Chapter One: Wolf Statues

Amaterasu, Mother to all that is, goddess of the sun, of life itself, had turned to stone for the second time.

And Issun can't believe his eyes. She's not the magnificent statue (yet poorly made and which did not do justice to Shiranui) of the legendary wolf that fought and died next to Nagi, that the wood sprite Sakuya had drawn her spirit into all those months ago.

The wolf, curled up as if in slumber, looks bedraggled and unnaturally thin, and Issun swears he sees what-used-to-be-Ammy's eyes flash with grief and pain.

Maybe she is alive.

When he and Chibiterasu land on the Celestial Plain, he doesn't know what to say. What did he expect? Tall, lush forests and verdant fields? Magma spewing volcanoes and fissures that rock even this holy land? Terrible destruction or magnificent beauty?

Well, he's half right.

Like Nippon before it, the once beautiful and glorious Plain lies in disarray, engulfed in Cursed Zones. Chibiterasu barks at a nearby Demon Scroll, which ignores the wolf pup and floats away.

What, are you too good to be killed by the likes of us?

Despite his small stature, Issun can practically see the sickly purple fog rolling off the tall mountains in the distance. He jumps at the sound of thunder and Chibi buries his face in his paws when the volcano to their left rumbles ominously.

But still Ammy lies there, silent and still. Not a twitch of fur, not a swish of that ink-soaked tail.

Wait, did that rock just move?

Issun loosens Denkomaru in its sheath, eye twitching. A demonic welcoming party had come to greet them, surely. His helmet falls forward as Chibi runs and skids to a halt before his mother's...corpse? Statue?

"What happened to ya, furball?" Issun asks aloud, leaning over to study his friend's stone-cold face. "Do ya have a statue obsession, or somethin'?"

He knows he would usually get a trip to the more slobbery side of Ammy's muzzle for a comment like that. The wind stirs and Chibi whines pitifully, licking his mother's face.

Issun pats Chibi's head as best he can, given his perch on said wolf pup's forehead. A thought occurs to him. "Where's that stupid half-baked prophet?"

Chibi tilts his head at the unfamiliar name/nickname/insult, sending Issun to the ground beside him. He whines.

"Whaddya doing?!" Issun snaps, stumbling to his feet. "It's hard enough tryin' to stay up there without you doin' that!"

Chibi whimpers and forces his head between his mother's front paws and muzzle.

Issun sighs. "I didn't mean it like that, Chibi. Come on, we better go find that fruitcake before he gets himself killed." Honestly, he doesn't care whether Waka did get killed, but he might be the only one who knows what happened.

Chibi buries his face further and refuses to move. His godly markings flicker for a few seconds and his Divine Instrument vanishes. Suddenly, the Demon Scroll that had ignored them takes a surprising interest in the pair. Trio? Does Ammy count when she's like this?

The area immediately around them erupts into a ghostly battlefield, a curse sealing them in. Issun tightens his grip on Denkomaru, cursing, before turning around to find a horrific sight.

Chibi, tucked under his mother's jaw, has turned to stone, as well.

Issun panics. The monsters in this particular Demon Scroll are hardly top notch—Green Imps, to be exact—but it takes more pain and hits than necessary to dispatch them in a swirl of blossoms. Oddly, the petals crumble and turn to dust as soon as they hit the stagnant air.

The barrier disappears, and then he's suddenly hit with a wave of weariness. He knows that using the Celestial Brush can deal damaging grogginess to the user, if they hadn't built up their endurance—hadn't used the Praise received, in Ammy and Chibi's case.

But he's no novice.

Issun tries Power Slashing a nearby rock—a simple task, needing no more than the strength he can recuperate within seconds—but, suddenly, he's so utterly tired. He realizes with horror that the Holy Ink he's carrying is draining, leaving his Brush powerless.

"What the heck is this?! I thought furball would've gotten rid of these darn Cursed Zones!"

Well, it seems she hasn't. She can't, Issun thinks sadly, watching the wolf pair uneasily. If this Cursed Zone could do that to a god...

He shudders to think what it might do to him.

But why isn't he a statue, as well?

"Hey, Ammy, can you hear me?" Of course she can't. He thinks, a thought jumping out at him. "Are you like this because you're a god?"

He swears he hears a bark.

Issun continues on excitedly, realisation sending his subconscious bouncing into a flurry of movement, "Brush gods like you need Holy Ink, like mortals need blood, right? I read it in one of my grandfather's scrolls, saying that usually you keep a small reserve that remains unused because you'll turn into...this, if you don't have it."

He looks around, frowning, the glow perpetually surrounding him turning yellow. "But even back in Kusa Village, when your Ink was gettin' drained..." He bounces his way over to them. "This curse must be pretty darn strong to be able to do this to you guys."

That's it. He needs to go find Waka. The stupid prophet would probably tell him what he should do, albeit cryptically. Why does he always have to talk in riddles?

The only path clear of the cursed fog is ahead, bending gently towards the left, towards the largest mountain. The center of the Plain, Issun guesses.

A familiar sight greets him when he gets to what he later learns is called Amaterasu's Domain: a withered and gnarled Guardian Sapling, branches bare of the petals it usually bears. But no sign of the half-baked prophet.

The mountain is monstrous, easily higher than Mt. Ezofuji back in Kamui, maybe double its size. A half-dead, black forest encircles the mountain, blanketed by the roiling fog. If only Issun could just use his Celestial Brush, he could wipe away the Cursed Zone in no time flat.

He remembers Kusa Village. All that trouble, caused by one measly demon...

What if it had happened again?

That Crimson Helm had held back the Divine Wind, leaving the poor village defenceless against demons—if it weren't for Princess Fuse, anyways.

The only path, he can see, is up the mountain. An unearthly snarling—like that of a giant, bloodthirsty hound—pours down the mountainside as if to greet him.

Welcome to the birthplace of the gods and the home of the minions Orochi left behind after the Celestials' slaughter.

Welcome to the Celestial Plain.

Tempest Bound: Okay, guys, this is a new story I've been thinking about recently. Everyone seems to want a sequel to Okamiden that lets you visit the Celestial Plain. Thus, this was born. Basically, my take on an Okami 3.

For those who speak Japanese, could you please correct me if the title is incorrect? It's supposed to mean Okami (which is a pun in the original game, meaning both god and wolf) and I believe kaeru means 'to return', as in to come home. Is that right? Is there supposed to be a space in between? Totally different grammar?

Anyways, this will be a side story and not my main focus until I'm finished up The Goddess Crystal, my Harvest Moon fanfic. So, long story short, I'll update sporadically and only when I have the time to write this. Hope you like!