"How enterprising!" a voice says as Kenji closes the door behind him. He'd clearly walked in on something, and by the way the woman in the room is glaring at the man, it isn't a happy conversation.
"Oh, stop being so happy," the woman snaps. "It clearly won't work."
"And you should stop being so pessimistic." The man narrows his eyes, happiness forgotten. "It will work. Trust me."
"Trust you? You nearly set my hair on fire!" The woman touches her hair, like she's remembering the experience. "Besides, you aren't the Prophet. How would you know?"
"I don't have to be the Prophet to know that this will work!" The man finally seems to notice Kenji. "Oh, hello. Are you that new scientist?"
Kenji nods. "Yes. Am I interrupting something?"
The man sighs, gesturing to the woman, who simply glowers at him with disdain. "No, not at all. Michiko here just believes that the plan won't work. You do know about the plan, don't you?"
Michiko snorts. "Yes, because it is clearly illogical to not believe that capturing Yami, Emperor of Eternal Darkness, will work. When we're trying to put him in a metal ark." She ruffles her blonde hair. It's the same yellow-gold color as the rest of the Moon Tribe. "But what do I know?"
The man sighs again, but doesn't pursue the topic. He holds a hand out to Kenji. "I'm Kenzo. You are?"
"Ah, okay. We're just working on the final finishing touches, which, if I'm correct, you can help with. You are qualified in Runic Sciences, correct?"
"Well, it's not really a science, you have to understand," Kenji says, "It's merely a method of using runes to—"
"Method, smethod," Kenzo says flippantly, smiling. "It still works. Now, come."
Michiko has left, Kenji notices. He follows Kenzo into the next room, which then connects to what Kenji can only assume is a docking area; the room's floor drops to provide room for barges, arks, and the like. This one, at the moment, is occupied by the biggest barge Kenji has ever seen.
"Now, this thing is called the Ark of Yamato," Kenzo says, arms open grandly, as if introducing a large and magnificent room. "There are several major compartments: four for Yami's major allies, one for himself, and a larger one for his many, many followers."
Though there isn't an evident signal, a large door opens, revealing the innards of the massive ship to be solid, gray metal. They make their way up the ramp created by the door. The inside is humongous; a center platform connects to four paths, each leading to their own doorways. Four doorways...where is the fifth and sixth?
"Um, I don't mean to be rude—"
"No need. What were you going to say?"
"You said there were, in all, six chambers, if I remember correctly—"
Kenzo laughs. "You remember correctly. Perceptive one, are you? The fifth one, meant to imprison Yami, is that center platform. It teleports you to a secured area in the Ark, without doorways. Wouldn't want the little guy to get loose, now would we?"
Kenji nods nervously. "Yes, I suppose so. The sixth, though?"
Kenji hasn't realized until now that the paths—are bridges, in fact. The edges drop off into what seems like infinity. A dark, deadly infinity.
"Impressive, isn't it?" laughs Kenzo. "Do you see why I believe it will work?"
Kenji can only nod.
Kenji scratches the last rune into the floor. This one, unlike the others, pulses green instead of an icy blue. This one isn't meant to trap like bars, but like the valves in your veins. A one way trip. The teleportation for whoever dares enter Yami's room.
Kenji hears footsteps behind him. When he gets up, it is Kenzo, looking proud. "Kenji!" he exclaims. "What wonderful work." He seems to notice something, something above the doorways. "But...aren't these runes supposed to trap, not worship?"
Kenji looks to where Kenzo is staring, and laughs when he sees the rune design depicting a spider-woman beast. "That? I'm quite proud of that one, actually."
"But what does it do?"
"I needed to let the runes recognize their captive. They will, now, with their likeness engraved in as their kin."
Kenzo laughs as Michiko walks in, followed by another woman—a Moon Tribeswoman—cloaked in full royal battle regalia. Kenji nearly looses his breath when he realizes who it is—Satomi, Queen of the Tribe.
