Living and the dead

Chapter 32

Bou-san heard chanting long before he could see anything. Night time was slowly passing and it's already close to dawn, the silver moon was hidden beneath the clouds and the darkness was thick. The trees scattered all around them as leaves dancing at the silent blow of the wind.

"Are they coming?" Ayako asked as she took a peek beside the monk. "Can you see them?"

She was probably nervous seeing how she keeps on holding her other hand taut under the sleeve of her white kimono.

"I don't know. I don't see anyone coming." He replied and spun around. Masako was seating near John while Yasu was leaning on a nearby tree.

They are currently waiting for Lin and Mai's arrival and in order to keep their presences under the demon, the team decided to hide in a nearby somewhat bushy place while Bou-san put up some barrier to hide their aura.

It's getting late and there's still no sign of them.

Masako broke her silence and stood up. "Are you sure we can do this?" She asked. Despite the strength of her colleagues, she couldn't stop herself from worrying. Their lives are at stake in here and one wrong move, they will surely die. "Only small amount of time was given to us to prepare. I'm worried."

"We know how you feel Hara-san. But we shouldn't go back now." John said. "But don't worry God will probably guide and protect us."

Days before Naru rescued Mai from the mansion. He already planned what to do in case something like this would happen. It's amazing how he can plan everything as if he already knew what the enemy has in mind.

They still remember everything he said back then.

"Our opponent is someone stronger than the spirits and entity in our previous encounter." Naru said as he lean on his table. "I know this will be difficult. I don't know how much everyone can do . . . in the end, I have to rely on every one more. There are some dire situations at hand, since Lin is an Onmyouji he could do something about the demon, but we still need assistance."

Lin entered carrying four pieces of black lumber with white paper charms fixed on its edge. There are Chinese characters written just below the charms. It must be a chant.

"These things will help us. None of us knew how to exorcise a demon and it will be difficult for us to handle but we may be able to do something about it. If we can't banish it we have to do everything to descend it at least. The results of this fight are not determined by strength alone, we must face our opponent with everything we have. I'm giving you two weeks to prepare for everything you need to know about this ritual. Lin will teach you how it's done."

"Is this safe?" Ayako inquired.

"This method is safe however, I can't guarantee everyone's safety when we face our opponent nevertheless we have to use any means at our disposal to defeat it. So everyone, while doing everything to make this work, please do everything to make sure you're safe."

'Did he just say the word 'please'?' Takigawa asked himself.

"Don't worry Naru-bou! I will do everything to protect my comrades."

Ayako rolled her eyes at Takigawa. "Here he goes again."

A loud explosion rumbled on the far side of the mansion. Immediately after that the five of them got out of their hiding place in time to see Lin and Mai now heading to where they are. Bou-san waved and Lin saw him easily.

'This is definitely one of the most terrifying nights of my life.' Yasu thought when he saw a black thing crawling from the right side of the bricked wall of the mansion.

"Ayako can you do an exorcism like the last one you did in Fushimi's house?" Huffing, Lin asked when they got near them.

"Right now?" Lin nodded. "I think I can. The trees in this area are alive and I can feel the deities' presence. I will start immediately."

"Please do, I have no time to explain everything. Right now the angry spirits are on their way."

As if hearing Lin's words, a head popped on the ground and released a loud growl. Subsequently one by one appeared floundering their way towards them. Slowly the angry spirits gather around, ready to hurt anyone under per their master's order.

Another loud explosion, then a horrible wailing sound followed. It was as though the sound was coming from a torture chamber or something. Masako covered her ears. Those cries were from spirits that's suffering from pain and agony. Listening to it was like listening to people who seeks for help yet, she couldn't do anything to help.

"They're not crying because of the spell." Ayako's eyes trailed of somewhere. "It was a cry of refusal. Of doing something you don't want to do."

Ayako wasted no time. She quickly took out her bell and tied it around a small branch of a live tree, sticks it to the ground and formed a hand symbol after that. She doesn't want to be called useless again and she will do everything to help Mai.

The miko closed her eyes and inhales deeply as she calmed herself and frees her mind. Then she begins. "The high and heavenly plain, divinely sit the god and goddess, yin and yang forces, in blessing, as the imperial Ancestor Izanagi, Tsukushi, Himuga, Tachibana, Odo and Awagi, purified with ablution and at that time are brought into being the divine forces of purification."

