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Fantasy Clear Crimson Mirror | Private

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  1. Romance

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
(Here is the link to the original, just for nostalgia purposes <3)​

Noa's steps had shadowed Ayumi's, the woman watching Ayumi's movements with caution. Keeping an eye on Ayumi was important, more than ever. She honestly couldn't even imagine the agony that Ayumi was going through right now. Watching Ayumi now, more than ever that she had seen her before, it almost seemed as if she were lifeless, and that alone had caused her concern to heighten. For a moment, the woman opened her mouth in the beginnings of a sentence, but the words died out before she could even make them come. What did she hope to even accomplish with saying anything? Although she knew loss, having been the witness to deaths that were her family previously... She had yet to feel the loss of a lover. That wasn't something that she ever wanted to feel, and seeing Ayumi like this made her feel horrid that she couldn't even offer any words to ease her pain.

Yumi's eyes shifted upward to the soft knock on the door, a smile coming swiftly across her face as the door opened, bringing with it Ayumi's familiar scent, "Ayumi-" Her cheerful greeting had been stopped in her throat, smile collapsing immediately at the expression on Ayumi's face. The atmosphere that had been brought with her was something that Yumi could not anticipate. Her gaze shifted to Noa as the woman stared back, her expression grim in which Yumi had turned to Hiroshi who was still clinging to her, gentle coaxing the little oni to go stay by Noa's side for a little while. Noa had quietly approached, scooping the sleepy oni in her arms and inclining her head to Yumi in a silent nod before leaving, and soon closing the door behind her, thus leaving the room in mostly silence. The only other person being within the infirmary was Catori, but she was unconscious anyways, so for the most part their privacy was assured.

Shifting her position so that she could properly face Ayumi, the female oni did not say anything for a few moments, her eyes focusing intently on Ayumi's face, then she reached out and gently rested a soft hand on her shoulder. She didn't say anything, merely giving Ayumi time to think of what she was going to say. Yumi could already guess it was a lot... She just feared what the possibilities were.
 

Keylyn May

Simply Invisible
{{ Ah I've missed this!! I forgot the emotional rollercoaster we were at }}
Ayumi barely registered that Noa had left. She barely registered that Noa had taken little Hiroshi with her. She barely registered that Catori laid, unconscious nearby. But what the grieving woman did register was the touch of Yumi's hand on her shoulder. That touch was what seemed to bring her from her fog, for now, the pain rushing in all over again with each memory that came to the surface. Tears immediately sprang the tho young woman's eyes and her body moved to embrace her friend. "He's gone!" Her voice was hoarse, and as the words left her lips Ayumi's body shook as her tears began to fall free once more today. "He's--Yumi, he's gone!" Ayumi felt her chest begin to hiccup with each breath, her heart aching as if it would crumble any moment.

She pulled away, running panicked hands through her hair. "Everything-- Everything was fine this morning. He was... worried...but..." Ayumi attempted to regain her composure, yet nothing seemed to work. She let her legs lead her to the floor., her arms coming to wrap around her abdomen. "We should've never...never went into the woods..." Ayumi covered her face once more, drawing in deep breaths as she tried to still her rapid breathing and tears. She stopped speaking for that moment, trying to focus on regaining enough to be able to speak properly.

"Osamu got to him. Byakuren--" Saying his name alone was enough for a lump to form in her throat that threatened to break her all over again. Shaking her head, she pushed on, knowing Yumi needed to know. "He couldn't... Couldn't stop. No one could stop him." She drew a deep breath, her heads dropping from her face. Her amber eyes were dull, red, and swollen from her tears. "Izumi came." She finally looked to Yumi, knowing that name no doubt had love and pain for her friend. "He came and tried... tried to help... but he couldn't stop Bya--Byakuren before he ended it all for himself..." She clutched at her dress, the image of Byakuren's body on the sand coming to mind once again. "He tried to help, Yumi. Izumi was only trying to help..."

{{ Ah I forgot how difficult this emotional part was to write! }}​
 

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
(I know right! I forgot just how bad the situation had gotten where we left off! Looking back on what had happened, and how evil I made Osamu made me realize "wow I created a monster!" And I'm only planning on him to get even worse.. I think? I'm kind of proud of how twisted he became, but at the same time I hate him lol)

Yumi could feel the tension in the air, a sensation of dread settling like a pit deep in her stomach. It was only when Ayumi had so suddenly embraced her, her sobs echoing in the in the infirmary, the words that left her lips made Yumi feel as if the world had been utterly flipped upside down. No. This has to be a lie. Denial was her first reaction, there was no possible way that Byakuren could be dead. That was impossible, right? It shouldn't be real. Nothing like this should have happened. But, Ayumi's anguish, her tears, her sobbing and the struggling she was going through to just even so much as get out a single sentence was all too real. This wasn't a cruel joke, this was a bitter reality that Byakuren was gone, completely and utterly gone.

Her grip tightened around Ayumi, only allowing her to leave her grasp as the woman had fallen to her knees, the dull sound seeming now so unnaturally loud to her own ears. The haunting tale being recounted only served to sunder and rip at her own heart, tears beginning to well up in her own eyes as a knot formed in her throat. Not only was Byakuren gone, Izumi her beloved had shown up to help, only to vanish just out of her reach once again. Her foggy memories from the escape of the Water nation now seemed as crystal clear in her own mind, Izumi had saved her there and spared her life to continue living just a little bit longer. Even if knowing that Izumi wasn't completely and utterly gone to be a complete monster, what joy should she take in that? She could not, not while his brother had just been taken, her best friend's mate, and the oni whom she had hurt so many centuries ago with her own choice.

She never got the chance to apologize, she hesitated to bridge the gap that had remained between herself and Byakuren, to reclaim a friendship that had been lost to time. And now, it was too late. She was robbed of her chance because she was fearful, because she didn't want to face any chance of being rejected by him. More tears flowed down her cheeks, dropping relentlessly down the oni's face as she and begun to tremble. This all was a nightmare, even if she had been granted some sort of light of reprieve... her friend had been dropped into the gaping chasm she had been in for three years. The loss of a mate she would never even wish on her worse enemy, and now seeing such pain reflected in Ayumi had caused the female to force herself from her cot, agony flaring through her back as she leaned against the cot for support to keep herself upright, only to fall to her knees beside Ayumi and wordlessly begin to hug her as tightly as she could.

"None of this is your fault, please... don't blame yourself." Her tone for once was firm, despite the tears flowing down her face, her trembling body attempting to hold back sobs of her own, Ayumi by no means was to blame for this. There was only one culprit for all of this, only one person to blame. That was Osamu. The utter hatred Yumi felt for the oni surpassed any grief she may feel at this moment. How long was he going to take everything from them? How much longer were they to suffer while he was around? It wasn't fair, none of this was and Yumi would be damned if she was going to sit back and take this anymore. Running constantly only for more to be taken from all those she held dear, she had enough.

She closed her eyes, struggling not to break down and cry. The anguish in her heart shifting over to rage, but for now the female oni had released Ayumi from her hug and spoke softly, "Thank you for telling me... I.." She took in a breath, feeling as if it was becoming harder to breathe past the immense crushing grief that was bouncing back and forth within her between her anger, "..I'm so sorry. I wish.. I wish I could've been able to do something... anything to help." Her eyes closed tightly, jaw clenching as she swallowed back a sob that threatened to tear from her lips, forcing herself to stay together. She would not permit herself to break down now, not when Ayumi needed support more than ever, "I.. hate him. I hate Osamu for doing this. All of this." Her voice tinged with venom, her hands now clenching into fists before her, anger flaring to life in her expression as her soft tone had vanished now giving into anguish, "He keeps taking, and taking and we have to keep running. How much longer do we have to deal with this? Why does he have to keep taking more of us away?" Tears now relentlessly streamed down her cheeks, bowing her head as she struggled to suppress her sobs. But in truth, Yumi was tired of running. She was tired of losing every time. Loss after loss just compounded over the years leaving nothing but hopelessness behind. Was there all there was? Was there nothing to hope for anymore?


(I'm actually nearly crying while writing this. I have the snow effect on my screen here and playing a sad song from Katanagatari and it just fits the moment way too well lol)
 

Keylyn May

Simply Invisible
{{ right?! I almost cried writing Ayumi's too. Swear a felt a tear threatening to drop. I have never had a story like this one that I've roleplayed in that's hit me so hard }}
Ayumi embraced Yumi as she had dropped from the cot, holding tight to her friend. She heard Yumi's words as she spoke of not being the one to blame, yet a hollow, dark feeling had long settled into Ayumi's gut. She shouldn't have gone so far away with Byakuren. She should've allowed him to rest more. She should've kept her child-like tendencies controlled. Yet she kept such words to herself. She didn't want to hear how she was innocent or how the blame was far from her. Grief was still painfully within her being, no matter what anyone was going to say.

