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Twin Moon - Chapter 4 - A New Home

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An awkward atmosphere filled the space. The talk of calm winds blowing or bright sunlight was pointless, in fact, only an aggravation. If one really wanted to speak of wind, it was stale, if you had to insist on knowing about it. So stale that even in the coldest of days it still felt like a hot summer’s afternoon. It just sat and festered until all you wanted to do was itch yourself raw and spend the rest of the day bandaging yourself up for the terrible mistake made. Perhaps that over stepped the bounds, that painted a really disturbing picture. It was unbearable, really unbearable.

And before you even start asking about that oh so wonderful sunlight that should be out, just stop there. It was too bright to be even considered helpful. No clouds stood around to block it out. So the rays just blasted down and baked the wood planks until going barefoot made blisters. It was terrible, really terrible.

So just stop thinking about it, now!

Anyway, the mood in the shrine for the morning was frigid, a recently common occurrence. Even if it was all one-sided, it did not stop the atmosphere from changing dramatically. It never used to be so difficult for them. It used to be a calm and relaxing time. All they did was eat and maybe have the odd fight or two. They were like siblings given they grew up together since before they could remember. That was how it used to be, that was true.

However, the mornings had recently changed. The table turned out full, which normally would not be a problem. The company present was the problem. What became the norm for the morning was an uncomfortable group of seven. Fitting around a low square table, their grandfather sat at what could, sort of, be considered the head of the table, but only because he always sat in the same spot. No one else shared his side, but it became clear the others held different interests.

On his right sat the strange emotionless wonder of a man, Katashi. While bearing zero emotion either at or away from the table, he still managed to have a surprising air about him. Tsukiko would never admit it to him, but he actually did look very handsome and sometimes even beautiful. All this was so long as he kept his mouth shut. Unfortunately, the moment his mouth opened it all fell away. If a man could ever be considered like a doll, he definitely did an amazingly good job of making the effort. Apart from her grandfather, he was also the only man she knew that came close to eye level with her (freakish height). The thought left her a little uneasy and uncertain.

Following around the table, Katashi did not sit alone. Of course (not by choice), Tsukiko sat next to him. This mostly came from her finding the spot to sit first and him following her. He actually seemed to wait on her to pick. He just hovered around looking aimless until she sat and then he moved in with surprising speed that might have been teleportation. Tsukiko would switch spots repeatedly before breakfast was served, but never escaped his speed or determination. She could only relent to her hunger and stay. No further away from her, her spirit of the sword sat on her right around the corner on a new side of the table.

His recently declared wife, the female spirit that inhabited Mitsuru sat next to Tsuneo, the male spirit. Finishing out the remaining fourth side of the table, Mitsuru sat with Chie. He set a place for the spirits and offered tea to Chie. She disappeared during the day on what she called research. None of them knew where she ran off. However, by the time night fell she always returned with the expectation of being fed along with everyone else.

This was morning life.

Chapter 4 – A New Home

“Hello! I’m Mitsuru Sakakibara. Following the pattern, sis would have done the introductions, but she’s busy.”

Breakfast was in full swing for everyone. Tsukiko kept quiet since the start, an unusual occurrence. While everyone noted it as a little odd, they carried on. Mitsuru served up those around him trying to keep the peace at the table. “Did you want more rice?” he offered to Chie.

“Oh yes, thank you!” She eagerly handed over her bowl to him. “It’s been so long since I’ve been able to eat like this!”

He smiled to her taking her bowl. “I’m glad that you’re enjoying yourself.” He popped the lid off the rice cooker and scooped out more for her. “It’s always good to be able to eat with friends.”

“Definitely! Food is so much better with good company!” She accepted the bowl back from him and handed him an empty bowl in return.

“You see on our birthday, we accidentally awoke two spirits asleep in ancient swords we found in a cave. They now inhabit our bodies causing us to transform into them.”

Mitsuru subconsciously accepted the bowl and started to pack more in. He paused in mid scoop looking down at the bowl. After examining the bowl, he looked over at Chie. “Didn’t I just give you a bowl?”

“Did you?” she asked with her eyes shifting away. “You sure you didn’t just imagine it? You were looking distracted while we were talking.”

“I guess…” He finished it a little uncertain and handed it back to her. She returned it back to him empty immediately. Mitsuru went to filling it again and paused once more. His eyes shifted over at her and down at her stomach. “You…”


“How many servings is that?”

Chie turned a little on her knees to look at him with an insulted look. “What are you implying?”

“W-well, we’re running out of rice…”

She put the backs of her hands on her waist and leaned over at Mitsuru. “I’ll have you know I’m a growing girl still! I need three full meals a day!”

