Chapter 1: Painful Memories
An agonising scream left my lips while I collapsed to my knees as Kagura’s red blades cut past me. I clawed my hands into the ground, just trying to bear with the pain that shot through my body.
“Damn you to hell…” I cursed as tears blurred my vision.
My blonde hair fell around me as a vile, evil cackle rang out. I sat back on my legs as I slouched over, bringing an arm up and to my side. The wound on my side gushed out blood, forcing me to place my hand firmly over the deep gash from her blades.
“Such words for a woman of such supposed purity.” Naraku’s voice rang out.
I raised my head, narrowing my sky-blue orbs, sending an icy glare to him.
At that moment I saw it.
It was the same look in his eyes as when he first came for me.
The day he slaughtered my parents.
Fifty Years Ago.
“Akira?!” Mother called out.
My ears perked up as I looked to where her voice came from, while Takara stood still in the air and turned her gaze to where I had. I looked back at Takara.
“Come on Takara, let’s go,” I said.
She gave a slight nod of her head as she let out a soft growl then leapt down to the ground. Once we reached the end of the forest line, mother was in view outside our hut. My worried gaze was met with her loving gaze.
“Is something wrong mother?” I puffed as Takara and I slowed to a stop before her.
Mother smiled, puffing a slight laugh, “No, my pup, and you must stop worrying so much. We are in no danger here,” mother said.
I let out a troubled sigh, averting away from my mother’s gaze, “I wish I shared your optimism mother.” I said.
She placed a hand to my cheek, “My darling pup, your father and I love you as do your elder brothers, nothing will ever change that.” mother said.
I looked at her and smiled “And I love you all but our brethren, they don’t see eye to eye with us, it’s them I’m worried about,” I said.
Mother laughed as she separated from me, “Oh my little one, don’t be so harsh on our brethren, now come inside, your father and I have some business to talk with you, and your brothers, about.” mother said.
I gave a nod of my head and looked at Takara and held my hands out to her. She jumped into my arms as she changed into her pup form. I looked back to my mother, seeing her with an almost nostalgic look in her eyes.
“Mother?” I said in concern, as my ears tilted back slightly.
“I’m fine, pup, come, we shouldn’t keep the boys waiting,” mother said, shaking off my concern then walked into the hut hastily.
I followed her in as I held Takara close with one hand and stroked her fur with the other. Once inside the hut, mother headed towards the middle room. Upon our entry, the secret passage underneath the hut laid open.
“Hurry up, pup, this is an important talk,” mother said, urging me to press forward while waiting by the hatch of the floorboards.
I gave a swift nod of my head and went down, mother followed me closing the passage behind her.
“Akira!” Isamu exclaimed, rushing over, picking me then spun us around with me in his tight grip.
“Eek!” I puffed as I held Takara a little tighter in my grip while my spare arm, wrapped around Isamu.
“Isamu, stop mucking around, we have work to do.” Toshio snapped.
“I wish you would lighten up…” Isamu said, then put me down but kept an arm around me. “You’re such a joy killer, you know that?” he said while eyeing off his elder twin off.
Toshio shot Isamu an icy glare, “We are supposed to be setting an example for Akira, not acting like newborn pups, get your act together.” he said sternly.
Isamu removed his arm from around my shoulders and cracked his knuckles, “Newborn—Why you… Least I don’t have a stick jammed up m-” Isamu started.
“Isamu!” mother growled, making us all look at her.
“He started it,” Isamu whined.
“You act like a pup; I only gave you advice that you should already know,” Toshio said.
“That’s quite enough, boys,” father said sternly.
We all turned our gaze to him.
“Yes, father,” Toshio said.
“Fine…” Isamu puffed.
“Good, now I need you, boys, to get along for this mission I have for you, can you both do that?” father asked, darting his eyes between the twins.
“Of course, father,” Toshio said.
“Sure,” Isamu said, giving a nod of his head.
Isamu was still annoyed at Toshio, but he was holding back and trying to act rationally.
