Okay, I just started doing research on Okamiden out of curiousity... I had NO clue there would be a little girl named Ayame towards the beginning when I started this. Excuse me while I go curl up into a ball and laugh. In the meantime, enjoy this bit of perspective swap while I try to figure out how to advance the plot quicker without changing the story style entirely. *sigh* I think it's safe to say How I Became Ayame is not my best work on here.

Longer (read: better) chapters will be in the future. In the meantime, happy reading!

Chapter 18: And Now for Someone Completely Different

Waka leaned back against the wall as he watched the girl, torch clenched in her hand, run from the army of stone goons that had been alerted to her presence within the cave. As she turned the corner at the exit of the tunnel, he looked away from the crystal ball that bore her image, tapping his flute against his chin with a thoughtful look on his face.

"She is doing well," the Queen said without looking away from the image, "better than you led me to believe, Waka."

"I will admit, ma Reine, that she has surprised me," Waka said, glancing over at Queen Himiko. "How strange, for me to have underestimated someone… not by too much, but certainly to a surprising extent." His gaze returned to the crystal ball, and observed Iris as she sliced a demon in half with the unimpressive blade she called "Poet's Wrath". "I wonder, will she be able to keep it up?"

"She must," the queen responded. She looked at Waka, "for the sake of Nippon."

"Tobi, help me!" Iris yelled within the crystal. More demons had swarmed her, and she began hacking away as they tried to land blows on her.

"Ah, yes," Waka said, looking at the Queen. "So much she needs to do… are you sure it would not be easier to simply bring her here, and explain what happened to Lady Ayame?"

"No," Himiko shook her head. "If the Lord of Darkness were to have a spy, they could learn everything if we told her. She will find her way here."

"Ah, she has finished them off," Waka remarked, glancing at Iris again. "Iris… perhaps we do have a chance." He watched her as she entered another room, and a wheel came rolling at her. There came the sound of an amateur's battle cries from within the sphere, followed by the sound of a demon screaming as it was cleaved in half. He turned from the crystal ball. "I will return, ma Reine." He walked out of the room, and didn't stop until he reached the front of the palace. He glanced at the ground below, and spotted a yellow flower sticking up between the cracks. He plucked it, and held it in the sun.

An iris flower.

Ma cherie… Waka turned the flower over in his hand. Be strong. You will defeat the Lord of Darkness. He twirled the tiny flower. Even though I have not foreseen victory just yet… I see it in you.

May you be as proud and as beautiful as a flower.