Her stomach growls. That's what wakes her. Pain throbs in her head, her side, her body. A desert rivaling Kabegami's Domain claims her throat. But it is her stomach's protests against its emptiness that wakes her. She groans and tries to move her arm.
That simple movement saves her life.
"Hey, did you hear that?" says a voice, presumably to another person. "Did something move over there?"
"Now that you mention it...is that a mannequin?" asks another, a male again.
"No, it's a girl!" yells the first voice. Footsteps. "Are you okay? Miss? Miss! Hang in there while we call an ambulance." A warm hand presses on her forehead. "Can you talk to me? What's your name?"
All they get is a groan in return before she passes out again.
"—did you find her?"
Cool sheets press against her palms. Something is attached to her wrist, and her legs are bare. Or am I wearing a skirt? Her eyelids are heavy and won't cooperate.
"We found her in the field next to the Telling Hall."
"Okay. What were you two doing there?"
"We were just hanging out, you know? Just having fun. Then she moved and made a noise; that's how we found her."
"Okay. Would you mind if someone were to come back to ask for more information?"
She decides she's had enough blind-guessing. She forces her eyes open, and the florescent lights burn her eyes. She groans, wishing her arm were up to covering her face and shuts her eyes against the light.
"Ah, she's awake. Call the doctor, will you?"
"Y-yes, sir!" There's the sound of a door opening, and the noises of a hospital rush into what she assumes is a room. Her room. "Doctor! Nurse, can you find the doctor? She's awake."
A few moments later, footsteps come in, closing the door. A new voice speaks. "I thought you said she was awake."
"She is. She opened her eyes before."
"Hm." Footsteps. "Can I ask you to leave?"
"Of course, doctor." Two pairs of footsteps leave. A pause.
"Detective, can you leave?"
"Sorry, I can't. I have specific orders to speak to her once she is awake."
A sigh comes from next to her. Despite herself, she flinches faintly. "Very well." A hand finds hers and squeezes. "Miss, can you squeeze my fingers?"
She does. Her fingers ache.
"Good, good. Can you open your eyes?"
And face the pain again? she thinks, but tries. Her black eyes sting and burn, but she succeeds.
"Okay. Can you speak?"
Breath wheezes out. No sound. She mouths something, but nothing. A squeak. Her throat doesn't vibrate. She can speak, but not now. What happened to my voice? She shakes her head after a few moments, getting frustrated.
"Okay. Hm. Interesting." The doctor looks over to the man near the door, a serious looking fellow with a beard. She notices that the doctor has strange red tattoos on his face. A black, wind-like design peaks out from under his sleeve, inked into the skin of the back of his hand. "Detective, could you spare a paper and pen?"
"Doctor, are you sure she should be writing in her condition?"
"She suffered many injuries," the doctor says, "but none were to the head. I just wish to see if she is lucid, but she can't speak."
"Fine, fine," the detective says irritably, tossing the doctor his pad of paper, attached to which is a blue pen. "But don't blame me if she hurts herself."
The doctor doesn't say anything but hands it to her. Though her grip is weak, it's still firm enough to scrawl. He helps her sit up on her white-sheeted bed. "What year is it?"
Numbers, fuzzy, appear on the paper. The doctor nods at the number. "Good. Who's the Chosen of Amaterasu's Domain?"
Her brows furrow. Is that a trick question? No one, she writes. She's dead. They've yet to Choose another.
The doctor's eyes widen. "Quite right. I forgot. What's your name?"
That's where it blurs. Her mind tilts. My...name? Her hand moves. Ama—stop. She scratches it out. Ammy. Better.
"Ammy? Common name. What's your surname?"
Blank. Darkness. Her head droops forward. Nothing.
"Ah. You can't remember?"
Ammy shakes her head. She wishes she could scream.
"How old are you, Ammy?"
17. Scratches it out. 18.
"So you've yet to choose your Path, have you?"
"Where are you from?"
The doctor picks up on her cluelessness. "Do you know where you are?"
One look at his face and her surrounding is all Ammy needs to know where she is. Yomigami's Domain, she writes. Her throat itches.
"How do you know?"
Your ears. They're pointed. Your eyes are gray. And hospitals are usually in Yomigami's Domain.