She listened as Yumi turned her grief into anger while before her. She understood, all too well, Yumi's frustrations with Osamu. Ayumi had watched the wretched being take her love from her, and she would never be seeing him again. She would never hear Byakuren say her name again, touch her again, and hold her in her times of human weakness. Those years while separated had been horrible, but now she wasn't sure that she could make it through what was to come. And while she wishes she could reflect on how Yumi had made it, Ayumi couldn't do that. Yumi had had a part of Izumi: Hiroshi. Ayumi had nothing of Byakuren except memories.

Ayumi shook her head lightly, her tears slowly beginning to stop yet her breathing still ragged. "He's a monster," she murmured, shaking from the events and the force of her grief. "Yet there is nothing we can do." Her voice dropped off and she held her hands to her chest. Ayumi clutched the area over her heart. "I don't know if I can take any more of this."
 

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
(Probably because this rp lasted so long, like I think it started in January of 2017? I guess we both got attached to the characters! I'm just completely invested in this whole storyline, never really felt so attached to an rp like this one before!)

Yumi's expression turned grim, looking over to Ayumi at her words, although she could barely see her friend's form clearly enough through her own tears, her words had sunk in deep. She wasn't sure how much more she could take either, just thinking of anyone else they had to lose utterly terrified her now. She didn't want anyone else to die, but how much more mentally could their small group take? More so than ever, she was worried about Ayumi. The oni had held onto Ayumi again, wishing to offer her more silent comfort as she took in a deep breath and exhaled. If only she could say confidently that fighting back was the only answer they had, but quite frankly how could they possibly fight back? No one that was currently left in their group could possibly fight with confidence, as none was exposed to combat directly before. No, instead all they could do was run and hide. It made her feel pathetic and useless to not provide any confidence for her friend. All she could do was provide a tight hug, for even she knew that words are nothing. Nothing will be able to dull the heartache, the pain.
...
Bi-nasu's feet sank into the sand as her silent companion, Hanao trailed behind her. The young yokai had a sullen expression on his face, seeming to prefer silence now than speaking to her at the moment. He was angry, she knew that well enough. The atmosphere of the camp was dull and downtrodden, shock and confusion filtering across the faces of every single rebel who were beginning to pick up the pieces of the tents that had been utterly demolished in the frantic fighting earlier. The fortune teller's gaze had settled upon Byakuren's body, now having grown fully cold, she had taken note that the body was now securely wrapped in spare blankets, the extent of the damage done to him now being hidden from the world. He was being prepared seemingly for burial to the eyes of everyone else, but instead Bi-nasu knew already that instead he was being prepared for transportation. Not too far from his body near the coast, a small fishing boat, no doubt used by the shapeshifters was being loaded up with supplies for the long journey to the Fire nation's shores. Everything was slowly coming together, it was only a matter of time until eventually the time would come to leave.

The oni's attention finally turned to Hanao as the young yokai had avoided looking directly at her, his eyes red with unshed tears and his cheek still red from where she had slapped him. Of course, the sight made her heart twist with guilt... but she had little choice at the time. "Hanao," The young yokai looked up to her reluctantly, "Make sure you keep your promise, alright?" She had made sure the yokai on the way back to the camp promise her that he would try to be the best healer he could possibly be in her absense, one that he particularly took issue with. He had protested against her even deciding to leave to go ahead to the Fire nation's lands, saying that her actions was cold especially considering the all too recent deaths that had taken place. She would not excuse herself of course, as her actions were questionable at best. Hanao was right to be angry at her, especially for leaving so soon to who knows where... and she was not coming back. She already knew her role was coming to an end, something that she would not place on Hanao's shoulders, for he didn't need to know. No one needed to know.

She placed a hand on his shoulder, giving it a soft squeeze as the young yokai had turned his head away from her, saying sullenly, "I know. I will... just... wherever you're going, please be careful." Bi-nasu's expression softened, though her heart filled with guilt as she said nothing. Instead she gently nudged him in the direction of the rebels whom were going about picking up the pieces of the camp, saying in a gentle tone, "I will. Now go." The female had watched as Hanao trudged off, though turning her gaze away from him and now settling her attention on the ship. One problem was dealt with, now another seemed to rise up in its place: breaking the news to Ayumi. She didn't even want to tell her right now of all times of her intentions, not desiring to bring more harm than good... but Ayumi needed to know what needed to happen. The future had not changed after all, and she needed to know where Bi-nasu was going to take Byakuren's body. After all, if she left without telling Ayumi a single word, not seeing Byakuren's body would perhaps come as a shock at the disappearance. Nonetheless, the fortune teller had to force herself to move forward as she made the small walk toward the infirmary, granted it felt longer than it usually would have been. Her footsteps heard unnaturally loud to even her own ears as she had peered into the infirmary with caution, spotting Yumi trying to comfort Ayumi, but the atmosphere in the room was indeed something that she certainly didn't want to break the news in. She took in a breath, swallowing down her apprehension and stepped forward, though in response Yumi had tensed and held Ayumi a bit closer. A defensive stance almost.

Yumi was the first to speak, "Bi-nasu, please... not now." No doubt, the other female was anticipating that Bi-nasu was about to speak of another fortune, something that no one needed. Bi-nasu immediately shook her head in response, lowering her gaze as she had said gently, "I'm not here to give you false hope. I no longer have need to tell you the future. No, I've come to tell you my intentions so that you will not be surprised later. Though, I am well aware that now is certainly the worse possible time... I fear time is against me." The fortune teller's expression, one that spoke of hesitation had changed to be firm as her eyes focused on Ayumi, "I'm taking Byakuren's body with me to the Fire nation's lands." The sentence itself seemed so utterly absurd to her own ears, and clearly would be to anyone else who had no idea why she would do such a thing. In fact, she saw this confusion as clear as day on Yumi's own face, almost as if Bi-nasu had said the strangest possible sentence in the world.
 

Keylyn May

Simply Invisible
{{ definitely the longest one I have ever been in. This story line is just amazing and you are so creative with it! }}
Ayumi allowed herself to simply be held by Yumi in an attempt of silent comfort. What more was there to do? Ayumi didn't feel like going back above deck with the others and didn't feel like leaving Yumi either. Besides, she was sure that going above would do her more harm than good anyways. Byakuren would be there, being prepared for burial, and such a thing would be final to watch. She didn't want to remember Byakuren like that. She wanted to remember the memories they shared without them being marred by his burial. So she would remain here for as long as she could.

She became more aware of her surroundings, however, when she felt Yumi hug her tighter. She heard her friend mention Bi-nasu's name, shifting her have slightly to see the other female. Yet, at her words Ayumi pulled back just a bit to look fully at Bi-nasu. Her face was tear streaked now, her tears having stopped but Ayumi had made no attempt to wipe them away. Her hair was disheveled but she hardly cared any more.

"What?" She asked, shock and confusion taking over her cracked voice. "Why are you doing that?" She motioned towards the doorway. "Byakuren-- He needs to... to be..." Ayumi couldn't finish the sentence, but the idea of his body being dragged around was unsettling. Why couldn't they simply let him rest now?
 

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
(Thank you! I'm trying to make this as interesting as possible, though I think I'm only like... 45% done with the storyline I have in mind at this point? It may take awhile!)

Bi-nasu shook her head at Ayumi's shock and confusion, although she certainly could say that it was indeed not surprising for her to react in such a manner. "Despite how final this seems, I shall tell you this once, the future I had predicted had not changed." Her green eyes turned cold, firm as she continued to explain, "As I said before, the alter of the Demon King resides in the Fire nation's lands. I intend to bring his body there, through that revival is possible. This death is not final for him, he is not meant to die here. In a way, I suppose you can say that this was a doorway to yet another path that is needed for us to take. Sacrifices must be made, and that I am all to willing to fulfill."

"So no, Byakuren mustn't be buried. Please understand, I am not trying to feed you false hope or deceive you. But, he cannot be allowed to rest... not now." It was cruel in a way, but in another sense it would mean that it would be implied that Byakuren would be pulled into the land of the living once more. His role in the world was not done, it was far from over, and Bi-nasu's confidence just fed to the idea that this death was not final. After all, their destination had already been en route to the Fire nation lands anyways to seek out the same alter that Bi-nasu was speaking of now. But, even Bi-nasu as confident in her visions in the past she had been, she felt like she was throwing a bit too much on Ayumi right now with speaking on the matter of taking Byakuren's body.

"I have already made preparations to bring his body with me. A boat and supplies has already been prepared... I just wanted to let you know before I leave, so that you may not question where his body has gone-" Yumi had moved now, grimacing as she cut off Bi-nasu as she spoke sharply, "Y-you can't just take his body so suddenly though! We barely even had enough time for the news to sink in that he's...." The female had to visibly shake herself, unable to say the words as she instead said, "You're literally dragging his body off to an alter of a fable, a fairy tale no less! You expect us to believe that he can be revived as simple as that? Excuse me if this comes off as rude, but.. I just can't believe that!" Bi-nasu's eyebrows furrowed, expression tensing up at the anger coming off from Yumi, seeing that there was still more tears coming to the other's eyes. The fortune teller dropped her gaze, turning her attention to Ayumi instead as she couldn't directly look Yumi in the eyes anymore.

