Living and the dead

Chapter 31

A howl from the night wind echoed around the Kurogane's mansion. The mist surrounds the whole place like a see through robe defending the mansion and the silence of the night made everything more terrifying.

Mai closed her eyes as she near the mansion, pressing her chest where she felt the strong sensation of fright that shakes her entire body. She's scared. Mai won't hide that but in her situation you can call it natural. There's no one who does not get scared. If there was someone who didn't feel pressure, then it would have to be a robot or a weirdo. And she's neither of the two, that's why she's trembling.

Mai's eyes squinted when she saw a shadow standing in the middle of that foggy yard. The wind blows, sweping away the fog, revealing Kurogane Kagiri. There's a grin visible in his face for the world to see that he's delighted upon seeing her.

"How courageous of you to come here instead of running away." He said as he fixed his glasses. "I see you made up your mind. Are you ready to die?"

She remained silent.

"You know, you should consider your life at least." He said, putting a hand inside his pocket. "You're the type of person who could die easily after all."

Mai's hand rolled into a fist. "Then let me start by asking you a question instead of a statement. What is your reason for doing all of these?"

At her words, Kagiri didn't keep himself from laughing. "You are truly an amusing person! To think that you picked the most worthless question to ask before you die! Do you really want to know?" He smirked. "I'm sorry but I'm not telling."

Mai put a hand on her back. She tried her best to act natural in front of him even though she's scared. She has to do this. She can do this! Mai took one step forward with a deep breath. "I am just thankful that a being like you tends to look down on us." She said, hardening her stance. "I'll make you understand that humans are not weak and corrupt as you seem to think!"

"Ho? And how will you do that?" He asked. "Did you finally crack? Saying nonsensical things seems like you really don't care much about your life."

"Quit babbling about life. You don't know anything about that!" She formed a symbol using her hand. She will simply have to follow what Naru told her.

'Mai, I want you to confuse the demon until Lin garners the right amount of energy to blast an attack.' Naru told her.

'But what should I do?'

'Naumaku san man da bazara dan kan. The Acalanatha mantra and Rin, Pyo, Tou, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai, Zen that's the kuji-in.' Naru explained as he showed Mai how to complete the chant with hand symbols. 'It will help you.'

"Naumaku san manda bazara dan kan! Naumaku san manda bazara dan kan! Naumaku san manda bazara dan kan! Rin! Pyou! Tou! Sha! Kai! Jin! Retsu! Sai! Zen!" A sharp gust of wind went in Kagiri's direction but he didn't dodge. However, the gust left a small wound on his right arm.

"Not bad." He said, still smiling. "And here I am, controlling my temper, hiding my fangs and acting like a gentle lamb. You know, I'm planning to make your death less painful but I guess you like it rough."

Another gust of wind went in his direction, but this time it came from his left. It startled him that he acted late to shield himself. Kagiri almost got thrown but he prevented it using his feet. When the dust subsided, Mai saw the man dusting his pants, an annoyed expression on his face.

"Looks like I have an un-invited guest." He straightened and glared where the force came from. A tall man emerged from behind the tree. "I figured it's you."

The demon's eyes weren't aimed at him right now. The opponents don't have him in their eyes at all. Probably a good thing as he can move freely to search for his target. Naru climbed at the rusty window behind the mansion, his feet landed with a thud when he jumped in making a few dust fly around. It's dark but he noticed the big pot and other kitchen utensils hanging above a wide wooden table. This is probably the dirty kitchen.

With a hand on a wall, Naru continued walking while eyes searching for the door. After a while a metallic rectangular shape registered in his vision and with a quick stride he got out of the kitchen and found himself in a long dark hallway. He successfully snuck in inside the mansion without avail. The demon did not sense his presence, thanks to Lin's magic paper ring that completely erased his aura and turned him invisible on that demon's eyes. However, the power of the paper is only limited to demon's and spirits.

"Shuku! Fuku! Kongou! Dakatsu!" A voice chanted behind Naru and abruptly, his feet seized from moving as if an invisible thread is circling all over his legs.

The ring in his hand snapped, slowly falls on the floor and then turned to ashes. It already reached its limit by withstanding the power of whatever it is that binds him. Naru stood still, not even doing anything to free himself.

"I envy you." The real Kagiri said as he walks in front of him. "Acting impulsively without any concern for consequences. You might die but you don't really care. You know right? The more earnest one person is, the more easily he can lose his life." Kagiri pulled a dagger from his back, pointing it at Naru's neck.

"So what do you want from me?" Naru finally asked.

Kagiri clicked his tongue and grin widely as he aligned his glasses. "You finally got my message mister Oliver Davis."

