Well then. Even though I decided I wasn't going to make a sequel I made one anyways. Reason? The plot seemed legit xD
Now, if you haven't read Afraid of the Dark, I suggest you read that before reading this... otherwise some of the characters' relations/wellbeing might make no sense.
Chances are this story won't be as long as AotD was, but hey. At least there's no psychopathic killers in this one...?
To my current knowledge there will be at least one OC in this, but he's gonna appear later. Other than that it's all canon characters minus a few random demons.
And the best part? Waka isn't going to have a hat AT ALL in this story! 8D
"Hey Ammy, Kushi's heading out to Agata to get some more water for sake and—oh, okay then."
Issun halted in front of the goddess as soon as he realised that, as usual, she was asleep.
"Pff. Furball, how on earth do you sleep so much?" Issun tutted, rolling his eyes and jumping onto her head. "Get up, lazybones!"
Letting out an irritated grumble, the wolf lifted her head, trying to glance up at him.
"Sheesh. Ammy, you're so lazy when we're not on some great adventure," he sighed. "We gotta find another mission to go on or something. That'll wake you up."
Amaterasu blinked, staring at him for a moment. Then she let out a loud yawn and rested her head back on her paws once more.
Issun gave an exasperated sigh, flopping over backwards onto her fur dramatically. "Geez. This is what I have to deal with every day. Who'd have thought a god could be so lazy?"
He glanced up at the sun shining in the sky, holding up one hand to shield his eyes from the light. Maybe he should just be glad that they actually had the chance to relax for a while.
It was only a few weeks ago that they'd been dragged back down to the mortal plain for Tero's harebrained plan. In the process they'd lost Chibi and Kai, and come terrifyingly close to losing the sun goddess as well… but they'd pulled through, Tero had been killed, and peace was restored once more. Sort of.
There were still demons lurking around in places and he couldn't work out why. Most of them had vanished when they destroyed the Akukaen Crystal, a legendary stone that Tero had used to bring them back to life in the first place. Perhaps these demons hadn't been created by the crystal. They were just sort of… there. Still, at least there was something to do now. Nippon could be quite boring when there weren't any demons to fight, although just thinking that made Issun feel selfish.
"C'mon, Ammy, we should really go help Kushi. You know there are still demons around and knowing her she'll be too stubborn to go and wake Susano to protect her. Besides, if you help her put the water in the barrel again she might give you some rice or somethin' when we get ba—whoa!"
Immediately the wolf jumped up, tail wagging. Issun was thrown into the air but luckily he managed to land back on her head again and sat up, smiling.
"Hah. Typical. You'll do anything for food, furball."
Agata Forest looked in a sorry state when they got there. The fire had ravaged most of the trees and shrubs, but they were steadily starting to grow back and regain their leaves. Still, there was no denying that the dappled sunlight on the surface of the lake looked beautiful.
"Holy smokes!" Issun exclaimed. "Wow, for a babe, Kushi sure has got some muscle to manage to carry that barrel all the way out here so fast. Practice, I guess." He glanced up towards Hitoshio spring where he could just see the barrel disappearing over the rise.
Amaterasu barked, hopping over to the far bank from the island in the lake they had been standing on, and strode along the path leading up to the spring.
"Amaterasu, there you are! I've been looking everywhere for you! I-I mean… Amaterasu, mother to us all!"
"Huh?" Issun glanced around as he heard the voice from somewhere above. The wolf halted and did the same.
Suddenly there was a flash of orange light as a burning shape flashed past them. Sparks flew through the air and a nearby tree caught on fire.
"Ah! What the heck!" Issun cried.
"Oh, goodness! Um, um, I got this, I got this…"
Issun was left watching in moderate disbelief as he finally recognised the phoenix. Moegami made an abrupt stop the moment he noticed the flaming tree and hurried over, trying to put out the fire with his wings – which wasn't working since they were on fire as well.
Amaterasu just rolled her eyes, drawing a line of water from the lake and putting out the tree.