"..I know what I'm doing can be seen as questionable. If I have gained your ire, then by all means I do deserve it. However, know that my intentions I only do so for the good of not only those around me, but the realm as a whole. If I do not make this journey and fulfill what I have foreseen, this world as well as the one you, Ayumi, have come from will cease to exist. Byakuren is our only hope, and I intend to bring him from death's grip with or without your permission." His expression had softened visibly, bowing her head as she spoke quietly, "If you doubt me, you are more than welcome to join me. He is your mate after all." It was a choice she was giving to Ayumi, although she would not force her to come with her on what could be seen as a fool's errand, but Bi-nasu truly was trying her best to be as sincere as possible.
 

Keylyn May

Simply Invisible
{{ I am in it for the long haul! Also, is it ever in the plan for them to have a child? I think it would cute to see Byakuren interact with a baby. Just curious~ }}

Ayumi listened as Bi-nasu spoke, her mind spinning at the words the fortune teller offered. However, disbelief was engulfing her mind. She had just seen Byakuren died before her. She had been with him when he drew his last breath, and had heard his last words. The thought of that not being real was almost too agonizing to consider. It wasn't that she didn't trust Bi-nasu or her powers of sight, but the events in her head were not going to align with her words.

Ayumi listened as Yumi spoke against it, remaining where she was on her knees for the time being. Bi-nasu seemed so confident in what she was doing. She seemed like she knew this was how everything was going to play out. She listened as each one spoke, her gaze drifting over to the wall as she simply allowed herself to just listen. Yet, allowing herself to believe that she would see him again was almost too painful to bear. Because what if it didn't work? She would have to fight all of that hope all over again, and she wasn't sure she could emotionally handle that hit.

Yet, at Bi-nasu's offer of her joining, Ayumi looked between her and Yumi. Should she go? It was true, she hated the idea of Byakuren's body being taken away. Yet Bi-nasu said that either way, the body was going with her. And what if Bi-nasu's words turned out to be true? What if Byakuren did return and she had missed her chance to be there to welcome him back? Indeed she was his mate. Would he question her if she hadn't been there? Would he doubt her faith in him?

"Yumi?" She asked, wanting to know what her friend thought. Clearly, she was against false hope and yet what if by some small chance this was true?
 

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
(Yep! That'll eventually happen, although I was perhaps wondering how many children they should have in total after the whole war arc that's occurring right now. I was thinking about like... 2 - 3 perhaps? It's all up to you! But I am looking forward to Byakuren interacting with his own children, especially if he winds up having a daughter for one of them it'll be great! Just imagining him being a doting father and completely being overprotective over his daughter and spoiling her! Almost makes me want to start drawing art of them!)

Yumi looked toward Ayumi as she had asked, clearly wanting her opinion on the matter. The female's eyebrows furrowed together, conflict in her gaze. On one hand, she felt a tiny bit of hope beginning to kindle within her chest, but most of her felt grim on the matter as a whole. Perhaps she was merely just acting on anger to cloud her judgement, maybe she shouldn't be too hasty? After all, if there was a slim chance that Byakuren would return to them... by all means if she were in Ayumi's shoes, she would take it. But, this led to other concerns regarding the amount of danger of it all. If she encouraged Ayumi to go, she would be sending her friend off into danger. The Fire nation was currently the hot spot of all the fighting going on right now, and she couldn't bear the thought of losing a friend who has become just as close as a sister. She barely even knew what happened to Aoi three years ago after the oni had said she would be staying behind in the Ice nation, and losing her parents three years ago was as harsh a blow as ever.

The oni's eyes lowered to the floor, her lips pressing together in a tight line then she finally spoke, though her words were heavy with her own reluctance, "Ayumi, I can't decide this for you... but if by some chance this is real, and you really want to see this through then... go. But, if you go, you have to promise me that you'll come back safe with him." Obviously, by her reluctance this was unbearably hard for Yumi to say. She didn't like the thought of sending her off into danger, and with Ayumi being a human with little to no combat skills whatsoever, the danger was all the more heightened. But, if by chance that Byakuren could be revived, and could stop the madness that was Osamu... she wouldn't stop her. But, losing yet another family member was something that Yumi could not bear, not again. It was enough that their small group had been shrunk over the course of the war.

Bi-nasu's gaze shifted to Ayumi once more, now awaiting her answer. Even if Yumi had reluctantly given her permission to leave, it still all depended on Ayumi if she wanted to go. Granted, the fortune teller was well aware that her destination was very, very dangerous. The Forgotten Sands in the Fire nation was quite literally an unforgiving desert, inhabited by oni who have been exiled from the Fire nation's society. Not to mention the alter itself was rumored to have a fierce guardian that the native tribe worshipped and protected. She knew she was asking a lot for her to accompany her on this journey, one that she was more than willing to take on her own but if Ayumi wished to go along with her to greet Byakuren when the oni eventually revived, she wouldn't stop her.
 

Keylyn May

Simply Invisible
{{ yes! Omg 2-3 would be perfect, especially if one is a girl!! Ah I love it!! }}

Ayumi heard how reluctant Yumi was in her words and the promise that she requested she make in returning. Ayumi slowly stood up, her hands automatically going to her dress to try to smooth it out. She was sure she looked like a horrible mess now, though could everyone truly blame her? She didn't think so.

She looked at her friend and gave a her a quick hug, holding the one she now saw as a sister close. "Thank you," she murmured, pulling away to look at Yumi. "I will come back, I promise." She looked to Bi-nasu, giving the fortune teller a slight nod. "If there is a chance he is coming back, i have to be there," she said softly.

She couldn't help the swirl of hope that seem to kindle in her chest, but she tried eagerly to push it down. She couldn't bare being crushed with disappointment and lose again. However, as his mate, she felt it was almost part of her duty to go see him, to be there when he returned to them.

{{ also on mobile; sorry... }}
 

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
(Yay! I'm really looking forward to it! And it's all good, I'm on mobile right now too)

Yumi had returned Ayumi's hug, holding onto her as tightly as she could before she had let go, her expression somber though a half hearted grin had crossed her tear streaked face, "You'd better." As much as Yumi desired to come along, at least to see her off near the shore, she knew she could not. Her injury would never permit her to move about for long, much less be able to stand for a long period of time. Not that anyone would permit her to stand out on the shore for long anyways, which made her feel a bit bitter, however the least she could do would show some support now while she still could, although eyeing Bi-nasu with caution, though she too was a bit hopeful in this... but only if they came back safely.

Bi-nasu on the other hand had nodded her head, accepting Ayumi's choice. Though she had little doubt that Ayumi would have come along regardless, it was a bit of a relief to get verbal confirmation. So, the fortune teller had allowed a small, hesitant smile to cross her face, granted she realized fully well that she was asking a lot of Ayumi to trust her this will come to pass. "Thank you. We should set off as soon as possible, the sooner the better." Although she was sure the corruption in Byakuren's body that remained would keep any decomposition at bay at least for a few days, she didn't want to prolong the time in reaching their destination.

She had turned away from the two, although clearly expecting Ayumi to follow her. She crossed the infirmary's door and began her way up the stairway, her expression grim as she looked upward toward the skies and then to the camp of rebels, eventually settling on the small fishing boat that Byakuren's concealed body was currently resting in. The woman took in a breath and exhaled. Soon, her part to play was ending. But, she couldn't help the grim image of this journey just being one of her walking to her own execution. Although, she shook the thought aside just as quickly. For the greater good, her sacrifice was needed, there was no other option.

So, she did not hesitate again and instead began walking as briskly as possible toward the small fishing boat that Kenshin currently was making sure it was secure. The oni had looked over his shoulder to look at both Bi-nasu and Ayumi, only to give a solemn nod, though she knew the male was silently giving them the message to come back safe. The fortune teller hadn't told anyone else but Hanao and Kenshin about the departure, though Kenshin had been informed by Rose. Hanao on the other hand seemed preoccupied with other matters, such as preparing Miho's body for burial. She regretted not being able to linger long, but drawn out farewells would only waste precious time, especially now.

It was now that she stopped again, only to step into the small fishing boat that was provided, waiting for Ayumi to step inside while taking care to make sure Byakuren's body was secure while giving both of them enough space to be able to at least be comfortable while their journey will start. Only once she was sure, the fortune teller had grasped unfurled the sails of the small boat, grasping hold of an oar and pushed the small boat out into the sea. She didn't dare look back, for looking back now would only make her resolve waver, keeping her back to the island of Illida, while the rebel's galleon slowly faded out of sight.

The oni hadn't spoken a single word, silence settling over the boat, but eventually she had spoken, a question to merely start a conversation. After all, she didn't want Ayumi to focus on Byakuren's body especially since it was so close by, "Ayumi, tell me... what memory do you treasure the most?" An odd question, but it would at least be a topic starter. Anything to keep a dialogue going considering the journey will be a long and dull one without much conversation.
 