She was still far from the end of the prayer when the ground started shaking. Ayako almost fell, but monk was fast, he quickly grabbed Ayako's arm and help her stand straight.

"Are you okay?"

She just nod at him and continued. "That all the various defiling things, sins and impurities, harai tamae be cleansed and made pure, proclaim and request of the heavenly spirits of celestial realms, eight million divine spirits."

The growling from the angry spirits intensifies and their moves becomes aggressive, wanting to get near them quickly to stopped the priestess but before they can get close Bou-san and John took action.

"On kiri kiri basara bashiri hora manda manada un hatta! On kiri kiri basara bashiri hora manda manada un hatta!" The monk chant loudly, his voice full of authority.

"There are so many of them!" John cried as he sprinkled the holy water to the spirits.

A loud cry and shrill screams bursting suddenly when the holy water together with the spell blow the spirits. The thunderous sound was everywhere and it was deafening. Masako, Mai and Yasuhara covered their ears while John and the monk stand tall to protect Ayako. Smash

Ayako go on. "Taishi, Suzaku, Bunno, Genbu, Santei, Byakko, Gyokujo, Kyuchin, Seiryuu. Coming together I petition, and with the reverent awe, this I respectfully declare."

Every each of them noticed how the air lit up and the wind becomes purer. Somehow it gave them a little peace.

"Rin, Pyou, Toh, Shah, Kai, Chin, Retsu, Zai, Zen!" After uttering the last words, the deities materialized one by one from the trees, they turned into smoke and went inside the bell. Whenever a deity enters, the bell creates a sound. She formed another hand symbol and took the small branch. "Put down the barrier now!" She told Takigawa.

He did and Ayako started swaying the branch on both sides. As the bell rings the ghosts slowly gets purifies and then materialized in their true form. Each and all of them are smiling as if extending their gratitude with that small action. One by one the ghost vanished into thin air leaving a white glow that floats up the sky. The light glowed like stars that will go back to the night sky. It was so beautiful but they vanished like the shapes that float upon a summer's dream.

It was a success.

"May your soul be cleansed from all of its impurities and go to where it should be…" Ayako whispered.

"That was close." Said Mai/Chou. He didn't know that someone like this shrine maiden was one of Mai's friends. She's very lucky to have her right now, if not they would probably be in deep danger. "But we can't be at ease. The demon has its guards all over the place and the absence of that Shiki is very suspicious."

"We must not let our guard down." Lin said and gave everyone a paper charm. "I managed to bind the demon for a while but I'm sure sooner or later he will be here. Be prepared."

Everything fell in deep silence as if something sucked all the sounds in their surroundings.

This isn't good.

The team felt that there was some inexplicable terror spreading around the place. They weren't scared but the feeling was disgusting, a feeling from something inhumane. It was horrible and sickening.

The wind intensified, whipping and swirling, thunder rumbled in the darkening sky. Good thing they're already in the area. The open area or backyard is exactly what they needed to perform the ritual. It is easier to move and see their target.

But given that it's dark, Lin couldn't get a very good look at the dark place, especially now that the dark clouds above gathered, pulling together the thunder and lightning in a threatening bad weather.

"It's about to rain." Chou commented, and seconds after he said that, a small drop of water landed just beneath his eyes. "We have to hurry. It's hard to move under a heavy rain."

Everyone nodded in respond and prepared their selves. The wind was howling not far away and the sound of the rain was gradually coming closer. Lin took a deep breath and pray to all the gods that the demon wouldn't notice what they were scheming.

A loud heavy footsteps alerted the team. It was coming nearer and nearer every other second, it was as if death itself comes down.

"Does anyone here have a death wish?" Asked Chou out of the blue.

". . . I don't." Yasuhara answered. "But I almost write a last will."

"Good. Then don't die."

"Was that supposed to be an encouragement?" Yasu asked.

"Maybe."

"Whatever happens we must put that thing inside the circle!" Bou-san said.

The demon showed up in its real form. Its skin was in shade of gray, unlike Urado its body has a firm and great stature, and he is taller than Lin and Bou-san. Its eyes that glows in red and gleaming in grievous way sends terrifying chills down everyone's spine. Blood dripped when its long nails pierce into its hands as his finger rolled into fist.

Despite all of these the team remained unshaken. This is what they're here for in Kurogane's mansion therefore whatever happens they wouldn't blame anyone, let alone regret their decision.