Moegami was left open-mouthed, nearly dropping his pipe. Then he blinked hurried over to land on a rock nearby, which had bare ground surrounding it so that he wouldn't set anything else on fire. "Um… my apologies, Okami Amaterasu."
"What brings you here, Moe?" Issun spoke up, hopping around on the wolf's head as per usual. "No trouble on the Celestial Plain, is there?"
"No, no, actually I just came to see if you were any closer to defeating the demons that were plaguing the lands," Moegami told them.
"Well, we defeated the guy responsible for them," the poncle shrugged. "There's hardly any left now. They could still do with being cleared out though."
"Ah, right," Moegami nodded hurriedly. "Well, um… take your time; we're continuing to look after the Celestial Plain in your absence, Okami Amaterasu."
There was another bright flash as the bird spread his wings and took off into the air. Another tree caught on fire although this time the phoenix didn't appear to notice. Ammy just shrugged and drew another waterspout.
"Huh. Those gods sure are nervous around you, Ammy," Issun muttered. I suppose Ammy is the most powerful god of them all, they have a lot of respect for her. "Anyways, let's go help Kushi."
Casting one final glance around as if to check that Moegami hadn't set anything else on fire, Amaterasu gave a bark and raced away along the path.
"Thank you, Snowy! Err… I mean, thank you, Amaterasu," Kushi smiled as she placed the lid on the massive barrel so that none of the spring water would fall out. "Now I just have to work out how to get this back to Kamiki…"
"Hmm, let's see…" Issun muttered casually, hopping over to the barrel and giving it a shove. It didn't budge.
"Thanks for your help, Issun, but I don't think that's going to work," the sake brewer laughed. "Don't worry, I'll be fine. I've managed to get this to Kamiki on my own before."
"Well, don't go pulling a muscle, sweetie!" Issun tutted. "We'll go back and see if Susano is awake yet, I'm sure he can lend a hand if he'll get off his lazy ass for once."
"He's not so bad," Kushi shrugged. "Oh, have you seen Kuni recently? I think he was heading out to the city today to go and meet up with a friend, I don't know if he's left already."
"Okay, we'll keep a look out," Issun told her. "C'mon, Ammy, let's hurry and find Susano before poor Kushi puts her back out or somethin'"
"Issun, I'll be fine, really."
Ignoring Kushi's protest, the wolf turned and raced back away down the grassy slope, flowers appearing behind her as she ran.
Issun held on tightly to her fur as they sped between the trees; it would be just like Ammy to not notice if he fell off, especially in a place with so much green.
"I wonder if Susano's even up yet," Issun mused, using his free hand to pull his hat tighter onto his head so it wouldn't get blown away. "If he isn't… eh, we'll just carry him out here. Same old, same ol—"
He broke off as Amaterasu suddenly came to an abrupt halt and he was thrown forward, getting a face full of fur.
"Pah!" he coughed, sitting up. "Ammy, warn me next time you're gonna stop like that."
Giving an apologetic grumble, the wolf glanced around, ears twitching, as if she were listening for something.
"What's up, furball?" Issun asked, straining to hear whatever she was listening for.
Then at last he heard a faint sound carried along the breeze.
"Oh great," he sighed, recognising the sound of the flute immediately. Ammy gave a bark, her tail wagging.
A second later the music stopped, and there was a flash of light just ahead of them.
"Bah. What are you doing here, prophet?" Issun tutted, rolling his eyes.
"I see you are just as happy to see me as always, my little bouncing friend," Waka teased, silver sparks still fluttering in the air around him as they slowly faded.
"Oh, trust me," Issun snorted. "I couldn't think of anyone I'd be less happy to see, and that's saying something."
"Well, ma chérie, it seems your bug friend is in his usual mood today."
"Shut up, prophet!" the poncle snapped. "And don't call me bug or else I'll start calling you maiden!"
"Excusez-moi!?" Waka actually looked somewhat defiant for once.
"Well, it's not my fault you look like a girl with hair that long," Issun laughed. He'd finally found a way to irritate Waka and that, in his mind, was something to be proud of. The prophet had lost his hat a few weeks back when they'd been in an avalanche at Ezofuji, and he hadn't yet bothered to find a new way of hiding the waist-length golden hair that trailed down his back.
