Scene XVIII: Coming Home
Tokyo, Japan. 2021, September
Zensha was the first to leave the Void. In his strong arms, he held the drunk woman they had encountered – naturally unable to leave her in such a place while she was unconscious.
Footsteps echoed throughout the garage as Kiba appeared, followed by Namakemono and Muzai. Zensha moved on ahead into the dreary weather, a pleasant compliment to the heated skies and desert from before. Kiba had the responsibility to lock up the door and he slid the keys back under the bar’s, kicking the base of the rickety door with a steeled shoe.
It only took a few seconds to pass before the door was opened and Yowai’s usually frightened face peered from inside. He yelped when Zensha moved forward, shoving past the threshold to let himself in without warning.
“You shouldn’t be in here…!” Yowai called out weakly. His hand gripped the doorframe in fear, staying glued to his spot without making a physical effort to get rid of the trespassers.
Namakemono was next to shove his way through and padded over to Zensha, eyes narrowing upon the woman in his brother’s arms. He followed them over to the bar where Zensha laid the unconscious blond upon the length of the bar’s surface.
“What should we do with her?” Namakemono paused, cocking his head. His face turned irritable and he scoffed, climbing onto a stool. “Well, what a nice reunion. Look who it is, Zensha. Don’t you recognise her?”
Zensha’s eyes flickered in the dim lights and he sighed, turning away. “Someone from the Void, obviously. I can’t remember everyone from Shoki.” He mumbled, scratching his stubbled chin.
“No! We banished this one. Remember? She had the kid!” Namakemono slapped a hand on the bar. “The God of Chaos! It’s his daughter!”
“Ah, yes.” Zensha turned back to look over the woman’s face. “Chikyu Goman. The last time we saw her, she must have been about twenty?”
“Something like that.” Namakemono shrugged.
Muzai appeared from behind them, eyeballing the woman laying on the bar, examining the fox-like face and blond hair with wide eyes. The resemblance was truly uncanny. “… Hokori’s daughter? I thought, well, I didn’t think he was the type of man to have children.”
“Yeah, I don’t even know the story behind it.” Namakemono snorted. “I just banished Chikyu and her kid from Shoki when I found out whose blood they shared. So, don’t ask me how the nasty happened. For all I know, The Parasite could have been pregnant. Explains why the bastard’s always locked up in his room. I don’t even wanna know.”
“What?!” Muzai snipped, ignoring the comment about The Parasite. She hoped her cheeks weren’t ablaze with the idea and she stumbled forward; chain tightening between her and The King. “You banished a mother and child from their only home because they were related to Hokori? What kind of person does that?!”
“Oh, don’t get so worked up.” Namakemono winced. “They found their home in the mountains. Besides, if her kid had grown up in Shoki, he would have taken my kingdom from right under my nose. I had to stop that from happening. For my sake.” His explanation was mild, and he ended the conversation when he turned back to Zensha. “So? What do we do now?”
“We go back to Yuugen.” Kiba walked over, diffusing Muzai’s tension before she could strangle Namakemono. “She could probably be of more help when she’s sobered up.”
Zensha agreed, albeit reluctantly. He heaved Chikyu into his arms thereafter and the group made their way out of the bar. Muzai paused to look back at Yowai and offer a small smile of sympathy, hoping it was enough to apologise for their careless behaviour in his home. But there were more pressing matters at hand, and she needed to focus on what would come next when they get back to Yuugen with Hokori’s daughter.
Kanagawa, Japan. 2021, September
“Tell me again why you wanted me and not Yumi.” Tsume sighed, propping her hand upon her hip.
Kaze watched Kin and Katsubo grant each other quizzical looks and he frowned, trying to figure out who was supposed to be in charge here. Who held what ranks? Did anyone call the shots around here? Clearly they were far less advanced than the social norm within Shoki. At least in Concordia, decisions were made based on respect and trust; clearly it worked differently in Yuugen.
“We’re not entirely comfortable with the way The Chairwoman does things around here,” Katsubo began. His eyes may have glimmered with shame, but he did well to hide it with a turn of his head.
“But Yumi isn’t The Mistress.” Tsume frowned. “That doesn’t really answer my question.”
“Aye, true.” Kin stepped in. “But we all know that ol’ Yumi’ll go ‘n’ tell The Chairwoman just ‘bout anthin’ that ’appens.”
Tsume scoffed, slapping her hand against her thigh. “Right. So, in other words, you don’t trust Yumi.”
“Yes.” Katsubo turned back. Serious. “But you know that we’re not wrong about this. Could you possibly convince us that he wouldn’t tell Aisu about this if we were to call him right now?”
Kin clicked his tongue, rolling his palm against the handle of Katsubo’s wheelchair when Tsume stayed silent. “… That’s what we thought.”
“What makes you think I won’t tell?” Tsume barked, turning on Kin. “What makes you think I won’t go to Mistress and tell here what’s happening right now?”
“Because ya ain’t like Yumi, Kiba or The Chairwoman,” Kin’s voice was sincere. His eyes were soft and understanding when he swayed an arm, gesturing to himself and Katsubo. “Yer like us.”
It was an arguable debate. Or not. Tsume guessed. If she were really like Yumi and the others, she would have never left Japan in the first place. She would have stayed; been loyal. But freedom was a luxury in this lifestyle, so she stepped forward and turned back to the bolted door at the end of the hallway.
“So, what are we going to do about this?”
“Well,” Kin smirked, turning back to the hallway. “It’s kinda ’ard to really think of a plan, ’specially ’cos we dunno ’ow many of ‘em are in there. S’posed to be a real big room. There could be tons in there and openin’ the doors ain’t a good way to deal with it.”