Father gave a nod of his head, “Good because this is a very important mission, we cannot afford to be fighting amongst ourselves.” father said.
This seemed serious, but what on earth could be so bad for father to be this stern, and for mother to be so upset. This didn’t sit well with me. A bad feeling had built up in my gut, something terrible was going to happen, I just felt it.
“I want you boys to go to all the wolf demons, whether tribe or wandering…” father said then walked over to them, looking between them. A pained look shimmered in his blue orbs, one that confirmed my gut feeling. “I want you to inform everyone of an uprising, an evil demon lurking about. This could not only affect the life of our kind but for everyone. Demons. Humans. Animal kind. Even nature will falter,” father said, as his brows creased together.
My eyes widened as I looked at my father in awe. My elder twin brothers frowned. Although Toshio frowned bitterly as he tensed up, Isamu frowned in disgust, his nose scrunching up while crossing his arms over his chest.
“We won’t fail you father,” Toshio said, then turned to his twin. “Let’s grab what we need, then head out.”
Isamu gave a swift nod of his head in agreement.
“Be safe boys,” father said, concern was oozing off him, and he has every right to be that way.
“Don’t worry father, we were trained by the best, so we’ll be just fine,” Isamu said confidently with a grin.
“We’ll send word when we reach word to any of our brethren and give you updates if anything happens,” Toshio said then turned his gaze, looking between mother, myself and father “You all take care of yourselves, we’ll be back once we finish our mission,” he said.
“Mhmm,” Isamu puffed with a confident nod of his head while grinning. “We’ll be back in no time.”
Toshio sighed heavily, “Come on Isamu, let’s not waste time with your boasting.” he said.
Isamu gave Toshio a slight glare. Toshio, however, just waved it off and turned on his heel, Isamu soon followed suit. Both began grabbing a couple of packs, and started gathering what herb remedies and weapons they needed before swiftly heading upstairs. They’d gone out many times before, so it seemed only natural but this… this was bigger than anything we’ve ever encountered before.
“I’ll make sure they have everything,” mother said then quickly followed the twins.
I couldn’t blame her for being upset now. Knowing all that, it’s no wonder she’s worried about my brothers. My eyes darted to the ground as my ears tilted back slightly while my thoughts were now swirling around at the very idea, of this evil demon lurking about.
“Akira…” father’s voice rang out.
I looked at him, seeing him smiling, although it was put on. I’m sure that was for my sake. I smiled back as I twitched my ears upright. “Sorry father, I was in thought, did you say something?” I asked, tilting my head ever so slightly to the side.
Father laughed. “No, my pup” he said, shaking his head. “Although, once your brothers leave, your mother and I must speak to you.”
“About the evil demon?” I questioned.
Father sighed, “You will find out soon pup, do not rush things.”
I looked down, “Sorry father, I know I can be a little too eager sometimes, but I am working on that.” I said.
“Don’t apologise for being you pup, knowledge is a good thing, but everything has a time and place in the world.” father said.
I nodded as I looked at him. He smiled as he placed his hand on my head, making one ear flop to the side. Father’s eyes creased as he smiled a little more.
“Come, let us sit and wait for your mother to come back,” father said as he took his hand from my head.
We walked to the fire pit and rest area, opposite the forge a little further down. Once I sat down, Takara jumped from my arms, she paced around in a circle then plopped down and curled up in the furs, right in front of the fire. Father and I shared a look and laughed, seeing Takara already happily, fast asleep, and snoring. I pestered my father about fighting techniques, until mother joined us.
“The boys have left,” mother said sadly as she joined us, sitting by my father’s side.
“They are smart and strong; they will be ok love,” father said as he placed his arm around her.
Mother sighed before speaking. “Let us talk about what we need too. I need a distraction from worrying over our boys.”
Father gave a nod then looked at me, “Akira, you are very special to us…” father said.
“Not that your brothers aren’t, but you’re our only daughter,” mother said, finishing his sentence.