"And it's not my fault that you're an insect," Waka shrugged, seemingly brushing off the comment. He carried on before Issun could reply, leaving the poncle fuming in silence. "Anyway, you asked why I was here; I was looking for you two."
"What, come to tell us of some new magical prophecy or something?" Issun rolled his eyes.
"Ma chérie, it's been weeks since we defeated Tero," Waka continued, ignoring Issun. "We should head back to the Celestial Plain soon."
Amaterasu's ears twitched as she listened to what he was saying. Then she glanced away at the grass, tail drooping.
"Already?" Issun exclaimed. "Well, what if Ammy doesn't want to go back to the plain yet. You wanna stay here with me, don't ya, furball?"
The wolf looked up at him sadly. Issun could easily tell what she was thinking.
She didn't want to leave him again, but she knew she had to go back to the Celestial Plain…
Waka let out a long sigh. "Désolé, Issun, but you know Amaterasu needs to be on the Celestial Plain or it could fall into ruin again."
"Bah. Fine," the poncle muttered. "When are you leaving?"
"As soon as possible," Waka shrugged. "I just want to check on Sei'an first and then we can go."
"You sure don't waste any time, do ya," Issun grumbled. He didn't want Ammy to leave already…
"Amaterasu, you know where the ark is. I'll meet you at Ezofuji. That's plenty of time to say your goodbyes to everyone, methinks."
And with that, the prophet vanished.
"Darn Waka," Issun huffed. "You don't really wanna leave, do ya, Ammy?"
The goddess hung her head, letting out a quiet whine.
"Eh. It's okay, furball," Issun sighed, patting her head. He knew that she didn't want to leave everybody again but she didn't want to leave the Celestial Plain at risk by staying away for too long either… "We should probably head over to Kamui then. Let's drop in at Kamiki on the way there and say bye to everyone."
Kuni stopped running to catch his breath, and he rested his hands on his knees, panting. He hadn't realised quite how long it would take to walk to Sei'an from Shinshu and so far he'd made it to the coast. He was supposed to be meeting Kagu near the city at least an hour ago. I hope she doesn't mind that I'm late…
After resting for a few seconds, he continued racing along the coast, weaving between trees as he tried to find the fastest route. Nearly there now.
After spending months living rough, Kuni had gone back to live with his adoptive parents, Susano and Kushi. Kagu had been staying in Yakushi Village for a while as she recovered from a wound she'd got in the fight to try and save Mutt, but Kuni had barely seen her at all since she went home to Sei'an City. Since Kagu was a miko, she couldn't leave the city and journey across Nippon to see him, so he'd been travelling to Sei'an to meet up with her occasionally.
Once the pier came into view, he saw Kagu sitting at the bottom of the ramp leading up to it. She'd probably been there for a while…
"Kagu!" he shouted.
The miko glanced up. "Kuni! You were supposed to be here an hour ago!"
"Yeah…" Kuni said sheepishly as he stopped next to her, out of breath. "Sorry… I didn't know it'd take so long to get here. Not to mention there are a lot of demons around still so I was being careful to stay away from them and—"
"I've been waiting out here for an hour!" Kagu snapped. "I skipped out on my training to meet you, and you don't even bother to show up until an hour later!"
Kuni blinked in surprise, taking a step back. "I-I said I was sorry… better late than never…?"
"Saying sorry can't get back the hour of time you've made me waste," Kagu huffed, turning away pointedly. "If you can't be bothered to show up on time then I don't see why you bothered to come at all."
"Just leave me alone!" she shouted, not even looking at him before running off back to the city.
Kuni was left in a stunned silence. "I said sorry…"
But she was too far away to hear him.
Kuni shook his head quickly. He'd had the feeling Kagu might be slightly mad at him but he hadn't expected this. What was up with her today?
She's just mad because I was late, he told himself. I'll wait a bit and go apologise to her later. I'm sure she'll forgive me then.