furrowed her brows and folded his arms, waiting for an explanation for the fight. Her cat-like eyes faced Nushi and for the first time in his life, he felt intimidated.

"Well?" She demanded.

Ikazuchi smirked and acted weak. "Nushi started it, teacher!" He cried out. "He started to beat me up so I only fought in self-defense."

The teacher sighed, still facing Nushi with a frown. "Year of the Dog?"

Nushi blinked, but nodded slowly; his body still aching from the bruises. "W-Why?"

The teacher blinked herself, her eyes returning to a deep chocolate brown. "I'm the true outcast of the Zodiac."

"The wha?" Nushi gaped. All his life he thought he was the unwanted one in the Zodiac and that's why the others hated and feared his presence.

"Ever heard of the old tale about the Cat and Mouse?" She whispered.

Nushi coughed a "yes."

"I'm the Year of the Cat."

Nushi paced the house back and forth as his parents tried to explain everything he told them. He left out the teacher being the only Cat and she was relieved that he would spare her the pain of being humiliated. He, too, wished to hide his Year, but his fate had already been marked. Everyone knew who he was and he cannot hide himself from others.

The elders waved their arms and his parents mimicked the same angrily. He already imagined that he'll be exiled already with the hot-headed boy laughing to himself. His palms turned into balls and his teeth clanged together just thinking about it. He closed his eyes and breathed slowly, begging to anyone to not let him lose his temper. If exile would save him from his dreaded home, he would gladly take it.

An hour later, Nushi saw his parents somewhere near the gardens with Ikazuchi's parents. They were still creating tension from the incident, but his mind shifted to the new land he'll run away to. He already imagined grasslands where it's forever day and a beautiful setting. He wished to see that place.

"I'll get there." He told himself. He already grabbed his supplies and spun around to be eye-to-eye with a beautiful white wolf.

He noticed the red paint surrounding its face and he figured the gifted children decided to play make-up with this wolf. Ignoring the wolf in which he shared a year with, he tried to walk around it, but the wolf only stood in his way each time he moved an inch. Nushi grew irritated. He twitched his foot and the wolf yawned, still refusing to let him through, but held its ground.

"Let me through. I need to leave this place."

The wolf yawned again.

"Nushi!" The brewer rushed through the door and hugged him. "We freed you from being a bully. I know you aren't bad. I just know it." She looked at the bag and her eyes widened.

"Mother, it's not what you think it is." He cried out, glaring at the wolf who grinned sheepishly.

"N-Nushi. Why would you leave? You're only a baby." She said.

"Mother, I'm twelve years old. I can fend for myself. Besides, I would've been gone if it hadn't been for this wolf!" He growled, pointing towards the chair.

Kushi hugged him again. "Ooh, you're just imaging things. I don't see a wolf- it's your conscious."

Nushi squirmed. "Mother, I must leave. I want answers from this so-called great goddess. I want to know why I'm cursed!"

Kushi broke his grasp and gasped. "N-N-Nushi…"

"You knew about my Year and I'm sick of it. Tell father I'm leaving." Nushi said, stomping out the door.

"Son…"

"Mother, I told you—"

"Kuninushi, look for the shrine in Shinshu Field. It's outside of Kamiki. It-It may be able to help you find the answers…"

Nushi's eyes moved. "Um. Thank you, mother." He said and he closed the door.

The white wolf followed behind.

The boy stood outside of the village and grinned at the freedom he was granted. He heard stories of another younger than him who left into the vast world. He felt great to be the next mortal to do so. Nushi focused on finding the shrine first and easily spotted the grotesque red markings surrounded by stones nearby. He sprinted towards the middle and kneeled down as if he was called by Her.

"What now, Amaterasu?" He cried out. "I'm here at your shrine. I want answers! Why am I yours and why do I suffer these strange ways?"

Nothing.

"Tell me! I need to know!"

Nushi collapsed and sobbed immensely when he received nothing to know She would answer. The white wolf trotted to his side and licked his face, but Nushi pushed the wolf away bitterly.

"She can't help you either, mutt." He trembled. "She'll help no one."

What bothers you?

Nushi got to his feet and bent into a combat stance. "Who's there?"

A giggle rose in the wind. I am She. I am everything.

"Well, She." He said sarcastically. "If you're everything…"

He trailed off when the white wolf with the strange markings licked his hand.

"What now, mutt?"

You seem mad, that's all.

He felt comfortable to speak with this animal. He heard stories that the villagers treated a wolf like a human and that wolf ended up being Amaterasu.

"I am." He admitted.

The wolf scratched its ear, but still used a female voice with a mixture of Japanese and a foreign language accent. What bothers you? She repeated.

"Everything! People. Animals. Years. This whole concept of everything!"

Is that all?

Nushi nodded.

If that's the case, relax and think of the sun. It will help you.

Nushi stared dumbfounded for a minute, but gave up to reason with the she-wolf, obeying. He felt the warmth of the land and everything around it. He heard animals chattering away and the water flowing through the land. He felt life through the trees and rocks.

How was it?

"I never felt this amazing." He breathed.

The wolf smiled. You just recognized magic of the Dog. It's not all offense, but it's to teach the beauty of the land and the life that flows. Yomigami works the same way with his chosen ones. He teaches healing abilities and nothing involving pain.

"So I'm not a monster?" He asked.

The wolf grinned. Of course not, dear! They only believed that out of superstition. They are scared of demons.

Nushi heard the note drop on the word 'demon.' "What's wrong?"

The wolf looked surprised, but smiled to regain a better tune. Nothing. Just go home and everything will be alright. I chose you because you could bring My wisdom and spread it amongst the land. They'll need you and I'll be there to guide you. Amaterasu raised a paw. If you only let me.

The boy looked shocked at the goddess, and felt guilty for his ways. The light in her amber eyes made him feel better and less guilty. She forgave him, but She shook her head, urging him to accept being Her envoy. Nushi felt unsure what to expect, but he shook the paw and found himself at home, never willing to leave again.


I had some r-wordthing ideas if this story became a story-story. I hope this is alright :)