The Children of Izanami: Divine Intervention

Lotus petals floated delicately across the still pond water, a large black koi pressing its mouth to the surface to nibble on leftover crumbs from earlier. Sometimes, Mother would allow us to feed the fish after dinner, if we had behaved of course. She would give us a dinner roll each, and Kichirou would dangle his legs over the edge of the pool, his toes brushing the water ever so slightly, with bread on them to tease the fish into coming up. Mother and Father would sit near the kitchen, talking about the day while they watched us. They always assume we don’t notice them, but we do. Sometimes they come join us before bed, and Mother entertains us by having the koi dance in the water. I hope to learn how to do that, someday. Maybe she will teach me if I ask.

Mother hasn’t made the fish dance lately, though. She talks with Father in a low voice about someone named Kogi-sama. I’ve never met this person before, but from what Kichi said, Kogi-sama was one of Mother’s most cherished friends. He said she called him her ‘sword’ – I guessed he was similar to Hasebe or Mitsutada. I’ve never met him before, but he seemed important to Mother. One day, I came upon her nearly in tears, but she brushed them away quickly and put a smile on for me, as if I wasn’t to think anything of it. But I told Kichi that night, and he agreed with me that we needed to do something for Mother.

Last night we were finally able to act. Kichi and I went to the shrine of Izanami that Mother and Father erected after we were born. Together, we prayed that she and Inari would send Mother a sign that Kogi-sama was alright. Perhaps that would cheer her up. As we snuck back into our room, I saw the whisper of a tail disappear around the corner of the hall. Making sure Kichi was already in bed, I slid out once more and pulled my robe on to follow it.

It led me across the courtyard, past the touken danshi quarters, and into the garden. Mother and Father had been married there, I remember it like it was yesterday. Mother looked radiant, and I think Father agreed as well. But I saw something sitting in the spot where they had been, under the willow tree. A little white fox had its head tilted at me, as if I was the strange one in the garden. It let me approach it, and I was nearly able to pet it before it took off, though not as fast as before. I think it wanted me to follow, so I did.

I’m unsure how I was so lucky not to run into any guards, or that Kichirou hadn’t decided to chase after me. He was never as sneaky as I was, and he made so much noise just breathing. I hated playing hide and seek with him. But I followed the fox through the whole citadel it felt, until we ended up outside our parent’s room. It walked right in, and I had to hold my breath to slid inside – the door was still creaky, since it hadn’t been fixed yet. I looked around the room and saw the little fox had jumped onto the bed, and as I got closer, it sat squarely on Mother’s chest. I dared not shoo it away, but it felt like I didn’t need to. It stretched out slightly, and lay its head down on its paws, over Mother’s heart. I stayed for a few minutes, and we watched each other until I felt it was okay to go. I’m not sure I had to feel that way before I could leave, but I did. I went back to bed, and forgot all about it until the next morning.

Mother made us all breakfast while Father instructed the swords on the day’s work ahead. She served us and then went to speak with the rest of them outside. Of course, Kichi and I wanted to listen as well, so we grabbed our toast and snuck to the back door.

“It was like he was right there, Kuro. I felt like Inari had hugged me tight, like it was Kogi’s way of saying hello.” I watched Mother hug herself, and Father had a smile on his face. They both looked relieved, and Mother definitely looked happier. “I have no idea what blessing has been wrought on me, but I shall pray today in thanks for the sign. I will not worry anymore.” Mother kissed Father on the cheek and thanked him for being so patient with her. I had always admired their bond – it was so special, even among other families. I never saw daimyo’s or samurai treat their family that way in front of others. We saw Mother coming back with Father, and Kichi nearly fell over as we ran back to the kitchen to keep eating. She scolded us gently for letting our eggs get cold but we didn’t mind. It was good to hear the happiness in her voice again.

Izanami, you have my thanks once more.


Kichirou and Kuro belongs to Kuro Nuko
Nori and Akane belongs to me.
Some Touken Ranbu fanfic ~

God is a woman, and She is mortal.

She watched the clock with practiced eyes, time ticking by far too slowly for her liking. Her eyes wandered between the wall where the clock hung, and the prone body before her, stretched out on the hospital bed like a porcelain doll. It was one minute to 3:00 AM, which means there should be …

“Mmmmph … oh, hey. You been here long?”