"I admit you took me by surprise you damn onmyouji." Said the demon. Smoke lashed out from his mouth. "But there won't be a third time. Since I only need the girl if any of you wants to run away, now is the right time. I won't chase after you nor kill you. However, if you chose to stay here then prepare yourself to die. This time I will twist it hard to make it hurt."

"You knew very well what we're here for." Lin said as he secretly prepared his spell in his back.

"... ..."

The water droplets slowly becoming larger until it completely poured down, making everything darker than it already is. With a swift move behind the darkness the demon advanced against them and with just a single sway of his hands put everyone on the ground, completely unable to move but this doesn't prevent John from saying his prayers.

"Heavenly God, please allow us to worship you. Your soul becomes our heaven and the earth. In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. The Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Through Him, all things were made. Without Him, nothing was made. In Him was life. And that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness. The darkness did not overcome it!" He muster all of his remaining strength to throw the crucifix at the demon.

The crucifix stuck on the demon's forearm and gradually scalding its skin yet he didn't show even an ounce of expression on his face. He just stared at the wooden thing with amusement dancing in his eyes. These kinds of things cannot hurt him, it can bruise him of course but it will surely take a strong amount of power to knock him down.

John grinned in triumph when he saw the demon looking at the crucifix. His intention was not to bring him on his knees. In his current state it was not possible still the aim was to divert his attention on that small thing to produce an opportunity for Lin to strike.

"Namasamanda bodanan karon bigiranahan so ushinisha sowaka!" The Usnisa Vijaya mantra, viewed as one of the most powerful of all the mantras. It was the Usnisa Vijaya method of Imperial Onmyoudou. Lin cringes slightly. This mantra will help him counter the demon's spell, although the mantra was strong enough to contused the creature he needed to do something more.

Soon the demon's spell broke, thereafter the monk garner his energy to form a protection spell in order to avoid another spell attack from the demon. "Noumaku samanda bazaradan sendamakaroshada sowataya untarata kanman!"

"We need to push him now!" Mai/Chou yelled.

Everyone nodded and quickly stood up. Masako formed a symbol in her hand and utter her own spell as Monk, the priest and the miko did the same. Though their spell was consists half of their energy when rolled together it created a large impact on the demon that was unwillingly pushed back towards the middle of the wide backyard despite the struggle to launch another attack.

The rain was becoming heavier as moments pass by. And true to Chou's words, it's hard to move under a heavy rain. Each drop felt like it was piercing in their skin, not to mention that it's almost fall and the air was starting to get cold.

"Keep it up!" Lin ran to the other side, closed his eyes and poured all of his energy in one place. His right blind eye glow in a shade of turquoise while he mustered the remaining power inside his body.

This is it...

He need all of his power to bind him in place, if fortune is in their side it's not too late however just one mistake and they are all done for.

From where he stood, his five shikigami materialized in front of him and formed a star pentagram. After that he started moving his right hands whereas his other already formed a lotus symbol.

"This hand is not my hand, this breath is not my breath, this voice is not my voice, it is the hand, breath, the voice of the god of taka amahara, futsu no mitama, totsuka no tsurugi... supreme path of god!" A quick slash from his right hand and another symbol, "Heaven and earth, move delicately, do it immediately!"

Lin's spell produced a massive power and came out with a crackling sound, it slashed through the air and like a bullet it shot in an unimaginable speed. A loud roaring sound burst in the open area just after the strong force strike the demon shoving its whole body near the pentagram drawn in the ground using something that resemble black pebbles. Just a little bit more and his left foot will enter the pentagram.

Even though the force was strong the demon summons all his strength to withstand it. He succeeded. But another one came and this time the gravity of this pure energy was heavier than the first, it hit him so hard that he jumped back. Unfortunately for the demon, it was already too late to make a move.

"Bind!" A familiar voice reached the demon's ears and after hearing that he knew that escaping is futile.

"You! Kurogane Kagiri!" The demon said between clenched teeth, eyes piercing at the man walking towards him.

"You shouldn't have let me live when I killed myself after I let you kill those priests." Kagiri said to him. "You should have let me died together with this revenge, but because of your greed you resurrect my body and I will remain alive by deceiving a god. Now are you enjoying the entertainment I prepared for you?"

"I let you live because I wanted you to carry out your revenge! You should thank me for helping you all this time!"

