Chapter 16: Just Breathe
Everything is melodramatic in the lives of the humble. Because the poor don’t invent sorrow, they bear it.
Deep within the Mansion…
…Mom… I know that you may not hear me……but please…
…I need your strength right now…
My prayer was left unanswered. Just when I thought that I got my strength back, it slips away from me again. I was trapped in who knows where and held no energy to move. The only friend I ever really had in this world was nowhere to be seen. The cold chain on my neck reminds me that I still had one hope. But not now, and not here. Not when I have no idea where I am… or even when my captor is going to return. Were there others? Others like me, trapped down here? I’d never be able to tell.
The only action I could perform was the Breathing Game. I played this game many times when my current mother and father force me to go to those pointless parties. Of course, I use the term ‘party’ loosely. I’ve seen more life in a hole in the ground than at any of those events. I was the only child there, so no one ever wished to speak to me outside of introductions and farewell. In between said times, I spent my time playing this game. The entire point of the game is to breathe and then listen to myself breath. It was always better than nothing and it reminds me that I am still alive.
Breath out slowly…
… I’m not alone in here…
“I can… hear… you.”
“Y-your name…at least?”
“… I can understand…,” my energy was returning. I felt stronger now, “I just don’t want to be alone…”
“(… We all have to be some time…)”
“What’s… that supposed to mean?”
“(It means we all have to do things we don’t want to do.)”
“Like you are?”
I could hear my ‘roommate’ gasp, for a second. By now, he realized that I could understand his yokai speech. And I realized that I had most of my energy back. I decided to keep my voice to a mumble, despite it.
“Where you there when he came in earlier?”
“(… Yes… It’s my job to keep you and others sedated…)”
“Did he say why?”
“(Doesn’t have to…),” the voice sighed, “(He’s my master now…)”
“But you don’t like it?”
“(Who would? He stole me… my master took me from my home. My friend.)”
“Friend? As in singular? As in, you’re not wild?”
“(Yes, yes, and duh.)”
“Sorry…,” I sighed, “so why do you follow him if you don’t like it?”
“(I have no choice…)”
“You always have a choice.”
“(Not with… he’s coming.)”
The metal door shifted open. I decided to go limp again.
“That’s enough,” my captor spoke, “I wish to speak with her now.”
My new ‘friend’ removed himself. I didn’t realize before, but he was hanging on the chain above me. He climbed down them and then me. My guess is that he finished by walking over and standing next to his despicable master. The room stayed quiet for several minutes. My captor was probably waiting for me to regain some of the energy that his servant was taking from me. Impatiently, he jabbed at my stomach.
“You, girl,” he semi-shouted, “Time to wake up.”
“What do you… want?”
“Nothing much my dear,” he chuckled, “Just your little trinket there.”
“Truthfully, I’m not sure myself,” he stated, “but ever since I saw it, I can’t stop thinking about it. I want it, yet I can’t take it from you.”
“… I repeat… why?”
“Again, I don’t know. It can be in my grasp,” he demonstrated by grabbing onto it, “And yet, I can’t bring myself to just take it.”
His hand slowly slipped away from the medallion. Its weight bounced off my chest.
“For some reason, I feel as if I can’t take it,” he paused, “without permission.”
“Not even for your little brother?”
“He’s not…,” I stopped, “you can’t…”
“Then how about a deal,” he chuckled, with his eyes piercing mine.
“(Hey, Sis.),” a young Kitsune tackled me, “(I gotcha!)”
“(Brother, get off of me,)” I growled, “(and leave me alone.)”
“(I can’t do that Sis,)” the lightly brown Kitsune smiled, “(Not until I see you shine again.)”
“(Just get off!),” I flipped on top of him.
“(No.),” he reflipped on top of me.
“(I said OFF!),” I kicked him away.
“(Come on! You know you want to…),” he licked me.
“(Gah, don’t do that!),” I shrieked.
“(What? Can’t I say how much I love my Sister?)”
“(Not like that!),” I wanted to bite him, but knew that would only cause more trouble for me later, “(And not with me! …Who could love a misfit like me?)”
“(I would…),” my brother plopped next to me.
“(But he wouldn’t. I told him that I liked him and then he… He spat fireballs at me, Brother. He called me Yin Filth!),” I started crying without any regret, “(I don’t belong here. Since the day that we were born, you were the perfect child… but me…)”
I stared at my front paw. I hated what I was. I was born not like any other Kitsune. It was bad enough that we were twins hatched from the same spirit egg. That, in itself, was a bad omen among Kyuubi. So why did I have to be born pitch black? I was just Yin Filth! Born to be the disgrace of the family. Destined to be evil and killed by…
“(But Dad said that our fur will change color as we grow older.),” my brother tried to comfort me, “(Look, mine’s already turning brown. I’m sure yours will too.)”
“(Yeah, It has…),” I growled, “(Haven’t you noticed?)”
