Phoenix Feathers: Curator of the Dragon Gate

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The Jig is Up

Do we truly see what we think we see?


“Man, Lou, what have you been eating,” I laughed, shifting Lou higher on my back. I don’t know how he did it, but he fell asleep in the middle of the battle, “You’re so light.”

“(We want to be carried too.),” the Jinmenju shouted following shortly behind me.

“I can’t carry all of you guys. Besides, I’m kind of tired myself,” I kind of whined, “When we get to the Clinic I’m going to call Jade, tell her where we are, that we’re safe, and then take a big nap.”

“(Well, you know she’s going to kill you.)”

“(Quiet Crack.),” I’m guessing Tar scolded.

“(But, she is…),” Crack commented back.

“I can’t help it if Lou blew our cover,” I made it inside the Yokai Clinic, “Maybe if I plead with her, she’ll let me live with Grandad when she turns me back into an Inukami.”

“(Jade’s always been nice to us.)”

“Big surprise there,” I sighed, reaching the counter, “Hello, I… um…”

No one was behind the desk.
In fact, no one else was in the entire waiting area.
“Where is everyone?”

“Make way!,” a pair of nurses nearly ran us down.

“(Hey, watch it!),” the Jinmenju shouted.

“There must be something happening,” I set Lou down on a bench, “I’m going to call Jade. You three watch him.”

“Tyrone? What are you doing here,” I heard Brandy behind me.

“I could ask you the same thing,” I turned around to see an unfamiliar guy in shades and a familiar hat. I knew it was Brandy by his scent, though, “But I think that I should ask you why you’re wearing that?”

“Well, that’s kind of hard to explain…,” Brandy took the glasses off.

“Can’t be that hard. Is Tyler with you?”

“Well, he was…,” Brandy laughed nervously, “But he’s fainted from… all the excitement.”

“Is that what all the commotion is about?”

“Well, it’s part of it… They found John’s Kodama yesterday and well-”

"They found Terry,” I snapped, ” That’s great! Man, if only John could have lived long enough to…”

“I didn’t think that you cared,” Brandy lifted an eyebrow.

“Of course, I care,” I was slightly insulted, “John was my number one rival.”

“Your rival?”

“Don’t tell me you thought that I was bullying him too,” I huffed, “we’ve been competing like that since we were in kindergarten.”

“Well, that’s not what it looked like to me,” Brandy pointed at me, “It seemed like every week you two would send each other to the nurse’s station.”

“You don’t honestly think that I won any of those fights, do you?”

“With the way you were always bragging…”

“I may have dominated with Yokai Battles, but John dominated with real fights,” I explained honestly, “You’d brag like that too if you finally surpassed your rival at something.”

“I don’t think that John knew that you were rivals.”

“It’s the truth, we’ve been friends since we were babies. Even after…,” I stopped.

“Even after what…?”

“Please, keep this to yourself okay…”

“Cross my heart: Only you, me, and John will know.”

“Even when John’s Dad… I can’t remember how it happened, but he just wasn’t around anymore.”

“If you can’t remember, then what’s so significant about it?”

“John changed,” I sat down, “When he was told that his dad wouldn’t be home ever again, he just avoided everyone for a while.”

Brandy took a seat next to me, “So you two just stopped being friends?”

“No, we are… ’scuse me… were still friends. It’s just that in the next few years, John avoided getting close to people, even me. So I branched out and got other friends. But when he finally came back out in public, I… I,” I stood up and started pacing, “God, I betrayed him. He was my best friend and I betrayed him.”

“Betrayed him?”

“I should have stood up for him. I should have told everyone the truth sooner. I should have–,” I kept pacing, I barely felt my nails piercing my flesh, “God, it’s my fault he’s gone now. Mine. I pushed him too hard. I drove him to it.”

“Tyrone, it’s not your fault. Stop pacing,” Brandy grabbed my arm, but quickly released it, “Whoa, you’re hand’s bleeding.”

“I’m fine,” I barely looked at my bleeding hand, “… Excuse me, I need to call Aneki.”

“Call Aneki?”

“I’m watching Lou for her. She doesn’t even realize where we are.”

“Shouldn’t you fix that hand first?”

“It’s just a little blood,” I said licking it, “See, cleans right up.”

“Wow… that is…great… Really great,” Brandy backed up.

…Did I do something wrong?…


“(I won't let any of you escape!),” I heard mother howl as she attacked the small village of humans with a multitude of fire attacks. It didn’t take us long to find where she went. Even though she didn’t attack the domestic Yokai, she was endangering their homes as she was burning down the human’s homes. The first place we went to was William’s farm. Their barn was on fire.

“Hurry! Get out of here,” William was shooing the domesticated farm animals and Yokai out of the barn, “Get to safety. Hurry!”

“(Your scent!),” a pair of glowing eyes revealed themselves from inside the barn. Mother attacked with a burst of flames. William dodged out of the way only out by pure luck.

“(William!),” Kubbi’s heart jumped.

“(You’re the one who sides with the Yin.),” Mother leaped at William, but Kubbi pounced on her first. She flipped over her and bounced her back into the fire.

“(William!),” Kubbi got back onto her feet to check on William.

