Phoenix Feathers: Curator of the Dragon Gate

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The Act

When they fear you, they will obey you.

When they love you, they will save you.
So which form of respect is better?

“Hello, this is John,” Brandy answered the phone, “You found my Yokai?”

“(What are you doing?)”

“Look,” Brandy covered the phone, “She obviously doesn’t know that you’re dead and you’ve only ever had one Yokai.”

“(Terry!),” I realized, “(Thank you, but are you crazy!)”

“I’m sorry about that. Is it my Kodama? Yes? That’s Terry! He’s been gone for…,” Brandy’s eye’s widened, “What did you say was wrong with him? Well, is there anything that you can do? … I see… Yes… I’ll find it and then be right over.”

“(What’s wrong with Terry?)”

“Wouldn’t you rather see him again?”

“(Of course, I do.)”

“Then tell me where you keep his registrations and his seal. I’ll tell you on the way there.”

“Oh Em Gee,” Benny yelled, grabbing a shirt with a baby rabbit, ”It’s as cute as a button!"

“You realize I hate cute things, right,” I groaned deeply. This woman put me in six or seven different clothes that were fluffy, poofy, pink, blue, green, and plain old ‘blah’. Now she’s holding up a shirt that I’m certain a five year old would have abandoned, “with a passion.” Fact was that the only good thing about the whole experience was she bought a blank Seal Bell for me to put Sue in. Not that it would really work without the other parts of him being here. Jinmenju were a funny Yokai that way.

“Well, I’ve had my fun,” she laughed, “what kind of clothes do you like?”

“I don’t like any clothes,” I sighed picking up another shirt with a mouse on it, “Especially, cute clothes.”

“(I like this one.),” Sue hopped onto the counter wearing some weird looking blue and white hat.

“You look like a severed squirrel's head,” I screamed, “Where did you find that?”

“Give me that,” Benny nearly shrieked herself, “It’s mine.”

“Why do you have something like that?”

“No reason! I’m just holding it for a relative,” she hid it in her purse, but the bag had more than ’just makeup’ in there.

“Why are you holding that many costumes for a relative?”

“Okay… I admit it, but only because my Honey Cake trusts you,” she got in close to whisper, “I’m a closet cosplayer!”

“A what?”

“You know,” she dug for another hat and forced it on her head, “TaDaaaa!”

“Not to sound like I care but, A What?"

“Basically, I’m someone who likes to dress up like Superheroes, animals, and even Yokai,” Benny laughed, “It’s kind of embarrassing since I’m not a little kid anymore.”

“I didn’t think that hu… people like you existed.”

“I just can’t help myself,” Benny laughed, “Plus your Uncle seems to like it.”

“Let me guess, he has a thing for women with multiple tails?”

“How’d you guess?”

“That explains why he likes you…,” I frowned.

“I especially love Kitsune and Kyuubi,” she switched hats to that of a Kyuubi scalp.

“Then you’d really love Uncle Smith.”

“Of course, I do! I love everything about him!”

“Trust me, he’s not the… man for you.”

“(He’s a monster!),” Sue started crying, “(A lywer and a big Jewk!)”

“Sue, stop crying,” I pat her on the back, “I know, there, there.”

“You’re not like you mother at all.”

“You know my mother.”

“Only what I’ve heard from your Affiliated Uncle,” she smiled, tickling what would be the Jinmenju’s ‘belly’, “You’re almost a natural at this yourself.”

It helps when you’ve had a good mother once…

“Well, here’s your bag,” Benny handed me my backpack, “How about we go to the costume shop next store? They have these tails in the back that I’m just dying to get.”

“Oh Inari, look at the time,” the clock on the store’s wall suddenly caught my attention (and by that, I mean: my attention finally found a clock), “I’ve really got to go. I was supposed to meet up with Lou over an hour ago.”

“Oh, just one more store… Please.”

“No, I have to get going now,” I didn’t hesitate to distance myself as quickly as possible from that woman.

“Okay, see you,” Benny waved good-bye, just as her phone started ringing. She flipped it out only to hear…

“Hello, Sweetie! I hope everything is going well between Babie and you.”

"Ugh. You’re too late, you can stop that now,” Ms. Zaiten snapped, “She’s gone.”

“Ooh, so you let her escape?”

“Let her escape? No offense, but I couldn’t even keep her captivated for a moment. Not even when she found this cosplay trash."

“Not even when you showed her the Kitsune costumes?”

“I thought you said she’d be drawn into it.”

“Well… this might pose a problem…”

“I embarrassed myself with these stupid hats for nothing,” Ms. Zaiten yelled on the phone, “Frankly, are you sure that she’s the Kitsune we’re looking for?”

“As positive as you make a marvelous actress,” Tenma chuckled, ”Madam Zaiten.”

“She doesn’t even have a proper Yokai,” she yelled at him, “Even if I challenged her to a battle, she wouldn’t be able to participate.”

“Oh, yes she hates to seal away Yokai,” Tenma laughed, ”I don’t know where she’ll get an Inukami, but she does have a Turtle Kappa.”

“Tell me again why you think that she’s the Kitsune.”

“She was always fascinated with Kitsune. She even has a whole set of Kitsune tails hidden in her room.”

“So you’ve said… but she wasn’t the least bit interested in the matching hat.”

Tenma explained to the woman again, ”and one of the Laws of Future Telling is that: If the future states that the shoe fits then it will happen. So that means when the shoe doesn’t fit then make it.”