“(Inari Damn it, Brother! I got darker!),” I screamed at the top of my lungs, “(and you didn’t notice!)”
“(Sis…),” he backed down a bit.
“(I hate it! I want to just…),” I bit down hard on my wrist and ripped out my fur.
“(Hey!¡! Sis, don’t do that!!!)”
“(I'd rather be bald than this!),” I screamed as I ripped patch after patch of the damn black fur, “(I’d rather just die than to go on living like-)”
“(Shut up!),” my brother hit me with all four of his full grown tails. I stopped my fit…
I was stunned…
Our entire lives my brother had never shown any aggression before…
My brother had never hit me before…
And he was crying…
“(Don’t rip it out! Your fur is beautiful! You hear me!),” he shrieked at me, “(Inari damn it, Sister! Don’t rip it out…)”
He was about to cry some more, but he held them back. He regained his posture and smiled again.
“(I would kill to have fur like yours. Because you have Fenghuang’s Blessing: you don’t get tangles, you don’t get dirty easily, and it grows back in a snap. Mine can’t…),” he licked my check, “(You are a wonderful Kitsune. So if that vixen can’t see those qualities about you, then he doesn’t deserve you.)”
“(Brother…),” I could taste the blood in my mouth now, “(I… I’m sorry.)”
“(Don’t worry about it.),” he grinned that stupid grin of his, “(Now give me a smile!)”
I smirked for a second. My brother could always make me feel better.
“(That’s the sister that I know and love!),” Brother exclaimed, making me truly smile again, “(And look, you got blood all over you fur! Now let’s fix you up so that you’ll look your best for the festival.)”
“(I’m not going…)”
“(I’m serious, Brother. They don’t even let normal Kitsune go, let alone a Yin.)”
“(If you don’t go… then I won’t go.)”
“(But you have to go. Everyone’s expecting you to be there.)”
“(Then you’ll have to go with me to make sure that I don’t disappoint them.),” he laughed, “(So you have to look your best.)”
My brother took in a breath and breathed out a gentle flaming ember.
The blood that I bled stopped flowing and dissolved under the warm sensation. My lost fur grew back in place. My red flesh fizzled back to its natural dark shade. I watched as the grass under my paw also darkened shrivel up and die.
The ash spread…!
Put it out!
Destroy all Fire!
I woke up.
I was having nightmares again. It felt so real. Like I was really there this time. I could even feel the fur growing on my paws. I really felt like I had paws. I could even feel those four heavy tails, plus my own. I didn’t even feel weird about being a girl in the dream. The truly weird thing was I don’t remember having this kind of nightmare before.
Even before I died, nothing like that. Then again, no one stopped me from committing suicide in my dreams before. But that second part of my dream, I’m not pyrophobic. And I’m a fire Yokai now. So why was I so afraid of the fire? So many things weren’t making sense.
The bedroom that Tarsa brought me to was huge, even for when I was human. With him gone, I felt the bitterness of being alone. Being alone when you are alone is really not that bad, but it’s not exactly comforting to be alone in a new place after a nightmare like that one. The bed that I was on must have belonged to the dead guy they think that I am. He could have died in this very bed.
Well, what more reason would you need to have before you’d get out of there?
“(Get off my property!),” an old Stikini shrieked from outside. I hated those particular bird Yokai.
I hopped off the bed and headed for the door!
It was shut.
In my rush, I had forgotten three very important details.
One, I had no hands.
Two, I was short, very short.
Finally, despite having two wings, I could not fly until I was much older than two days. I just wanted to explore a little bit to get my mind off that dream. That’s not too much to ask, was it?
“(Get off of my tree!),” that damn Owl Yokai shrieked again. There was a cracking sound. Something outside the room was breaking.
“Oh shit,” a figure screamed as he crashed through the window and landed in the middle of the bedroom.
“(Cool. Oh invisible force that makes shit happen! Thanks!)”
“Ow, my head…,” Tyrone groaned, “Hey, I’m inside!?!”
“(On second thought, I take that back.)”
Tyrone slowly got off of the ground. He checked himself over to make sure that he didn’t break anything. He didn’t have any glass in his skin either, but there was plenty on the floor. I stayed by the door. Keeping as quiet as I could, I slipped inside the bookcase that happened to be nearby.
“Tyrone! Where are you?”
“Guys,” he yelled out the window, “I’m up here! Second floor! With the big body cast shaped hole in the wall!”
“We’re coming up,” Brandy shouted from the ground below.
“Don’t bother! I was lucky to swing in like I did when that branch broke. I’ll just get the-” Brandy was interrupted by this pounding noise. The sure sound of footsteps fill the emptiness of the house. People were running down the halls. There came a banging on the door before all of the footsteps stopped.
“My Lord is everything alright in there!?!” Kenda was the first to the door.
“Oh, shit. I’ve got to hide,” he ran, but stopped for a second, “wait, who am I talking to?”