"Yeah... but I think we have misunderstanding here. When did I ever ask for your help?" Kagiri smirked. "I accepted your contract to kill those who kill my brother because you offer it. I didn't plead or even ask for it so a 'thank you' is not necessary in this kind of condition. Don't you think?"

"You Kurogane Kagiri! I will curse you to die a horrible death! I will eat your soul together with your body and I will not sleep until I crushed your bones to ashes!"

Kagiri laughed viciously at what the demon said. "Die a horrible death? Do you really think that your threat will scare me? Hah! I died not only once but hundreds of times, all of them were not a pleasant death for your information. What else should I fear? And did you already forget what I told you a long time ago? Once you form a contract with me, it will be your last."

Naru stood behind Kagiri, carefully observing the situation. It seems that the demon still hasn't noticed him yet. The mirror under his grasps trembled, this made him frown a little.

"Noll! Get out of there!" Lin shouted at him. He turned to him and saw how he still holding the demon with his binding spells together with Kagiri. Lin was doing a great job but it's only a matter of time before he reached his limit. Something that is not good.

His eyes shifted to Lin's back and saw Mai standing not far away from Lin. Her face consists of anxiousness mixed together with fright and confusion as she looks at Kagiri. Naru's frown deepens.

That is not Mai!

Again, the mirror shake, he lifted it up and saw Gene's worried face. 'Are you ready?'

Naru nodded silently. The mirror glowed when he sends a large amount of energy inside it, he just need enough amount to use in order to help his team. Naru only has one chance and one shot but he was sure that it will completely hit his target. Gene amplified the energy and transfers it back to Naru. They keep transferring the said energy until it grows stronger in a sufficient power enough for him to handle.

When done Naru approached the demon slowly and stood ten steps away from him.

"Noll! What are you doing!?" Lin asked in a panicked voice. "Don't tell me..."

"Naru-bou! It'll endanger your life!" Bou-san yelled.

"Naru!"

But he ignored everyone's protest. He felt weird, the only person he wanted to stop him isn't saying anything and it brought an unpleasant feeling in his chest.

Naru lifted his hands, both holding the mirror. When he's sure enough he slashed down, unleashing the power of his PK. Bind by Lin and Kagiri's spell the demon was unable to dodge Naru's attack and then Bam! It hit him and lost his balance, the muddy ground made a splashing sound when the demon fall flat on its back.

Now he was completely inside the pentagram. The four seal activated immediately producing a white transparent barrier to keep the demon from escaping. The only thing that is left is to exorcise it.

In its weakened body, the demon gradually stands up. Though they managed to put him inside it doesn't mean that he can't escape this petty trap.

He punched the barrier and Kagiri's eyes widen when it cracked a little.

"Hurry up! His power is so strong the barrier won't last long!"

With that the four people involved in the ritual -John, Masako, Takigawa and Ayako- stood accordingly in their own places, surrounding the demon. They exchanged glances and nodded at each other before they started reciting the chant.

Ayako started. "God of the eastern sea whose name is Amei!"

Followed by John. "God of the western sea whose name is Shukuryou!"

Takigawa took a step forward. "God of the southern sea, whose name is Kyoyou!"

And lastly Masako. "God of the northern sea, whose name is Gukyou!

The demon punched the barrier again, this time the transparent like barrier received a large damage. If this goes on it will shatter into pieces!

"This won't do!" Chou exclaimed. "I have to do something!"

"What do you mean aniue?" Chou just looked at his little brother with complete decisiveness. "No... You're not thinking of ... ... no aniue no no no!"

But Chou was already sure of his plan. He knew his decision will break his brother for he have done all of this for him but what else could he possibly do? If these people die in front of him now then there's no use in living in the next life.

He leaves Mai's body and flew near the barrier. But before he entered the water like barricade he gave his brother a one last look.

"Aniue no!"

"You take care Kagiri... we will never meet again." He said solemnly as he entered. He coiled his arms around the demon to prevent him from moving. "Let's finish this!"

"But Chou! Once we continue your spirit will probably be exorcised with no hope of reincarnation!" Takigawa said.

"I don't care! Do it now!"

"I won't let you sacrificed yourself for me again!" Kagiri interposed. With a quick move he got himself inside the barrier and like his brother he held the demon's body taut. "Always being cool, always sacrificing what you have for your little brother! You're unfair!"

"Kagiri..."

"Do you hear me Oliver? Finish the ritual now!"