Keylyn May

Simply Invisible
Ayumi watched as Bi-nasu turned away, beginning to follow the oni. She remained silent as they left the hold of the ship. She could feel the hollow pit forming in her stomach once again. As they came from the hold, her gaze went to the beach to see that Byakuren's body had already been moved. She pushed down her feelings, attempting to keep any emotions at bay for the time. She felt horrible from crying for so long anyways. The last thing she wanted was to grow sick on this journey.

Ayumi followed Bi-nasu to the small boat that had been prepared, looking at Kenshin as he seemed to be finishing preparations. She thought of him and Yumi. She was leaving them here while going with Bi-nasu. To leave her friends right now weighed heavy on her chest, yet she felt as if she had to go. Gently she stepped into the boat, settling in as she attempted not to look at the wrapping of Byakuren's body. If she looked, her resolve to remain emotionless may waver. She folded her hands into her lap, looking out at the sea instead.

At Bi-nasu's question, Ayumi looked at the oni with curiosity as she attempted to gather her thoughts. "That's difficult to pin down," she answered softly, before a small smile grew on her face. "Perhaps it's when Byakuren took me to a festival when we first arrived in this realm." She could still remember the colors of that danced that day, and how Byakuren had gotten her the special flower so long ago. "I think that's the first time I saw Byakuren for so much more." She touched her hair lightly."I just wish I still possessed the flower he had given me." During their time running, she had somehow lost it and was devastated by it when she had lost Byakuren the first time and no longer had the flower with her.
 

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
The oni had listened to Ayumi's answer, though seeing a small smile finally cross her face had made the fortune teller feel at ease. It wouldn't do to have Ayumi in low spirits throughout the journey they were embarking on, though the memory she had recounted had caused Bi-nasu's expression to become somber, her gaze turning out toward the vast sea before them as she said gently, "Perhaps, one day it could be replaced. After this horrid war is over, of course." It would be an eventuality that the Earth nation would once again throw a festival if the realm were ever to be freed from Osamu's grasp.

"Though, I never knew Byakuren to be one to offer such a kind gesture," The fortune teller had smiled slightly, "Let me guess, he tried disguising giving you the flower under the pretense of something else, right?" Bi-nasu then lightly shook her head, having a feeling he had. Though she had only observed the oni from afar, she always knew he felt embarrassed when having to directly give gifts, although it could be because of Osamu's influence which made him so hesitant to be direct.

After a few more moments of silence, a somber expression had once more settled over Bi-nasu's face, her green eyes downcast as she had paused in the midst of her rowing, allowing the currents and the wind to guide the fishing boat forward. "...I have to say, I wish that I could recount tender memories of my own. However, all I can feel now is regret." The oni took in a deep breath and exhaled, her eyebrows furrowing together, "No matter how many centuries that passed me by, I only hold regret that I had allowed Osamu to live, and to grow. I knew as soon as he was birthed into this world that he was to walk down a path of darkness, and yet I kept my silence." She didn't know why she was expressing this deep regret in her heart, especially now of all times... but this was something that she'd truly not spoken to anyone about.

"Though, yes he would father Byakuren and Izumi... I can't help but think now at what cost? How many lives would he drag down with him? How many would he destroy? And if I should have intervened with what fate had in mind." Her hands clenched tightly around the oar in her hands, gazing now at Byakuren's body, "Even if I have full faith that everything will turn out well... I feel as if my hands have been tainted with as much blood as Osamu's if not even more for not acting." Centuries of wandering about, seeing the future and choosing not to intervene had of course made the woman hold regret in her heart. Even she, with too many years of experience was now feeling more lost than ever, blindly charging down a path she had predicted but not knowing if it will do any good or if it would be too late.
 

Keylyn May

Simply Invisible
Ayumi couldn't help but grin as Bi-nasu asked if Byakuren had given her the flower under the pretence of something else. "Yes, he did give it an entirely different meaning," she said, recalling the evening they had spent at the festival. Following Byakuren's gift of the flower, he had led her to his own special place that held a beautiful tree that seemed cut off from the kingdom around it. And following that, she and Yumi had gotten closer in their mischievous plot to try and catch Byakuren off guard by her looks at the ball. That night had been the first night she had admitted to Byakuren that she felt something more for him.

Memories such as those would forever hold a place in her heart, yet a bitter-sweet pain coarsed through her as the knowledge that his body was laying beside her now, lifeless. To think of an end to this war seemed impossible. Right now, she simply wanted to disappear to a place where all this was far from mind. To sleep and not awake until this hellish nightmare was over. But such was not to be done. Like so many times over the years, she had to remain strong. She had to keep moving, even though every step was absolutely brutal.

As Bi-nasu seemed to admit to her heavy burden, Ayumi's heart went out to the oni. It seemed everyone had something that was truly crushing them during this time. She was silent as she simply listened to Bi-nasu unload her regrets, shaking her head softly towards the end of what the oni had to say.

"You cant blame yourself for this," she said gently, her expression somber. "If you had followed what you had seen, and got rid of Osamu early on, Byakuren would never have existed." Ayumi looked to the sky, a bitter smile coming to her face. "And I, after all these years, would be in a possibly loveless marriage to some man I had never laid eyes on before. I would've had to act on my 'noble right' rather than find the one I truly love." She looked back at Bi-nasu, her eyes filled with tears though a softer smile had claimed her lips. "Byakuren and I would've never had our love against all odds." She reached forward and took a hold of Bi-nasu's hand. "So pain and suffering are not the only things that have come from your choices."
 

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
Bi-nasu looked to Ayumi as she had begun to speak, although she wouldn't have anticipated her being sympathetic. But, listening to her, the oni knew there was truth in her words. If she had intervened with what fate had planned, certainly this conversation would have never been started, these events would have never happened and nor would Ayumi currently be within this realm, a human that the fortune teller too was putting all of her hopes on. Tears of her own for the first time in years had begun to sting at her eyes, and a smile crossed her face as she laughed, "My, I never would have thought I would need to be comforted. It's been too long since I've felt like a child." She forced back her tears, though now gently squeezing Ayumi's hand that currently held one of hers, "You are certainly right, it seems like I had made the right choice even if this is the harder path to take. You truly will be another light of hope for the future. Both of the realm's futures." She sincerely spoke those words, even if Byakuren would have the role of the Demon King, Ayumi's support would be all the more important, especially as his mate. Though, the future would no longer reveal itself before her eyes, Bi-nasu could tell that Ayumi had touched the hearts of plenty yokai and oni already, an important step that needed to have occurred.

Slipping her hand away from Ayumi's grasp, once more the oni had looked up toward the skies above, blue and clear as she was lost in her own thoughts for a few moments and finally broke the silence, "Perhaps, may I tell you a tale? Considering where we are going, it would make all the more difference to know how important Byakuren's role will become, and the true foe that you both will be facing when the time comes. And, we have quite a lot of time on our hands before we reach our destination." After all, this was a tale that had been passed down for so many centuries within the realm of the oni, a tale that dated back to the founders and the war that had previously ingulfed the realm in the midst of its chaos. Every oni child would know of this tale, a piece of folklore of the Demon King, and the beast that had been what many would call the father of all oni, a monster that lived off of rage and bloodshed, one who had once ran free before the realms of the oni and humans had split apart. Although, Bi-nasu certainly never heard of any human tales dealing with her own kind, she would assume that if any were to exist, it would possibly be the fault of the original beast that had once ran rampant.

"We oni take pride in our blood, as I'm sure you have already seen. And all of us can trace back our ancestry to a creature that was a monster beyond imagining, Hotaruneikan. He was a monster so great in size and power, that continents would be destroyed in a single step. There are many stories that claim that the early oni who were birthed into the world were born of his blood as the beast was always on the hunt for its next battle, primarily against your kind - humans. He waged war, and humanity tried to fight against his fury, and his children too had delighted in the bloodshed... until he too had turned on them."

"Hotaruneikan lived for blood, for fury and anguish. He did not care who he struck down in his path, as long as he received satisfaction in rampant chaos and death. He rose armies of the dead to serve him, to rend and slaughter any who would dare try to raise claw or weapon against him, and the world swam in a river of blood. His children tried to plea with their father, to spare them in the midst of his frenzy, but their cries went unheard and slaughter had been the only answer," The fortune teller paused in recounting the tale, having looked up to see a brightly colored creature flying overhead; its odd cry temporarily making the fortune teller pause only for her to continue her tale, "Eventually, the oni fled from their father, running to the humans for aid as now both had a common enemy who was tearing up the lands and feasting on the misery it sowed. There are different retellings of the story from this point, but the most common one is that with the human's aid, they had built alters that swam with the blood of Hotaruneikan and those of the dead. His blood had been purified, and one brave soul had partook of the monster's blood and gained power beyond an oni's normal limits, becoming akin to a beast even amongst his fellows: The Demon King."

