Living and the dead

Chapter 30

It was dark. Only darkness can brought him a wonderful feeling of peace. It was as though he was born in the dark and can't live without it. This is where he belongs. The world already rejected him. He knew thousands of places but none he could call home.

There's only one place waiting for him and that's hell. Maybe they're all excited to have him. He might become an asset in the underworld, someone they could torture, and someone they can play with.

It was as if they heard him. He covered a hand on his mouth when he started coughing. He winced a little after feeling the pain in his upper chest. Ignoring the pain he watches the scenery outside his window as the crimson colored liquid rolled down his mouth. He coughed again, this time a lot of blood came out, staining his clothes while few drops hit the floor.

Kagiri chuckled. So that's it? Aa, what a tremendously dull life. What was he expecting anyway? Salvation? 'Don't make me laugh.' He said to himself.

For this world, he already died a long time ago. Isn't it the reason why he is being rejected? He was rendered void the moment he was born. If this world acknowledge him just once, even just for a bit he would have felt a little happiness.

"Aniue," He whispers. "You're there right?"

"How much longer do you have to suffer before you get what you want?" Chou asked.

"Suffer?" He scoffed. "I look like I'm suffering right? Yes I am. I am suffering ... I brought this to myself."

He's such a fool to believe that he can avenge hatred. His hatred for his mother is something he can't erase just by letting her suffer the way he does. Even if he kills her that won't be enough, throwing away the rest of your life just to get back at someone is a pitiful thing to do.

'And the pitiful me don't deserve any salvation. All I can do to help myself is by paying everything in the next life.'

"Do you still remember where it all started?" He asked his brother. Chou nodded and looked sadly at his little brother.

Ghost Hunt

Fourteen years ago

"Where's your husband?" The middle aged woman asked a younger woman with a confused look on her face. "You're always walking with your husband aren't you?"

The young woman shook her head. "I don't know." She responded a little timidly but her eyes shows nervousness.

After hearing her reply, the woman tilted her head in bafflement as the young woman hurriedly walked away, eager to get home as soon as possible.

Reaching the key inside her pocket, the woman stood anxiously in front of their house's door. With a shaky hand, she inserted the key into the keyhole and opened the door. The tapping of her feet echoed in the narrow hall as she walked inside. She sighed upon reaching the kitchen.

He wasn't there.

A loud shattering sound coming from outside caught her attention. She hurriedly ran towards the door and found her husband staring blankly at an unconscious man lying on the cemented floor. Blood continuously dripping from his head, his face was getting paler, bluish.

"I killed him..." The woman's husband said, tears rolling down his face.

But that was not what surprised her. The woman's heart skipped a beat when she saw her children standing frozen at the entry way of their house. Both are shock and sweating in fear.

Kagiri's body began trembling as his brain takes the scene before his eyes. The man lying there was surely not in good condition, his mouth and eyes are widely open and pool of blood was creeping on the ground coming from his head.

"Father... ..." With a trembling hand Kagiri tried to reach for his father but he seems so far away.

The moment loud sound from a police car reached his ears, he knew ... ... everything in his life was about to fall apart. He knew that yet he pretended that it's still going to be alright as long as he has his brother by his side.

...

The pale color of orange from the setting sun reflected all over the isolated playground while a young boy at an age of ten was silently sitting on a swing, deep in thought.

Silence was another form of loneliness and pain. If someone was hurt and he couldn't show it to anyone, they would probably choose to stay silent and acts like nothing bad was happening.

If ever he told someone that he's hurting will they listen? Certainly not, because people like them are always busy minding businesses which they find interesting. That's how they really are, they only focused on something they like.

Laughable!

People formed circles where they can relax and be comfortable with each other's presence, that's what they called group but what they didn't know, that circle is actually a lie. Once you're out of that whopper circle you'll learn how disgustingly harsh the reality is.

Kagiri kicked the small stone resting quietly in front of his foot. He only learned that after he got shunned out of that whopper circle. He snorted as he felt the pain of his wounded knee. His petite body was covered in bruise so as his face. Tears were threatening to fell but the boy was trying to fight his tears. He shouldn't cry at a time like this. He must remain strong no matter what.

A gush of wind blow the dust into his eyes, it gave him the impression that even nature also hates him.

Why is he being hated anyway? He didn't do anything wrong for them to detest him so much.

