Rika's Secret... Kagura's Rebirth

(( Unknown village ))

Glinting blades, dripping with blood and rainwater, seemed to glow even as a small girl sat hiding in the corner of a burnt house. A severed head lolled before her, spreading a crimson stream, sporadically highlighted in the flashes of thunder. The blades cut left and right, letting the pain-filled cries filled her ears once again. Sprays of blood erupted all around her as the onslaught finished its flashing dance. The color of it drenched her clothes, even her skin. The smell filled her nostrils; the taste was acrid on her tongue. A young girl paralyzed with fear at the sight of an ugly being with a slash ran across its right eye and a psychotic smile on its face, who then lunged at her for hunger of flesh.

(( Enno Shrine ))

Rika gasped waking up from a possible nightmare. Grabbing the sheet tightly, her eyes were wide and filled with tears.

"Oi Rika, ya okay?" Ryu's face hovered in front asking with concern.

She quickly turned to face the window, not allowing him to see the tears that slipped down her cheeks. It had been so long since she had rested, had had time to really think about what had happened.

"Yes... I'm alright..." Rika responded to the white-haired boy as she slipped on an emotionless face and began to fold her mat in a silent manner.

"Mmm, 'kay..." Ryu watched his blonde friend's retreating figure with a confused look. What's wrong with her?

(( Outside Enno Shrine ))

The chirping of morning birds filled the air as they flitted amongst the rustling leaves in search for food. Chiaki was slowly stretching her arms and legs under the light. Powder snow at her feet as she relished the frosty surrounding. It was almost the end of winter. Yet the climate isn't exactly going to get warmer anytime soon. Chiaki looked up, squinting slightly as she watched the descent of snowflakes around and on her, then noticed the figure of Akira not very far from her place. Apparently, he had been concentrated on doing his work outside the snow-draped garden of their home. When she took a closer look, it was a medium marble, being chiseled by his skilled hands - a kind of hobby that had entered his veins even before they first met. Her eyes followed each movement he made with quiet fascination. He was so precise in everything he did, so very concentrated. It amazed her.

"G' morning, Akira." She smiled as she strolled toward him.

"Good morning, Chiaki."

Akira greeted her pleasantly as if he had sensed her presence. Chiaki could see the sunlight illuminate his face, a single icy crystal landed on his hawkish nose, skittered down along the bridge then slid off the tip. His smile was tugged upwards and he looked so serene and happy. She noticed the way he had been looking at her and blushed slightly.

"So… what are you doing this early in the morning?" Chiaki diverted her eyes to the stony object, eyeing it up and down.

"I am working on a gift for our new friends." Akira said.

"Oh, what is it? May I know it?"

"It's a secret."

"Come on, tell me." The young priestess made a face as her companion smiled amusingly. It was when Ryu walked by.

"Yo! Mornin', Chiaki! Akira!" The white-haired boy called out, grinning while approaching his friends. "Ya know where Kasumi and Megumi are?"

"Hi Ryu." Chiaki torn her gaze away from Akira to smile at Ryu. "They left early to run some errands for granny." She said happily as Akira nodded.

"Ah! Got it. Well… looks like I'll be taking off, too, someone told me about a competition downtown. See ya later!" Ryu said with a wave of his hand as he slowly began sauntering away.

Chiaki sat on the porch as she watched Akira continue his work, adoration vividly shown on her face. Rika stood in the shadows as always, not saying anything, but watched them with sadder eyes than usual. Deep in her soul she felt an ache, something that she had been ignoring for a long time was trying to surface.

"Good morning, Rika." Akira greeted upon seeing the blonde girl walking out silently. "You're up late than usual today. Are you okay?" He asked, noticing her strangely depressing outward.

"Oh! Hi Akira, Chiaki." Rika apparently didn't acknowledge his concern, said with a glint of sadness in her large, brown eyes, "I'm fine."

"Are you sure Rika? You don't seem like yourself." Chiaki noticed the sudden change in her young friend, too, left her seat to approach Rika and gently asking her what was wrong.

"Never mind." Rika shook her head and said with her eyes closed, "I'm not feeling well because of the cold. I'll be fine after a small walk."

The she let out a sigh and walked toward the woods, away from her friends.

Chiaki, whose sparkling lavender eyes filled with worry, stared inquiringly at Akira in search for an answer.