"It was from that point, forged in the blood of Hotaruneikan that the first Demon King had went to war against the beast, clashing for twenty days without stopping, the final blow had been won by the Demon King, and the monster that had terrorized the lands had fallen, and peace had been won at that moment. But, the monster's malice had not faded. No, instead in his final breath he cursed his children, claiming that he would forever return, again and again until all would know his wrath, until all of them were slaughtered, both human and oni alike. Of course, even if Hotaruneikan's threat was over for now, there had been a shift in the balance of powers in which the Demon King was now the new threat, an oni beyond our normal limits. Humanity, having feared the worse of a new wave of war had demanded for the oni to leave and never return, fearful now of the strength and threat they now posed, and the Demon King had obliged. He led his people away, deep into the heartland where Hotaruneikan had first risen from the earth and from there separated the land from that of the humans: forever keeping them apart and to keep vigil over the monster's birth place. The Demon King himself had separated from his people, standing personal vigil over the alters until he passed on into death alone."

Bi-nasu's gaze settled on Byakuren's body, "...But now, where does that tale leave us? Well, it seems like history is repeating itself yet again. The darkness that I had seen in Osamu when he had been birthed into this world was pure malice, and his scent alone makes my skin crawl recalling it. Perhaps, it seems just as real that Hotaruneikan had risen again in yet another soul, bent on revenge even if he does not realize his lust for destruction is not his own. Admittedly, I too also have fears on if going to the alter will succeed without severe side effects, especially since Byakuren does carry his father's blood." Her expression grew grim if only for a moment, shaking her head as she looked back to Ayumi, "I suppose we can only hope for the best, of course."
 

Keylyn May

Simply Invisible
Ayumi smiled softly as she saw she had succeeded in soothing a bit of Bi-nasu's grief and regrets. Naturally, she was sure that many would assume that she would yell, curse, and have anger at Bi-nasu for not stopping all of this anguish and long before it could've all happened. But just as she had spoken to the oni, without these events she would not be here currently. And as much as she hated to admit it, without Osamu Byakuren would never have come and she would never have met him. Ayumi truly believed that, even with the heartache and hard times, her life was better in this way.

Ayumi silently listened, however, as Bi-nasu began to tell her a tale. Ayumi gave her all of her attention, as she didn't know many oni tales, just as onis most likely did not know many human tales. While she listened, Ayumi couldn't help but think that this realm was similar to the human realm in that its history was wrought with war. A small frown formed as she listened to the story, though she was wondering where Bi-nasu was going with telling her such things. That was when Bi-nasu got to the part that involved Byakuren and it all began to make sense.

Ayumi listened to Bi-nasu as she spoke of her uncertainty about this path, especially since Byakuren carried Osamu's blood. However, the young woman began to shake her head at the female oni. "Byakuren will not be anything like Osamu," she said, confidence unfolding in her words. "Because there is one thing that Byakuren had done that Osamu will never be able to do." For the first time since stepping into the boat, Ayumi allowed her gaze to settle upon Byakuren's body. "He allowed himself to feel love, genuine love, for something so insignificant to him." She gave a soft smile, though tears still tugged at her eyes as they fought to escape. "He allowed himself to embrace emotions that Osamu, I am sure, has never felt." She let out an amused huff, shaking her head lightly. "Osamu would never love a human; a mere insect to himself. All I've known from so many is how odd or taboo our love had been. Because of this, Byakuren has a side to himself that will never give in to the darkness Osamu dwells in."

Her smile faded as she glanced back at the water, her fingers wringing together in her lap. "He proved that today," she added softly, referring to when Byakuren had run to Izumi's sword blade to end Osamu's control and torment.
 

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
Bi-nasu did once again supposed that Ayumi certainly had a point. Byakuren had proven over and over again that there was a sheer difference between himself and his father, primarily being his compassion. But, a tiny part of herself felt anxious, for the sheer primal power of the Demon King had been rumored to be overwhelming. Although she never would know herself, she could only imagine how explosive such power could be. Nonetheless, having faith that everything would work out due to the future she had seen would have to suffice, although her expression had once more become somber at the mention of Byakuren's actions earlier. Such a sacrifice to stop Osamu's rampage... not many would actively make the choice of sacrificing themselves in such a manner. "..You are right. He has proven that he is capable, I perhaps am worrying too much." Of course, she knew well enough that she couldn't help but worry endlessly, as she knew that this trip would certainly be her last. She could only hold anxiety toward placing the fate in the hands of those she knew she should trust more than anyone else, but it would soon be time for her to relinquish such duties and hope that everything will turn out for the best.

Her gaze once more turned to Byakuren's body, eyebrows furrowing as she was once more lost in thought, however in the midst of her thinking she was startled by the sound of a splash causing her gaze to turn toward the sea, seeing bright vibrant colors flash before her eyes, scaled bodies leaping and diving back down within the depths of the sea. It seems as if we've reached the Burning Chasm. The brightly colored fish primarily being warm colorations of deep oranges and red tints, with large fins and hooked teeth were native to the Burning Chasm, one of the main landmarks that told that they were on the very outskirts of the Fire nation's surrounding ocean. Of course, they still had quite a few miles to go as it seemed like Illida the sea serpent had been close to the Fire nation's lands when they had discovered it which was lucky on its own. Her gaze skimmed over the brightly glittering fish and to the horizon where she could just barely spot a glow on the horizon that was certainly not sunlight. She could make out blazing flames, the cloudy skies above seeming dark and ominous. That was indeed one part of the Fire nation's landscape, but not their destination. She could only guess that was where one of the battles were being waged currently and perhaps would be where the rebels were going when they eventually reached land.

A little bit longer, and the school of brightly colored fish seemed to have vanished, leaving a balmy heat residing in the air like a thick cloud. This also wasn't unexpected, the temperature would proceed to get warmer the closer they neared the Fire nation's lands, and it was at this point that Bi-nasu had begun rowing again, turning the fishing boat westward, her expression becoming tense. Any further conversation that could have been started seemed not be an option as the closer they got to the Fire nation's lands, the higher the risk of them being discovered by Osamu's forces, and Bi-nasu although having enough of an idea of how much land Osamu controlled did not know for certain if he was indeed in control of the area of the Forgotten Sands. As the small fishing boat coasted along and the blues of the skies above began to grow darker, a mixture of the setting sun and dark clouds beginning to roll in from the skies surrounding the continent of the Fire nation, it was only then that their destination loomed closer and closer, eventually landing on a sandy shore, however as the boat had come to a halt upon the shoreline it was evident of how warm it had become. The very sand beneath the boat seemed to still be radiating off warmth, and further in there seemed to be dark rocks on the empty shoreline that were glowing a soft amber. They had finally arrived in the land of Fire.

Bi-nasu secured the boat, getting out from the side and let her feet touch the ground, looking upward to the darkening skies above. Staying out in the open for too long would be a risk that she was not willing enough to take, and so the oni had grasped hold of Byakuren's body with care and hoisted it up within her arms, although nearly buckling under the dead weight, the fortune teller had quickly regained her balance as a sharp breath left her, turning her gaze to Ayumi as she now had dared to speak, although keeping her voice low, "We're in enemy territory now, we have to not drag attention to ourselves. Hopefully we can continue to cover more ground and find somewhere secure where we can rest, but until then stay close."
 

Keylyn May

Simply Invisible
Ayumi's attention was brought further out to the sea as she heard distant splashing, her eyes falling upon the beautiful fish that were jumping in and out of the waters. Her amber gaze followed their bright hues, and she could only assume this meant that they were growing closer to their destination of the Fire Nation. She recalled at the ball so long ago that each nation practically lived up to their names. She then recalled the Water Nation where they had taken refuge. Perhaps these bright fish, and maybe other creatures, possessed these bright colors to mimic the flames of fire. Whatever the reason, she enjoyed their sight, yet felt anxiety churn in her stomach at the notion that they would be arriving soon.

All conversation stop and Ayumi understood why. She watched as the sky turned from it's bright blue to darker hues, signally war and possible chaos upon the shores they were attempting to arrive upon. She remained silent as Bi-nasu rowed them closer to the shore, practically holding her breath as the sands came into view. She could already feel the heat that came with this nation. As the boat came to the sands, she watched Bi-nasu step out before following. She could feel the heat radiating from the ground, shifting lightly in order to get her feet accustomed to the new feeling. It felt odd, and she wasn't sure if she actually found it appealing or pleasurable.

Ayumi wanted to help Bi-nasu with Byakuren but knew that she would be unable to offer enough much. Oni were stronger than humans, and even if she tried to help, Ayumi knew she wouldn't be able to hold up much of Byakuren's weight. As Bi-nasu warned her that they were in enemy territory and needed to stay out of sight, Ayumi nodded. "I won't stray far from you," she said softly, keeping next to Bi-nasu's side. Truly, what alternate choices did she possess? She had no strength here, no options to fight, and no ability to hold up against any yokia, oni, or horrid creatures of Osamu. Once again, she was reminded of how weak she truly was.
 