A young boy trails behind her, looking lost and afraid, gripping her skirt in a tight fist. He glows with power, though he is only three or four.
Michiko smiles. "Wow, Kenji! I didn't know you had it in you."
Is that an insult or a compliment?
Queen Satomi smiles softly, regally. The armour she wears glints dully in the weak light coming in from the open door. "Yes, magnificent job. Kenji, was it? This will do just fine for my Emperor's plans."
The Emperor had called for this plan; the wars raged against Yami devastated his Realm. The bloodshed must end, he had said.
And end it will.
Many years ago, a being of some power stole machinery and technology from scientists from the Lunar Realm. The Moon Tribe as a whole pride themselves on their advancement; a crime such as this wouldn't go unpunished.
Confidant, the Emperor sent only a few men to hunt down the perpetrator. The being had constructed itself—himself—a shell to protect his fragile vessel.
Though, he was never fragile to begin with.
The Moon Tribe had received word of the missing minor God, certainly, from their neighbours, the Celestials. But they had never really paid much heed when the news came: Iki, God of the Abyss, had disappeared in an explosion of purple fog. Gone. Vanished.
That's why they never made the connection between the missing God—or Yami, as he is now referred to—and the stolen technology. That's why the men sent to apprehend a thief were slaughtered by the Emperor of Eternal Darkness.
The Emperor declared Yami an enemy. Open war followed. The Moon Tribe now faces extinction; only those on the west-side of the Lunar Realm escape any effects of war. Even school is still open there.
Thus this daring plan was hatched: to trap Yami and his minions in this Ark.
Kenji does not take part in the battle that rages the next day. He simply watches in company of the young boy who he had seen with Satomi.
The boy seems terrified, hiding his face in his hands and shaking. Kenji can sympathize; he was never one for blood. "What's your name, young one?"
The boy sniffles. "U-Ushiw-waka." He hiccups. "Sir."
"What are you doing here, Ushiwaka?" Kenji can't comprehend how horrible his parents must be, to let the boy watch a bloody battle such as this. "I take it you aren't Queen Satomi's son..."
"No. My momma's named Mitsuki. My papa's named Tomo." Ushiwaka beams here. "I'm the Prophet."
"But I thought Mana was the Prophet." Kenji nearly laughs at himself; here he is, conversing with a toddler while watching men kill and be killed by demons.
"I'm learning, sir. Mana had to leave, they told me. A long journey."
Kenji bites back the words: he's dead, isn't he? Why esle train the next Prophet?
A loud roar sounds outside, followed by a resounding cheer. The door of the Ark shuts as the lumbering figure of Orochi, a general of Yami, disappears from the field, away from the Ark instead of in.
Why are they cheering?
The door bursts open. It is Queen Satomi, dishevelled, bloody, dirty, but beaming. "We won."
Kenji opens his mouth. "But Oro—"
"Yami is in the Ark! It worked!" shouts the Queen, seeming so relieved and happy that Kenji shuts his mouth.
But, still, the eight heads of Orochi stick in his mind as Satomi runs over to Ushiwaka and hugs him, who looks on with uncomprehending eyes. "What's the Ark?"
It is three years later. A tree dissolves into black dust in the breath of an eight-headed beast. Its eyes glow red, its scales shine black, and the armour it wears glints gold in the flickering firelight. Suddenly, the head bearing a red helmet, the symbol for fire inscribed into the metal, rears back and spews fire at the helpless forest. Tongues of flame lick up the trunks, burning quicker than any normal fire can. The beast roars and slams its head against a rock, snarling in what seems like pain.
Heavy, metallic words ring in Orochi's heads, clanging like the incessant tolling of bells, painful and domineering. The voice is mechanical, though it still bears whispers of an organic body.
Orochi raises his Fire head, lip curling. The Lightning head attempts to sniff at the fire still burning the trees and only succeeds in getting his snout burned. Yes, Master?
Get me out of here.
Orochi wishes to growl, though he knows Yami will hear and possibly will torture him for back-talking. Instead, however stubbornly, he bows his head in submission, anger burning now. Where are you, Lord Yami?