"Again?" Someone said not far from him.

He shifted his eyes and saw two women looking at him with distinct pity in their eyes.

"Serves him right." The other woman said, look of pity vanished without a trace and changed into disdain. "His father is a murderer and his mother is a cheating bint. Their children are no different from them."

The other woman lifts a hand to cover her lips. "Ara, I shouldn't let my Toshi play with him. You might not know what that child is capable of."

He looked at the two women with sullen anger. Here's another two people that also belongs in that whopper circle. The kind of people who think they are generous, finding joy and faking kindness but always crowding in a bunch, looking down and ready to judge anytime, yet they couldn't see how low they are.

What did the other woman said again? Ah. . .Their children is no different from them. The right words to describe the children who bullied him earlier.

"How foolish." He said with a smirk. "You're judging a child like me because of what were my parents did yet you can't judge yourself and pretending you haven't done anything wrong."

The two woman's face twitched in anger. "What an ill-mannered boy you are!"

"Just because you're much older than me doesn't mean I'll allow you to look down on me." He felt the hard chain under his grasp as his knuckles tightened in anger. "I don't need to be courteous to the likes of people like you!"

"Kagiri-kun!" An older boy shouted standing near the two women. The disappointed look in his face makes him feel dejected.

Kagiri sunk in his seat. He shouldn't have heard that. Why does he show himself at a time like this?

"Let's go Maeda-san." The woman pulled the other in her arms and hurriedly walked away.

The older boy bowed at the two women, after that he turns toward him. He looked away, guilt pumping in his veins.

"I won't reprimand you for what you'd said to them." His brother said with a sigh as then took out a handkerchief. "You're the one who's suffering so much and I can see how you're trying to pretend to be strong." He kneeled in front of him. Kagiri felt his brother's rough hands when he caressed his face. "I'm sorry."

"Aniue. . ." Kagiri hugged his brother. Just like the people inside that whopper circle he also has someone he can be comfortable with. But unlike them, he knew that his brother is genuine. He can cry in front of him and he will never judge him. "I'm so worthless and pathetic, but I can't just run away."

"Don't say that ... you are from pathetic and worthless. You shouldn't let yourself think that way."

"But I . . ."

"It's okay to be hurt a million times, you mustn't give up. It may not be pleasant emotions but pain and suffering are also proof that you're alive." Chou patted his brother's head. "I don't know what exactly I can do for you but I will be by your side."

...

"But mother! I can work part time if you'll let me!" Cried Chou when their mother told them her plan. "J-Just don't leave us!"

"It won't work Chou! I also have to start a new life!" She growled in anger. "Your father has disgraced us and I don't know if we can live a normal life here!"

"I understand you mother but sending us to the orphanage ... ... Kagiri is still a child!"

The two of them didn't stop arguing and it was as though they can't see him. Kagiri clenched his fist. Their mother decided to send them in an orphanage. Although his brother was against it, he couldn't do anything to change their mother's decision. They don't have any relatives to run to and it's useless to run away from home because they don't know what's waiting for them aside from that they don't have any money. They would probably end up sleeping on a shrine or on the roads and Kagiri is sure that his brother wouldn't allow that.

After a week, they arrived at the local orphanage somewhere around Iwade in Wakayama prefecture. The head of the orphanage is a buddhist monk who loves children. It was a nice place for every orphaned child except of course for them. Their father is in prison whilst their mother abandoned them out of desperation to build a new life with another new man.

She didn't love them to begin with, that's why abandoning them was easy for her as if abandoning a puppy on the road. Isn't that the reason why she cheated?

Their father is a nice man, he gave all their mother wants even if it was something far from necessary. Their mother is a professional medium but it's not a job that earns much to support her own luxury. In spite of their father's effort to please her, their mother was far from contented and choses to commit a sin just to satisfy herself. She chose a rich man over their father.

And the father they knew as a nice man killed their mother's lover. It was not intentional ... an accident. They saw it. That man tried to hurt their father, he pushed their mother's lover and his head hit a large rock. It wasn't their father's fault or their fault they have that kind of life. However, that mother saw them as a disease, slowly killing her, dragging her to a life she hated the most. A simple life.

...

"Where going to live in a temple?" Kagiri asked his big brother as he lifted a bag, placing it at the back of a minivan. He was feeling a little sad but he's still excited that someone wants to take them in.