“Growing?” questioned Mitsuru with an incredulous look in his eyes.

“Are you saying I’m old? Think I’m an old lady who’s over hill and has to watch her figure because she ain’t young anymore? Who did you think’s so old that her breasts are sagging and is so senile that she needs help just walking!”

“I didn’t say any of those things!” Mitsuru panicked and handed over the bowl filled up with rice again. He closed his eyes and turned away hoping that the pain would be over quickly. However, when nothing came he tempted his fate to look over at her. He saw that she accept the bowl and speedily went through the rice in a matter of a second. She handed it back to him. His relief accompanied a little sweat dripping down. He twitched in his face a little not sure how to react and just gave in refilling it. The nearly empty cooker reminded him how low on food they were. ‘She’s going to eat us out of our home...’

Chie sighed with the last bowl and let out a gleeful cry. “I’ll never get tired of that rice! So awesome!”

“In addition to them, we have gained two more guests staying at our shrine the same day. It has nearly been a week since and I fear sis is reaching her limit. Unfortunately, today is our day off from school.”

Mitsuru sighed a little to himself, but could not help a smile watching her. The carefree nature in an adult seemed a little warming to watch, even if he could not help but wonder if it was a good thing. She seemed happy at least. Unfortunately, his thoughts went back to their food concerns. “…the rice…”

The youthful adult tilted her content face over to Mitsuru from the floor. She grinned at him. “I could stay here forever if the food is like this. You cook all the time, Mitsuru?”

“We all take turns. Though I’ve been cooking this week…” The stress that Tsukiko went through with the spirit and at home, he felt that doing everything he could to lighten the load would help. Unfortunately, it did not seem to be doing anything for her. He worried if it was all fruitless.

“…Mi-tsu-ru…” sang Chie from the ground. She pulled herself over towards him a little, stretching out her hands to reach for him.

“Eh? Yeah?” He started to lean away from her a little, becoming uneasy with the atmosphere.

Her cheeks and nose started to turn red followed by a very pleasant grin unlike before. “You’ll keep making more breakfasts for me, right?”

“W-why do-do you look like you’re drunk? We don’t have any alcohol at the table!” He pushed himself away from her the closer that she came to him. When her hand pressed on his leg, it made him yelp in surprise in an oddly higher pitched voice. He caught himself quickly and turned a little red with the thought that a strange sound came from him. Unfortunately, the time he wasted on himself gave Chie all she needed to ensnare him.

She had her arms around his waist and resting her head on his lap. Unnoticed by everyone, across the table Tsukiko’s silence forced her to start turning all shades of red that existed and rippled her lips in trying to remain silent. Chie drunkenly grinned at Mitsuru. She playfully ran her finger down his cheek. “You’ll cook again, right?”

Mitsuru’s face turned bright red nearly becoming a light. He released another squeal from his lips that he immediately regretted. “…y-y-y-yes…”

Chie jumped up around his shoulders and hugged him. “You have no idea how happy that makes me!” Her finger ran circles on his cheek in a strange mesmerized appreciation. She suddenly giggled. “You know you scream like a girl. You’ll make a good wife one day with your cooking!”

“W-w-w-what!? What are y-y-y-you saying? I-I-I-I’m a boy!”

She patted his head, still hugging him. “That’s okay! Nobody’s perfect!”

“Huh?! W-w-wait a minute!”

“You know I can fix that!” the female spirit chimed. Her face held the eerie mischievous look that certainly spelled doom and misfortune for Mitsuru. Chie grinned looking over at a welcoming accomplice. Hisako raised her hand and tapped his head. The point where she touched shined bright blue and rippled waves down his hair turning it silver and flowing to the ground.

“Eh?! Hey!” Mitsuru caught the edges of the hair dropping down around him and recognized it immediately. He tried to protest, but Chie’s body on him prevented him. “Please stop!”

“Oh! Such fine hair!” She reached up carrying a tuft of the hair in her hand. It slowly cascaded down her arm with her increasing smile. “But you’re still missing something!”

A bright excited look gleamed in the spirit’s eyes upon hearing Chie. “Oh you mean this!?” She quickly drew her hand down Mitsuru until leveled at his chest. Her finger poked him and drew away as it expanded.

Chie clapped her hands together pleased by the gift. She rubbed up against him knocking into his altered chest. “You’re all complete now!” She paused a moment before grabbing with both hands tightly. After a few seconds, she finished and turned back to the woman. “They’re a little small though.”

The spirit tapped her finger to the side of her face pondering the comment. “I guess you’re right. This part is for the male demographic and if it isn’t unrealistic they won’t be happy, huh?”