“Isn’t that cheating,” Ms. Zaiten’s sweat dropped, “I mean…”

"Oh, Mes Ami, What you call cheating, I call helping fate.”

“But does she really fit with the Pair’s prophecy?”

“Just leave it to me,” Tenma chuckled, ”I’ll make sure that she’ll have a decent Yokai by tomorrow. Even if I have to give her my own.”

“I’m so sorry doc. I’ve got a bad case of pink eye,” Brandy apologized for wearing the sunglasses and my old hat, “I’ve got Terry’s Seal right here.”

“Good come this way… quickly,” the doctor pulled Brandy down to the ER. I had to follow foot. The last time that I was in this place, I was the patient. And before that, I was the master. Now, I’m neither one. Sort of…

Sorry… just thought it was kind of funny.

“So where did you find him,” Brandy asked for me.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” the doctor walked over to the table where Terry was laying down. His body was lying in a vat of water that was constantly refreshed. Some kind of drug was being pumped through his vain. His colorings were all off. His green skin was faded, the leaves on his head were shriveled up and his tail was a blackening brown. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Terry aged a hundered years overnight. An oxygen mask was over his muzzle which was the only thing that let anyone know that the Kodama was still breathing.

“So you found him like this?”

“No… he was in better condition before,” the doctor sighed, “I’m afraid that there’s not much else that we can do for him.”

Brandy had explained to me what was happening to Terry. I don’t think that even he understood it very well himself. Terry somehow contained an unstoppable fire within his body. Normally, a curse like this would go away after a Yokai passes out, but it didn’t. Counterspells and blessings weren’t working and the medicine only helped to extend his suffering. There was the only thing that they could figure out to do now. They had to put Terry into a seal and cut the curse off from its source. When they tried to seal away Terry themselves, it didn’t work. It was only then that they discovered that Terry was already registered under a “Jonathan Lawrence”. If this didn’t work then they only have two options… Both of them not very pleasant.

“(Brandy…),” I nudged at his pants leg. He looked down at me but understood what I was going to ask of him.

“Would it be alright if… can I please speak to Terry alone before we try this? Just in case…”

“I wouldn’t advise it, but I’ll give you a few minutes,” the doctor motioned the nurses to follow him out the room. Brandy picked me up and set me next to Terry.

“(Terry? Can you hear me?)”

Terry’s bloodshot eyes opened to stare at me. I couldn’t tell if he hated me or was overjoyed. His heart monitor didn’t seem to change much so he might not have any strong emotions either way.

“(Terry, I’m sorry about the last time we spoke… I wasn’t myself.)”

“(Even on my deathbed… you still want to haunt me…),” he breathed heavily.

“(Terry, this isn’t your deathbed. I won't let it be!),” I cried a little bit, “(You’re going to get better. Even if I have to go beg Sigma for it.)”

“(I said stop… messing with me… Youko.),” Terry turned his head away from me.

“(Terry, I’m not Youko. It’s Johnny. I’m sorry, but it’s really me. Ask me anything. I’ll prove it to you somehow.)”

“(Why bother… you probably… already know… everything… about him.)”

“(Terry, Please. I’m begging you.)”

“(Okay then… why do you love Phoenixes so much?)”

“(I don’t. I think that they’re the lowest scum of the planet and deserve to be thrown into the great abyss where they belong.)”

“(Lucky guess…),” Terry would have spat if he could, “(The day that… I was kidnapped… we played a game…)”

“(Tag… But then I lost track of you. I don’t know where you hid, but it must have been close to where those doosh-bags were hiding. Why else would they take you?),” I blurted out, Terry’s heart was racing a bit more now.

“(I. I… I wasn’t finished… with the question…),” he almost growled.

“(Liar… You know that you can’t lie to me.),” I laughed a little.

“(John?… It is you…),” Terry’s heart was racing now, “(So you really… did die?)”

“(Yeah, I don’t like to talk about it.),” I stared at him, “(I need to ask you about Youko. Who is he?)”

“(Did you really… forget?… You used to dream… about him for… the longest time… you woke up… screaming… every night…)”

“(I did?)”

“(You kept… dreaming about… that monster…),” Terry was crying now, “(for weeks you… woke up screaming… I was powerless… to stop him… from haunting you…)”

…so that’s what my suicide note was about…

“(He kept taunting you… I had to watch…),” Terry looked at the ceiling, “(But you refused… to give in… You stayed strong… no matter what… Youko said… all I could do… was watch.)”

“(Terry, that’s not true… you were there for me. Even if we couldn’t talk like we can now. You were there. That was good enough for me. It always was. Rise or fall, we were and always will be partners.)”

“(Johnny… I swear if you’re… really Youko… I’ll kill you.)”

“(It’s really me. Just you wait. Once you’re all healed up, Brandy can take you with us.)”

“(Is that who… that guy is?),” Terry smiled with his eyes.

“Nice to meet you, Terry,” Brandy took off the glasses for a second, “I’m Brandy. I’m going to substitute for the things that John can’t do anymore, like use thumbs. Hehehehe.”

“(I appreciate that.),” Terry ‘smiled’ again, before his body suddenly became engulfed in flames.


The next few moments happened so quickly. I know that the nurses came in to take Brandy and Terry away. But I could still hear him screaming. The flames must have died down at some point, but I was in too much of a panic to process what had happened. I remember Terry’s cries. That’s the last thing that I remember clearly, everything else was a big blur.

Terry’s screams… and that the flames were violet.

That’s all I can remember.

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