“Keep away,” he shouted, Kubbi stepped back for a second but tried to get closer anyways, “Okay, fine… just make it quick.”

“(But William…),” Kubbi put her head down low, “(it’s me.)”

“That bandage…,” William laughed, “It’s you, the black Kitsune… You Matured.”

“(I’m glad that you’re safe William.),” I nuzzled up to him, he stroked my fur like I was still that little Kitsune, “(I won't let Mother touch you.)”

“You saved me…,” William hugged her, but her job wasn’t done yet.

“(Who are you?),” Mother snarled, marching through the fire, “(How dare you side with humans!)”

“(How dare you attack Innocent beings!),” I roared back.

“(Innocent? They invaded our home! They’re taking our land, cutting down our trees, and enslaving our fellow beings…),” Mother started to circle William and me, “(As a Yang, how can you call them innocent?)”

“(The same way that we can call you guilty.),” Brother stepped out from the woods behind Mother.

“(A Yin!),” Mother hissed, “(What are you doing trespassing in our Territory?)”

“(Defending our land.),” Brother said coldly.

“(This isn’t your land…),” Mother yelled again, “(This land belongs to the Golnar Pack.)”

“(Don’t you recognize us… Mother?),” Brother sneered, “(Must be hard when our apparent roles seemed to have been reversed.)”

“(No, You can’t be my~*****~~~~~*~*~*~*~*~*~~***…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I woke up to nothingness. It was as if there was some kind of dark secret that my mind refused to accept.

“Good morning sunshine,” one of the nurses blissfully sang right next to me, “You’re now at full health!”

“(Ow my head, what happened?),” I was groggy.

“Fa la la! I contain absolutely no depth what so ever!,” the nurse skipped out of the room.

“(What the…),” I said tilting my head.

“Good afternoon, Tyler,” Brandy was sitting nearby, “Did you sleep well?”

“(Yeah. I did, dad.),” I saw that he was glaring at me, “(Is something wrong?)”

“It’s nothing,” he lied, then noticed that I knew he lied and so he snapped, “and just leave it at that!”

I took a quick look around the room, “(Where’s Terry?)”

“We won't know about him for a little longer,” Brandy pulled up a chair, the back facing me, “Tyler, I spoke to Brandy. He told me about you.”

“(Oh great. Here we go…)”

“No, he told me about you two,” Brandy laid his head down on the back of the chair, staring at me, “about how you two used to be friends.”

“(No, we weren’t friends. Never, no…),” Brandy continued to glare at me, “(…how much did he tell you?)”

“Everything.”

“(Oh, shit… then you know about…)”

“How you faked being a victim to a bully?”

“(Not all of it! At first we did, but…)”

“Then things became more serious as you both grew apart.”

“(Yeah, he just wouldn’t keep off my back. It was our usual routine: he throws a few insults, I throw a few back, we fight, I lose then he impresses those dimwitted rich kids.),” I confessed/explained, “(but then he went overboard with the teasing. He became more violent and eventually he went all out bully.)”

“Why would you let him bully you like that?”

“(It was all for a prank. We wanted to see the looks on everyone’s faces when a non-rich kid becomes top dog at the RTC’s.)”

“A prank? How can beating each other up all the time be a prank?”

“(Oh, no. The fighting each other was just us being us.),” I laughed, “(We pitted our Yokai against each other to make them stronger. That way no matter which one of us won, then the victory would go to a lower class… oops.)”

“Don’t worry, I already know about Tyrone’s status quo too.”

“(Well, I guess that it doesn’t matter now. I threw away the chance to see the end of that prank.)”

“You know… he blames himself.”

“(Well, he should. He took it too far.),” Brandy grabbed my head with one hand and lifted me off the table, “(Ow! Okay! Ow, ow, ow!)”

“Listen John,” Brandy squeezed, “I don’t know if you realize this or not but he does care about you. He’s in the other room having a nervous breakdown about your little stunt last week. He keeps going on about how he betrayed you and keeps pacing the room like some wild animal in a cage.”

“(Then he needs some serious mental help.),” I laughed, but Brandy flicked me between the eyes, “(Ow!)”

“John, you were his best friend. Now that you’re gone he has no way to cope.”

“(Sorry dad…)”

“And another thing, stop calling me ‘dad’. It’s…,” Brandy sighed, finally putting me back down on the table, “Look… just because I am technically your dad doesn’t mean that you should call me that. I mean, it’s nice that you think of me that way, but I don’t want to…”

“(Why are you so worked up about it?)”

“I don’t want to be the replacement to your real dad.”

“(Calm down, Brandy. I just call you ‘dad’ to tease you. It’s a joke.),” I shrugged, “(I’ve gotten over my real dad a long time ago.)”

“Really?”

“(Really.),” I nodded, “(Seven years since he’s vanished and I haven’t shed one tear about it.)”

"Seven years… are you sure that it was seven years ago?”

“(I don’t see why it’s so important, but… yeah, I’m sure it was seven years ago.),” I raised an eyebrow, or the part of my face that would have an eyebrow when I was human, “(Why? Did something happen?)”

“That was the year of the Chicago Incident.”

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