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
Bi-nasu nodded with satisfaction, casting one more glance upward to the darkened skies and then started walking at a swift pace, or at least as fast as she could without dropping Byakuren's body. Only the soft sound of her feet sinking into the heated sands had greet her ears as she carefully began to walk up the slope upon the shore, only upon reaching the top did she see the sheer expanse of sand before them. It stretched out like a massive sea, with dunes rising high in the distance, and if one could squint and look past the desert to peer beyond, one could spot a volcano in the distance, molten lava spewing forth from the lip. In fact, in the distance there seemed to be far more than one volcano, each one casting their own warm glow like a small sun and in the midst of those volcanoes there was smoke rising high, clearly some battles being waged quite literally in the flames of war. By no means was she even going to so much as approach such an area, that was not their focus but seeing the sight made the more temperate heat of the sands they were walking on just slightly warmer to her mind.

Her steps remained at a relatively fast pace as she had begun to trek through the desert, now focused on going as west as possible. With the open space, she certainly didn't feel comfortable traversing such dangerous territory and certainly wanted to avoid any attention. However, as time wore on and minutes lapsed by into hours, Bi-nasu's pace had slowed and Byakuren's body was slowly beginning to grow heavier than before. A thin sheen of sweat had appeared on the oni's skin as her expression, although still determined was beginning to show some exhaustion. The further they traveled, the sea of warm sand just seemed to not end, with clearly vegetation at all to be able to be seen. It was a dry wasteland, clearly living up to its name of the Forgotten Sands. Clearly, it would be ignored by any civilization since there was no resources there whatsoever, it almost made her doubt that there would be anyone even so much as living in the harsh desert: but that was when her sensitive ears picked up a sound.

The fortune teller had froze, looking around wildly as she tried finding a hiding place, but since they were on open sands it seemed like there was nothing that they could hide behind. Discovery was only a matter of time at this point. Gritting her teeth, Bi-nasu had stepped closer to Ayumi, standing before her although apprehension filled her from head to toe. She hadn't done much fighting herself, although she was certainly capable of it if she had to defend herself, but having to hold onto Byakuren's body and keep it from harm as well as Ayumi was asking a lot. More sweat trickled down her brow as shapes soon came into view, the creatures they were riding on appearing strange to her eyes. They looked almost reptilian in nature, with hooves instead of clawed feet, their scales dark in coloration and eyes a brilliant gold, upon their backs were clearly not Osamu's forces for they didn't look warped and twisted, but instead appeared to be oni themselves, although instead of their horns protruding from their foreheads, they instead seemed to protrude from the side of their heads where their ears normally would be. The one in the very forefront of the group seemed to be leading them, dressed in thin cloth attire, revealing most of the skin of which was speckled with hardened blackened scales. It didn't take long for the group of strangers to reach them, although they immediately took to circling them, their leader being the only one to break the circling and reach for his weapon, a spear from the looks of it and had pointed it directly at Bi-nasu and Ayumi, aiming the spear to pierce Bi-nasu's chest with clear intentions to strike.

The stranger's lips curled back, revealing all of his sharpened teeth, his crimson eyes passing between the two, "Well, what do we have here? Trespassers?" He cocked his head to the side as he leaned forward on his reptilian steed, peering at Ayumi with interest glowing in his gaze before settling on Byakuren's body wrapped up firmly in blankets, his nose twitching before wrinkling and turning to look to Bi-nasu, "An outsider, a human and a.. corpse? Did your foolish commander send you out here to run a fool's errand? Or perhaps, did he send you here to die?" The strange oni had flipped his spear deftly in his hands, the spearpoint snagging on the very edge of the blanket being used to conceal Byakuren's body causing Bi-nasu to immediately jerk back, her eyes narrowing as a hiss flew from her lips, "Do not touch him!"

The spear had dislodged causing Bi-nasu to nearly breathe a sigh of relief, her muscles tensing up as she saw the spark of suspicion flare to life in the stranger's eyes. That action alone was not good, and now this led the fortune teller to assume she was dealing with the exiled oni from the Fire nation. These certainly was not Osamu's troops, and they appeared to confidently know how to traverse the desert, but now she just needed them to lower their guard enough to allow them save passage, or if by chance lead them to the alter directly. But, with the tense atmosphere, they seemed far more ready to attack than to welcome them in. So, Bi-nasu had spoken up, her tone tense and close to nervous, "Please, we mean no harm. We simply want safe passage to the fire alter." There was a ripple of murmurs that responded in turn to her words and the male before them had looked at her as if she had grown a second head... only to burst out laughing.

"The alter? Do you honestly think that I would permit you to travel to a sacred site with a corpse?!" The oni's crimson eyes narrowed as his laughter had stopped, a scowl laying claim to his features, "How utterly ridiculous. If you are to lie, at least come up with something far more convincing. You mean to join your allies and that glutton that you call a general - I will not allow it." Bi-nasu bared her teeth, a growl rumbling in her throat as the oni drew closer on his scaly mount, peering at Ayumi, "...Though, I might consider it if you hand over the human." Outrage sparked in her heart as Bi-nasu firmly placed herself in between Ayumi and the oni, hissing, "Absolutely not! And I am not lying, if you must test me then take me to the alter and place me before your guardian!"

This seemed to cause the oni before them to grow serious, his eyes narrowing and pupils tightening into slits, "...You know of Hikano?" The fortune teller could feel the air beginning to shift from tense to bewilderment that had settled on the strangers currently surrounding them. Although, Bi-nasu didn't know much of this Hikano they seemed to be speaking of, she wasn't going to allow this opportunity to slip. So, the fortune teller nodded her head firmly, glaring back at the oni before them who had clicked his tongue in distaste and withdrawing his spear, "If you are lying, I will personally see to it that you are slaughtered, outsider." Bi-nasu allowed her muscles to relax, although she responded back in a barbed tone, "You wouldn't need to slaughter me, surely your guardian would see to that, right?"

This answer seemed to cause a slight smile to appear on the stranger's face, "We shall see." He raised his hand and immediately the other riders had stopped circling, "We shall guide you to the alter, though you," He pointed to Ayumi, curiosity sparking in his eyes, "Come here." The tone was demanding and sharp, obviously he wasn't about to take no for an answer, though it seemed like Bi-nasu was ready to protest if he did anything off, though now she was looking to Ayumi clearly with an expression akin to caution. She wasn't sure about this situation whatsoever.
 

Keylyn May

Simply Invisible
Ayumi trudges along slightly behind Bi-nasu, her gaze drifting over the never-ending sands. She could feel the heat beginning to weigh on her, yet she refused to say anything on the matter. Bi-nasu was working far harder than she was, trudging on in this heat with Byakuren's body upon her shoulders. Ayumi could see the female beginning to tire, a sheen of sweat beginning to be visible on the oni. Her worries of Bi-nasu shifted, however, when she noticed the female tense and saw figures beginning to come towards them. Ayumi's blood, despite the heat, began to run cold as ice as the prospect that they had been found.

She watched as the figures grew closer, noticing that they did not seem to belong to Osamu which allowed feeling some relief on the matter. However, they still did not look welcoming as they began to circle her and Bi-nasu. Ayumi's amber eyes watched them form around until the spear was pointed directly at Bi-nasu's chest. Ayumi bit her tongue to keep from speaking out, knowing that her words have gotten them into plenty of sticky situations before. But as the spear began to touch the side of Byakuren's blanket, she had to curl her hands into tight fists to ensure she did not speak out. The idea of these oni laying a hand on Byakuren's body mad fear and anger begin to swirl in her chest. Yet she watched as Bi-nasu seemed to handle the situation.

Ayumi watched the exchange silently, standing as closely behind Bi-nasu as she could. Her hands were up near her chest, almost attempting to make herself seem small and out of the way while the apparent leader and Bi-nasu seemed to settle on some terms to get to the alter. Yet, as the leader locked his gaze upon her, telling her to come closer, Ayumi gave a slightly panicked look towards Bi-nasu. She could see the gaze of caution coming from her companion.

Ayumi lifted her chin slightly as she moved to approach the leader, trying to keep her movement from being too stiff from the caution and slight fear that she felt. She gingerly approached his strange steed before her amber gaze lifted to the oni that sat slightly above her due to his steed, trying to calm her raising heartbeat. "Yes?" she asked softly, her voice shaking slightly.
 

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
The oni leaned forward upon his mount, his eyes narrowing as he looked closely at Ayumi. He didn't speak a single word for a few tense moments, just simply staring into her eyes as the curiosity had faded and turned to... disappointment? "You are not she who I seek." He mumbled those words, his tone dripping with his unmasked disappointment as he straightened up upon the reptilian mount, his arm outstretched now to Ayumi, "Come, it is time we go. If we linger too long here, we risk being discovered." His eyes passed over briefly to Bi-nasu, though settling upon Byakuren's body and wrinkled his nose up at the corpse, "..And the scent of death is enough to attract them. Why do you not discard of the body? It'll do you more harm than good."