I absolutely loved it when they did that, finishing each other’s sentences. It was cute, and I could only hope to find a love like theirs.
“When you were born, we were overjoyed to have a girl, to have you, my pup…” mother said then smiled. “Even though you are different from us, we still love you,” she said.
“But we knew others would not think of you as normal as we do. So, we asked for guidance from any of the higher forms that we could. We prayed to our wolf gods and goddesses and even mother earth.” father said.
“Until one day, we got a reply.” mother said.
“We were confronted but a spirit, a female wolf demon approached us,” father said.
“She told us that you were-are a very important person,” mother said.
Father nodded “She said that you are the reincarnation of a powerful wolf demon priestess.” he said.
“What…?” I puffed as my wide blue eyes darted between them, blinking in awe.
“It’s true, pup,” mother said.
“This spirit that contacted us was the original wolf demon priestess, the woman you are a reincarnation of, and you look so much like her.” father said.
I looked down in awe as I tried to collect my thoughts, yet remain alert enough to listen to my parents. Though I was still trying to let this all sink in. I am a reincarnation? A wolf demon priestess? I have so many questions running through my mind.
“Akira.” father said.
I raised my head, looking at him, darting my eyes between them both.
“She said that you can do what she could, that you can help so many people, no matter the race.” mother said with a smile.
A dumbfounded look came over my face, more information was being thrown at me. I’m no ordinary wolf demon, but a priestess wolf demon, and I have spiritual powers? Or along those lines? A demon and a holy person, it should be impossible to be both, I sighed heavily.
“I’m the reincarnation of a wolf demon priestess…” I repeated out loud.
“Yes, and a powerful one at that.” father added.
“Mhmm, and your father and I think it’s about time that we gave you a mission of your own.” mother said.
I looked between them in awe. This was the last thing I expected to hear. Especially after father telling the news of an evil demon lurking around Japan. I thought for my first mission that I would go with my brothers, having my first solo mission felt good but a little scary. I sat up straight and put on my serious expression while hiding my fear of going out alone.
“We would like you to search for people in need, no matter the race, anyone who needs help or saving do so.” mother said.
“You can take Takara with you, if you’d like, after all, she is your companion,” father added.
“We know you can do this because we believe in you,” mother said.
“Yes, and you’ll always be our little girl, but I think the best choice is for you to go out on your own now, to explore and help anyone you can along the way.” father said.
I gave a nod of my head, knowing what I had to do. I could cope with handling the reincarnation bit because I’m still me no matter whose reincarnation I was. Though to leave home, to leave my family so suddenly. My brothers. My parents.
“D-Do I have to leave right now?” I asked as I felt a couple of tears start to form.
“No pup, you don’t have to leave right now. When you’re ready, then go.” father replied.
Mother stood up, giving me a gesture to stand up, I did so, father followed suit. Takara perked up, her gaze laid on us. Mother came over to me, embracing me tightly. I hugged her back just as tight, my ears turning back. Father placed his arms around us, holding us both, in his warm embrace.
“This will always be your home, and we will always be here to welcome you home,” mother said with a slight waver in her voice.
“We both love you so much, as do your brothers, and that will never change.” father said.
We all separated. Mother with tears in her eyes and father with a proud but sad look on his face. Takara rubbed by my leg, I looked down to see her look up at me sleepily, giving a slight whimper. I smiled and picked her up, she instantly cuddled up to me.
“I might take Takara and go out for a walk,” I said.
“Ok pup, you just take all the time you need,” mother says as she brushes my fringe away and kisses my forehead.
“But be careful out there,” father says.
I nodded, “Always after all, you did train me to be a fine warrior.” I said with a smirk while I struck a pose.
They both laughed “That I did, now go on pup,” father says with a smile as he pulls mother close to his side.
I looked between my parents as I smiled, “I’ll be back later, take care.” I said.