"Yes." Chou responded, bright smile pasted in his lips. "Yoshio-san said that the priest in the temple needs new trainees to become an onmyouji. Isn't that cool? We're going to be onmyoujis!"

Yoshio-san is the kind monk who runs the orphanage. And Kagiri likes him a lot because he was nice and responsible like that of a father.

"Un!" He answers with a big smile.

They traveled for hours before they reached the temple. It had been a smooth travel since the road was fully cemented and when the van dropped them at the bottom of the temple, the stairs was the only thing he could remember that gave him a hard time. Though the priests helped them to carry their things, it's still hard to climb a stairs with more than fifty steps.

But Kurogane Kagiri was still happy regardless.

...

The passing months had been very busy for them. The priests trained them to become an Onmyouji however, he noticed that every each of them was giving his brother special treatment. He's not jealous but sometimes he gets curious. Maybe his brother is powerful than him, the reason why they always giving him special trainings, sometimes inside the temple and most of the time outside the temple.

But he didn't know that the truth was horrible than he had imagine. He didn't even think that what they're doing was something that will put his brother's life to end.

Until ... that day came.

Kagiri woke up and tiredly looked at the unlighted candle beside the futon he was lying in. It was dark but the rays of the red moon found a way inside their room.

"Aniue?" He called and searched for him but he was nowhere inside their small room. "Aniue where are you?"

He stood up, opened the shoji door and walked outside.

He heard faint voices inside the forest uttering indecipherable words. It was similar to the chant the priests were using but there's something wrong about it.

'What is it?' He asked. Although scared, he can't helped but to get curious. Therefore, he decided to enter the woods. Carefully looking around, he found a dirt trail and travel down where it leads.

He shivers as the cold breeze touches his skin.

The boy ends up near a clearing. He automatically hides behind a large tree upon seeing four people standing in the middle of the clearing, surrounding a huge bonfire.

The wind blew once again and a foul rotting smell reached his nose. He nearly throws out, suddenly feeling sick.

"Om Shreem san vam bhan bhuteshwari mam vash kuru kiri swahaa bashiri..." Four male voice chanted in unison.

When the sickening feeling subsided, he peered once again.

There're four priests surrounding a bonfire, each of them holding a shakujo with six rings.

(AN: Shakujo-Sounding staff made of long tin metal stick used by priest or monks.)

Wearing black robes and a white habaki that covers their legs with large woven rice straw hat made their face hidden and mysterious. The four people knocked their shakujo twice on the ground, followed by incantations.

"Ware-ware wa koko ni nanji o shoukan suru." They said simultaneously. "Ware-ware ga korusu, ware-ware ga kizuite, ware-ware ga iyasu. Waga te wo nogareru mono wa hitori mo inai."

(We call upon you here. We will kill. We will harm and heal. None will escape us.)

He noticed how the atmosphere darkened around the four priests. The gray smoke started to thickens surrounding them as though forming a barrier.

But the four of them didn't even falter and continued chanting like there's nothing unusual happening.

"Nanji wa ten ni soshite chi, yoru ni soshite hiru, yami ni soshite hikari, zen ni soshite aku, miru mono ni soshite miirareshi mono, sozou omotarasu mono ni soshite hakai yo omotarasu mono, hito ai soshite hito zou suru mono."

(You are the earth and the heavens! Day and night! Light and dark! Good and evil! He who watches and he who is watched! He who creates and destroys! He who loves and hate people!)

Another person came out of nowhere and pushed a young man in the middle of the four priest. They didn't care even if the boy almost hit the bonfire. They pinned him down as he screamed for help and struggled to be free.

He gasped, and felt how heavy his breathing was. He gulped at the scene, he didn't noticed how his body trembled upon seeing the person they are forcefully dragging.

'Aniue!' He tried to run but cannot move. He tried to shout however his voice betrayed him. 'I have to help him!'

"Yurushi ni wa houfuku wo, shinrai ni wa uragiri wo, kibou ni wa zetsubou wo, hikari ni arumono ni wa yami wo, sei aru mono ni wa kurai shi wo."

(Do not pretend. Retribution for forgiveness, betrayal for trust, despair for hope, darkness for light, dark death for the leaving.)

One of the priests took out a knife and prepares himself in stabbing his brother. The latter's eyes widen, he was terrified and started to struggle even harder to get free from their grip. He kicked and thrashed his legs out of desperation more than anything.

Yet he failed.

"Ware ware no yobikake ni, kotae ima. Zenryoku de norotte yaru! Ware-ware ga haruka naru chi yori shoukan suru!"

(Answer our prayer now! We will cast a curse with all our power! We summon thee from the distant earth.)

The daggers edge gleam before thrusting it to his heart, like a drop of poisonous blood to end his life.

Kagiri was frozen in his spot. It was like he was hit by a lightning strike, the shock he was feeling that time was so intense he couldn't do anything but to stare at the scene while the priests are killing his brother. He felt a pain in his chest. It was as if a dagger was driven into his heart and from there, slowly, a hard object was creeping into the deepest part of not only his body but also his soul. The feeling as if a metallic ant's nest were spreading.

The blood from the dagger dropped near his brother's eyes and for Kagiri it was as though his tears were blood.

'It can't be... he's not dead... that's impossible. . .' Everything. Everything was just a dream and he will wake up. He WILL! Kagiri slapped his face really hard but the scene before him didn't vanish.

It can't be. This isn't real ... "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!" He run towards they while screaming but before he can even touch the body of his brother, the two priests immediately suppressed him.

"Aniue! Aniue! Wake up! Please wake up!"

"Kagiri-kun! What are you doing here!?" One of the priests asked in panic.

"You killed my brother for your own selfish gain. You killed the only family I have in this world ... ... I will kill you all!" The fire of anger in his eyes made the two other priests step back.

A tall shadow comes out from the bon fire, hovering over the six bodies present in that place. The whole atmosphere became heavy and dark as if your body was being pulled down.

"Summoning chants are nothing more than complaints." The shadow said. His voice was comprised with so many voices. "I can always hear whatever each of you are saying, I know what you are thinking." He chuckled. "You want to have a power same as the gods ... but ... I won't give it to you. Your desires are too shallow, like a fire in a candle light. I don't have any interest in that however,"

The shadow turned to Kagiri and saw his face full of tears. This child's anger was the one who wake him up. It's the cause of the spark to do something and gave something he desire. The desire was strong, strong enough to blind the little innocent soul inside that weak shell. It would please him to paint him all black and when the time comes, his soul will be his.

"I have found something more interesting worth giving a time." The demon grins, his shadows extend to him and coil around him.

"I saw everything you did." Kagiri said in a cold frightening voice. "I will kill you! All of you!"

"Then forge a contract with me human child. I will grant everything you covet and in return I will have your soul."

"N-No!" One of the priests protested. "We are the one who summoned you!"

The shadow chuckled. "Just because you're the one who made it possible for me to step in this ugly land again doesn't mean I'll succumb to any of you. No one owns me and I am free to do whatever I want." His voice suddenly turned fierce. "Now human child, the decision is up to you. Make a contract with me and everything will be yours."

Kagiri slowly stood up, turned to the four priest and looked at them with a dead eyes. Eyes so cold, no emotions, no mercy. "You only proved to me that this world is never kind to anyone. I shouldn't have believed any of you. Now ... what shall I do?" A smirk formed in his lips. "An eye for an eye."

With a horrified look on their faces, the four priests started to escape and they only have one place to hide. Since it's a demon, it will never reach them inside the temple.

"Once you form a contract with me, it will also be your last."

"..."

"You're the main reason why they kill my brother. I will kill you and I will leave none of those people who harmed us. They will all suffer the same way me and my brother did!"

The demon laughed. "Are you saying that I would die? Impossible!"

Kagiri lifted his hand and reached the shadow. He will get his revenge. He will bring his brother back and they will be happy again. "You think? Then wait for that day."

"How interesting. Now what do you want me to do?"

"Kill."

That's when everything begins. The thick rope that will pull him down got tied in his neck the moment he forge a contract. If all of these are only a dream, could he be a normal human?

...

"Don't think that everything happens to me is your fault." Kagiri told his brother. "I'm doing this because I wanted to."

"You are trying to escape." He said.

"Maybe you're right." He stared outside. If ever he said no to that demon that day, will he live? "There's always a catch to attractive deal isn't it? The moment he laid his eyes on me, I am already a locked target and there's no way I can escape him alive."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"You already had enough aniue. You already had enough."

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