The young man blinked himself awake, his usually-charming voice groggy from sleep. He carefully sat himself up, rubbing his eyes vigorously before looking around. She shook her head.

“Not at all, I just arrived. How are you feeling?”

He sat up, stretching his arms above his head before scratching his ribs. “Never felt better. It feels like I’ve been asleep forever, aha.” He swung his legs over the edge of the bed, the hospital gown hanging loosely over his fragile frame. His cheeks went slightly pink, suddenly embarrassed. “I just need to …”

She waved away his sentence, the usual smile on her face. “Go ahead, I’ll be here.”

He tottered off to the bathroom, and she turned her attention back to the clock – it passed through exactly fifteen minutes before the young man shuffled back, plunking himself on the edge of the bed. His sleepy pep from before had disappeared entirely, and by the dead look on his face, he had remembered who she really was.

“It’s still inside. I can feel it, crouched just beneath my rib cage and throat. It feels like I’ve had about thirty cigars. Are we any closer?”

She nodded slightly, before leaning forward, her hands clasped tightly. “Progress every day. Tests should be started in about a month. What do you remember?”

The young man nodded sullenly, before pressing his head into his hands. “Dark tunnels, darker than the ones we used to hike through. Someone is singing off key, while someone else is screaming. There was an altar, but I couldn’t see who was standing before it – their back was to me. Black eyes, blood oozing from them, oh heavens … why is this happening to me …”

She half glanced at the clock – ten minutes. “What else?”

His voice became tense, gravelly. “Hosts, Meira. Hundreds of them, spread throughout the hospitals. Third world countries are easy, they said. No one is prepared there, unarmed. But they want more, of course they do. Someone said they need a conduit, but – oh. Oh no, no I won’t! Heavens help me!”

She moved swiftly to his side as his body shook and curled up, wrapped an arm around his shoulders and pulling him close to her. He trembled with the effort to stay himself, tears running down his face.

“I will not serve your ilk, go to hell! Leave me alone, you bastards, you’ve stolen enough of me!”

His shouting died very suddenly, and he went limp against her shoulder. For a moment she thought he had gone back to sleep, until a deep chuckle came from him: not his own.

It’s very endearing how he thinks he’s in control.

She leaped backwards, his body sitting upright once more. His head was tilted towards his feet, studying them.

You cannot win, Creator. Let him go. He would serve me better than he could ever with your people.

Her face twisted into a vicious snarl. “I will not let him die by your hand, demon. Give him back to me!”

The low voice laughed, akin to nails on a chalkboard, and it made her hair stand on end.

You didn’t want him in the first place, isn’t that how he ended up here? Hmph. How your moods change so quickly, Creator. Perhaps that means you were wrong to banish me?

She gave a savage laugh, pulling a book from the bag at her feet, a pair of wings stamped into the leather. The young man shied away slightly, and looked up at her for the first time. His face was gray, eyes black as tar, and the sneer on his face was most definitely not his own. It filled her with horror and pain, but she knew this wasn’t her angel – it was her demon.

“Return him, or I banish you once more.”

You know if you do that, he goes with me. You wouldn’t retrieve him, not without mortally wounding yourself. But if you wanted to trade, I’ve always wanted to taste immortality from another –

A ruthless glint flashed through her eyes, and she threw the book open, a blinding light filling the room. “Challenge accepted, you son of a bitch.”

Her demon screamed shrilly, and the young man’s body convulsed as the light penetrated his skin, burning the demon inside, until he slumped over the bed. She ran to his side, tossing the book aside, and checked his pulse. It was faint, but it was there. She carefully tucked him back into his bed, her adrenaline still firing, and checked the clock: 3:31 AM. Seething, she settled back into her chair, heavily plotting her next move.

For the last eight years, she had sat on Earth in this hospital room with her angel, whilst he slumbered in the deepest of comas. But instead of being oblivious to the world, he traveled through the depths of hell, where her demon was pulling him further and further away from her. And from what he said a moment ago, it wasn’t just him anymore – it was everyone. Anyone who couldn’t fight back for themselves was a target, and that was no small number.

