Chapter 2 - How Things Started
To think, that all this happened because she wanted to get away from some guy that had been bothering her. Someone who was borderline stalkerish in her opinion. Then the next thing she knew she was standing in front of a painting called The Hollow, confused as to why it was called that since it was a painting of a distorted figure in a sea of fire. Yuuki could distinctively remember a book beside it and began to read it just after looking at the painting, this book on the other hand surprised her as it contained the summary of a lonely fox demon- a kitsune who had been orphaned due to a tragedy and was known to cause waves of destruction with his band of fellow demons, this in turn left her shocked at how such a demon could do all that. She then became sad as she imagined what could have happened when the event took place, would he ever realise that what he did was wrong?
Yuuki continued to read on and froze when she saw the ending. In the end he had been ambushed by some demons, half of them to her shock were his allies and to make it worse they were working alongside some Gods in order to take him down. Then by the time she reached the last page in the book her stomach had immediately plummeted from what she was looking at. There in the last page contained a painting of the fox dead on the ground who had suffered from mortal injuries that were so severe that it left him bleeding to death, the last thing the fox had thought about was if his brother yōkai had been in on this the whole time? And if so why?
A thought did come to Yuuki’s mind as she read and observed the painting. Did he not know that people or demons would have reached their breaking limits when it came to him committing such acts? That not everyone would share his vision while some would eventually betray him when it came to something that would benefit them.
That was something she too wanted to find out, However Yuuki knew that she would never be able to know as the reality sunk in, that this was all just a story and the chances of it being real were highly unlikely. After all there was no such thing as demons. This in turn caused Yuuki to shake her head lightly at how silly it was almost believable for one moment, that it was all real. And just reading the book almost made her assume that it was real. Allowing Yuuki for one moment to get emotionally attached to a character that was just make believe, what a ludicrous idea indeed. It was then that she realised that she had been in here for a very long time and began to turn and leave, given that her family no doubt was starting to wonder on where she was. Only something stopped her in her tracks.
"Yuuki" came a haunting voice that she identified to be male, hearing this unknown voice made her turn around to see the painting. Only it wasn’t so blurry anymore to her surprise. No this painting was showed a very clear picture of to her surprise- a fox demon. She could see long wisps of fiery red hair that reached his waist, green earthy eyes that seemed to give her a sense of foreboding the longer she looked at them. Whether it was a good thing or a bad thing the teen didn’t know, he also wore a black yukata with red flames on it that almost made her think that his yukata was on fire due to how detailed the fires were.
"What is it that you wish for?" a male voice asked, the voice was soft but above a whisper leaving her to do nothing except blink in shock by how gentle the voice was. Almost as if just listening to the voice left shivers down her spine, while at the same time felt as if she was exposed even though she was all alone in the room.
“E-Excuse me?! Who is that?” Yuuki asks shakily as she looks round only to see no one leaving her weary and confused, frowning she sighs and shakes her head. “I must be imagining things, after all I only just came out of school so it’s only normal to be hearing things when you are tired right?” She asked herself only she was starting to doubt herself on that, after all there was something in the room had started to leave her uncomfortable. Without warning the book started to shake causing her to yelp and jump in surprise as she tried to look for the source of that noise, her heart began to thump loudly in her ears making them slightly red from the predicament. Was someone playing tricks on her? She hoped that it wasn’t the case and that it wasn’t the guy who had been stalking her since this morning, Yuuki prayed that he wasn’t responsible for all this mess and that he wasn’t doing this just to get back at her.
“Who is there?” The teen yelled almost stuttering in fear given how she was shaking badly now only to be greeted by nothing; she stopped moving and then turned to look at the book that was now open on a certain page leaving her in complete shock. Was this all a dream? Was that book always on that page? It must of, but then again she didn’t leave it on that page.
Yuuki’s fingers grazed the pages lightly as she tries to read it. Only she could not understand what it was saying since the language was old since it was dated five hundred years ago, her eyes squinted as she tried to read it but had found it futile.
"Yuuki" the voice entered her ears once more leaving her more on edge now, her breathing shuddered as she looked around until her back connected with something causing her to yelp as she turned round only see that the painting to her horror... was pitch black!
“Wh-what the-?” Yuuki was now at a loss for words from the sudden turn of events. Suddenly images of blood entered her mind leaving her in a state of shock as she begins to wonder where the blood had come from and why it had entered her mind to begin with. Before the teen could do anything the she had completely blacked out.
What is it that you want the most?
The next thing she knew was that she was in the middle of a town leaving her disoriented and confused. Where-where was she? How did she even get here and why? Why was she brought here?
Yuuki woke up to see that this was not her original home, no this was her new one. It was not the one back at the village she had once settled into much to her dismay, for it reminded her that what happened before wasn’t a dream or made up. Knowing that his house had been in fact been given to her by a family that she use to worked for until the eldest son of the household had decided to go after her in such an indecent manner, so in order to keep her safe and keep what happened a secret they had decided to move her away to a place where no one would know of her. Not that she was complaining. After all this now gave her time to prepare for her birth, however now that she had thought about it the mere idea of allowing a fellow human to help her with the birthing now terrified her. What if the baby had his ears and tail? Then that would mean that the village would go after the baby or worse they could steal the baby when she is too tired and vulnerable to fight back.
No she did not want that for her baby no matter what, so she then started to calculate and picture scenarios tied to the moment if or when things did start to get bad. Which led to the question of where would she go after that? She would have to move some place else, an area that was secluded and did not have people for miles. Yet the down side would be that she would have to walk long distances to get food from the markets, however this would all be worth it if the baby could life to see another day. So in the long run it was worth the risk of allowing her baby to be not only be free but was also safe and happy, wasn’t that what any mother would have wanted?
After getting up Yuuki had begun to get herself ready in order to go and see the market area, knowing that her food supply was getting low leaving her almost only with a meal’s worth.
Yuuki donned on a floral yukata and made her way over to the market area, she was surprised that it was buzzing with excitement but most of it was filled with people gossiping anyways. Not that she cared about gossip but some of what was said did leave her puzzled.
“Did you hear that the Fujita household had send their son away recently?” asked a villager wearing a blue kimono leaving Yuuki to almost scoff. Not surprising given that he had been caught for doing something indecent.
“Really? I wonder what provoked the sudden action?” asked a villager wearing a brown kimono who was standing beside the one who had spoken just a second ago while looking confused.
“No one knows but I also heard that their maid had to leave the next day” Yuuki at that moment had decided to leave the pair to gossip in peace until something caused her to stop.
“I heard the fox demon has been walking around here” said a women wearing a blue yukata meanwhile hearing this sudden news caused Yuuki to blink after all there is more than one fox demon alive so it could be anyone... right?
“What do you mean he has been around here? What does he want? Isn’t it bad enough that’s he’s burned and destroyed villages with his brother and friends” Yuuki almost slapped herself from that comment. Of course they would talk about THAT guy, not surprising given how violent and wild he can be.
“Well according to rumors his friends have been dead for some time since they had tried to kill him when they ambushed him with some Gods as well, however the fox’s brother Hakai surprisingly killed those demons soon after the attack for betraying their trust and left their bodies littered all on the floor for everyone to see” the woman replied feeling sick as she remembered what the other villagers saw knowing that it had not been a pretty sight.
“That beast! How can he be so vile? Isn’t it bad enough that he kills while he leaves a path of destruction and ruin, but he also takes what he wants without caring about how any of us feel” a woman wearing a salmon yukata replied in a scathing voice leaving Yuuki to wince slightly. She could agree with that given how he had send one of his brethren to kill Ami, which as a result then caused Yuuki to come back and play substitute for her friend so she could get married without getting killed on the way there, not that Ami wanted her to do that in the first place. But it was worth it in the end to know that her friend will be happy and safe, although she didn’t anticipate the ambush by a demon who wasn’t Hakai. Not only had the demon left pools of human blood where he moved but he somehow managed to manipulate the roots of the ground, Yuuki could only guess back then that he was a demon who could control parts of the earth and used them to poison her by stabbing her in the back. This left Yuuki zapped of strength and had her fighting the urge to fall asleep due to how potent the poison was as she knew that giving up would mean death.
"A note to the wise wear some kind of light armour to avoid getting hit" she muttered as she walked past the women.
But she was did manage to stay awake by sheer force of will since the only thing going through her mind was the need to escape. Only just before Yuuki was killed she was forced to see the demon get killed by HIM, only he ended up taking her to an abandoned house just to violate her for whatever reason. What upset her the most besides the fact that he was not only trying to hurt her but had also called out Ami’s name, then again she shouldn’t have been surprised given that she asked the people not to give her name away or have them tell him who she was for various reasons. However the fact that he assumed that he was touching Ami had been a low blow to her, she didn’t know why but when she started crying was when he had stopped to notice that she was acting odd. Why she didn’t understand given that he could just ignore her cries, especially since he would rape any human girl that came his path ignoring their screams and cries. And yet he stopped leaving her confused.
“I also heard that the fox has been moving about but has not made any attempt to hurt any of us, it’s almost as if he’s lost interest or is looking for someone” a male said hearing this on the other hand had made Yuuki freeze to the spot, her heart lurched in fear.
"Oh no, what if he finds me?! Won’t he get mad that I ran away?" Yuuki began to quicken her pace, she was only able to get some rice and fish for later since that was the best she could do given her predicament. She was not going to waste much money on anything else nor did she have that much strength to carry everything at once. It was then that Yuuki decided to take what she could and tried to act as normal as possible, hoping that no one suspicious was following the young female as she went to her temporary home.
Once at the house did Yuuki immediately placed a talisman on the door in order to lock it, thankfully Ami had taught her how to use one in case of emergencies. Yuuki without wasting time began to store the food accordingly, she then started to make some fish soup to the best of her abilities. Despite it being bland she paid no heed. This in more ways than one was better than not having anything to eat, leaving her feeling more grateful towards the family minus Kaito who she hoped was being set up with the worst wife imaginable as she eat grudgingly.
By the time she was finished with her meal, Yuuki immediately cleaned the bowl up before going to her room to rest. Looking at her the floorboard beside her did she sigh deeply. Ever since she arrived she had to hide her stuff from prying eyes, knowing that it was never a good thing to reveal that she wasn’t even from this area or this time period or they would assume the worst and kill her without hesitation. It had almost been a year and yet she had not aged at all to her surprise, was it magic? She had no idea but she remained vigilant no matter what. Not even Cho or her family had been aware of this secret and that’s how she liked it. Only now she now have a new dilemma on her hands. How was she going to keep herself hidden from HIM?
She told him that she would never be his and yet it made no sense that he would still be after her, wait he is after her right? Yuuki did hope with all her heart that it was not true since that would mean that she would have to move again to a place that is not known, she might even have to jump countries if it was possible just to stay away. Feeling tired and stressed, she now tried to forget what was going on and find a way to get some sleep knowing that she needed her strength for later.
Where was she? How did she manage to avoid his gaze during these six months? To think that a mere human could outwit him somehow, in a way it had left him slightly impressed but still he couldn’t stop looking. He could still feel the pull that drew him to her only he was sure that it was more forceful than ever, something told him not stop looking until he had found her.
He just wanted to make sure that she was okay and then he would leave her alone, that’s all right? Although for some reason he couldn’t find it in him to be away from her for so long, why? It was because he marked her and hadn’t realised it until his mind began to process what had happened that night. He now stopped and looked at his hands. Hands that were stained with the blood and innocence that he had ruined but they also left him feeling conflicted, was it wise to touch her with sullied hands? But at the same time he had no regrets when it came to her.
What’s worse was that his brother had been on his case for sometime now and it had left him completely agitated, he didn’t want to tell him his problem. Not only would he laugh but he’d then take Ami from him, although he wasn’t sure if he should call her that given how the Ami he recently met had ended up yelling at him and told him to leave her alone. Claiming that she had never met nor had seen him before in her life leaving him feeling nothing except confusion. Was the girl that saved him really Ami? Or was that even her true name? If only he knew then he could be able to track her down easily but she had hid herself very well. That in itself was a good thing given how his brother would track her down without a thought.
He spotted a village nearby and caught the girl’s scent only it was old meaning that she had moved by now, however he refused to give up. Disguising himself as a human he entered the area and began to look for clues.
As he ventured round the area he spotted that the scent had taken him to a now empty house leaving him to frown until something else caught his attention. The scent was leading away from the house and led him straight to a Lord’s home. Why though unless she was or had been working there?
He went closer to investigate and spotted a young girl wearing a colourful yukata sighing by the pond, beside her was a woman who was wearing a bird patterned kimono as she held a fan in one of her hands.
“I miss her” the girl said as she hugged the woman who held her close.
“I know but it was either that or Kaito would spread malicious rumors and lies about her” The woman said softly.
The male frowned at what was going on, so someone had left but he didn’t know who it was.
“I still can’t believe she’s a widow, I hate demons!” the girl snapped making the male blink in shock. “Leaving her to suffer alone with a baby on the way, and I won’t be able to see it grow until either I visit or she does” the girl pouted making the woman chuckle. The male started to get a sick feeling enter his stomach. A girl without a husband but was carrying a baby... oh he could only hope that the girl he was perusing wasn’t pregnant, the thought of her being hurt just for carrying a yōkai child had left his blood boiling. But the humans were the least of his worries, what if she had died during childbirth or worse his brother finds out about the whole thing? Just thinking about it made him want to call of the search but he had to make sure that she was okay, that was all. All he had to be was discrete and that in turn would stop his brother from being suspicious, he just had to be smart about this.
He had no choice nor did he have any idea of where to look as her scent did not leave the village, which meant that she had used a carriage to travel but to where was the question. The only thing he could do for now was try to stay positive and hope that she will be okay. There was one thing that bothered him though, and that was if she was trying to get home. The mere thought had left him feeling sad and empty since that would mean that he would never get to see her again. However another thought had come to mind, what if she had given up on the idea and tried to remain hidden from prying eyes including his? She never did mention where her home was leaving him more baffled than ever, given that she was so adamant about going home.
Yuuki continued to do her usual routine of heading out early get food for the day before going home without drawing any suspicion or attention of any manner, the young woman then locked the door and then went get things ready for either breakfast or lunch. Very soon the routine had started to become mundane leaving her wanting to whine and cry in frustration from the fact that she couldn’t come out of her house because of demons. Demons of all things!
Instead of allowing this to bother her, she opened the floorboards making sure that all the windows and doors were both shut or slightly covered. Yuuki then pulled out a bag from her time period that was still intact after everything that had happened and opened it to reveal a few books, a sketchbook, some pencils, two rubbers, a pencil sharpener and a music player. She was elated to know that the music player had showed no sighs of losing power or going out, which meant that like her it was frozen in time.
Yuuki without hesitation placed her earphones in her ears and began to play a soft melody as she leaned back onto a cushion, she looked down at her belly and smiled as she rubbed it lightly, feeling happy and warm from knowing that her baby was not only growing but had moved from time to time.
“What a mess” she sighs deeply “If only there were no one searching for us or that bad demons were nearby I would have gone on a walk little one” Yuuki rubbed the belly and smiled from the kick.
“I should name you, but I don’t know if you are boy or a girl” Yuuki says with a pout, if she had been in her time period she would have had a scan by now. However sadly it would never happen given how she arrived to this time period. That is if she truly was in the past, after all this could be a fantasy world from within the painting but neither thought did seem plausible given that magic did not exist. Yuuki’s thoughts were broken as she immediately felt a kick in response to her words leaving the young woman to chuckle lightly. “I know, you want to come out but not right now little one. It’s too early” she says softly before putting a lock of her hair behind her head. Yuuki almost chuckled imagining the child pouting already but was aware that she was right.
Very soon Yuuki’s eyes slowly closed due to fatigue and had started to dream about her family back home, despite being a dysfunctional family she would never wish to be apart from them for so long.
If only there had been some other way.