"How could I not?" Naru said. "You used that baku to tell us what you are capable of, you killed Ibara-san for us to know that you're not acting alone. Kidnapping Hara Masako to confuse us yet clearly letting us know you're everywhere. You intentionally let Kashiwagi Mayura live for a while for your future gain. You planned everything to go according to your plan. You abducted Mai and lured us here."

Kagiri smiled at him and lowered down the dagger.

"Instead of hiding yourself from us, you did otherwise. You keep on dropping and giving us hints of who you are and where to find you. What do you want from us?"

He chuckled. "Incredible! To be able to deduce that much is truly amazing. Your deductive skill is exceptional!" He said. "I gave you enough time to prepare for this day and fortunately, you didn't disappoint me. Lend me your power Oliver Davis." The dagger once again pointed on Naru's neck. "I want you to kill that demon."

A high pitch whistle coming from Lin reached Mai's ears and then five flashing white lights came attacking Kagiri in every side. However, in just one swift move of his hands, Lin's shiki stopped from attacking and flew away to defend their selves.

Lin who already foresaw what's going to happen throws a beaded necklace towards Kagiri. "Ban! Un! Taraku! Aku! By the five elements, bind this demon!" He shouted before the necklace landed on the ground. The beads scattered around Kagiri and formed a small barrier to prevent him from moving.

"Damn you! I'll ripped you to pieces you damn onmyouji!" He said between his teeth as anger flashed in his eyes.

"Taniyama-san! We need to get out of here now!" Lin shouted as he prepared himself for another attack. Extending his two fingers in front, the Chinese man utters a chant. "Honor the prayers within, multiple gods that descended prior to proper beings," He took out an Ofuda (Paper charms) and continued chanting. "Bind the ogre and put down the evil! Extinguish the hundred demons of the core! Do it now!"

The moment he throws the paper, a sudden flash went through the demon. Lin ran towards Mai, pulling her away from that place. They have to make it to the other side where Noll is waiting. "We need to hurry, the barrier won't last long!" He told Mai.

They both rushed to the other side of the mansion, believing that it will take another few minutes before the power of the barrier weaken. But then Lin caught off guard when the demon jumped in front of them, blocking the way. They stopped in a skidded halt.

'Damn! I thought it would hold for a little longer.'

"You better pray to all your gods now you damn onmyouji!" The demon lifted a hand and suddenly, large thorns came falling down all over Lin.

Fortunately, Lin immediately shielded his self from this attack and managed another counter-blow. "Baku!" He shouted, binding the demon again. Before he could break it, he snatched an ofuda in his pocket and chanted another spell. "Pure lights in the sky, cloudy shadows in the earth, I pray to the guardians, pity and protect me. Do it immediately!" Once again he throw the ofuda, however this time he made sure that it will stick on the demon's body.

A loud cry of pain shakes the entire place. Murder of crows flew away in fear as the two continued running leaving the demon that's gradually losing his patience. The contained power in his body is already at its peak, pleading to unleash.

"Why did you kill them?" Naru asked in a calm manner, ignoring the dagger pointed at him. "Is it solely for revenge?"

Kagiri shook his head, placing a hand under his chin. "You truly are a scientist. Disregarding the fact that you are in danger, asking a question first instead of begging to let you go." He stared at Naru. "Do you really want to know?"

"Only if you want to tell me."

Kagiri's eyes sparkles with amusement. "Very well then." He turned his back to his captive and took five steps away from him in a playful manner. "It's as you had said. I killed them for my revenge, to make the life of that woman a living hell. I could have just killed her right?" He spun around. "But for someone like her, death is only another form of mercy. That was why, I, her son made her life miserable." He chuckled. "The poor woman thought she's cursed, which is true by the way. I am her curse! She took everything from me and I took everything from her. Her husband, her son, her step daughter, her friends! All of them! She has to suffer the same way I did!"

Naru frown at this. A curse will always come full circle. He can't escape punishment if he cursed someone but he's certain that it doesn't matter to Kagiri. He scoffs inwardly. The only thing that runs in his mind is to carry out his revenge. And for a person to evolve like this, he must hold a strong will. For Kagiri, his will to get revenge is so strong it already brought him down to a path where a road to get back doesn't exist. Doesn't exist? No. That's not it. He erased it.

"And Nobunaga? Is he also a tool to carry out your plan?"

"Yeah." His eyes trailed off for a moment before shifting it back to him. "You see, luck is on my side. Nobunaga Arai and Taniyama Mai were classmates that made everything easier for me."

Naru's eyes squinted while his mind takes everything he says.

"Tch! That bastard is only a product of a filthy love affair yet he has everything," His lips pulled in a bitter smile. "Whereas the legitimate child was leave with nothing. I only have my brother but even that person was taken away from me!"