Naru nod at Lin, telling him to proceed. The Chinese man reluctantly signaled to his comrades. He saw doubt in their eyes but even the four of them doesn't have any option that's why even if it's against their will, they did what they're supposed to do.

"Together with the four gods who rule the lands," The four said simultaneously.

"God of the east Seiryuu." Ayako chanted.

John followed. "God of the west Byakko."

Then Bou-san. "God of the south Suzaku."

"God of the north Genbu."

Their voices come together in a one last prayer that will completely annihilate the demon and the Kurogane brothers. "Great gods of four seas, four lands and great Koryu you repel the demon! You melt away the evil! Promptly! Promptly! Take away the inhuman one!" This will be the end of him and for sure he won't be able to come back to life again...

Kagiri felt the intensity of the pain grew deeper but despite that he still managed to smile at his older brother. "I just wanted to be by your side Aniue ... I did all of that to be with you. Everything was already decided the moment I forged a contract with the demon. I lose the game a long time ago and I knew I will die eventually. If I let my soul get eaten by this demon then, I will become nothing. They say souls reincarnates every one hundred years, although I know it won't be an easy life for me in the next life time I will still search for you. No matter what happens but it seems even that dream is not possible. ." He noticed how his brother's body is becoming transparent little by little. "Even if it's just a short while, I'm so happy to have been able to meet you. My soul might vanish but I promise that I will never forget you."

"Yeah... ... you will forever remain my younger brother." Chou looked pained yet he smiled back. "I'm sorry for everything, it's not your fault... ... everything is not your fault..."

A loud blaring eerily screams reverberated throughout the place as the demon gradually disappears inside the barrier together with Kagiri and Chou. Having pinned in the middle of that magic circle, the demon couldn't find a way to escape. He won't let everything end that easily, he won't leave this world without gaining anything that's why he uttered his last words. "You who is not human nor a monster, head my command... kill as I say and leave no one alive! Aaaaaarrrggghhh!"

The sound of his scream faded and deafening silence enveloped the whole place.

Masako, John and Ayako dropped on their knees, exhausted. They used all of their energy to perform the ritual and they are all thankful that it's successful. It's all over. The hundreds of ghosts were already free, the demon was exorcised and more importantly they didn't lose Mai.

...

His running feet were in a fast phase as he glided through the trees of the small forest near that mansion. He turned left to the side of the Kurogane manor and then spotted his target. For him, this is his last task to become completely free. He dashed towards the young man whose facing his back at him, he leaps in the air and was about to stab him when a girl entered his vision.

She used her body as a shield that's why instead of the young man, his scythe landed on the brown haired girl's chest. A small scream escaped her.

Naru turned to his back, completely surprised at the sudden movement behind him. It was as though time has slowed down and Naru witnessed every angle of Mai's falling body in slow motion. She was helpless to prevent contact with the muddy ground. Her shoulder hit first and she stopped moving completely.

"Mai!" Naru screamed and quickly jump near Mai. "Mai! Mai!"

Yasuhara ran around the Shiki's back and stick the charm Lin gave him on his body. The shiki growl in pain and then vanished immediately. After that he kneel in front of Mai's limp body now being cradled by Naru. Her chest was oozing with blood.

"Mai!" Naru tried his best to wake her up but she's not responding. "Idiot! I will never forgive you if you leave like this! Don't even think about going anywhere! Mai!"

The team was frozen in their place, too shocked to move. This is the first time they encounter such happenings in their life and although each of them wanted to do something no one dared to come forward, no one could make a sound, except for Ayako who checked Mai's pulse.

"Naru..." She wanted to say something but shocked silence met her words.

Everybody tried their best so why did it still turns out like this? Why does it have to be so hard? And why does the one who gave it all have to suffer so much?

"Mai..." Oliver Davis is ... crying as he held Mai's unmoving body near his. "Don't give up here... it's all over now, so please open your eyes... ... I beg you."

But he didn't get any response from the brunette girl. She just lay there, eyes closed and as he stares at her face he noticed her hue becoming paler. She looks 'dead'.

Noll... it was Gene. He was saying something but he couldn't understand any of it.

The furious rain hush its cry as water pours in an endlessly leisure drizzle. Dews dripped from Naru's hair and find its way to collide on Mai's pale cheek. Naru slowly bowed his head; another tear escapes to fall as his lips seize hers in a slow, long, gentle everlasting deep brush of a kiss.

I'm sorry...

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