Orochi hears a bitter laugh. Exactly where you abandoned me, you filthy snake. You deserted me. Where else would I be besides this idiotic Ark?!
Pain ripples through the dragon-headed beast's body, and he whimpers. He resents Yami all the more. How dare he make the great Orochi whimper like a pathetic mutt!
Orochi gives into his anger, his heads releasing a spout of their respective powers. A flood soaks out the quietly burning fire. Lily pads appear on the water's surface, but they soon die in the Cursed Mist released by the Darkness head's flowers.
Be quiet, Deserter! A surge of pain sends Orochi, sputtering, into the three feet deep water at his stomach. Release me of my prison at once!
When Orochi doesn't move, Yami hisses and sends another shock, jolting the beast up. Now!
Orochi hisses and lumbers off, trailing death in his wake.
Yami has waited three years for this day. Three years of planning, of gathering demons to fight, of stewing in his bitterness and hatred and burning desire to kill, maim, torture, destroy. Those fools have grown over confident; they even leave the door open, knowing that these idiotic runes keep him and his minions captive.
This power he acquired when he found a suitable vessel of light...while the God of the Abyss certainly wasn't light, he was a good source of Praise to burn into Darkness. Yami wonders how many believers he's destroyed and smiles.
Though he doesn't quite like the shape his vessel has provided him with, the technology stolen from those buffoons makes up for it.
Orochi gathers his underlings, mostly clay soldiers and doku, and prepares for battle. He knows he must fight through a large portion of the Lunar Realm to reach Lord Yami, and killing comes implied, and what is the harm of taking the long route? More bodies to feast on. More blood to drink, more bones to sharpen his teeth on.
More lives to cut short.
The Moon Tribe never make a dent in his shield; no cracks appear in his defences. Orochi roars, laughs, enjoys the bloodbath as he cuts down opponent after opponent. As if they have a chance.
Orochi's minions take their time in slaughtering their next victims, a man and woman. The woman screams as a clay soldier traces its electrically burning finger on her skin. Fires burn the houses around them to soot.
Orochi hears the sound of an opening door.
A young boy stands, dangerously close to falling over, flute in hand, at the doorway the man and woman came from. Orochi laughs at the boy's face as he watches his parents be slaughtered. Oh, the delicious fright and horror.
The boy looks up at Orochi, eyes wide, and tears off toward where Orochi can sense the Ark's aura. Orochi roars and proceeds to chase him, but is caught up by the trees before he can kill the boy. He snorts and stares at the place the boy disappeared. One soul alive isn't such a bad job.
Now, to find the Ark. "Lord Yami! Where is this infernal Ark that confines you?"
But then he can feel the aura fading, slipping away. Orochi leaps across the ground, desperately trying to reach the docking site. But the Ark is gone, and so is his chance at revenge, his crown.
Tempest Bound: Just a few notes on this: to those who've read Tregdy Strikes Young, my Waka-centric one-shot, this is the 'other-side' of the story, I guess. It says four paths, by the way, because Crimson Helm hadn't been created yet, and the Ark created a new room for him when he was. It's smart like that, with the runes. Also, Iki is based on the Ikiryo. If you don't know what that is, let Wikipedia help you with that:
In Japanese mythology, an ikiryō (生霊?) (also read shōryō, seirei, or ikisudama) is a manifestation of the soul of a living person separately from their body.
Traditionally, if someone holds a sufficient grudge against another person, it is believed that a part or the whole of their soul can temporarily leave their body and appear before the target of their hate in order to curse or otherwise harm them, similar to an evil eye. However, this temporary separation would result in sickness. "If the separation became permanent, the person who held the grudge would die."
The Ikiryo are said to be able "to possess another living person without the originator even being aware of it." The spirits are not "tied to whomever they possess," however, and "may freely move about bodies."
Buddhist literature describes the Ikiryo as being particularly difficult to exorcise."
There you go!