The doctor seems surprised. "You know this, yet you can't recall your last name?"
Ammy blinks. It does seems odd. What selective memory I have.
"I can see you're just as surprised as me. It's okay. Maybe it's a suppressed memory? Either way, I'll let you have a rest." The doctor looks at the detective. "Unless the detective would like to ask you some questions?"
The detective clears his throat. "Uh, yes, I would, actually." The doctor places a hand on the pad in Ammy's hand, looking at her as if to ask permission, and takes it from her before giving it to the detective, who accepts it with a grunt. "Is it okay if I were to ask you some question, miss?"
Ammy nods. Her hand goes, absently, to her throat.
"I'll try to phrase them as yes or no questions. To make it easier."
A cool tube presses to the back of her hand, all the way down her arm. Ammy looks down at the IV stuck in her hand, which is obscured with some gauze.
"That's for liquids," the doctor says. "You were severely dehydrated when you were brought here. Now, I should be going." He gets up, bids Ammy and the detective good bye, about to leave, before adding, "By the way, I'm Yomigami, Chief of Yomigami's Domain."
The detective clears his throat once Yomigami leaves to get her attention.
"You were found in a field next to the Telling Hall by two pedestrians. You were rushed to the hospital. You had suffered multiple injuries, including a sprained ankle, multiple cuts and bruises, a few cracked ribs, et cetera. Lucky you even survived."
Lucky isn't a word to describe the way I feel, she thinks. She touches the cheek-bandage again.
"That's a big cut. Doctor said you might have a scar. Now, Ammy, is Ammy just a nickname?"
Pause. For some reason, she doesn't think it would be a good idea to use her full name. So she shakes her head.
"Okay. Do you remember anything?"
Another pause. A slow nod.
"Can you write what you remember here?" he asks, handing her the pad again. Ammy takes it from him.
I remember waking up briefly when the two found me, she writes. Then waking up here. I remember my name, my age, all I learned while in school. But that's it. Nothing else.
The detective nods to himself when he reads what she's written.
"So you went to school?"
Ammy nods, confused. Why would it be such a big deal?
"Huh. That narrows it down quite a bit."
Ammy makes what she hopes is her best confused face.
The detective notices. "Oh, right. You can't remember that only moderately rich families can send their children to school. So it narrows down the possibilities and gives a better chance of finding out who you are."
Ah. Ammy nods. Okay.
"That's all the questions I have for you right now," the detective says, "but it's likely you'll get more visitors like me later. I'll let you get some rest."
Ammy finds she appreciates the way he doesn't look at her with pity; merely a look of compassion and understanding. Maybe he has broken a bone before.
The detective helps her lie down again and turns to leave. He pauses, looks down at his pad of paper, at her, rips off the papers with writing on them, and hands the pad to her, along with the pen.
"Keep it. I think you'll need it more than me." And then he leaves.
Ammy stares at the pad of paper in her hands. Then she places them on the stand next to her bed, smiling, and lays back down to fall asleep.
The next day, they are able to get Ammy to her feet. It's her check up. The doctor, a man with kind gray eyes (Yomigami's Domain native) informs her she is lucky to have survived the injuries, not to mention avoiding a coma.
"Now, let's weigh you, shall we?" he says as he ushers her to a cold scale. Ammy steps up, shaking in her thin white kimono. "Hm. One hundred and three pounds. How tall are you?" The measurements are taken. "Five-foot-six? You're under weight."
Helping her limp back to the seat she had been sitting in, the doctor seems a bit grim. "Your weight and your injuries...yes, you are lucky to have survived your ordeal, miss."
Full list of injuries: sprained ankle, three cracked ribs (none piercing an organ), at least seven large bruises (knees, thighs, side, both arms), five deep, long cuts (cheek, arm, back, thigh, shin) which look like were caused by a tool of some sort.
Ammy hates how she has to take a wheelchair back to her room, or how it is hard for her to breathe without pain. Or how the world spins just enough for her to doubt that she didn't have any head injuries.
The nearest Telling Ceremony, where she will choose her Path, is that day. She will be taken there, she will choose, and then taken to her chosen Domain's own healers.