Her angel was different, though. While others stayed asleep, he awoke once a day, at the same time. Each time he would give her another insight as to what was happening, and each day it was becoming bleaker. She had no idea what to do until today. Today, her key had just become available.

seren : into the woods.

The wildest forests could not fathom the trails she walked. Wherever she stepped, frost and life emerged, and the stags of the woods, those flighty kings, would bow their respect to her. She was, after all, their caretaker. When she danced through the treetops, bow in hand, she would imagine the spirals of ice that could twist and carve themselves a new home, and she wondered if the children would scold her for taking away the animal’s homes, or if she would please them with new wonders.

A frost patch gathered around her ankles as she stood and watched life go by, unblinkingly. Where had time gone, she wondered, when she had once loved and ran between these trunks, her lover following keenly behind? Was it that many years since she had fallen into his trap, led astray, banished from her own home? She had won it back, of course. But his lies had ripped her a new portal, and she still wasn’t sure if she enjoyed the fact that she had access to another world because of pain.

Hartencia was whistling near the lake, and she could make out the tavern tune even from this distance. She disliked putting a lock and key on her heirs, so she allowed them to wander Nifand freely, for the most part. How else would they learn the people they would one day look after? Their wants and needs, their pains and sorrows? To be among them was to be one of them, and it was a crucial insight for any ruler to possess. She felt lucky, in that moment, that she had the ability to be that kind of monarch. Her parents would have spat in her face if she had suggested anything outside of cold disdain towards their subjects, and yet here she was – and here they weren’t.

It was one of the reasons they had come here today.

Amadeus was sitting at the foot of the tree, carving a small deer into a branch he had found. She had called him her blizzard child when he was born, for he had not been planned, but arrived in the dead of the night. The people thought, and were mostly right, that she was a seer and a great sorcerer of sorts. She had never told anyone how Amadeus had come to be, and she planned on keeping it that way for as long as possible. While Hartencia was a product of her life with the demi-god, Amadeus was more a gift from the stars during a night of heartache.

She longed to go back in time and right the moment she had laid eyes on that fool, but what would it gain her? Nothing. She would lose her daughter, the strong woman she was becoming. She showed no signs of being anything like her father, and for that she was eternally thankful. She would, one day, tell them about him, but they were too young now to explain the inner workings of being in love and being in lust. Let them be children.

She slid down the tree, landing near Amadeus, who gave her the sweetest smile. They made their way together, his hand in hers, towards where his sister was fishing.

“Nothing yet, lass?”

Hartencia sighed, sticking the rod into the ground. “No. Are we going now?”

“Almost.”

She pointed towards a rock face on the lake’s eastern side, and her children looked puzzled at her. They were obedient if nothing else, and so they made their way towards the mountain side quietly, observing their surroundings as they had been taught to do.

Upon reaching it, Seren reached out and touched a spot on the rock. Runes were revealed, lighting up like fireflies carved into the wall. She waited but a moment, and it began to slide away, revealing a tunnel with torches, already lit. Her children’s faces held awe and confusion as they headed inside, the door sealing itself silently behind her. It was not a long walk until they reached the main chamber, and she heard Hartencia gasp.

It was a burial chamber, decorated to the teeth. Murals of sprawling mountains and snowfalls, frost giants, past kings and queens, stretches of people, all laid into the chamber walls in an archaic fashion. The murals spanned from the floor to the ceiling, with two massive statues at the back, carved from heavy iron. Their design was her own, sharp frost giants from the old tales, from where her family was said to have descended from. Even now, they looked terrifying but pleasing, in a way only art could. Her children seemed to agree, in their own way.

“Where are we?” Amadeus asked, his hand squeezing hers tightly. Hartencia had already wandered off, but she knew her daughter was listening.

“This is the resting place of your grandparents.”

Hartencia whistled. They walked towards the great tombs, where more runes and murals of hound hunts and great banquets were etched into the sides. Their names sat carved on plaques of marble.

UDONA.
GYLDIR.

“Mama.”

Hartencia had always been smarter than her age, and sometimes it made Seren worry for her. “Why did you bring us here?”

