Chapter 5: Power Slash

Issun is the one to make the next decision, obviously. "Ammy, can you put the sun back in the sky? It's gettin' kinda dark."

Amaterasu, now past her suspicions, looks at Issun quizzically. Her tongue lolls.

"You know? Draw a circle in the sky? Swish-swish?" Issun even points to her Ink-soaked tail.

Amaterasu looks down at the mentioned furry tail, but simply looks back up at Shisa, whining in confusion. Shisa blinks, surprised, as her mouth hangs agape. "Mother Amaterasu? Do you have your powers?"

Amaterasu blinks.

"She doesn't?!" Issun exclaims, causing Chibi, who had been chasing Waka around the summit, to come to a screeching halt. He whines and hides his face with his paws.

"You, too, Chibi?" A whine in answer. "Great! Just great!"

Shisa looks grim. "Ah. That might be the problem..."

Waka glances up. "Quoi? Quelle problème?"

Shisa blinks. "What?"

A pause. "What problem?"

"Oh. Well, I've heard rumors of Mother Amaterasu's memories being tied to the other Brush Gods..."

"What about Chibi?" Issun asks. "He can remember me just fine!"

Shisa shakes her head. "They are entirely different entities, bug. While Mother Amaterasu's memories may be tied to her creations, Chibiterasu's memories seem to work like those of his Mother's works."

"Bon, qu'est-ce que nous devons faire?" Waka asks, seeming to have given up his apprehension to speaking French.

"How can we get furball's memories back?" Issun adds needlessly.

Shisa looks worried. "All I can think of is to get her Techniques back again, but I'm not entirely certain if it will work—"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever, babe," Issun says, and pumps an insignificant fist, jumping to rest on Amaterasu's head. "Let's get going, furball!" His glow dims. "Uh, exactly where are the Brush Gods?"

Shisa glowers at him. "They have returned to the Plain to aid Mother Amaterasu, I assume. They should live in their respective Domain."

"Domain? The heck's that?"

Shisa sighs. "Must I explain everything to you? Fine. Domains are the area designated and ruled over by their respective Brush Gods. There are thirteen—"

Amaterasu barks.

"Furball says fifteen."

"—Fifteen at the moment. Two more must have been added to accommodate new Gods."

"Yeah," Issun says. "Michigami and Kyokugami."

Shishi cuts in. "I believe you should be leaving. The sun is about to set."

Waka looks at Shishi. "Can't I just Bloom the Guardian Sapling? It would get rid of this disgusting mist, at the very least."

Shisa bites her lip. "Who Bloomed it originally?"

"Why, Amaterasu, of course."

"Then no one else can revive it now."

Issun hops onto Amaterasu's head. Chibiterasu whines. "What's the closest Domain?"

The closest Domain is that of Tachigami; it is directly north of Amaterasu's Summit. The route they will travel will take them through a small but very lush jungle, across a river, and into cave systems.

They will have to figure out which cavern is the central one, the home of Tachigami and his would-be followers.

But no one said it would be easy.

They run into a few Demon Scrolls, a few free-running enemies, but nothing Amaterasu, Issun, Waka or Chibiterasu can't handle. Amaterasu, thankfully, remembers where a bridge is to traverse the raging river and also the location of the correct cave.

They also never said it would be this simple.

Chibiterasu barks and looks up at the dawn-bright sky. Stars sparkle in the suddenly darkening sky, and Issun laughs. "Wow, we already found the constellation, furball!"

Wait, constellation?

Amaterasu draws in the missing stars, and Tachigami is released. The Rat snickers and is mimicked by his children. One steals the sword he wields and swings it at its sibling. There are a few squeals before Tachigami is able to grab the sword again. "Ah, Mother Amaterasu, Child of the Great Sun, Man of the Exile's Tribe, and..." Tachigami stares at Issun for a moment, "...bug."

"Aw, c'mon!" Issun shouts, turning red.

Tachigami blinks and returns his gaze back to Amaterasu. "After your incapacitation, your Brush broke up once again and scattered across this defiled holy land. We hide in the stars surrounding the Plain, to protect ourselves from the great evil lurking amongst the shadows until you may retrieve us once again, Mother Amaterasu." A snicker. "Just don't lose us again."

With that, Tachigami signals for his children to raise their snouts to the sky, and Tachigami, along with his sword, disappear into an orb of light. The light hits Amaterasu in the chest, absorbed instantly, and the Young Tachigami summon another orb for Chibiterasu. Power courses through the Gods' veins and—

Everything goes horribly wrong.

The illusion created by the presence of a Brush God shatters, and Amaterasu and Chibiterasu fall to the ground, writhing, smoke curling off their bodies.

"Ammy! Chibi!"

"Ma chèrie! Chibiterasu!"

Both Waka and Issun rush to the wolves' sides. Both mother and son's breathing is labored and heavy, though Amaterasu struggles to her feet. Her markings are gone, and so are Chibiterasu's, but at least they aren't stone.

"Ma chèrie," Waka says, "are you alright? What happened?"

Issun jumps up to Amaterasu. "She doesn't know. Maybe we can ask Tachigami." Issun looks at the sky. "Hey, Tachigami! What the heck just happened?!"

"You did not accept the gifts in order," says a distant voice, and they recognize it as Tachigami's. "Dragon, Rat, Penguin, Monkey, Boar, Rabbit, Snake, Horse, Rooster, Whale, Sheep, Cat, Tiger, Ox. Mother Amaterasu and Chibiterasu survived and still remember the skill, but keep the pattern of retention."

Issun pauses as the voice fades. "I didn't think that would work."

Waka picks up Chibiterasu gingerly, and the wolf cub whines, eyes closed, nuzzling closer in his unconscious state.

"We should return to Amaterasu's Domain, my little bouncing friend."

Amaterasu barks weakly, and her markings flicker back. Both Issun and Waka release a sigh of relief.

The moment they get back, Shisa frets over Amaterasu and Chibiterasu, barely batting an eye at either Waka or Issun's own cuts and wounds. Amaterasu is able to walk back to the Domain, and Chibiterasu demanded to be put down half-way through the trek.

"Oh, Mother Amaterasu and Chibiterasu!" Shisa exclaims, looking distressed. Shishi holds her. "If only I were there. I have failed you again."

"Don't worry, babe," Issun says. "Ol' furball can sure take a beating. She'll be fine."

"I know she will," Shisa says, sniffling. "But I'd like to be there to ensure that!"

Amaterasu starts to walk away. Chibiterasu notices and barks, tail wagging.

"Hey, where're you goin', furball?"

Amaterasu sighs wolfishly. "Ya wanna move on?" Bark. "Already?!"

"Please, rest for a bit, Mother Amaterasu!" Shisa says. "If not for you, but for me."

Amaterasu simply sighs again and rolls over onto her back, already starting to snore lightly.

Tempest Bound: This is where, if this were a game, a new feature would be introduced (besides multi-player/partners): you can now ask information of the Brush Gods you have already collected. There are a few limitations, of course. What Tachigami says is all that is available at this point in the story-line.

...And, yes, I speak French. :D