Ammy sighs brokenly at the white (thicker, thank Amaterasu) kimono they provide for her. The color is meant to represent her malleability as a Candidate. She is a new sheet of paper that will be imprinted upon.
Others stare openly at her as she is wheeled past in her wheelchair. Ammy vaguely wonders about her black, straight hair, but decides it takes too much effort to worry. Who cares about hair?
The hospital have already determined she is from Amaterasu's Domain, from her pointed ears, black hair and eyes, slanted features, and sharp canine teeth. Her cuts are already healing, her bruises fading, the pain dulling; those of her origins are notorious for their quick recoveries. But she still can't utter a word, nor remember a thing.
Her Telling Ceremony. Somehow, Ammy doesn't feel different. Yes, she is living and breathing pain (some doctors mentioned she has a high tolerance for pain) but that's it. She is forced to stand, but she bares it, only to be jarred by others eager to choose their Paths.
What will I choose?
Her heart tugs. Her body moves by itself, fighting to reach the already large crowd gathered around the representatives of Amaterasu's Domain; the seat usually reserved for the Chief is empty for the second time in eighteen years.
Many say that the past Chief was wrongly Chosen.
Some claim that her blood was not luminous, did not shine like the blood of Celestials, did not react like it should have when exposed to Holy Ink. Some even say she wasn't fit to bear Amaterasu's holy name.
Because, of course, according to officials, naming a child the name of a Brush God is a crime. Only those Chosen are given the privilege of being renamed such a title. But that doesn't stop people to name children the nicknames of these Gods; that's why Ammy is such a common name.
Ammy spots multiple Races: a couple Yomigami's Domain natives, a few from Bakugami's Domain, others from Gekigami's Domain. Oddly, only a handful is from Amaterasu's Domain.
Of course, if Ammy would even want to become Chief, that increases her chances. Only those from the respective Domain may be Chosen. It's one of the only rules Ammy agrees with currently.
Those from Amaterasu's Domain line up, single file, in front of a young man and woman.
Ammy recognizes them as Shishi and Shisa, respectively; they are the guards of the Chosen Chief of Amaterasu's Domain. Looking around, Ammy recognizes Basan of Moegami's Domain; Kasha of Kabegami's Domain; both, oddly, Gozu and Mezu of Yumigami's Domain.
Only a small group of people are the station of the last. Yumigami's Domain has never been known for its popularity, which has drastically decreased ever since the Moon Tribe's massacre. Only those who wish secrecy choose that Path; fewer still choose it for the isolation from the other Domains.
The line shrinks. Three people between her and her Path. The paper, pen and doctor's note in her hand make her already nervous stomach jump and twist. Two. The person holds out a hand after answering a few questions, has their finger slashed, their blood dripping into a small pot of what looks like Ink.
Every time, there's a hiss and a pop, and the person leaves with a disappointed expression and a new cut to nurse. One person left. Then none.
Shishi looks up at her, pale blond hair kept long like all Guards, ink-black eyes hard. Shisa, hair a white-blonde like all Guards (again), smiles at her. "Hi, sweetie. What's your name?"
Ammy hands the mangled note to Shishi. He reads it, gives it Shisa and signs something.
The large, thick scar on his throat makes Ammy cringe, and her hand goes to her own neck.
Shisa nods. "Okay. Ammy, is it? Can you hold out a hand?"
She holds out a hand obediently, watches as Shishi slashes the tender flesh of her fingertip, already leaving to wait with the others before even glancing at the Ink pot. She only pauses when Shisa calls for her to come back.
Maybe she does need to provide a surname; perhaps she forgot something. She turns back around. Her jaw goes slack.
As bright as sunlight, the Holy Ink shines.
Tempest Bound: Haha, I've too on my plate right now...and another plot-bunny? Really, brain?
Anyways, this is a random AU story my mind came up for me while trying to fall asleep. Will this story survive brainstorming, or will it simply die off like Scars and Sacrifices? Only you, dear readers, can decide that! If I see enough interest in me continuing this story (enough is a relative term here; basically, I mean 'any') I might, if I don't get writer's block.
TL;DR: So will I continue this? You'll have to wait 'til next chapter for that!