Between the embarrassing noises he made, Mitsuru tried to get control of the situation. It had already gone too far and they were about to take it over the line. Annoyed veins popped out on his forehead as he sought to find his strength. The presence of Chie holding on him made it difficult and slowed his struggling. Even before he had a chance for defending himself or escape, the woman, he thought agreed to be play nice with, already worked her magic once more. He felt the extra weight, but she crossed the line. It gave him all of the strength he needed to stand up and throw Chie off him. “That’s enough—“ A loud crack slammed down on top of his head bulging his eyes out in shock and confusion. Mitsuru’s head slammed down to the table not knowing what happened next, fortunately, there were two main characters present.

Unfortunately, it was the second one that knocked out the first. After she watched what they did, she could no longer be silent. Tsukiko snapped her chopsticks between her fingers watching the last thing they did to him. She could not stand him taking it all and doing nothing. Therefore, she acted taking the sword and scabbard from the floor and wielded it. “Stop it now!” she yelled at the top of her lungs, drowning out anything Mitsuru said. She aimed for the floor planning only to startle them into stopping. When she heard a painful crack and her swing cut off too soon, she knew something was wrong. It took her a moment to blink and see what happened. Once she saw she hit Mitsuru instead, she dropped the sword. “Mitsuru! I’m so sorry!” She reached out to pick him up, but they got in her way.

“Mitsuru! Are you hurt?!” Chie grabbed the half-conscious Mitsuru and held on to him tightly. She quickly examined him for injuries. The blood that heavily dripped down his face with a dazed look in his eyes was all she needed to know. “What do you think you’re doing hitting him?”

Tsukiko quickly changed her attitude when confronted by Chie, the source of the problems. “How can you ask something like that when you were…were?!”

“Were what? We were just having a little fun.”

“A little f-fun?!” Even the sound of the words was too much for Tsukiko consider. She had restrained herself as Chie was a guest of them, but she stepped over the line. Tsukiko could not hold back her anger anymore, guest or not. She pulled up her sword still held firmly in its sheath. “What part of any of that was fun for Mitsuru?!” The sword swung down with a clear target.

Chie’s face immediately sobered up. Her hand grabbed the scabbard stopping it with no effort. The surprise on Tsukiko’s face made her grin. “Don’t think I’m weak just because I look good.”

Frustration built up in Tsukiko with her failure. The shock quickly wore off and fueled back into energy. It shook through her arms making the sword rattle, still held by Chie. Tsukiko’s head tilted down with a shadow covering up her eyes. “How dare you… …trample over Mitsuru’s… …kindness!” Force of will channeled spiritual energy from her body into the sword. It suddenly began to glow with Tsukiko’s energy pulsing.

Sensing the change in the pressure, Chie let go of the sword and back away. “Hey now! It’s just a joke!”

“Just a joke? A joke!” Tsukiko screamed aloud and charged over the table with no regard for manners. She pulled the sword back throwing the scabbard behind her. Katashi skillfully leaned his head away from the incoming strike and continued with the meal. The target of her anger in front of her, Tsukiko sprinted for Chie swinging her sword wildly. Each swing released some of the energy stored up as a wide beam that blasted across the room with tremendous destructive force. Chie managed to stay ahead of it, but sweated and looked a little excited. “Stand still so that I can teach you a lesson in manners!”

Chie dodged away from the next incoming attack. “I think you need to learn some manners before me! Didn’t your parents teach you not to put your feet on the table?” A taunting smirk rested on Chie lips for only a moment. The next blast came out tenfold larger and faster than she expected it. She did not have any chance to evade, but it did not hit her. It blew past her, but came close enough to leave her face warm from the friction in the air.

All of the energy stored disappeared from Tsukiko and she panted dropped the end of the sword to the floor. “Watch your tongue,” she snapped accompanied by a glare. She paused trying to catch her breath. Tsukiko started to lift the sword back up, but a heavy hit knocked in the back of her head. “Hey—“ She could not finish her words as she turned around and saw her grandfather glaring at her with the eyes of a demon.

“What do you think you’re doing swinging your sword around carelessly?!”

“B-But…she…” The words barely came out of her mouth unable to respond against him.

“Look at what you did! Half of the shrine is destroyed!”

Tsukiko turned around looking at their home. Pieces of wood timbers fell down to accent the crumbling state of the structure. A moment before she remembered it all being completely clean and normal. They were eating a normal breakfast. Nearly none of that remained in sight. The kitchen only had water, from the broken sink, spraying out. The counter and cupboards all disappeared to twisted sticks of wood. Their guest rooms no longer existed and only part of their rooms stood still. The roof creaked and groan with the lack of supports.

She had no words to speak after seeing everything that she caused. The sword in her hands dropped with a dull clattered to the floor. Her mouth hung agape. Tsukiko could not believe the destruction that happened. In fact, she really could not believe it actually was real. It sent her into disbelieving shock. Her head turned with a stutter back at the table. Rising from unconsciousness, Mitsuru surfaced behind the table rubbing his head. She caught sight of him and pleaded for the correct answer. “This isn’t real right? All of this is for the sake of comedy and it’ll be all better in a minute, right?” Her eye twitched catching the sight of her grandfather again.

Mitsuru sighed and winced in pain from the large round bump popping through his hair. The spirit already slapped a bandage on it in a cross, not that it helped. He pointed up to his head at the bump. “This is physical comedy.” His hand stretched out to the kitchen, the most ruined. “That’s reality. This isn’t that type of story.” He let out another sigh and shrugged. “Most of things that happen in this story are real and not done away with a hand wave. I’m sorry.” Mitsuru then clapped his hands together praying for his sister.

“I don’t act as though I’m dead!” snapped Tsukiko, leaning in from her spot. Her protest turned silent very quickly as her grandfather became more prominent. She pulled away wishing to flee to the peak of the mountain behind her. However, she knew that she did not have such a chance. Tsukiko did the only thing she knew that she could do. She drew her feet back eying her surroundings cautiously. Only one chance existed for her. If she failed it would all be over for her. She felt the sweat dripping down her face. Her chance slowly drifted away the longer that she refused to act. Delaying long meant an even worse fate. The muscles in her legs prepared, as she knew she had to move. The tension mounted tighter.

Tsukiko jumped into the air. Everything released in the moment as she prayed for success. She came down to the floor hard in full prostration. “I’m so sorry, Grandfather! I’ll do anything! Please!”

Apart from their grandfather and Katashi, everyone fell over in surprise. The blank empty look on Katashi almost looked a little like he felt left out. Mitsuru raised his hand up pushing over Katashi, who joined them on the floor. He looked content in their company.

They all started to recover from the shock. Their grandfather moved over to stand before Tsukiko. None of them believed him to do anything horrible to her. However, it did not stop them from concern. In mute anger, he grew in height beyond even his unusual stature. The power of the demon in his eyes seemed to cover his face and body in pitch black. His very presence seemed to block out the sun and threw them into midnight with crimson clouds hugging the globe over them. Such a presence, they feared what he might do. He stretched out his hand in a firm stance. They knew it would happen soon, whatever punishment he planned to deal.

Everyone leaned forward in anticipation. They looked more nervous than Tsukiko, who already bled sweat as if she swallowed two liters of water in an instant and her body forcibly looked for all exits to drain itself. The long seconds of waiting did not help her either. She glued her face to the floor, so nothing was visible to her. Only the feeling of his presence told her that he still stood by her.

When his hand finally reached her shoulder, it all shattered away. The image and emotion disappeared with only their grandfather presence. “I think my back went out…”

Everyone fell over again, minus Mitsuru who had a flat expression on his face. He looked around at the others, even Katashi, who seemed to have pushed himself to mimic the others. Mitsuru sweated a little looking at his empty face. He then leaned against the table and sighed. “Twice, really? It was back-to-back even, how much of a surprise can it really be. It such an overused joke.”

Chie pulled herself up looking a little disappointed. “Since when did you become so cynical?”

“Yeah, you’re not acting like your usual easy self,” added the female spirit. It was difficult to tell if she was being stupid or blunt in her response. Both came equally sharp.

Mitsuru pulled the two women up and seated them to the right flank of their grandfather. “I wonder what might have changed my attitude…” He glared at the two of them. “I think there’s something you two need to do.”

Their grandfather looked over at the three of them. His eyes widened a bit as he thought about the situation. “Oh, our guests no longer have a room to stay in. I am sorry for the inconvenience.” His back no longer seemed to bother him, if it ever did.

“Oh don’t worry!” Chie waved her hand dismissing his need for an apology. “She blew them up, nothing you could do about it.” She laughed a little in response.

An annoyed fist knocked into Chie’s head from Mitsuru. A fresh bump appeared on her head. “Don’t talk so casually like you had nothing to with this! This is all your fault to begin with!”

The female spirit nodded in agreement with Mitsuru. “Yes, you should apologize—“ She was cut off quickly by a fist against her head as well. A small tear welled up in her eye as she looked over at Mitsuru.

“You aren’t any more innocent in the matter than her.”