The man chuckled but soon evolved into cascades of laughter. "Why? Why? Why? Why? When someone decided to take us in, I thought it was the start of a new life for us. But I was wrong. DEAD WRONG! Hahahaha! It turns out that it was nothing but a makeshift salvation that deceived me and my aniue!" He paused for a second then went on with a dead serious tone. "You know, hatred is an ugly thing, a forbidden emotion. That's why the heart becomes a complex place to hide it from prying eyes. But if you just hide it, this hatred will ruin you and if it gets unruly, it will ruin other people. What about you? Why didn't you get revenge to the one who killed your brother?"

"I'm definitely not daring enough to get myself in that kind of mess that makes no sense to me or that I can't agree to." Naru answered. "And if by doing a revenge means I will end up like you then never mind." Kagiri stiffened and gave him a cold look. "Don't be depressed; it was your own mistake. You didn't notice right away that hatred is a kind of emotion that ruins people. Above all you intentionally wished to avert your eyes from the truth that what you're doing is wrong. The blame lies with the weakness of your mind."

At first, Naru thought that Kagiri was smart but he came to the conclusion that he's just another emotionally damaged person who will never survive this cruel logical world.

"You're clearly implying that it's my fault." Kagiri said. "It's my mother's fault that I become like this! If she only love my father and gives some of her attention to us, I will never have done these kinds of things! It's all because of her!"

"Why? Did your mother order you to get revenge?" The man gave him a hard look. But Naru didn't care. "No. It was your own decision. It's your own will so don't go blaming others of what you have become."

"Don't speak like you know everything damn it!"

Naru knew that Kagiri was starting to get enraged and it is a good thing to blind him with this kind of emotion for a while. He will lose the sight in his surroundings and his attention will point at him. Exactly what he intends to do.

"Humans have two pounds of meat inside the skull. It's called brain. It has a power called 'thinking' by those humans develops a thing such as 'free will'. Every human has a free will, decisions that are theirs alone to make. No matter how hard someone might shape you, in the end, it's the brain who'll decide on what to do and what to follow. It will decide what character they fall in, what dress to wear or who to talk to. The brain gets easily affected by things, however the things may cause it, still, it will be the one to decide what's right or wrong."

Naru shivered at the sudden gust of cold wind that enters on a large window. He could only hold Kagiri a little, he just hope Lin and the others will make it in time before this man notice that he's holding him.

"You kill because you decided that it was the right thing." Naru went on. "Then what if I tell you that it's not? How will that meat inside of your head decide? First it will commence in a thinking process, balancing the truth in my words. If it decides that my words were unacceptable it will form a thousand of reasons, reasons, reasons reasons, and reasons just to tell me I'm wrong, to think that you are still right in spite of everything."

Kagiri was at a loss for words. He knew that not a single thing of what he's doing was right, yet whenever he thinks of his grudge for his mother, all his reasons to stop submerge in overwhelming negative emotions, way pass the point of no return, dragging him deep down and holding him taut so that he can never escape. Well it doesn't matter now. The only thing he wants is to kill that demon. That is his last wish.

"It's way too late to turn back now, and you Oliver Davis, will kill that demon!" Kagiri declared with a growl. "I don't care what will you do or how will you do it ... you will kill that demon for me!"

"Did I hear that correctly?" Naru asked. "For a second there, you almost sounded as if you had the power to boss me around. What if I refuse?"

"Your refusal will cause Taniyama Mai's life." He responded, looking entirely dangerous.

"Then go ahead and kill her."

Kagiri was completely taken aback with what Naru said. He didn't even bother himself to hide the reaction on his face. He shifted his weight while his eyes darted somewhere. But he immediately looked back and gave Naru an unconvinced look.

Naru smirked. Looking at him like that, the man shows some signs of nervousness. Looks like he can easily get what he wants.

"I will kill that demon in one condition." Naru said that and gave him an all serious look.

"What is it?" Kagiri demanded.

"I want you to put down the barrier."


The moment Lin and Mai turned to the left side of the mansion, groups of horrible creatures begun rising from beneath the ground. They are the same creatures they encountered in Aoyama Cemetery and judging by the looks of these creatures, they wouldn't let them pass in peace.

Mai flinched back, seemingly terrified. "W-What are those?"

"They are the spirits of the dead. Someone is using their grudge and controlling them to do their bidding, can also be called a familiar." Lin explained. "Do not hold back, use what Naru told you."

"But they are still spirits of people!" Mai protested.

"Yes, but being controlled by a demon means they can't move on their own accord." Lin told her. "It won't hesitate to kill if its master wished it." Lin saw hesitation on her but she prepared herself nonetheless.

As soon as Mai stood alerted behind Lin's back, he started to form a star symbol using his hand. He then mustered the right amount of spiritual energy in his hand. At this time he can't afford to waste his energy by battling every each of them.