She gave a long pause, watching her children’s faces in the lantern light.

“Because you need to know that these are the people we will not become.” She turned towards the tombs, walking between them. “They were cruel at worst, dismissive at best. Our people did not lack, but neither did they gain. They were never given the chance to rise, and because of this, we grew stale. I grew stale.”

She turned back and kneeled before them, her hands in each of her children’s.

“Learn from us, from me. Be better than they ever were, than I will ever be. Be kind, look after each other, for no tree grows with stunted sunlight.”

She hugged them tight to her, and prayed.

The Best Laid Wishes.

Strawberry blonde braids sailed in the air as a young girl twisted and twirled down the cobblestone road. A woven basket filled with roses was slung over her arm, complimenting the sky-blue dress she wore, ruffling and flaring with every prancing step she took. She whistled a tune few would recognize as she made her way through town, passing out flowers to the elderly and the beggars.

“Bless you child,” an old man said, sitting back from his corn shucking to inhale the rose’s fragrance deeply. “You’ve made my whole day, thank you.”

She loved to see them smile.

One day, a young man stopped her on the street. He was easy to look at, and had a very charming smile.

“Miss, I must confess you have caught my eye, and I declare myself smitten. Would you give me a rose, as a token of your affection?”

She cocked her head. “But sir, I don’t know you. How do you propose affection come about so quickly?”

The young man’s chest puffed up, and he jammed his hands into his pockets with a roguish grin. “You do not recognize the lord of these lands, Miss? I could make all your wishes come true, with just the flick of my wrist. I could make nations bow at your feet, and you can wear sable and silk for as long as you wished to! There would be no finer woman than you.”

The young girl pondered him. “Any wish I have?”

He nodded, looking pleased with himself. “Anything.”

With a slow movement, she took a rose from her basket and kissed the tops of its petals, before handing it to the lord. “Then I give you my affection, sir. I wish for you to keep me happy!”

The young man took the offered rose in a swift motion, triumph written all over his face. “You will not regret pledging yourself to me, my wife!”

The girl only smiled in response, and the lord escorted her to his estate, where they married three days later. True to his word, she lived in the lap of luxury for many long years. She was an excellent investor, rarely gambled her husband’s money, and helped him balance his books behind the scenes. The young girl grew into a much-loved woman, still in her sables and silks, still bringing smiles to those she met.


One afternoon, she sat in the study window reading when she caught sight of her husband. Setting her book down, she watched as he stopped a girl with a basket of bread on her arm. Her husband had a charming smile on his face and was gesturing behind him, towards their home. The girl hesitated, then handed him her entire basket, eyes shining with wishes.

He returned home to a waiting and pleasantly-surprised wife, the young girl in tow. He introduced her as his wife’s new maid. Seeing the girl glazing over in shock, she greeted her warmly and told her that everything would be taken care of, and not to worry. Pleased with his prize, he left the two women alone, heading back out.

The wife hurried the girl upstairs to her rooms and shut them inside, before sharing her own story and explaining who she was. The girl was delighted when she was asked to take part of some due revenge.


A fortnight later, the two women went for a walk in town, arm in arm. As they came upon the tavern, the lord stumbled out. On the arms of her husband were two prostitutes, and all three of them were piss-drunk. The wife stopped before him and smiled, her maid’s arm still in hers, a basket of roses and bread hanging by her side.

“Sweetest husband, you promised you would always make me happy! That was my only wish.”

The lord, old and gray, laughed and shook his head. “I offered you wealth, not love. You are the luxurious dressing in my windows, dear, and so is your maid. There is nothing coin cannot buy.”

His wife nodded sagely and, still smiling, nodded for her maid to step forward, who offered a loaf of bread to the lord. “We understand, sir. Will you at least let us feed you? You all look so famished.”

The lord broke bread with his two prostitutes and, upon swallowing it, they dropped to the ground, eyes rolling into the backs of their heads. The lord screamed as his skin began to turn ashen.

“What have you done, you wretched wrench!?”

The maid smiled as his wife knelt beside him, watching as he writhed in pain. “Were you never taught to make deals with the Devil?”