I turned on my heel and walked off with Takara in my arms. I walked upstairs and went out of the secret passage, closing it behind me then headed out of the hut. I was still in awe-so many things raced through my mind. All I could really hope is that this evil demon would be punished and soon.
I let out a troubled sigh, Takara yapped, she then leapt from my arms turning into her third state as she touched the ground. Her tail swishing as she playfully pounced around me. I let out a chuckle seeing her so playful. She pounced forward, tapping me with her paw, then jumped away and gave a look, I laughed.
“Alright, tag it is, better start running Takara,” I said with a grin.
She puffed a snort with a challenging look, then raced off, I chased after her.
Hours had passed, and we had ended up near the creek a little way off from our territory’s hot spring. The inviting sunset colours fell through the gaps of the trees. I looked to Takara as she took a drink from the creek, then knelt by Takara, in front of the creek.
“What should I do Takara? I’m at a loss for what to do about leaving home, to start my mission.” I said softly as my ears turned back.
Takara nuzzled her head against me then curled around me. I leant back on her and sighed mournfully. She let out a sad growl, I turned to face her as I stroked her head.
“I’ve wanted this for so long, to go out on my own mission, but being away from home…” I trailed off as I looked to the water steadily flowing by, in the creek.
Takara rubbed her head against me in an attempt to try to comfort me. Moments passed, and soon, the last light of day had begun to shimmer out.
“We should head home before it gets too late, I need to sleep on this mis-” I started when the air turned horrid.
Takara growled as her fur stuck up. I stood up as did she.
“Let’s go home Takara, now,” I said as I hopped on her back, she gave a growl in agreement.
A scream rang out, a voice I recognised immediately. The intensity and desperation of scream sent a shiver down my spine. My mother was in trouble, and I had to get to her.
“Mother!” I screeched in fear.
“Hurry Takara!” I exclaimed.
Takara raced off through the trees, and just as we passed the hot springs, the wind had changed and with it the smell of blood. Blood that belonged to my parents.
“No,” I puffed as tears swelled up. “Please, let us not be too late,” I muttered under my breath as I tightened my grip on Takara’s fur.
Upon Takara leaping from the forest line, into the clearing, my fears were confirmed. Tears left my blue orbs, as my ears turned back. My father and mother lay pale on the ground outside of the house, only a few metres apart from each other. Motionless, each in a pool of their own blood. I leapt from Takara’s back and raced over to them.
“MOTHER! FATHER!” I exclaimed.
Takara followed swiftly behind me. My mother was closer to reach, I skidded to a stop upon reaching her. I knelt by her, turning her over ever so carefully. I heard no heartbeat from her, but checked her pulse anyhow. Though there was not even a slight flutter of a heartbeat present.
“Mother…” I cried.
Takara growled and leapt over to father. I heard a slight groan from him. I placed mother down carefully, then raced over to father, and knelt by him. I turned him over carefully.
“Father?” I whimpered.
He groaned, only barely fluttering his blue orbs open, they looked so dull compared to how full of life they were only hours ago. I picked him off the ground slightly, manoeuvring myself on an angle behind him, and let him lean on me.
“Father…” I cried as he smiled slightly.
“Pup…” father winced.
“I’m so sorry I didn’t come home earlier… that I even left at all…” I sobbed.
“You… have nothing… to be sorry for… pup…” father wheezed; his eyes drifted to mother who lay lifeless, not far off. “Michiko…” father said mournfully with tears in his eyes, “I’m so sorry, my love…” father puffed.
“Father, please rest. I’ll get you inside and treated, then call Toshio and Isamu back,” I begged through the tears that I struggled to refrain.
Father shook his head slightly as he looked to me, “Pup, you must leave… it’s not safe here…” father said.
“No, I will not leave you to die!” I protested, growling slightly.
Father puffed a slight laugh, coughing slightly. “Stubborn pup,” father said with a wince, then sighed heavily, cringing in pain.
“Father, I beg you to rest,” I said.
He turned back to me, “Akira, you must leave before he comes back.” father pleaded.