Every cracking sound from the ground signifies that another dead is about to surface. Lin's jaw tightened and his knuckles rolled into fist. He has to annihilate these spirits immediately before it completely comes out.

He stood straight and started relaxing himself. He took a deep breath as he closed his eyes, getting a feel at his surroundings. It was entirely different, a little bit strange and he felt like he was under some open ground. The wind blew rather softly and he noticed something. Despite the horrible growling from the evil spirits, the whole place is remarkably calm.

This is what he was searching for, a nice opportunity.

Lin started to move his feet. The right one first, followed by the left, he formed a shape of a big deeper as he chant. "Tenpou, Tennai, Tenshou, Tenpa, Tenkin, Tenshin, Tenchuu, Tennin, Tennei!"

The Pace of Yu, a secret method use to avoid negative spirits and influences, purify the heart/mind and body, and obtain power from the divine immortals to boost one's abilities. Commonly used by taoist priest. Part of taoist rituals and ceremonies or when sending the spiritual petition to the deities.

That chant created a spiritual barrier encircling the place where the dead is currently overrunning. They froze in their places, but Lin can only hold them for a few seconds. Lin chanted again. "Believe in the universal Buddha's and honor them, under the stars of dividing misfortune. God of Kifune, give me your divine protection. Bind this evil spirit, if they are bound, you will without a doubt be rewarded by the fudou myou-ou!"

A loud crashing sound descended from above followed by ear piercing ghastly wails of those who had been struck by the spell, one by one they burst into dark liquid and splattered all over the place, staining the once green lawn of that gloomy side of the mansion.

Lin is more than thankful that it's still days before the moon become full. It placed them on the advantage side. Now the only thing they have to do is to lead the demon to that place.

A strong blast of force from the back hit the two and both of them was sent flying forward. Mai rolled numerous times before stopping near a bush while Lin's body slammed hard on the ground.

Pain shot through his right flank and his vision rotated intensely. Although the pain was dominating his body and could barely move, the Chinese man did his best to get back on his feet.

By the time he managed to sat up, the demon came, landing in front of him, now in his real form, his long black hair swaying with the cold warm breeze. It immediately grabbed his neck, lift him up and hanged him in the air. Lin gag and cough as he felt the demon's claws pressing hard on his neck.

"You bastard!" The demon howled, infuriated. The menacing glint in his eyes sent shudders down Lin's spine. "I should have eliminated you earlier. I blame myself for underestimating you. But now...I won't give a chance!"

"Naumaku san man da basara dan kan!" Mai rapidly chant. There was a flash and a sudden released of blade like power swung towards the demon that pushed him back a little. But it didn't end there. "Abide! Kaminari no kami Raijin! Kaze no kami Fujin! Release!"

The demon's red eyes opened wide as if they would pop when a wind together with lightning rushed towards him. And bam! A loud scream resounded in the whole place. The two of them disappeared behind the thick cloud dust made by Mai's sudden attack. When the demon's voice died down, a deafening silence engulfed the whole place. And as the cloud of dust diffuse, Mai was greeted by the raging fury on the demon's face that's down on his knees and holding his left arm. Lin managed to break its grip and now tottering to get away from the demon. Mai sighed in relief.

". . . . Chou." The demon utter in a grave frightening voice, eyes glaring at the girl. "I will eat you!"

"If you want to die, go die by yourself!" Chou/Mai said, earning a bewildered look from Lin. "I won't let you harm any human beings!"

Lin straightened and was about to form another barrier when suddenly a water like shield unfolded right in front of him, forming some sort of barrier only this barrier wasn't coming from any spiritual energy. It's a horde of spirits that made themselves into a barrier.

'Go!' A voice said. 'We will hold ... For a while! Go now!'

As if being ordered by someone with so much authority, Lin and Mai started moving again, eyes forward, not even glancing back. They were almost at the back of the mansion but another group of spirits appears.

Lin couldn't help but think that he's in some kind of zombie apocalypse. What the hell...

The situation is getting dire and he's not sure if his spiritual energy would last long battling these many.

"Tanyata udakadai bana enkei enkei sowaka!" Another chant came from Mai putting the lot in trance. "We can't kill them! They were being manipulated!" Mai informed him. "The only thing we can do is to stop them from moving for a while and give us enough time to reach the back of the mansion. Oh! I'm Kurogane Chou in case you're wondering. I borrowed this girl's body."

"But it's dangerous for her." Lin look worried. "You're also using her spiritual energy."

Mai lifted a hand and slashed down to freeze another one flying near them. "I know. Don't worry it won't be for too long, I just need to do something to help you guys."

Lin didn't argue anymore. Right now their top priority is to get where Naru is.

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