The old lord watched in horror as his wife and her maid flashed their true forms at him: a pair of succubi. The street was suddenly very empty, and a dreadful feeling washed over the man.

“You were doing so well,” his wife said, long horns stretching towards the night sky as she stroked his cheek with a long, dark finger. “But you broke the heart of my little sister! You promised her the world, and went back on your word in almost the same turn. Shame on you.”

The succubus-maid kissed his forehead, a violent shiver ripping through him. “I was really looking forward to being a lovely wife too,” she pouted, picking up a rose from the basket. She kissed the top of it and pressed it against his trembling lips. The lord gasped in horror, before shriveling into a husk, mummified.

The two succubi returned to their human forms, dusting themselves off and leaving the lord where he was, walking arm in arm back to their estate. He was found the next morning by the baker, and after some terrified scrutiny of his body, it was chalked up to some kind of unknown poison he may have had in the bread chunks that lay around him. A small funeral was held for the lord, but his memory was swiftly lost to the vibrant life of his widow and her maid, beautiful and generous both. The maid would go into town on behalf of her mistress to distribute flowers and assist those in need, using the estate funds, and they never withheld alms when asked.

The lord’s soul, however, was another matter.


The old lord stood before the Devil in Hell, shouting his guilt and pleading mercy whilst the Devil listened, hand on his cheek like an ever-patient mother.

“They tricked me! How was I supposed to know those were your wives!”

“And what difference would that make, hm?” The Devil rolled his eyes. “Perhaps do not be a greedy and just enjoy what you have? You do not get to choose who you are nice to. People deserve kindness regardless, even myself. My wives are taking that well in stride now, thanks to your wealth, and yet it’s them who will be remembered, not you.”

The lord screamed his denial, refusing to be bested by them. The Devil sighed and left him there, his punishment his own self-inflicted pain.

The Devil’s wives spent long years in that town, aging themselves with magic until it was appropriate to fake their deaths and move on. That town erected a small monument to the two women who had brought so much good and wealth to their homes. The lord was long forgotten, a passing detail in the stories of his widow and her maid.

Tales of the Sea Witch & the Autumn King | Part 1

Part 1: A Drop in the Ocean

The hamlet of Snakeshill lay tucked away in a small woodland near the shimmering shores of Lake Ghizlain. Fields, fish, and game sustained the folk who called this home, working hard during daylight hours, and toiling just as hard in the tavern when the evening rose. On one of these nights, Fritza the barmaid stepped outside to give herself a break from the raucous noise inside. Stretching upwards, she yawned widely when a soft glow of light caught her attention behind the tavern.

Fritza heard a low muttering as she crept towards the light, grabbing the spade leaning up against the wall. “Who’s there?”

The light dimmed as the barmaid came upon a woman, long dark hair cascading over the face of a man, prone on the ground. The muttering came from the slender woman, and ceased the moment Fritza saw her. Caught up in the moment, the two women watched the man apprehensively, for what, Fritza didn’t know, when he sat up gasping and choking, ale spewing down his front.

“Wha-what, where… what happened?” The man choked, wiping his face shakily and looking around. He spotted the two women. “Where am I, n’ who are you?”

The dark-haired woman sat back on her heels, relief flooding her face. “You blacked out after drinking, you nearly died because of it, you buffoon,” she admonished, a frown creeping onto her face. “You oughta take better care of yourself.”

“What did you do,” Fritza found herself asking, dumbstruck at what she had just witnessed. She gestured to the man with her spade. “He looked like he’d left this world and you… you brought him back.”

The dark-haired woman rose to her feet, steel blue eyes glancing over the barmaid and the drenched man. “I just helped him survive, that’s all. I’m nothing special, ma’am.”

“But he was dead,” Fritza said again, fear starting to bubble in her chest. “What are you, a witch?” 

The man jumped to his feet, stumbling into the wall of the tavern but anger and panic ebbing into his emotions. “A witch? You’re a witch? What did you… what did you do to me! Witch! What did you do to me!?”

The dark-haired woman backed away from the pair as voices from within the tavern called out, footsteps crossing the wooden floors to see what the commotion was about. “I didn’t do anything, I-I saved your life!” she shouted. She grabbed her skirts and fled as the tavern emptied outside.