This is the prologue to a story that I'm hoping to be able to continue to write. I know it's a terrible time to start writing a story: with everything coming up in these next few months, but please bear with me.

I don't recognize anything that you guys might recognize.


Three Deadly Rules

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There had been a time when, far before my great-grandparents, let alone I, could remember, when a delicate balance had been established. This was before the looming threat of extinction of pureblood became a devastating dilemma for the remaining, who realized in a jolt what danger the race was in. And the sudden clash between the stubborn inferior beings and those who have always ruled began. Men were slaughtered, children were sold into slavery, and women were captured and never heard of again. Blood ran freely and screams danced around the air. This was known to us as the Forbidden War, which marked the time since when everything had changed. But I never knew what these things had changed from: I only continue to live life as I have always known it to be.

My mother, who had not been alive for the conflict herself, still insisted on telling me stories. Father claimed that such tales were too scary for children such as me and Shouta, who were just nearing the age of a decade. As it happens in Mother's story, a formal decree was sent out from the victors' castle mere hours after the surrender of the humans had been announced. Men were limping around, and those without legs were crawling and writhing about on the streets, as the remains of the homes and armies were gathered quietly. Wives, having just barely reunited with their husbands, were collapsing from fatigue, as the men had gone to fight, leaving all of the work at home and in the villages to the women. I used to curl up against Shouta at the sight of this, always imagining Mother, fainting away in Father's arms, and Father, missing his left arm and blood spattered thoroughly over this garb, struggling to support himself and Mother. Both of them, with fear imminent in their eyes. Thankfully, this was all a terrible fantasy that seemed so far away from the bland life that I enjoyed with my small family of four.

This piece of life is one that I wish I had cherished fully. They say that as pathetic humans, we can only realize how much something means to us after it is gone. This happiness was all before I was taught in the arts of surviving excruciating pain and blistering hunger. This bittersweet period of time was when I had known an emotion; an emotion that my life so clearly lacks now.

This was all before the decree had been violated-by my parents themselves: oh, the betrayal, I cannot describe at all how much it had stung. They had been slaughtered and hung around the outskirts of the camp for all of the pathetic, filthy humans to see. And on their clothes, written in their own blood, was the cursed word: "ningen". Their legs dangled, forever moving, from the highest branch that could withstand the limp weight of them both; merely watching their feet swing from left to right, parallel to the other, in a constant pattern: it made me vomit uncountable times. Shouta left-or shall I say, escaped-not far after this incident, and I heard, from an old travelling man who had visited our camp after escaping on foot from his own, that Shouta had become a rice merchant at the neighboring camps and was making it on rather decently on his own. He was to be betrothed to the pretty young daughter of the village chief. This brought relief to my mind, but also a painful jolt of jealousy. And this stinging envy is one that I must keep stowed away in my heart, lest it might eventually devour my mind completely.

Eventually, the pain rotted, as my parents' corpses had, and only then was it given a lock on its casket and buried. The night after the poorly attended funeral service of my parents, I had bathed myself in the small pond bordering the forbidden forest grounds on the coldest night of winter, biting my shivering teeth as I swore on my own-taking a drop of blood from my palm as oath-that I could never be hurt ever again by the unyielding and tyrannical laws of our oppressors. The jagged scar, in the ironic shape of the moon, remains yet in my hand, pink and raw to this day. And even after this performance, and the constant vowing to move on, still the image of my parents' corpses, hanging loosely from a bloodied rope on the tallest oak of the camp, stays deeply ingrained in my mind, as does an unwavering hatred for the rulers of our land. All of these events remains a warning, from the ruling demons perhaps, that any that violators the decree will be slaughtered, even demons themselves.

The people of my own camp, who have kept me hidden all of these years-the child of a violator is considered a violator of the decree themselves-have begun to show signs of aloofness. They know that my heart is hardened; I am no longer the dimwitted, laughing girl that came to buy milk from the shop every morning at the first rooster's crow. I am now the girl who has been damaged so badly that no one, nothing, can repair the scars that marr my heart and ruin my disposition.

Sometimes-yes, I am hesitant to admit this-when I have nowhere else to channel my emotions, I find them rushing off towards my parents. A small hatred for the betrayal and the lies that they had fed to me for years, and I am immediately ashamed at myself for ever feeling this way to my wronged parents. It is no longer appropriate that I address these two people as my parents, however: a fact that the putrid-smelling slaughterer of my parents-yes, a dragon demon with teeth as yellow as straw-had revealed to me as Shouta and I were rounded up and threatened. An orphan, they spat at me, malicious eyes flashing, but they said nothing about Shouta. I have come to believe that Shouta, who shared the sleek hair of our parents and the startling green eyes of Mother must have truly been theirs. But me, on the other hand, oddly staring with my dark brown eyes and wildly bushy hair-it only makes sense that I had been picked up from a neighboring camp as my parents fled from their pursuers. But I bear them no bitterness for this; it is rather the fact that they had never truly loved each other that leaves in me a feeling of having been wronged: they remained by each other's sides merely as protection, putting on a fake show of love, the only facade that could cover up the treachery and lies they had woven so tightly before my arrival.

I should have suspected, now that I remember it, that when I had found Father in the forest clearing with the beautiful demoness, that it was not happenstance that this meeting had occurred in the forbidden areas of the camp. Nor was it merely chance that this meeting was one that had been planned to fall perfectly on the day that the camp guards had been given a break from duty, and the day that Shouta and I were being taken to the physician for our yearly check-up with Mother. And the beautiful demoness: she had regarded me with curiosity, a sort of disbelief that someone as small and naive as I was living in such a wretched place. Her beauty, was a stunning as the sunset itself. And the demon that Mother had invited to our house a few times: a tiger demon, I recall. He was handsome and strongly built, and the way he and Mother had sat so comfortably around each other, as though their company was enough to satisfy the other for life, was so puzzling to me. Shouta, on the other hand, had been too fascinated by the markings on the demon's arms and legs.

Yes, now that I truly try to remember-despite the pain of it all-it really does fit together too well. My parents and their youkai accompaniers, they were the victims of it all. Not only them, but Shouta and me, as well as our village, which has had rations cut down my one fourth since my parents' slaughter. Yes, this is the punishment of a violator.

My parents were the foremost violators of the youkai decree. They had found love with a being not of our own: they had each found love with a demon.

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And that concludes it. Please leave any comments or criticism (don't be too mean though, I might cry lol), and I'll try to have the actual story chapters up soon.

Thanks

Lily