Tsume tipped her head back. “What about the vents in the ceiling?”
“Ain’t thought of that…” Kin followed the woman’s gaze and lifted his chin. His hand nudged Katsubo’s shoulder. “Can we even fit through ’em?”
“You won’t be able to.” Katsubo sighed. “Someone smaller could probably manage.”
“Hold up-!” Tsume raised her hand, motioning to the window. “That’s Kiba’s car. They’re back.”
“So soon?” Kaze finally spoke. His legs moved first, quick to navigate his way through the corridors back to the foyer before Tsume could stop him.
It had been the first time in a long time since he stepped outside in the real air and see the real sun, even if it was tucked behind a swarm of rainclouds. If matters had not been so pressing, he would have stood there to enjoy the little pieces, the grass, the flowers, and trees – but the desire was discarded when Zensha stepped out of the car, carrying a certain woman against his chest.
“That’s her!” Kaze cried, jabbing a finger through the air. “That’s The Lord of the Mountain! That’s Chikyu!”
Tsume jogged up beside Kaze, slapping a hand on his shoulder. She was almost certain the kid wasn’t gonna try and run, but she had to keep up face. Just in case. Frankly – at this point – anything could happen.
“Hey, sis!” Kiba waved above his head, jogging up to meet Tsume at the gate. “Guess what? We were kinda successful but the Void is totally not worth sticking around in and –”
“You bitch!” Kaze barked, rushing forward to knock Chikyu out of Zensha’s hold. He moved, straddling the woman after she hit the ground and Kaze balled his fists against the collar of her robes. “What the hell did you do to the Void?! Why didn’t you just let the others come back?!”
Chikyu’s eyes were watery and glazed from the effects of her hangover. She raised a hand, pressing the heel of her palm against her throbbing forehead, eyes fluttering shut and she sighed, moving her weight against Kaze planting her against the floor.
“Did I not send you away?” Her voice was slurred, and she groaned, reopening her eyes to turn up to the gloomy sky above. “…This place…”
“That’s right! This is the real dimension! You’re not going back to your world ever again!” Kaze growled, yanking Chikyu up from the floor to force her eyes back to his face. “What did you do to my family?!”
“Get off me, kid.” Chikyu snipped, shoving Kaze off with an effortless motion before climbing to her feet. She dusted her robes and turned, facing the looming building of Yuugen up the trimmed pathway. “So, this is where it all began, huh?” Honestly, if this is where you wound up after I cast you out, then everyone else should have ended up here, too. Including my son.”
Kaze was like a coiled spring and every word Chikyu spoke only made his urge to pounce stronger. He would have lashed out and pinned her back to the ground if not for Kiba’s intervention. He grabbed the back of Kaze’s shirt and held him in place, grunting when Kaze began wriggling.
Tsume stepped forward. “What do you mean by ending up? What happened?” She tried to keep her tone flat and neutral, unlike Kaze who was practically vibrating under Kiba’s hand.
Chikyu waved a hand through the air, eyes flickering to where Namakemono and Zensha stood behind her against Yuugen’s gates. Her shoulders slumped with defeat and all the pride and snobbery she wore on her sleeve crumbled to her feet, rendering her nothing but a woman with bad choices instead of a Lord with a whole mountain.
“After I got rid of the tablets Kaze and his team had brought to Getrennt, the Void began to tear. When we got out, I cast a spell on the mountain where I had kept the rest of The Chairman’s equipment in a vault. I used the last of my power to open the barrier so everyone in Concordia could escape and stayed behind of my own free will.” Chikyu gestured to Yuugen, lips pursed in a thin line. “If they were to end up anywhere, it would be here.”
“So, they’re in the building somewhere?” Muzai looked up from her spot behind Zensha, watching Yuugen’s building windows as if she might see someone walk past. But nothing happened. “Most of the wings and basement have been closed off. Where would we even begin to look?”
Kaze’s heart skipped a beat and he struggled out of Kiba’s grip to run up the pathway and back into Yuugen’s foyer. He ignored the shouts of protest ringing in his ears from Tsume and Muzai while he dragged himself along the corridors with as much speed as he could possibly muster, passing Kin and Katsubo on the way.
He tracked back to the stairway and scaled the halls until he slid to the fork in the corridor and flew down the unmaintained hall, back towards the bolted door of the abandoned cafeteria. He stood short of the handle and his cooper eyes turned wide. The banging on the other side continued. His heart thumped in sync with the noise.
“Kaze!” Tsume’s voice echoed down the hall. “You don’t know what’s behind there! Don’t open it!”
Which only egged him on. Kaze closed the space and his hands landed on the bolted door, gripping the cold handles, and pried them open – knowing it could only be pulled from the outside from its design. The heavy metal made a loud groaning sound along the scuffed floor, signifying the time it had been since they had been opened. Kaze struggled to pull them as far as possible before they came to a rough halt, wobbling his balance.
Panting from his fatigue, Kaze stepped back and turned his eyes into the darkness of the room. There were numerous silhouettes and faces he could recognise, others he could not. There was a sound of whispers and murmurs, gasps and cries. And standing in the middle of it all was a certain woman Kaze could not help but reach for and pull close; despite their most recent events.
“You took your fucking time getting here…” Kaze breathed, closing his eyes as he inhaled the scent of sweat and home.
“Charming.” Juden snorted, closing her own eyes when her arms swung around Kaze’s shoulders. “Shit, though. Are we really back?”
“Yeah,” Kaze cleared his throat and stepped away, hands gripping Juden’s strong biceps between his shaking hands. “We’re really back.”