Imploringly, the spirit looked up at Mitsuru with a mixture of confusion and sadness. “I really miss the doormat type.”

Another vein of annoyance popped up on Mitsuru’s forehead ruining his image further. “Careful with what you say.”

Pleading along with the spirit, Chie tugged on Mitsuru’s shirt with a surprisingly cute and innocent appearance. She almost could have passed for a high school student with the way she reshaped her features. Unfortunately, the words that left her mouth betrayed her. “Yeah, this is out of your character type! You’re supposed to be the wishy-washy protagonist that never gets mad regardless of what happens to you.”

Their whining was enough to push him over the edge. He pressed his fists down on their heads roughly turning his hand in small circles against them. “I’m normally like that! But even Buddha would lose patience with the way you’re acting!” After he finished punishing them a little for their actions, he pushed them toward his grandfather. They looked back at Mitsuru confused, but he glared at him with eyes that told them to stop acting like children.

The two women stumbled at the feet of the old man. He was not even glaring at him, but his massive height towered over them with more than enough unintended menace to shape them up quickly. They both prostrated themselves before him. “We’re sorry, Grandfather!”

He stared down at them in silence. It was hard to know if he was pensive or angry with them. He already seemed to forgive the damage that Tsukiko caused in her anger. However, they were the instigators of everything. There remained uncertainty on if he placed blame on them. Their grandfather still said nothing for more than a minute. “I think I know someone in town that will give me a fair rate.”

Silence continued awkwardly for everyone in the remains of the room for another couple of seconds. They all waited for the joke to drop, but it never came. Once they realized that everyone sweated a little not knowing how to react. Unfortunately, Katashi fell over again miss reading the situation. Mitsuru pulled him back up to work things back to normal. The sight of the room reminded him of the difficulty of that happening.

“There’s another option,” considered the male spirit as though thinking to himself out loud. He held his hand up to his chin thinking deeply on a matter that suddenly grabbed the attention of the rest. After a few seconds, he motioned over to Hisako. She glided over to him with curiosity in her eyes. He leaned over to her whispering in her ear. They exchanged a quick conversation beyond everyone’s ears. “…should be possible, right?”

“It’ll use a lot of power.”

“Can’t really be helped.”

“Guess not.”

The two ghosts stood up with their discussion concluded. They nodded to the other and looked forward at the group. “We’d like to offer a solution.”

“A solution?” questioned their grandfather. Curiosity had already infected everyone, but it made them all lean a little more on their knees.

“Yes, we know of a place that we could offer to you as temporary housing.”

“Really?” asked Chie, nearly leaping with excitement. “Where?”

Mitsuru cocked an eye up to the two of them. “It’s nothing strange or weird, right?”

“So suspicious!” complained Hisako. She leaned down at him with her hands resting on her hips. “Don’t you trust our good will?”

“With your track record?” replied Tsukiko in a flat disbelieving tone.

The male spirit, Tsuneo, waved his hands to deny their claims. “We did cause you troubles. So we must do the honorable thing and mend what we have broken.”

Mitsuru and Tsukiko still had their doubts, but they both looked sincere. They wished to trust them rather than keep second-guessing them. Therefore, they gave in and accepted the offer along with everyone else. An important question quickly came up. “Where is this house?”

“Oh it’s more than just a house!” she corrected. “It’s a magnificent mansion!”

“M-Mansion? Where?”

The two spirits looked between them in thought. They seemed a little uncertain about the question. Their silence made everyone else a little uneasy about the answer that they would give. Tsuneo turned to address everyone with their consulting finished. “We’re still a little off our bearing with so much having changed since we were alive. But it is near the base of the mountain.”

-X- -X- -X-

Morning disappeared long ago. Afternoon had firmly set in. The whole group traveled through the forest that hugged the mountain. They followed the spirits that eagerly led the way. An hour of walking left everyone weary and doubtful of the constant reminders that they knew the way. After two hours, it became clear that they went in circles and had become lost.

Hisako leaned over to Tsuneo to exchange words again. This happened periodically on the trek. Each time it sowed more unease amongst everyone. Their uncertainty did not help matters. “It’s this way, right?” She pointed off in the distance through a set of ordinary appearing trees. It looked no different from the last twenty groups of trees.

The male spirit held doubt and confusion in his face as he stared at it. “What about those?” He shifted their sights further to the left. Unfortunately, he spoke with no more certainty than she did. Any confidence they had was long spent.

While they tried to get their bearings the rest of the band of homeless vagrants rested. The siblings forced Katashi and Chie to sit together, not wanting to deal with the stress. Opposite of them, Mitsuru and Tsukiko sat with their backs against the trunk of a tree. The morning events did more to fatigue them, especially in Mitsuru’s case. It only took him a minute before he laid on his back.

Tsukiko leaned over to look down at him. When she started hearing his slightly labored breathing, she became concerned. “You alright, Mitsu? This sort of walk shouldn’t be tiring you out that much.” For most of their childhood, the forest was their home and playground. The walk such have had little effect on them.

“My back’s been killing me for the last hour. I feel so heavy so some reason.”

Her expression turned flat at her words. She restrained her disbelief as much as she could with him. “…I wonder why…”

“Yeah, I wonder if its growing pains…” He massaged his shoulders trying to work out the knot in his muscles.

Struggling with the frustration, a vein bulged from her tightening fist. “Really?! Have you forgotten your situation already?!”

Mitsuru looked down at his body and laughed. “Oh right! That makes sense!”

The carefree attitude of Mitsuru forced a sigh from her. She still could not believe that he went back to his usual self so quickly. Tsukiko pressed her back into the trunk and crossed her arms. “That’s why I told you to find support.” She cursed her inability to do anything to help him.

“But no one owns anything this size! It’s not exactly normal.”

“I know…” she muttered. ‘Can’t believe that they did that to him! What were they thinking?’

“Well it’ll go back to normal in a few hours she said.”

“Sounded like she was just guessing.” Their break ended with the motioning from the spirits. They thought they found the way, again. Tsukiko hoped that they actually did find a place. She already felt bad from destroying their home. ‘I hope Grandfather forgives me…’ At her side, Mitsuru was still laying on his back looking very comfortable and relaxed. He had a small grin on his face. ‘So carefree…’ Tsukiko leaned down to offer him help. “Feeling better?”

He quickly took her hand up and jumped back up to his feet. His body felt a little lighter suddenly. A quick check on his body disproved his first theory. Mitsuru shrugged it off glad to be feeling better. “Yeah, much. Don’t know why, but lying down was really nice!”

“I’m glad, but you look a little too energized…”

Mitsuru tilted his head a little at Tsukiko. “Do I? I just feel great all of sudden.” He looked around the garden of trees that surrounded them. They felt warm and inviting in a way that he could not understand, but feel. He stepped out away from everyone coming up to a large trunk that stood out from the rest. Its trunk had grown to such size that it would have taken at least three people to full encompass it. The longer that Mitsuru stared at it the more detail from the bark he found. Cuts and tears, not from age, but like a history of past incidents lined it. The great tree had a grand history from the surface. Even without touching it, Mitsuru sensed a pulsing life from it. A familiar sensation of comfort bubbled up. “There’s something here.”

“Mitsu?” Tsukiko jogged over to him trying to figure out what pulled him away. The closer she came to him the stranger she felt. For a moment, she paused in her step trying to understand what coursed through her body. “…it’s familiar…”

His sister’s words turned his head back feeling the resonance. “You’re feeling it too?”

“…yeah…it’s weird…but I think I…”

“…know this place…”

“Hey, you two!” yelled Chie from a distance, “If you keep standing around we’re going to leave you behind!”

They looked at each other for a long moment in silent decision. The feeling they both had brought them to their answer quickly. They quickly glanced back at the small group and disappeared into the forest in their own direction.

Chie staggered a step forward in surprised confusion. An awkward cry for help yelped behind her. She turned quickly to find the spirits dragged away from them into the forest against their will. “What’s gotten into them?” The old man and Katashi both looked at Chie as though waiting for her to act. She ground her teeth bothered with the turn of events and bolted after the fading spirits. “We’re not getting split up at least! Even if we are lost!”

Through the dodging of trees and prayers not to lose sight of the spirits’ glow, they managed to keep up. Eventually, they caught up with the two, but only because they stopped. Before Chie or the others had a chance to say anything, they found themselves in a large clearing in the forest. The size of the clearing should have been something they crossed in their wandering, but none of them saw it before. However, the size did not stop everyone. Spread throughout the clearing was the ruins of an old structure.

Grass grew up around wood planks covering most of the area in green. What the grass failed to cover, flowers, vines and even trees sprouted up latching onto anything possible. Nature had reclaimed what used to be a massive building. It was difficult to know how old or even how long along the place had fallen apart.

Not one to ignore ruins and historical interest, Chie jumped out ahead of everyone. She had the glow of a child on their birthday as she jumped around the ruins. Her sketchpad was already out in her hands and a smaller notebook pressed open with her thumb. She could not be stopped.