"We should let her be for a while." He quietly said.

(( Woods ))

Rika walked with her vision on the ground reminiscing a troubled past… when she was only a six-year-old enjoying life by her beloved on a peaceful mountain village, Yamahouga, known as the greatest training ground of exorcists. And because of that, her village gained as many enemies as its reputation rose.

What had long been anticipated had finally happened. A monster of immense power had decided to erase Yamahouga; and had succeeded. It had slaughtered everyone, and those that had not fallen to the blade had been tortured. The village was in chaos. She was lucky to have an acquaintance take her along. Far away from the place she called home.

She sighed sadly sitting on a stump.

No matter how hard she had tried to drug the memories out of her mind, she found it nearly impossible.

"Found yer little girl..."

An evil eyes with a menacing psychotic voice brought chills down Rika's spine.

"It's... YOU!" Her mouth suddenly felt dry and it was hard to breathe.

"Yes... and I sssssee yer new friends too... it would be a great piiiity if they meet a unfortunate demisssse keh keh keh keh..." The words seemed to echo in the vaults of her mind. In her memory, clear memories of pain and the bitterness of watching her beloved get killed giving those words a razor-sharp edge.

"NO! STAY AWAY FROM THEM!" Rika spat, enraged.

"Well... if you want to protect your friendssss... come and face me in your birthplace... keh keh keh..."

The voice echoed as its eyes faded into darkness. Rika was left alone again in the melancholy of her surrounding, to make a decision, to choose either protecting her friends or letting history repeat itself.

###

"It's been a while, shouldn't Rika be back?"

Akira was beginning to get worried. It was already past lunchtime and Rika hadn't shown up yet.

"She will be back…" Chiaki comforted, "You don't need to worry. No one could hurt her."

"You're right, I'm sure she's ok. But, it's odd for her to take this long." He sighed and shook his head. "I'm just being paranoid."

It was then Rika appeared from the woods, her bangs cover her eyes.

"Oh! There she is." Chiaki said with a smile, greeting her and beamed at Akira. "Told you."

"Where have you been, Rika?"

She didn't respond. Akira watched her, confused. Rika was always offering him a small conversation or at the very least, a smile. But now she looked... tired.

"Goodbye friends." She didn't even look at them when she spoke. She was silent and she looked so tired.

"What!"

"I have something to take care of on my own." Akira and Chiaki exchanged puzzled looks while Rika watched the sky with a melancholy air. "Don't worry about me." With that, the young girl went away in perfect silence.

"Rika! What's the matter? WAIT!" Chiaki reached out to stop her friend from leaving... but found it too late because Rika had already gone.

"Akira, why...?"

"This must be serious, Chiaki…"

He looked at her, who instantly understood and nodded her approval. The thought of helping Rika burnt in their mind as they, her and him in his divine transformation, pursued their friend to an unknown location.

(( Desolated village ))

Rika walked along a deserted path that led to a village located at the center of Yamato Zansan (three mountains of Yamato). The ruins, all, were covered in snow.

For a moment she just stood at the broken gate, staring at the necklace she held her hand, allowing her fingers to trace the smooth, oily carvings etched in its surface. The tiny piece of jewelry was old, older than many would think – her mother's last gift, and it brought back unwanted memories.

"Mom, I've never thought I would return to this place..." Rika whispered noticing the lake near her village still clean after eight years. A few fishes played at the bottom, obvious to the world around.

She moved to the bank picking up a ragged plush doll and hugged it tightly in her chest. This is my last fight, I'll avenge for you all… She squeezed her eyes shut, letting a few tears flash on the worn fabric of its tiny face. She couldn't let her friends get involved in danger, that was why she left in spite of herself. But now she felt so alone. She desperately needed someone to comfort her, reassure her that everything would be all right.

"This place is your home?"

A familiar mild voice from behind startled her as she turned abruptly to see Akira and Chiaki emerge from the shadows.

"I didn't ask you to follow me." Rika's tone was strangely cold, yet hinted with sadness.

Then she sat down on the ground, studying a snowflake as if it were the most interesting thing in the world. When she finally did look up at the two, the expression on her face was that of someone lost, hopeless and alone. It was very different from the mysterious Rika they had known in their short time being friends so far.