Bi-nasu stubbornly shook her head, glaring back at the male, "Absolutely not. We need to bring this body to the alter, it is of great importance." The male scoffed, eyes narrowing in disbelief, "Great importance you say? I find that hard to believe." Regardless, he had sheathed the spear upon his back again and grasped hold of Ayumi's arm, though being as gentle as possible as he hauled her up behind him on the steed. It seemed despite his rather confusing display of disappointment, and his aggressive manner earlier he was aware that she was merely mortal and wasn't treating her particularly harshly, though his tone still remained guarded, "Make sure you hold on to me, you do not need to fall and I don't intend on catching you if you do. Understand?" The look he was currently giving her was clearly one that said it wasn't negotiable on the matter.

He turned his head and focused on Bi-nasu, then nodded to one of the other riders which had nudged his steed forward to Bi-nasu as the leader spoke, "Koki, take the body and secure it." The other oni wrinkled his nose as he hissed in protest, "B-but, Fudo-" The leader's crimson gaze narrowed as he growled, causing the other rider to hiss in frustration and climb off his mount, approaching Bi-nasu in which the fortune teller had reluctantly relinquished her hold on Byakuren reluctantly, watching with caution as the other oni had placed the body on the back of his mount, reaching into the saddle bags and taking up some rope, tying the body down to the back of the saddle and promptly climbed on top, nudging his mount forward as he grumbled a multitude of complaints, all of which were complaining on the fact that he had to be the one carrying Byakuren's body around.

Another rider had moved forward and wordlessly helped Bi-nasu up on their mount, which as soon as the oni named Fudo had taken note that Bi-nasu was safely secure, he had turned his steed and forced the beast forward and without warning had set the mount to a gallop, the reptiles odd hooves kicking up sand as the other riders had followed, speeding over the sea of sand. However, as hours wore on, it almost appeared as if they were getting nowhere fast. In fact, the desert itself was endless in scape, no sign of civilization in sight which prompted Bi-nasu to call out to Fudo, "Are you sure you're leading us to the alter?" The oni had cast a scathing look over his shoulder toward Bi-nasu, "Be silent, I had promised safe passage, did I not?" The fortune teller rolled her eyes at the other oni which caused Fudo to turn his head, clicking his tongue in distaste at the action, though after what seemed like another hour had passed, they had stopped in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere.

The oni then had slipped out of his saddle, taking his spear and began walking forward causing Bi-nasu much bewilderment... just what in the world was he doing? The oni grasped hold of his spear, raising his arm over the sands before using the very edge of the spear to cut open a bleeding gash, the crimson of his blood dripping upon the sands below only for the very desert to begin to shake. Before them, the air bent and twist, slowly materializing into an impressive structure, one that seemed to be made of gold. It reached high into the very skies, broken statues of what had once seemed to be an oni littered the structures grounds, while others seemed to have been nearly swallowed by the sands. Flames in golden braziers roared to life, one by one appearing as red as the blood that Fudo had spilled, and where the oni was currently standing it seemed to be golden pavement leading into the impressive structure of gold as he turned to face the group, placing his spear upon his back while he clasped his now free hand over his bleeding arm, no pain registering on his features as he narrowed his eyes at them, though mostly Bi-nasu in an almost smug expression; as if silently gloating. This didn't seem to impress the fortune teller much as she had slid out of her saddle, approaching where Ayumi was and ignoring a rather miffed Fudo, "Here, let me help you."

The female oni of course had every intention of grabbing hold of Byakuren's body, but only once she was certain Ayumi was secure. She hadn't spoken anything of the ride there, but in her opinion they rode like madmen. I'm lucky I'm not a century older, otherwise I would've surely fallen off. The thought was filled with irritation toward them, but at the very least they had brought them to their destination... relatively unscathed that is.
 

Keylyn May

Simply Invisible
Ayumi couldn't help but feel a little curious at the fact that this oni seemed to be seeking out a human. The questions of why and who she was entered her mind, but she knew better than to pry. Her attention turned to Byakuren's body and another rider who was charged with carrying his body. She held her breath as Byakuren was tied to the reptile, looking more like luggage than her beloved. She hated the sight of him being handled this way, but perhaps it was their only option at the moment. She felt the leader, Fudo, grasp hold of her arm and lift her up onto the reptile. A small squeak of surprise came from her lips at the motion though she was quick to note that he was being careful with her.

At his warning to hold tight, Ayumi reluctantly did so. While she didn't want to be clinging to this strange oni, she also didn't want to be thrown. She took hold right before she felt her body shift at the motion of the reptile taking off in a gallop. She watched as the scenery seemed to melt past in a rapid motion, her body bounced along, feeling much like a doll on the back of this creature. She would be lying if she said she didn't feel relief at the fact that they finally stopped. She sat completely still as Fudo left his reptile, watching in bewilderment at Fudo as he cut himself with his spear. She had half a mind to open her mouth and question him when the air around them seemed to drastically change. Ayumi's eyes traveled along the structure of gold that seemed to appear before them, disbelief evident in the expression she possessed.

Ayumi's attention was brought back as she heard Bi-nasu's voice, hearing her offer assistance in getting down. "Thank you," she said as she gladly took Bi-nasu's help in getting back onto the sand. When she was finally down, Ayumi took a moment to regain her balance, finding the ride was not all that pleasant. Once her footing has returned, however, she looked between Bi-nasu and the golden structure before them. "Well, what now?" she asked, glancing around to find Byakuren's body once more.
 

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
As soon as Bi-nasu was satisfied with having Ayumi safely on the desert sands, the fortune teller had approached Koki's mount and promptly took possession of Byakuren's body once more, handling it with far more care than the rider had given him as she said, "What else? We go in." Shifting Byakuren over her shoulder, the fortune teller looked toward the gleaming golden structure, "Though, I suppose we're to run into a guardian as soon as we step inside? Hikano if I'm correct?" She looked to Fudo who had approached the two, though only to reach into his saddle bags as the oni had taken out bandages to tend to his wounded arm, he grunted, "Hikano devours all who are unworthy. You will not leave alive." Confidence in this fact rang in his voice as he climbed atop his mount, causing Bi-nasu to yet again ignore the male as she stepped forward with no fear in her steps, beginning to walk down the golden pathway leading into the massive structure, though as she began to look upon the gold gleaming within the light and the statues, she had begun to wonder just what was this Hikano the exiles were speaking of?

She stopped just before the entrance to the structure, an icy chill flowing out from the structure itself causing her skin to crawl. Although it was reprieve from the heat of the desert, the iciness was something that seemed to be akin to the cold touch of death, and her sensitive nose could pick up the smell of the deceased. It seems like their warnings are not mere empty threats. The oni's green gaze shifted upward, eyeing some faded inscription overhead, although barely being able to decipher the letters, clearing having been lost to time. A grim expression crossed her face, though she looked over toward Ayumi and offered a small smile before she then turned away and walked forward into the darkness before her. The interior of the golden structure was extremely cold, and only the echo of their footsteps would be able to be heard within the darkness, though Bi-nasu kept her pace slow as to keep near to Ayumi. There would be no telling what awaited them in the darkness, and she didn't want to risk being separated.

As she carefully stepped forward through the darkness, she heard a distinct click echo in the chamber and torches that had been unlit suddenly flared to life before her eyes, causing Bi-nasu to nearly jump back at the sight before her. The room seemed akin to a tomb, with skeletons of the deceased littering the golden floors, with what seemed to be centuries of dried blood caked onto the once brilliant walls. The chill in the tomb hadn't lessened, instead increasing as at the other end of the tomb, there was a large doorway in which the glow of eyes could be seen for a moment as the sound of scales grating against the hard flooring filled the chamber making Bi-nasu step back as her eyes widened at the creature that was slithering before them.

From the waist down, it was that of a snake with pitch-black scales reflecting the fire light being cast by the torches. Though the torso upward was that of a woman, although her skin was lined with patches of scales akin to the exiles that were lingering outside the structure, her hair littered with the bones of the dead. From the sheer bulk of the creature as it slithered out into the main chamber, it was towering over the both of them, filling the chamber with the smell of death, her snake body uncurling and coiling about the chamber, slamming immediately behind Bi-nasu and Ayumi, cutting off any escape route that they may have taken. Hikano leaned forward, her wide eyes looking upon the two small beings beneath her as she had rasped, "Intruders? I've not had intruders in many years." The snake woman's head had leaned closer as Bi-nasu struggled to keep her fear under control as she firmly remained where she was, "And what's this? A lost one? I've not seen your kind for far too long... and a human as well?" A slow smile crawled over the guardian's lips, "My, I wasn't expecting such interesting company. Though, it is a shame, neither of you hold the light that I am looking for."