Mitsuru and Tsukiko stared blank faced at the ruins. They felt a strange sense of awe and familiarity, but thought it misplaced. Neither of them knew how to react or why they found such a place. Tsukiko stepped out cautiously as if she tempted fate with her boldness. “Even in all of our exploring…”

“…we’ve never seen this place before,” finished Mitsuru.

The two spirits floated around the area with a look of nostalgia painted on their faces. They had almost become like children as well. After a few minutes of floating about, they returned to the two teenagers. “Thank you so much for finding our home!” They bowed deeply showing their gratitude.

Neither could react clearly, as they taken aback by their sincerity. Mitsuru managed a nod and awkward word with them. Tsukiko felt she should rethink her opinion of them. ‘Maybe they aren’t so bad…’ She still had one concern. She looked back at the overgrown rubble. “Is this the mansion you were looking for?”

“Oh very much so!” Tsuneo replied eagerly.

Hisako looked over her shoulder at the ruins. “I guess because it’s like this we had so much trouble locating it.”

“Yes, it’s not giving off almost any spiritual presence.”

“I’m sorry,” said Tsukiko, offering as much earnest feelings as she could. “To find your home like this…”

Tsuneo waved his hand dismissing her need to apologize. “That’s fine. We’re just glad to see it. We feared that it might have turned out like this, but we hoped the spiritual wards would have protected it from time’s hand.”

“Oh well,” shrugged the woman, floating off a little. “These things happen.”

“You’re taking this awfully well considering…”

“That’s because we’re going to be rebuilding it!” he exclaimed.

“What?!” questioned several voices.

Mitsuru jumped in with a protest. “But that’s going to take longer than fixing up the shrine!”

Both spirits shook their heads. “No, this will take more spiritual power than originally planned, since it’s destroyed. But we can do this.” They approached their respective owners and met gazes with them. “Though we’re going to need to use your bodies for this.”

Another unexpected behavior from them made Mitsuru and Tsukiko take a step back in surprise. They did not think that they would actually ask rather than just take. Tsukiko looked over at Mitsuru to deliberate between them quickly. The fact of them being homeless made them willing to accept their offer. “This isn’t going to hurt or anything?”

“We’re using our powers for this and bodies. You may feel a little tense, but most of it will be transferred to us.”

“So you’ll be in pain?” asked Mitsuru, “How much?”

Hisako put her hand on Mitsuru’s head. “It’s ok. We haven’t done this sort of thing before. So we’re only guessing, but you don’t need to worry. We’ll be fine.”

“But it could be a lot,” protested Tsukiko, “You don’t know!”

“Showing concern for your tormentor?” Tsuneo teased. He caught the flush that ran across her face before she turned away to hide it from him. The spirits laughed a little between them before settling down. They approached their vessels looking for a final answer to begin.

“Don’t over do it.”

“We won’t.” He smiled to her and disappeared into the air. Thin trails of energy spread on the winds before completely vanishing. Another moment later Tsukiko’s body shined brightly covering her body and masking it from sight. When it dissipated, Tsuneo stood before them.

“Good luck!”

Hisako nodded to Mitsuru and faded away. Following his display before, Hisako surfaced from the reveal. “Ready?” She received the confirmation from him and they both leapt through the air. Their long kimonos flowed on the winds like butterflies made from the very rainbow. They landed near to the ruined building slamming their scabbards into the hardened earth. The impact rang out over the grounds and echoed through the trees rising to an unusual crescendo that reverberated back to the center. Its return bounced it back repeating the tone acting as though it sealed within.

Their position and stance remained unchanged for more than a minute with the sound rising. Suddenly they unsheathed their katana half away from the scabbard and stopped. The tone changed in the air as though in response and added with the existing key. They then slammed the katana back down clicking the metal of the guard to the throat. An entirely different key was created to build together. Each motion they made grew the melody until it felt like an orchestra filled the space.

Chie worked to recover her jaw from the awe she felt. “I can’t believe such a beautiful song could be created like this.”

“Hmm…” groaned the grandfather through slit for eyes. His eyebrows rose for a fraction of a second as he seemed to figure something out. “…I see…”

“Do you know what they’re doing?”

“I’ve heard stories about a method of ward creation that is invoked by song. But, it is merely regarded as myth as no evidence has ever been found to back it up. If there was anyone that might have practiced such a technique they would have been alive during the Yayoi Period.”

His words sent a bolt of surprise through Chie’s body. She turned around to face him to get a read on his face. The flat serious and unwavering tone pierced through her. “That’s more than two thousand years ago!” Chie ran up to him grabbing him by the collar of his kimono. She pointed over to the two reborn figures. “Are you saying that they’re from the Yayoi Period? The same time as when Demon’s Door was created!”