"This village was my home eight years ago. I was a small mountaineer trained to be a worthy mountain exorcist, just me and my mother living with many close acquaintances. But all changed one fateful night when an evil being appeared spreading chaos all over the village. My mother died protecting me... I was petrified, and when the demon attacked again, a golden wind sprouted from my body drove it back."

Rika explained to Akira and Chiaki of how she survived the demon's assault and how she was picked up by a generous monk after a friend of her mother, the one who took her along had died because of a vicious wound. Then it was all clear when the monk explained that Rika was the reincarnation of the phoenix goddess - Kagura.

"I'm sorry for troubling you."

Rika became very still then, Akira and Chiaki could hardly see her face through the thick bangs that had fallen over her eyes. However, the sadness which she felt seeped into their senses as her loved ones' blood must have soaked into hers all those years ago.

"No, don't be..." Akira comforted giving Rika a warm smile. "It's always nice to have you share everything with us."

"Rika, we will stick together in good or bad fortune…" Chiaki said assuredly, holding the blonde's hand. "That's what friends are for, ne?"

"Chiaki... Akira... Thank you..." Rika smiled, a tear carelessly trailed down her beautiful face at her friends' heartfelt words.

"How touching..."

An evil voice echoed the destroyed village interrupting the conversation. Akira, Chiaki and Rika saw a pair of evil psychotic eyes emerge from the forest and the voice revealed itself - a dark-purple serpent demon with a scar on his right eye and evil symbols all over his body.

"Who are you?" Eyes narrowed, Akira immediately stepped in front.

"Well sssince you won't live long I'll give you and your lovely purple-haired friend the hooonnooorrrrr to know my name... I am Konran the Dark Serpent! The wickeeeddeesssst and among the most poooweeerrrrfuuul of youkai race."

Realization hit Chiaki as she looked intently at the evil being, "You were the one who destroyed Rika's village?"

"That I am, little priestessss. I was still amazed that the girl escaped my hands... I'll finish my bussinessss with thiisss village by consuming the reincarnated Kagura... but before that, I am in the mood for an appetizer!" The evil serpent threatened, saliva drooling down his mouth.

Rika sparked Akira to take action!

"DEMON GOD TRANSFORMATION! AKASHA-ON!"

"PHOENIX GODDESS TRANSFORMATION! MAHAR SAMSKHARA!"

As Akira and Rika chanted the spells, illuminating light blue and golden auras glowing from their bodies, signifying the entrance of two divine entities! One was a tall male of 185cm clad in dark-blue armature, fiery earrings and long flowing icy blue hair. The second was a female of 163cm in celestial armature, a silver crown set upon her head and long flowing golden hair!

"THE LEGENDARY GOKI HAS DESCENDED FROM HEAVEN!"

"THE DIVINE KAGURA HAS DESCENDED UPON EARTH!"

"Ahhh... my fiirrsssst meal... very well keh keh keh!"

"No one shall be your food!" Goki faced his opponent warily. This Konran had a tricky air about him, like one who was accustomed to manipulating situations and people to suit his own ends.

"I will defeat you and put my past to rest, Konran!" Kagura announced.

"JUSSSSSSSSTTTT TRY AND KILL ME! POISON NEEDLESSSsss!"

Various needles were launched from Konran's claws toward Kagura and Goki, who instantly took Chiaki in his arms, jumped out of the way to avoid the attack!

"GOLDEN WIND STRIKE!" Kagura unleashed a golden wing attack on the serpent demon, which he blocked with his large hand!

"FROZEN LANCE!" Goki threw a mighty lance of ice that pierced Konran's hand causing the serpent to scream in agony, giving Kagura a chance for a hard attack to his front. Konran backed away a few meters.

"Grrr! Hmmmm this guy caaaaussssses too much trouble... time to get 'im out of the way..." The angry serpent switched his sight on the blue demon lord.

"Goki! Be careful!" Chiaki and Kagura shouted alarmingly as Konran charged at his target. But with reflexes as good as the blue guardian, he jumped away a hair's breadth from the serpent's deadly jaws. Goki retaliated in a lighting fast second by whirling around Konran and swung his staff around to hit his back. The serpent dodged, releasing a puff of dark-green smoke from his mouth but Goki leapt over it with grace.

"Gotcha boy! VENOM DART!"