My ears twitched as I went wide-eyed, “What? Who? Who’s coming back? The one who killed mother, and hurt you?” I questioned frantically.
He nodded solemnly “Please pup, leave before he returns to-” father started.
A breeze passed me as a gasp left my father’s lips. He went wide-eyed. Blood slowly, starting to trickle down, from the corner of his lips as his face twisted in pain.
My eyes went wide as my body trembled, “F-Father?” I puffed in awe.
I looked down to see some kind of root torn through my father’s torso. It missed me, only just.
“Father?!” I cried out in awe.
I looked back to him, feeling him go limp in my arms. His skin white as ice, just like mothers. His lifeless eyes stared back into mine as a slight smile stuck on his face.
“Father… no… please…” I cried as I latched onto him.
Takara let out a mournful growl.
Father’s body jolted, I looked to his torso seeing the root was gone. A malicious laugh echoed out. I placed father down carefully, while Takara stood on guard and growled as her fur stuck up. I followed her gaze to see a figure. A man wearing a white baboon pelt and mask.
“Shame they didn’t put up much of a fight, I was expecting more from them.” A man’s voice echoed out beneath the mask.
“You slaughtered my parents?!” I growled as I bared my fangs, while my ears flung back, and tail flickered.
He chuckled, “I was here for you, but they got in my way,” he said.
“You bastard! They didn’t deserve this, you killed them for no reason! You could have talked things out peacefully!” I snapped in rage.
“It’s hardly my fault. If you want to blame someone, blame yourself,” he said.
“Excuse me?” I puffed in awe while Takara snarled, baring her pearly white fangs.
“Well, I’m sure if you were here, you could have prevented their deaths. As I said earlier, I was only here for you, till they got in my way,” he said smugly.
“How dare you?! What the hell gives you the right to slaughter innocents?!” I exclaimed.
“My name is Naraku, and I just wanted your assistance as you are a rare find,” he said calmly.
I frowned, “Like hell I’d help you! I help others not, kill innocents!” I snapped.
“Still naive I see… You should think about the power you hold, as the wolf demon priestess, you could rule over so much, just think of the possibilities.” Naraku said.
“You honestly think I care about ruling and power? The only thing I care about right now, is avenging my parents’ you bastard.” I said sternly.
Naraku let out a sigh, “Well, I will certainly enjoy watching you try, my dear.” he said.
I ran at him, as did Takara. She leapt around the back of him. Naraku just stood still.
“Argh!” I yelled in rage as I went to swipe my claws down, to cut him down.
As my claws went to slice through him, he disappeared. Vanished into thin air, leaving only his malicious laugh to echo out. I growled as did Takara. We looked around desperately, looking for any trace of him. Though nothing. The horrid air had vanished, just as Naraku had.
My ears fell to either side, and I looked back to the lifeless bodies of my parents. Takara gave a soft whine as she came by my side, nuzzling against me. I looked to her as tears slipped out, I placed my hands at either side of her face while I stood head to head with her.
“Takara, go find Toshio and Isamu. Tell them of what has happened, everything from when they left till now.” I ordered.
She gave a sad growl as her ears flicked back.
“I know you don’t want me to be alone, but Naraku may be the very threat that father told the twins about, and they need to know.” I said.
Takara gave a reluctant nod of her head.
“Good girl, now go, quickly, and make sure they go back to others they’ve warned to update them on this news,” I said.
She growled, giving a nod. Her eyes darted to my parents as a whimper escaped her.
“It’s ok Takara, I’ll give my parents a fine burial, then I’ll follow you, tell my brothers I’ll see them soon,” I said.
Takara gave whimpering bark with a nod of her head then took off into the sky, racing through the clouds.
“Be safe Takara, I’ll see you and my brothers soon,” I said softly as I watched her figure fade into the distance.