He turned his features grave as he tilted his head down to meet her. “You are well researched, but that is merely speculation. Even I don’t know when it was created. Our oral history does not go that far back.”

“They could have known Hyobanshi himself!”

“There’s the chance. However…” He pointed his index finger out from under his sleeve back to the ruins. The sight knocked Chie to her knees. A massive array of magical circles existed where nothing had before. The surface of the ground out to the edge of the clearing was covered in a single circle with countless symbols, characters and geometry designs throughout. Dozens of layered circles ran in different circles and directions all circumscribed. In the sky, built as a dome, a multitude of circles surrounded the clearing. Each circle glowed pure white casting its rays into the center.

Chie found her legs no longer had any strength to stand. She could only watch from her spot and stare at the wonder. Near her legs, she found a small circle and array of vectors within while surrounded by characters. “These characters, I’ve never seen kanji like this before!”

“That’s because they haven’t been in use for more than a thousand years. I’ve only barely seen a few of these from monuments on the shrine grounds.”

“I can’t believe it…”

From inside the bodies, Mitsuru and Tsukiko found themselves so detached from everything that they found themselves together in another dimension, as best as they could explain. They stood floating together a little uneasy about what might be happening outside. Mitsuru held hands with Tsukiko for a sense of unity and companionship in the lonely void. All they could do was trust.

Tsukiko grinned a little for reassurance. “It’s not too bad, huh? Just feels like standing under a waterfall.”

“Y-yeah, it’s not too bad.” However, they spoke too soon. A massive weight of pressure through the air slammed down on them and pierced every pore of their body. Mitsuru felt his knees buckling already only have a second. “S-sis!”

She gritted her teeth through the compressions and weight. Her hands tightened around Mitsuru’s for support as she saw him weakened. Yet, she could not even hold them together for more than a few seconds. She dropped to her knees a moment after him. “…I-I…thou-ght…I-I…told you…”

“…I-I’m…s-sorry…” He clung to her as she hugged him back. They fought through the weight holding together for a time that lasted forever. Once it finally released them, they collapsed still clinging by the hands to each other.

Outside, they finished the work. The spirits collapsed to ground and their appearance faded away. Mitsuru and Tsukiko returned to their bodies, but remained unconscious. Chie and Katashi rushed over, feeling freed from bondage, to pick them. Their grandfather walked over to them. He stood at the foot of the steps into the new home granted to them. He paused in judgment of it. “I think this is bigger than the Emperor’s…” His eyes gazed down at the two of them. “…this is a bit overly generous…”

“We slept for the rest of the day.”

“We could not express enough words of gratitude for such a home, however…”

Morning breakfast concluded with barely an incident. The spirits remained asleep still in their swords leaving the two siblings only have to worry about their guests. Everyone’s moods were in good spirits allowing things to run smoothly. Mitsuru and Tsukiko were very thankful for a simple and average morning.

They yelled down the very long hall to their grandfather announcing their departure, “We’re leaving now!”

“Have a good day at school you two!” he shouted back.

“Here’s your lunch Mistress Tsukiko,” a maid said handing over a cloth wrapped lunch.

An accompanying maid next to her responded with another lunch, “Master Mitsuru.”

They accepted their lunches and slid their feet into their shoes. The two maids waved at them in their departure. Mitsuru and Tsukiko smiled to them and slid the door closed. They stepped out from the porch and down the steps. A long stone path wove its way through the forest guiding them. The good breakfast and cheerful morning energized them. They felt it was the start of a perfect day.

Two steps later they stopped. Their faced turned blue in realization.

“We’re even farther away from town now!”

To be continued…

Name: Tsukiko Sakakibara
Age: 16
Gender: Female
Height: 6’3” (191 cm)
Weight: 142lbs (64 kg)
Hair Color: Dark Brown
Hair Style: Waist Length, with two hair antennas and fairly long bangs that shape around the face.
Eye Color: Light Blue
Appearance: She has a rather plain average appearance while still being pretty and is strong with an athletic build.
Personality: She is aggressive with Mitsuru, who is weak willed, dragging him around and tends to be standoffish as a girl due to her height and quickly angered personality. However, underneath all of that she is a kind, polite and caring individual that does actually look out for other’s well being and will quickly sacrifice herself to help someone. She has just taken to being aggressive since Mitsuru tends to be a little too easy push around.
Likes: Mitsuru, Grandfather, Curry, Romance Novels, Salmon
Dislikes: Being called ‘Sis’, Fire, Being Tall, Otaku Culture, Pink, Squid

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