An evil gleam crossed Konran's eyes as he fired a dart through the blinding smoke toward his opponent, it hit Goki squarely on his left shoulder.

"Ah!" He fell on his knees, a paralyzing wave spreading all over his body. "Can't… move!"

"GOKI!" Chiaki cried.

"Why not ssssit there while I take care of your prreeeeettty friendsssss!" Konran smirked turning his attention towards the girls!

"Like I will let you kill us! DIVINE SPEAR!" Kagura shouted at the serpent drawing her weapon!

"Well try to ssssstop me keh keh keh!"

The young goddess lunged at Konran with full force striking the serpent but he blended his body to the right swatting her to the ground!

"No!" Kagura hit the cold surface, feeling her limbs cut into the ice. The bright crimson blood spilled out like a torrent of red liquid, splattering the jagged daggers of solid ice. Konran took the chance to wrap his body around the young goddess squeezing her to the verge of bone-breaking!

"Nnnngh!"

"Kagura!"

"FIRE SPELL!"

An arsenal of fire shot at Konran. He let out an angry shriek before turning to face his challenger.

"You mustn't underestimate me JUST because I'm a human!" Chiaki said in a serious tone as she held her spells up in a ready stance. "Now, LET GO OF HER!"

"Big talks llliiiitttllleeee girl."Konran sneered, though the serpent was obviously feeling the burning effect of the burnt marks made upon his body. "I'll let you sseeee the conssseeeeequence for your act."

He broke an evil laugh and exposed between his claws three more darts that he hurled at Chiaki with amazing force. She barely had time to avoid them before countering with another set of spells toward her attacker, who had planned, dodged and hurled the young priestess across the battlefield. "Kyaaa!"

"Master!" Goki supported his body in a kneel position. Sweat traveled all over his face and he raised his head to see Chiaki lying still on the snow. His vision blurred a little and he shut tight his eyes. Chiaki…

"How ssssssad that you chose to protect thesssse two Kagura! That's why you are WEAK!"

"She. is. not. WEAK!"

To the serpent's surprise, Goki glowed emitting a healing light to eradicate the paralyzing poison in his body. "Fighting for your loved ones, it is NEVER SEEN AS WEAK! You understand!" He said angrily, a pained look on his face.

"Go... ki..." Kagura whimpered, twisting her body in a vain attempt to free herself from Konran's dead folds.

"Ssssso niiiice talks boy!"The serpent broke a maniac laugh. "You should reconsider you choice of wordsss... IN HELL!"

He threw Kagura to the side and lunged at Goki. The blue demon lord only had time to grab Konran's jaws stopping the serpent from consuming him! He winced as sharp fangs dug into his arms.

"My poison will make sure you have a slow and painful death. I'LL KILL YOU!"The words were loud, venomous. Konran broke another evil laugh sensing the blue guardian weakened by every minute as the poison entered his blood.

"No, you won't..." The serpent heard a faint whisper, then his eyes widened in shock at the sight of a glowing goddess!

"You think protecting my friends makes me weak...? I'll prove the contrary!"

"Kagura..." Goki watched through glazed eyes at the sight of the phoenix goddess.

"WHAT IS THISSS?"Konran stuttered seeing Kagura emitting a golden light and emerged in a new form! The goddess was now standing at 176cm, her celestial armature was reformed as her silver crown bore the shape of angel wings. She now wore emerald earrings and her beautiful golden hair glowing brightly in the wind!

"It... can't... be! It...cannot be... THE WINGED GODDESS KAGURA!"

"You've noticed... Yes, I have regained my true form. NEVER AGAIN will you haunt me!" The young goddess said in a soothing but dangerous tone that spread fear to the serpent's soul.

"NO! I CAN'T BE DEFEATED!" Konran screamed terrified shaking uncontrollably as Kagura prepared a new attack!

"This is for my mother, my people who were murdered by you… and for MY FRIENDS! SHINING GALE VORTEX!"

The goddess launched an enormous golden beam of spiral shape towards the serpent.

"THIS... CAN'T... BEEEEEEEE! GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!"

Konran screamed his final words before his body came into contact with Kagura's attack, utterly killed in a massive explosion.