I sighed heavily as I turned back to my parents’ corpses. I went inside and got a shovel and some white blankets from the storage room, then left the hut in a hurry. I raced over to the hill where a rare towering autumn fire weeping Japanese maple tree sat. I picked a spot not far off the tree. I placed the blankets down and started digging their graves. I placed the shovel down then made my way back down the hill and over towards the hut. Where my parents lay.
One by one, I lifted their bodies up, carrying them up the hill and placed them beside their graves. I wrapped their bodies up carefully, then placed them in their graves.
This was a child’s job, to bury their parents.
But not like this.
This is not how it was supposed to go.
I sighed heavily, wiping the sweat from my brow with the back of my hand, pausing momentarily from filling their graves. The heaviness in my heart making the task almost unbearable. My hands trembling as the adrenaline starting leaving my body. Every shovel full of dirt fuelled the grief of burying my own parents. By the end of it, the moon was high in the sky, my body covered in a deep crimson, murky mixture of blood and dirt.
I knelt before their graves, placing the shovel down by my side. My hands clenched into fists, knuckles instantly turning white as I held my fists against the top of my knees. Tears flooding out, like a waterfall. Pain struck my heart, sending a twinge of pain through my now trembling body. “Mother… Father…” I was desperately trying to speak but the words were stuck my throat. I didn’t want to accept this, the blame was on me, I hung my head stretching my hands out, reaching for the slightly soil covered soft grass. Clawing at it, holding a small pile of grass in each hand as my body curls over, my head softly hitting the ground.
My sobs echoing out as I shut my eyes. Their scents still ever so slightly hung in the air, only just, that was only thanks to their blood. I hated the smell of blood, right now it did nothing but trigger pain and anger. I’d never felt this much grief and hatred before. A cold wind picked up, blowing the last scents of their blood away from me. My body didn’t shiver like I normally would have, I began to feel numb. I slowly lifted myself from the ground. My eyes bloodshot no doubt and still teary, but the tears had stopped. For now, at least. I felt a knot build up in my throat as I went to speak. “I swear to you both that I will avenge you, and I will succeed in my mission,” I said with a wavering voice.
My hands started to shake again, I clenched them into fists to stop them from shaking, though it didn’t do much good. I was filled with so many mixed emotions. I knew I had to be strong, that being a priestess meant being open-minded and having no hatred. Though I cannot forgive Naraku. He must die. I didn’t care how but I wanted to be the one to end his life. I shook my thoughts off as I sighed mournfully while I shut my eyes, paying my respects. It felt like mere moments, and I still didn’t want to believe any of this was happening. I grabbed the shovel as I stood up.
“One day, I will return, I hope to make you both proud,” I said softly.
I walked off, heading back to the hut. The ground remained red, stained with the blood of my parents. I had no choice but to clean it, unable to keep such a reminder. My cleaning didn’t stop there, venturing deeper into the hut, organizing everything the way they liked it in their memory. Once I was done doing what I had to, I grabbed what I needed then walked out of the hut. I started heading towards where I last saw Takara head off.
I stopped after walking a few feet only to look back. To the home; I knew. What once was a place of joy for me, a place full of love. Now left a massive hole in my heart. Tears forming once again from the memories of my parents swarming my mind. I turned around and kept my head up. If it’s one thing I know. It’s that my parents would want my brothers and I to be happy, though until Naraku is dead, we should stick together.
Fifty Years Later.
Back to the Present Day.
“Kagura” Naraku’s voice rang out, snapping me back to my senses.
An evil smirk laid upon his face. I frowned as I darted my eyes to Kagura, to see her gaze directed at Takara. I was in awe as I watched Takara struggle to stand up. Tears built up as my eyes darted back to Kagura only just to see her raise her fan.
“NO!” I screamed as I leapt to my feet.
I leapt to my feet and sprinted over, using the power of the shards. I skidded to a stop, standing in front of Takara. I spread my arms out wide, shielding her from Kagura’s attack, by forming a barrier around us, both. I was just in time. Kagura’s fan had unleashed the red blades. They collided with my barrier. Flashes of sunlight coloured sparks emitted from the collision.