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Full Version: 腐敗 ogamu-juku
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creeping east, soon she was surrounded on all sides by narrow-bodied trees. the sight of them took her breath away.
each held a plethora of round bundles; some still green, others ruddy and deepening with an expressive blush.
satsu could not help herself. they were scattered and abandoned against the grass, perfuming the air with familiar sweet-rot.
oh, my brothers, why do you visit me now? rest, for a little while longer...
she would not take from this orchard.
it was hard enough to navigate the thicket as the ghosts of her brothers followed at her heel.
The sweet-sour scent of young apples surrounded Grouse Thicket like a warm scent of grandmother's secret apple pie recipe freshly baked and served. There was an eerie silence that surrounded the Grouse, a silence that didn't bring forth peace and serene thoughts. Instead there was this spooky, strange sensation that someone -- or something -- was watching. Someone was calling, enticing and flirting like a siren lost at sea. Dragonfly was scurrying his way through the dense thicket, trying to find the exit while having an uneasy tingle in his stomach; as if he was being followed. As if somebody else was there. Oh, but there was somebody else there!

Who is haunting who?
she could not part from the orchard yet.

slinking as carefully as she could between the trees, hovering within reach of the more pristine, freshly-fallen bulbs of red; she thought, kikyo would have taken them all to themselves.

and then, tsujiya would have stopped him. they would fight, until morohe— !
the level-headed brother, too invested in himself than in the samurai way, attentive to his looks in the manner of a high-born woman...

there was a sense that she was not alone here. satsu's thoughts emptied like water through a grasping palm. she looked up from the pile of apples; there, distantly, a shape —


satsu knew not to trust in the kami of this strange, new land; but her heart ached, and her vision blurred.
Dragonfly did not know the way of the samurai, their highly respected culture (and oh, Japanese tea) and strange foreign language that was difficult to learn and almost impossible (for outsiders) to master. In fact, Dragonfly did not know any social manners and cultures -- save for the one wolf language bestowed upon him at birth.

Her words echoed with a strange tongue, words he could not understand but his mind deciphered with "Oh no". Which was closest to what he knew. So he wasn't alone -- and neither was she. "Oh yes", he softly whispered as he revealed his presence and chose not to stay hidden behind the orchard trees.

So, it was a siren who did call. "Your eyes.." He said but trailed off, somewhere trying to find a life jacket as he was lost in the endless blue ocean. Shyly he looked away. Pick-up lines were not his thing anyway.
she thought she would know the face of her brothers anywhere, but this shape that materialized did not hold the cherry-eyed gaze of kikyo, did not walk with an iron-hewn body like tsujiya; their voice was honeyed more like morohe — but those eyes, too, were warm. too warm.

satsu's eyes dropped from the sight of the kami. she knew better than to look directly at it.

i miss my father's orchards. satsu laments.
i miss kikyo and his sour breath, and how big his laughter grew, when he would sneak a taste of the harvest.

it stung to think of them all. in this place, kikyo's memory was the strongest. satsu could only hope that the kami did not come with malice in mind, summoned by her grief.
Although Satsu was physically here, her mind and heart had gone astray, to wonder across the memories painted with the corridors of love as she spoke of others whom Dragonfly assumed to be family. Had he known her better he would have shared memories and sentiments of his own, like how the apple orchard reminded him also of home. The partly-sweet scent of the cherry tree that belonged to his home pack. And oh, how beautiful it was when it blossomed during spring. For a moment his heart cried.

"Tell me more.." He whispered almost in a ghost-like manner, as if it was his dying man's last wish. Or maybe he was more like a good ghoul, willingly to listen to a stranger in need.
satsu was lost. in many ways beyond the physical, she had stopped following the path her father wished as soon as his life was taken, and now she would wander the world alone, followed only by ghosts.

the kami bade her speak. her father had always been mindful of teaching her better; she was liable to damage the good name of her brothers if she spoke much more, yet, to abate meant to forget. she did not want to forget.

he would laugh, and he would joke. sometimes he would fight but it was never hurtful what he did. those that served by father knew well to avoid kikyo if he came from high upon the mountain. that was where the temple sat, and beside it the secret orchard;
he was not the kind to pray.

and always it was tsujiya that would be sent to tire him. their games would become spats, and sometimes the anger would be so strong between them that they would forget their brotherhood.

if this was the kami of her house, they would know these things. she did not think hard on it. her mind was made dizzy by her memory and the strong smell of rotting fruit.

i would give anything ah, but there she must stop; she knew to utter the truth in her heart the kami could corrupt her. satsu sucks in a breath of the foul air and feels a piece of herself wither inside.
When she spoke, it was as if she blossomed like the cherry tree of his memories. It wasn't thanks to his presence or his words, all the credits belonged to her precious memories. But they were precious, alright, like a floating bubble that could burst any second from now. But as long as it floated, the bubble would shine like rainbow skittles.

She spoke of brothers, of balance, of fighting, of respect and draped underneath it all was a tone of love and warmth.".. with them?" On purpose he did not say 'be' or any other word that might be filled in that gap. The bubble had busted, gone were the memories.

"Close your eyes.." He murmured gently. There was something he wished for her to see, but not something with the naked eye.
.. with them?
the kami took care with its words, and in that moment satsu knew not to trust it. she knew because it spoke to her heart of its deepest wants.

her father had always said to be careful. the wajo of the temple heights would speak of the path through meifumado — the path of the demon — with great care.

at which point did a hearth-spirit become a demon?

close your eyes... the kami bade.

just once, satsu would ignore those warnings. if it meant she could have them back — !

her eyes closed slowly, and she was enveloped in the dark.
He could not heal broken hearts or mend emotional wounds, like missing those who were gone to another world or just treasured as memories in the heart. Even still, he could take her on a journey to his own world. A step back in time.

"Imagine a warm spring day in a place far, far away. In the middle of an open field a cherry tree blossoms. It has white flowers and when the wind blows, its blossom-like leaves are spread around like confetti." He sighed softly, happily while his eyes were closed it felt for a second as if he could even feel the sun rays of his homestead. "Imagine wolves gathering nearby. The elderly, the puppies and adults -- all happy and joyful -- feasting that spring had come." There was a happy tingle that slithered through his body, warming the heart with a joy for only a short amount of time. Soon, however, sadness swept over like a flood. Another sigh, this time a painful reminder.

"I'm sorry..." Dragonfly whispered. "I'm afraid ..I can't remember their faces. Their names. Or the past."

And with that he felt at fault; instead of bringing her happiness he was only a messenger of sorrow.

the voice painted a picture that fit some of her memory, so that when he spoke of family she saw her brothers; when satsu breathed she smelled pungent fruit and floral notes, but it was not a field, it was a hill.
a mountain blushing beneath a late spring sunrise.
the people of the han paying homage to their daimyo.

the kami wove for her these images. she did not think to question the voice, even as it admitted to forgetting.

they are worthy of remembering. better that than the endless nothingness of death. i carry them with me on my path.

and so, she would take their memory and keep it close; not to be forgotten, even if it was right and just to do so. to let them fall in to darkness and the nothingness that came from death.
without looking to the kami satsu would begin to walk. her face wet, going cold as the wind kissed at her cheeks; her feelings steeped in the abundant smell of apples as she journeyed from the orchard.