###

Chiaki had just regained her consciousness. Her back still throbbed painfully but she managed to sit up. Taking a look over her surrounding and racking her brain for some sort of remembrance, she realized the battle had long ended. Struggling to stand, Chiaki stumbled slightly over the uneven snow-draped ground, anxious in the hope to check on Goki and Kagura... and sighed in relief seeing them near the frozen riverbank.

"I don't know how I should thank you. Had it not been for you two, I couldn't have awakened my true self." Her hand gently brushed away the wet mud on his face. "You're okay?"

"I'm fine… I'm glad you finally avenge for your loved ones." The blue demon smiled as he allowed his beautiful friend to help him stand. "Let's find Master…argh–"

"Goki!" Her eyes scanned the puncture wounds in his arms where Konran had gotten a bite, a strange purple-blue color growing around their edge. Something was wrong about the blood that was trickling down there.

"It's alright… I can manage this." His blue eyes glanced at hers.

"Goki! Kagura!"

The guardian god looked up, the pained look on his face dissolving into a deliriously happy smile as the certain priestess waved her hand running towards them, unhurt and well.

"Master!" He shouted gaining her attention. "You're alright."

Chiaki involuntarily smiled back when she reached them, then paused a moment to look at the now-taller girl at his side. "Kagura, you…"

"Yes, this is my real form, blessed by the will to avenge for my people," The blonde heroine smiled. "And the power of our friendship." As she finished, Chiaki leaned forward and hugged her gently, tears escaped both girls' eyes.

"I'm glad you're alright too, however," Kagura added after a while, "I'm also glad you aren't mad at me although I've borrowed him for a while." She attempted a joke, smiling at the blue demon lord.

"Eh?" Chiaki blinked. "No, actually I—"

She trailed off, her blush deepened as Goki, having returned to his normal form of Akira, gave out a small chuckle.

"Mou..."

Kagura also changed back her form, smiling at the scene where Chiaki began what seemed to be an endless snow bombing on Akira while he dodged effortlessly with a nervous smile.

I feel happy for them... She silently whispered, This is how things should be…

(( Evening at Enno Shrine ))

The sun was setting down the west as Akira worked on the last touches of his sculpture. Chiaki and Rika were having small talks on the porch when a familiar sweet bubbly voice filled the air, "YA HOOOOO! We're back!"

"Hi Kasumi, Megumi!" Chiaki said welcoming her friends as they walked up the stairs.

"Just in time for dinner. Where's tousled head?" Megumi asked, scanning the shrine until a silhouette landed from the sky barely missing Megumi's spot, revealing Ryu stretching his arms.

"HMMMMMM~~~~~ What a worthy show it was!" He exclaimed, referring to the competition he had seen downtown. "Oi Akira! What's ya doin' there?"

"Welcome back Ryu, I've just finished my newest work." Akira turned to him, not yet having any attempt to show the work of arts behind his back.

"Hey! Where's Zenki?" Kasumi wondered as the six heard a familiar sound on the roof.

**SNOOOOOOORRRRREEEEEE**

"Zenki!" Chiaki called out to the sleeping chibi demon. He groggily rubbed away the sleep from his eyes at his *master*'s voice.

"What'cha want Shrine Girl?" groaned the little demon lord jumping off the roof landing next to Ryu.

"Akira's going to show us something special." Chiaki explained to Zenki, going soft about the features.

"What's goin' on here?" Asura appeared questioning Ryu.

"I don't know. Akira has something in store for us."

"Here you go." Akira said amiably as he revealed to Chiaki, Rika, Megumi, Kasumi, Ryu, Asura and Chibi-Zenki a unique sculpture. "I have been working on this small present for a while since we became friends. Hope you like."

The sculpture portrayed the two titans, Zenki and Asura, in their previous armatures standing high and mighty on the heads of the Indomitable Thunder Phoenix and Immovable Light Dragon, diamond axe and golden sword raised to the air. Behind them were Goki and Kagura in their past forms, platinum staff and emerald spear in hand standing proud. And our lovely priestesses, Chiaki and Kasumi, stood by their guardians smiling brightly to the world. Silver and golden leave streams intertwined together, creating a magically beautiful atmosphere.

The group stood in awe admiring the work of arts under a snowy sky, each with a smile on his face.

Friendship forever ...

The End :D

==The ending of this fic is almost like a homage/tribute to the songfic "Secrets" that belongs to AzureKnight2008. Hope ya like it! X3==