Saturday, 8 December 2007

Literary Section V

Gothic Fantasy: The Memoirs of Prometheus
Act I: The Name of the Game
Part V: Good Intentions…

Read Part I first! Right under the Dumbledore story.
Part II.
Part III.

Part IV.
Part VI.

Time had gone by and we had produced no results, despite our best efforts. Two days before New Year's Eve, while trailing a pair of Onijimiru (the equivalent of demon-possession) Loup-Garou, we found ourselves in Tokyo's underbelly. Following the beasts, we ended up in a small coven of Yomi acolytes. Thankfully, they had an extremely limited ability in Ars Venefica (a lower form of Magic, mainly to do with curses and hexes, strictly ritualized), so they did not prove all that difficult opponents. After neither limb, nor tail was moving, we freed the poor soul they were trying to sacrifice; he rabidly drank the blood from every single last one of them, much to our horrid surprise, before he calmed down.

“Now I can thank you properly”, he said in a well-mannered, if coarse, voice. “You must excuse my condition, but I have been down here for many months, until they made sure they had ‘prepared’ me for this ceremony.” He was on his guard. After all, we were Magi and he was but one lone and weakened Katsuishin.

“We bear no ill will against those who mean us no harm”, said I. “Your name sir? For, you seem a gentleman who has been forcefully degraded into his current state.”

“Shin…– Long Kuei” he said finally, struggling to control his words. After 2 years of turning Japan inside out, we had found him; there, of all places. After we took him to a hostel where he could return to a more humane, if unliving, state, I explained the situation and my mission, finally relaying my Master’s message. He was pensive for a while and pain shot across his face, now the face of a truly noble man.

“I would gladly accept, for I know what it is the honored Wordmaster refers to...” I raised an eyebrow at the epithet, but said nothing “...but I cannot follow you until I have recovered an item of great importance.”

Then he began to tell us how his most valuable possession, a Goshintai Kodachi, not unlike Sora’s metallic staff in power, had to be recovered at any cost. He would then gladly go to Skellig Michael without further delay. He said to be given a week to track down the current wielder; so we waited. Come to think of it, he never explained how he ended up in the Yomi coven as a sacrificial offering. Now, it is a moot point.

Indeed, only 5 days had passed when he returned, announcing he had located the sword and asked for our help in getting it back. We were enthusiastic and confident fools. Of course, it made perfect sense that a Katsuishin, with the contacts in his society, could locate something like that easily, but we did not stand to wonder if he had ulterior motives; after all, we had saved him and Sora, who was adept at such things, could not detect any untruthfulness in his words. Neither could I, though I had been ignoring the chills up my spine, since the day we found that guy. It never even occurred to me to wonder: where had his Ajisai friends been when he vanished? Sure, one easily makes the wrong assumptions about a culture foreign to them but still, I should have known better and remembered what Dmitri the Vampire had said: certain assumptions can be deadly.

He led us to an abandoned Shinto shrine in the suburbs of Tokyo. When we reached the site, our hair almost stood on end from the qlipothic emanations of the place. “Oh yes, this place had been the domicile of a big, undead thing for a looong time” was what we thought.

“Keep perfectly quiet now”, he ordered us; and so we did. He had not taken seven steps, when we heard an eerie flute, playing a ghostly tune. There was a slender form, dressed in a festive kimono, embroidered with sakura leaves, a half-undone obi waving in the cold breeze, up on the temple’s roof; next to her was another, taller, darker figure, clad in a crimson, hooded cloak seemingly made of red mist and wearing what looked like an intricate kabuki mask. I went for the periapt I used as my Instrumentum Oris (a tool through which one focuses their Magia) but found I could not move a muscle; Sora seemed to be still struggling against the magic of the mysterious pied piper.

“So, you have indeed delivered... Long Kuei” said an ironic, female voice, calm as ice (even colder than Dmitri’s on the day of my Opus), clear as crystal and belonging to a girl of no more that 15 years old; or so it seemed. While she stopped playing, I sought to break her hold on me, but in vain. Then she pointed her finger forwards and the cloaked figure suddenly appeared in front of us, left a package on the ground and lifted me in its arms with surprising strength and blinding speed. Kuei lifted the package and without even looking back, turned to leave. I did not need Magic to feel my friend’s wrath and anguish, for Primus Ignem was leaping from his immobilized form, erupting in a crown of energy and he growled:

“Why... you... traitor!” as he broke free of the flute’s spell.

“I have not betrayed you. I will indeed now go to Skellig Michael, but there was no other way for me to get the...”