Her eyes which were a deep gold were slowly becoming tinged with red, the snake woman's teeth baring, "Death is your only reward-" Before she could finish her sentence, Bi-nasu had interjected immediately, "Wait! We are not the ones seeking the blessing of power!" This had caused the snake woman's face to twist in confusion, the red that had been previously coming to her eyes had disappeared as her eyebrows had furrowed, a frown crossing her lips as Bi-nasu had shifted Byakuren's body from her shoulder, attempting to hold the covered body upright, "This oni, fallen in battle is the one whom is seeking the powers of the Demon King." A moment of silence had passed as disbelief crossed the guardian's face yet again, staring at Bi-nasu then looking to the body and back again, only for the guardian to shake her head in her confusion, "Such an odd claim. The dead cannot speak, now can they?"

"But it is true, Hikano. Before he had fallen, he had intentions of coming here. I had foreseen his rise to power long ago, and I do not doubt such visions."
"A bold claim, but as I said.. the dead cannot speak. Even if you claim that this one is chosen for a greater destiny, he is already lost to us."
"If you doubt my claim then look at him!"

Bi-nasu's last sentence came out desperate, her eyes narrowing at Hikano in frustration causing the guardian's expression to tense, though she had moved a hand to rest upon the bone littered ground, her large hand expecting Bi-nasu to hand Byakuren's body over. The fortune teller hesitated, glancing back to Ayumi for a second only to place Byakuren's body within Hikano's hand, the serpent woman's other clawed hand snagging on the blanket and ripping it away, revealing Byakuren's body for the first time in quite a few hours. By now, the oni's pale skin already had taken on an almost gray tint, though his face seemed as if he were merely sleeping. Hikano's eyes narrowed as she raised her hand to lift Byakuren's body closer to her own face, almost as if puzzled before she muttered under her breath, "..Impossible. But the dead.."

Hikano's eyes shifted over her shoulder to the chamber that would behind her, a hiss of irritation leaving her, "..This is your doing, I should have known you would make the chosen arrive in such a state." An odd sentence as there was no one there, but the guardian had turned her head back to Bi-nasu and Ayumi, "You two, follow." The snake woman's tail had moved, shifting off from the entrance behind them as the guardian had slithered back to where she had come, disappearing into the chamber beyond leaving Bi-nasu trembling from head to toe. She wasn't expecting that to go so well, but at the same time her nerves were clearly not allowing her to take another step. The fortune teller closed her eyes and took in a deep breath, stepping forward, with every step she was walking closer and closer to the end of her role, she shouldn't fear it now, not when they were so close. Of course, in the middle of her walking, she had looked over her shoulder to Ayumi and offered a wavering smile, attempting to reassure her as well as herself. There was no telling what would await them the deeper they went in, and no telling what would happen with Byakuren's body.
 

Keylyn May

Simply Invisible
Ayumi drew a breath as Bi-nasu spoke of going forward, attempting to steel her nerves. She wasn't the most thrilled to be going towards the suddened opening, yet she knew she couldn't turn back now. They were seemingly so close in getting Byakuren back with them, if that was indeed what would be working now that they were here. While she tried not to let her hopes run free, Ayumi just couldn't help the growing flame in her chest.

However, stepping towards the structure soon diminished that hope a bit due to the shift in the air. Fear coursed through her as she followed Bi-nasu, praying the oni did indeed know what she was doing. This prayer became even more fervent as they entered what appeared to be a tomb. Ayumi felt her stomach churn and resisted the urge to vomit at the sight before them. If her nerves were being wrecked then, they were nearly severed when the half woman, half serpent creature came into view. Its large form caused her heart to nearly stop, and she forced a hand over her mouth to keep sound at bay as it blocked the exits. She stayed directly behind Bi-nasu now, though she could tell her friend was also not prepared for this sight.

However, just as it seemed they were indeed going to die, Bi-nasu seemed to work Hikano down from actually taking their lives. Ayumi's legs felt wobbly from the experience and she wasn't sure whether she could get herself to move again. It was the knowledge, however, that the serpent now had Byakuren that helped to regain control over her legs. She watched as Bi-nasu went forward, slowly beginning to follow. "I do hope you know what you are doing," she murmured softly, her voice and body both shaking.

{{ sorry this is bad... at work... }}
 

LONELYRAIN

teller of tall tales
(It's okay!)

Bi-nasu's expression had wavered at Ayumi's shaking, her fear as clear as day to her which the oni had grimaced, "I hope so as well." She wasn't sure what would await them, but there was no other path but forward. Taking the lead, the oni had forced herself to steel her nerves as she approached the open chamber at the other end of the hall, dim torchlight in the chilled chamber causing her to squint as she peered around the massive serpent creature to what appeared to be a large, circular mirror. Not just any mirror, for it didn't reflect the chamber at all, what appeared to be glass was instead a hardened surface, a deep crimson in color - the color of blood. Before the crimson mirror was what appeared to be a golden flat surface, polished and obviously having been cared for by the serpent creature as she had lowered Byakuren's body before the mirror itself, tearing away what remained of the blankets still wrapped securely about his body as the serpent creature had slithered around the perimeter of the chamber and loomed from behind the crimson mirror, her hands grasping the edges of the odd mirror and gently pulling it back to face her, though as she did so, the mirror's surface had rippled and a soft hum had echoed about the chamber in response.

The serpent's eyes closed as she rasped, "The mirror responds. It seems that your claim is indeed correct." The serpent's hand touched the mirror's surface, the crimson mirror humming at the touch of the guardian's fingertips as it seemed like whatever substance was making up the mirror had latched onto the guardian's fingertips, coiling about the serpent's fingers before withdrawing deep into the crimson surface. It was then that Hikano had withdrew her hand, reaching behind her and grasping one of the torches behind her on the wall, then touching the flame to the mirror in which the flames immediately had begun to consume the mirror's surface, the flames being swift to climb high with a brilliant light as a sweet smell filled the air, the humming coming off from the mirror itself become louder as Hikano had now looked to Bi-nasu and Ayumi.

"Two of you had come, but only two shall leave this tomb. The mirror demands life for rebirth, one of you must sacrifice yourself to the flame," Hikano's eyes landed on Bi-nasu, a cold smile crossing the serpent's face, "But, lost one, I assume you were already prepared for death? I see it in your eyes." Bi-nasu whom had remained silent, with her gaze looking upon the fires flowing forth from the mirror had smiled. A somber smile, though she had by now forced herself to stop trembling and lifted her head to look directly at Hikano, "Well, I had foreseen this long ago. My end was only a matter of time, and I gratefully accept it. After all, my kind has long since been buried beneath the sands of time - I must join them eventually." The fortune teller now had taken a step forward had hesitated, though looking back toward Ayumi and giving her a bright grin, though an apology was in her eyes, "Though, I apologize for holding this one piece of fortune back. But, from here onwards, the fate of the future I hand over to both you and Byakuren."

Turning her head away, the oni continued to step closer, walking past where Byakuren's body lay and stopping before the mirror with its flames climbing high. The heat was enough to chase off the icy chill in the chamber, the fortune teller gazing deep into the flames as she closed her eyes. How odd... even now in this moment, her mind was drifting back to the small group she had grown attached to and watched grow over the three years. They were all like children to her of course, but they were precious souls that she held dear. Even as she watched them from afar, watched them grow stronger, she always felt a sense of pride in them. But, her final thought went to Hanao, remembering when the little yokai had been brought by Byakuren and Ayumi in the Ice Nation, recalling his stubbornness and his eagerness to please. How much of a fuss he used to cause with Miho, and how happy he would be when Bi-nasu brought back herbs for him. Of course, he had grown into a fine yokai now, a healer that she was certain would thrive without her... but of course, she then recalled the promise, how he expected her to be careful, recounting the vulnerability in his eyes on the beach. She knew this was cruel especially as he had just lost Miho whom he cherished as a dear mentor, and she knew how attached he had gotten to her, treating Bi-nasu as if she was his own mother.

She could feel her eyes begin to sting as a pain touched her heart, her eyes opening once more to gaze at the flames before her. A tear rolled down her cheek, but she could not waver, not now. So, despite the pain she had looked behind her one last time to Ayumi, a sad smile crossing her face as she said softly, "Please, tell Hanao that I'm sorry." She would never be able to speak those words directly to him, and the pain in her eyes was evident of that, but she would not be selfish. As soon as those words left her lips, the oni had turned back toward the flames and then without another moment's hesitation, she leaped into them.

The flames were quick to coil around her body, her form vanishing within the blazing fires as the mirror consumed her, blazing higher in the chamber as the humming of the mirror grew piercing before the flames had slowly began to lower until it only showed the mirror's surface once more, the crimson now was a bright red, the sweet scent coming off from the mirror almost sickening as the serpent woman gazed down upon the mirror with a blank expression on her face. The bright glow of the mirror filled the chamber and Hikano soon nodded her head in satisfaction, "The mirror has accepted the sacrifice."
 

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