“Shineeeee!” screamed my friend and shot a blast of Prima Materia at the long gone – through some Katsuishin magic – Kuei. Then, I heard the female say in a terrible, yet calm voice:

“Koi, Daigouka! Uchiagete!” and a great flame formed above her extended finger. I tried to shout to Sorakirin, but even my mouth had been immobilized and the creature holding me screwed up my focus. The flame left her and hit him full force. It was better that I could not speak; else my scream would have torn out my vocal cords. Yet nothing could keep the tears from running down my cheeks. As I dared look to see my friend’s charred remains, to my surprise, Sorakirin was standing firm, if naked and his sole eye blazed with the fires of either Heaven or Hell. His voice came out clear, unlike before, but it was as if one of the Kami themselves was speaking:

“I am a Ryuumajin Enjutsushi (Ryuumajin Fire Master), you witch and anything less than the flames of Yomi’s Lords is no match for me!” he said as his metallic staff once again appeared out of nowhere, and began glowing with Primus Ignem. The cloaked stranger set me, rigid, beside his mistress, truly resembling a 15-year-old girl, with hair black as night and eyes gold as the sun. There was no malice in these eyes, only determination, I could tell.

“Finish this”, she said unemotionally. Her vassal’s fingers grew into silvery, razor-edged claws, as long as kitchen knives and he attacked my friend with the precision of a machine and the technique of a master. It was indeed a scary sight and before long, Sorakirin was covered in his own blood; while his opponent had sustained some damage, he was basically unharmed. He raised his blades and crossed them high above his head. Sora looked at me desperately. I knew, I truly knew what he was thinking: “Forgive me for not keeping our oath.” At that moment, all my being screamed for the righteousness of one small phrase and I answered mentally, as I sent a searing lightning at his opponent, with every last ounce of my will:

“It’s alright my friend. Right now, it’s alright...” and I fainted from the mental strain.

When I woke up, I felt cold; very, very, deathly cold. Someone forced a metallic tasting liquid down my throat and passed a slender hand over my eyes. I closed them again and felt much better, as unsettling warmth washed over me.

“You are awake”, she said in the same crystal voice. I tried to stand up as quickly as I could but my limbs failed me. I opened my eyes and saw that same girl watching over me, her golden eyes wide and almost curious.

“Why can't I move?”

“It takes time for your body to adjust again; that is all.”

“Where’s my friend?” I asked, suddenly terrified, remembering Sora soaked in blood from his wounds. “Where’s that freak of yours?” I demanded.

“Hardly a freak”, said a male whisper. “Only different from you.” I turned to see the cloaked man, for a man he was without the mask, and saw that the crimson – now looking very much like common fabric – cloak and his mask had been generously charred.

“Heh, guess I gotcha.”

“You did. It was your valiant effort that saved your friend, giving him time to summon and ride a thunderbolt to safety.” I looked at him curiously. Of course, the weird Code of theirs. Come to think of it, it was me they wanted. I relaxed, knowing Sorakirin was safe:

“What are you to do with me?” I asked.

“Most of it has been done” said the girl. Not having the slightest suspicion about what had transpired, I asked:

“Could I have some of that weird-tasting liquid? It made me feel a lot better.” The girl smiled softly:

“Help him up” and the cloaked one helped me sit up. I assumed I was inside the shrine, for the interior certainly did look the part. Though abandoned, it seemed the sorceress had made it her sanctum and in doing so, preserved it. She came with a tea tray and very ceremoniously placed the teacup with a red-tinged liquid in my hands. I smelled it: jasmine, lotus and what was that metallic tint? I swallowed it, uneasiness washing over me again. Out of habit, after I gobbled it, I looked at my hands in awkwardness, which immediately transformed into outright terror. Where once had been strong, wide palms, now were slender, thin fingers and instead of my thick forearms and taut biceps, a pale parody of a freshly killed man. I dropped the teacup and the small amount that remained inside spilled on the white sheets, spreading like...

“Good Heavens and merciful God up in the sky... What has...?”

“So, you realized”, she said simply.

“How, how could you...?” said I, in a barely audible whisper.

“That was my purpose all along”, she said as she kneeled beside me and caressed my long hair. I immediately bit my tongue hard and cut it off, hoping that, maybe, the transformation was not yet completed, and maybe I could still bleed to death but... I hardly ever felt the dead flesh leave my mouth and regrow at a terrifying rate. She picked it up and neatly folded it in a silk napkin, then tucked it away.

“That was foolish. You were a Magus; you know you cannot die that way.”

“How long?”

“I have kept you in a trance for three days, while I made you my Ketsuen, my blood relative, my new son. You may take it upon you that you tired me. Your will is formidable, as was that of your Kami.” I could not even begin to contemplate the fact that Klymene was silent; so very silent… I felt that madness lay that way, so I turned to the reality outside myself.

“Why have I deteriorated? Am I to live on as a walking corpse?”

“Actually, it seems that when I turned you, the muscles of your body lost much volume but have now stabilized. I know not why.”

You are your choices and only as strong as your heart of hearts.

“So that was what Master Rama meant”, I said flatly. I had already started to be unable to feel what I used to: pain, anger, loss. No, the loss was there. The loss is always there.

[To be continued…]

Late, late, oh so VERY late! However, you DID get it though it is 6:37 in the morning here...


Not making any sense?

Go to Part I. Right under the Dumbledore story.
Go to Part II.
Go to Part III.
Go to Part IV.

No comments: