Nura: The Shadows Beneath the Sun

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Nura: The Shadows Beneath the Sun

Postby LadyTevar » 2016-07-08 05:30pm

Story Notes: This is based on the manga "Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan". The source material sets Japanese mythological beings in modern Japan, trying to survive alongside humans. The term "Yokai" is a generic name for all Japanese evil spirits, whether ghosts, demons, nature spirits, inanimate objects come to life, or humans so evil they become demonic. Like humans, yokai can marry and have children who are born yokai. It's when a yokai marries a human that things get interesting....


Chapter One: Rikuo Goes On a Holiday
Ukiyoe Town, Tokyo
Ukiyoe High School, After Class


"Welcome to the last Kiyojuji Paranormal Patrol meeting before School Break!" Kiyotsugu Kiyojuji declared, throwing his hands wide. As usual, the Patrol's other members barely looked up at their hyperactive club leader.
As a group, the four girls and two boys seemed no different from any other sixteen year old high school students. Natsumi Torii and Saori Maki were quietly discussing new hairstyles found in a magazine, while the other two girls, Tsurara Oikawa and Kana Ienaga, played cards. Jiro Shima and Rikuo Nura were the only ones to acknowledge Kiyotsugu spoke, glancing his way over the computer screen where they were both checking national football scores, a passion they shared. "Come on, people! I have an important announcement to make!" Kiyotsugu pleaded, running his hands through his short black hair in frustration. "It's been months since the Kiyojuji Paranormal Patrol has found new haunting sites, and we have been getting rusty!"
"What do you expect?" Maki asked, rolling her eyes. She had died blond hair and had been an early bloomer. Now she turned even adult men's heads. "You've dragged us to every haunted site on the Southern Island. There can't be that many left."
"And most of the yokai we find hear Nura's name and grovel at his feet," Torii added with a smile, straightening the bow in her upswept black hair.
Nura, for his part, rubbed the back of his two-toned brown hair sheepishly, "I'm sorry, I didn't know my reputation had spread that far." Silently their youngest member was glad it had. When the Paranormal Patrol had first formed, Nura had been forced to protect his friends more than once from hungry yokai. His elevated status as Third Heir of the Nura Yokai Yakuza Clan now made most yokai think twice about attempting to harm his friends.
"That's why we are going on a trip!" Kiyotsugiu declared expansively. "All the yokai on the Main Islands know who Nura is, so we have to go somewhere that's not heard of him, somewhere there's all kinds of hauntings!" With a dramatic flourish, he turned his computer around, revealing a map. "So ... I give you ... OKINAWA!"
That got everyone's attention. "Okinawa?" they chorused, staring at the screen, which had tiny little stars marking certain sites on the map, with a small legend detailing what each star represented.
"Yes! Okinawa!" Kiyotsugu enthused. "Not only does it have several haunted sites, like Nakagusuku Hotel," he helpfully pointed it out on the map, "But they also have a unique species of yokai called the Kijimunaa!" A click of the mouse, and a drawing of a young boy with bright red hair sitting in a banyan tree appeared.
"Oh! I've never heard of them!" Tsurara exclaimed excitedly, clapping her hands. Her long hair reflected blue-black in the light as she turned around "Mas... Nura! We should go!"
"I don't know," Dark-haired Kana said quietly. She was always the one who got most scared of the places they went. "Aren't a lot of those sites battlefields from the American invasion?"
"I'll go wherever you go, Tsurara," Shima declared, ignoring Kana to catch Tsurara's hand in his ... before his eyes widened and he dropped her hand. "Gah! COLD! COLD COLD!" He danced around, shaking his hand as Tsurara covered her mouth to hide her laughter at the blond-haired boy.
Maki rolled her eyes at his antics, still amazed that Shima had carried his crush on Tsurara even into high school, and Tsurara hadn't crushed him yet. "When will you learn not to do that?"
"When Tsurara stops freezing over the hot springs?" Torii quipped, causing Tsurara to blush. It had taken all of junior high for Tsurara to get up the courage to join the other girls when they stopped at a spa, and she still got edgy when she over-heated. Give her winter's ice and snow anytime.
Nura ignored the teasing exchange, pushing his glasses up as he studied the creature on the screen. "I could ask Karasu-tengu what he knows about them tonight," he mused. "As far as I know, no one from the Nura Clan has ever been to Okinawa."
"Then that's a Great Reason to GO!" Kiyotsugu exclaimed, crossing over to throw one arm over Nura's shoulder, hugging tightly, the other hand outstretched to describe his vision. "We can start with Shuri Castle in Naha, and then go to all the shrines in the Old City. Then, we can head along the expressway towards Okinawa City, hitting every haunted site along the way! It will be Glorious!"
By this time, Maki and Torii had grabbed their cellphones and were looking up the other attractions on the island.
"OOOO! It's got beaches!"
"And an Aquarium!"
"AND MALLS!" they chorused in perfect harmony.
Kana peered around the happy duo and frowned slightly, "A beer factory gives tours?" which made Shima rush over to grab the computer and bring up details.
Nura pushed Kiyotsugu away good-naturedly. "Well, it looks like you've thought this through, how are we going to get there?"
And Kiyotsugu played his trump card, flourishing a number of airplane tickets "We're already booked!" At this point, all the others stopped to stare at their crazed leader, and then dropped their heads helplessly.
"He always does this to us," Maki griped.
"Yeah, you'd think he'd at least wait for us to say 'yes'," Torii added.
"He's never waited in the past, why start now," Kana sighed.
"I'll go with you anywhere, Kiyotsugu!" Shima declared, already dreaming of beer tours and possibly Tsurara in a bikini on the beach.
"Well, I guess we better pack," Nura sighed quietly to Tsurara.
"It's ok, the Clan can survive without you for a while," she answered with a smile. "Besides, didn't you say last night you were getting bored?"
"That was last night," Nura retorted. "Part of me likes the chance to stay home and read."
"Silly Nura," Tsurara laughed, knowing the more adventuresome side of Nura was already plannning how to turn the Okinawan yokai into new allies.
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Re: Nura: The Shadows Beneath the Sun

Postby LadyTevar » 2016-07-08 05:32pm

Shuriyamagawacho, Naha
Okinawa Prefecture


"Wow!" Shima exclaimed, stepping into the hotel room and dropping his bags to run to the window. "You can see the whole city from here! And that must be Shuri Castle up there!"
"That's why I picked the Grand Castle Hotel!" Kiyotsugu stated proudly. "It's the closest to the castle and the parks around it. From here, we can travel to all the Old City sites, without needing to get back on the monorail or hiring a car!"
Nura set his luggage down in the alcove near the door, and joined Shima at the window. The hotel was the tallest building in the area, the rest of the buildings no taller than three stories. The low grey stone wall of the castle wrapped around the top of the mountain to the east of them, lush trees nearly hiding the roofs of the buildings inside. "It looks like a long walk," Nura pointed out. "The girls won't be happy about that."
"Now now, it's not that bad," Kiyotsugu tutted, waving his hand in dismissal. "A little exercise won't harm anyone. Behold!" he produced a pamphlet and handed it to them with a flourish. The title said it was a walking tour of the castle and the area around it, and detailed historical sites, parks, and restaurants for the eager tourist to explore. "I"ve already booked us tickets for the castle, shortly before they stop letting people in for the evening. We'll be able to walk around and explore as much as we want."
"You're not thinking of hiding up there so you can stay after dark, are you?" Nura asked bluntly, crossing his arms, and Kiyotsugu grinned widely in excitement.
"Of Course! You know better than anyone that yokai prefer to show up at night! As long as all the tourists are around, we'll never find any of them!"
Nura gave a deep sigh, shaking his head sadly at how predictable his friend was. In the days before the trip, Nura had researched everything he could about Shuri Castle. The internet had told him all about the kings who had ruled from its heights, and about the massive bombardment from American ships that had leveled it. From his grandfather's advisor Karasu-tengu, Nura had confirmed that the Castle had been built on a leyline, a stream of supernatural power, like many shrines in Japan. Humans and yokai were both naturally drawn to such nodes; humans viewing them as holy sites, while yokai could tap the power to make themselves stronger. Karasu-tengu had been unsure what the destruction and rebuilding would have done to the leyline, but the old tengu had been sure it was not good. Even if the original yokai had survived the bombing and decades of ruin, there was always the possibility other yokai were trying to claim the Castle's power for themselves. Nura did not want his friends caught in yet another yokai war -- the three they'd gone through with him were enough. "Kiyotsugu...."
"Okay, Fine!" Throwing up his hands, Kiyotsugu turned his back on the other two, visibly deflating in disappointment. "We'll leave when the Castle closes for the day. But there's still plenty of shrines along the walk that we can check out on the way back!" He added, trying to get the last word.
"Fair enough," Nura accepted the compromise with a smile.
"Shouldn't we see if the girls are ready?" Shima suggested, glad that Nura had talked Kiyotsugu out of trouble again. Shrines were much safer, in Shima's opinion. The spirits inside were very happy to talk, especially if you brought some incense and said a prayer first. They had seen so much history, it was fascinating to hear their stories.
"Then let's be off!" Kiyotsugu cried, heading for the door with renewed excitement.

***

Shuri Castle
Shuriyamagawacho, Naha


The walk to the Castle had been just as long as expected, along winding roads that snaked up the mountainside, and Maki and Torii had been vocal as always about the hike, although mollified by the fact Kiyotsugu would not be making them stay after dark. Kiyotsugu had kept up a running commentary along the way, giving the Castle's backstory and how it once was the home of Kings before the Meiji Restoration. Now they stood in front of the Shureimon Gate, the largest and most renown of the many rebuilt gates into the castle. "Stay close, everyone! We only have thirty minutes before they close for the night, and we have to see Everything!" Kiyotsugu said, setting a rapid pace up the stairs to the inner plaza. He blazed past several other tourists, including a group of Americans in uniform.
Nura was only half listening, troubled by the feeling he was being watched. He started slightly as Tsurara touched his arm, before noting she too was wary. "You feel it too, then?"
"Yes. We're being watched." Tsurara replied, her icy blue eyes focused on the top of the Gate. Two stone lion-dogs sat protectively atop, ferociously carved visages glaring at passersby. Despite being stone, the statues had a presence all their own. "They're awake, and they know what we are."
Nura frowned slightly, looking up at the statues. "Kiyotsugu said they were called Shisa here. I've never seen any in Tokyo react, or show any signs they're more than statues."
"Tsurara! Nura! Come on," Kana called, waiting for them to catch up. Kiyotsugu and the others had already crested the rise and were out of sight.
"We're coming!" Nura called back, starting through the gates. "I want you to stick near the girls, just in case," he quietly ordered Tsurara, who frowned slightly.
"Do you think that will be necessary?" she asked. She had been his body guard since he was eight, and she still hated leaving him on his own, even if Nura was one of the most powerful yokai now living.
"I prefer to be cau...." Nura's statement was cut short by a loud roar from the top of the gate that shook the ground and echoed over the castle. Nura and Tsurara glanced at each other grimly, then hurried forward to catch up to their fully human companions.

***
2 Chome
Shuriyamagawacho, Naha


The roar echoed over the city, a warning meant only for certain ears. Several streets down, Oshiro Sho's head jerked towards the sound, rudely interrupting the conversation she was having with an elderly shopkeeper. "What is it, what do you hear?" the elder asked, following her gaze.
"It's from the castle, the shisa are howling a warning," Oshiro answered, handing over the bags she was carrying. "I have to go."
The elderly woman nodded, taking the bags from the black-haired younger woman without protest. "The guardians never howl without good reason. Be careful, Aunt Oshiro."
"I will. It's probably just more Possessed, out to cause trouble." Oshiro muttered, before she stepped forward into the building's shadow and vanished from sight.

***
Shuri Castle
Shuriyamagawacho, Naha


"What's wrong?" Kana asked, looking at Nura and Tsurara curiously. "You're both jumpy."
"You mean you didn't hear that?" Tsurara asked in surprise. The rest of the Patrol were already wandering the inner courtyard, reading the historical markers and taking pictures of the brilliant vermillion-painted Main Hall as it cast long shadows from the lowering sun.
"Hear what?" Kana frowned as Nura and Tsurara exchanged glances. "Are there yokai near? Should we leave?"
Nura held out his hands, warning Kana to keep her voice down. "When we came through the gates, the guardians howled. I have no doubt it's because they sensed Tsurara and I. You should catch up with Maki and Torii and make sure they don't wander off."
"We'll be careful," Kana promised, giving Nura's arm a squeeze before heading off. Tsurara gave Nura a last look before she followed.
Nura walked up the stairs at a guarded pace, extending his senses in an effort to not be caught off-guard. Until the sun set or the moon rose, he was going to be limited in what he could do, but he was far from helpless. Too many enemies had under-estimated him, trying to attack him when he was weakest. They never considered Nura's human side had strengths of his own.

***

Oshiro perched atop the courtyard wall, disguised within the sun's long shadows, her yokai nature hiding her from mortal sight. She studied the gathered tourists milling around the courtyard, focusing on each one by one. Which ones had set off the guardians? Which ones were a danger to the castle? One young man was loudly and lengthily expounding upon the historical marker to the group around him; probably high schoolers on holiday from the mainland. Her eyes drifted over the mix of young women and then jerked back to one of them -- a young woman with a blue tint to her long black hair. A Yuki-onna? Here? During Summer? Oshiro shifted to get a better look, as the yuki-onna wasn't just following the high schoolers, she seemed to be a part of their group, talking quietly with the other girls as they walked into the Main Hall.
Oshiro rose and stepped into a shadow, exiting in a corner of the Main Hall to keep watching the group. The yuki-onna paused, looking around, and Oshiro froze, trusting the shadows to hide her. As the yokai turned away, Oshiro focused her gaze on the shadows cast by the others in the group. Human... all of them. Why is she with them? They're not scared of her. As Oshiro watched, one of the young men, the one with blonde hair, openly flirted with the yuki-onna and made her blush. The other girls tittered and teased, acting like the yuki-onna was just another school girl. It was beyond confusing.
"It's really rude to stare at people, you know..."
Oshiro startled, staring at the young man who had somehow snuck up on her. His shaggy hair was like an iced cake, light brown over dark, and his brown eyes studied her behind wire-frame glasses. His accent marked him as being from mainland Japan as he spoke again.
"You were staring at my friends. I know Kiyotsugu gets very loud when he's excited, but he doesn't mean anything by it."
Oshiro glanced over to the group around the yuki-onna, then back to the young man in front of her, dropping her gaze to his shadow. "My apologies," she replied, as if she dropped her head in humility. "he is really ... enthusiastic."
"He really enjoys history, especially if there's a ghost story involved," Nura explained cheerfully, mentally weighing up the woman in front of him. Her black hair up in a neat bun at the back of her head and wore a simple grey mandarin tunic over black pants. She looked no more than two years his elder, but yokai rarely looked their true age. Even if he didn't sense it, the way the shadows seemed to cling to her would have clued him in.
"I'm surprised he came here, there haven't been any hauntings here since the castle was rebuilt," Oshiro faked a shy smile as she kept her head lowered, hiding her annoyance. The young man was standing where his shadow joined in with those she had been hiding within, and she was having a surprisingly hard time reading it. Is he human? No, something more. Maybe he's a priest?
"That's funny," Nura tilted his head thoughtfully. "There was that weird roar that sounded when we came through the gate ..," His shot went home as Oshiro's head jerked up in surprise. "Oh, so you heard it too!" Nura leaned closer, grinning innocently.
"I ... It's said the shisa howl when danger comes to the castle," Oshiro temporized, wondering why this young man was unsettling her so. "I have no idea why you would have heard them now."
"Well, I can tell you it's not because of the yuki-onna over there," Nura stated off-handedly, enjoying the way the yokai woman stiffened. "She's been part of our class since junior high. She's real fun to have around during Winter Festival."
Oshiro was totally lost at that point. She had made the choice to become a yokai, to guard her family physically in this world, instead of joining the Honored Ancestors in the next. But why would a yuki-onna, a snow spirit that teased men and froze their blood with a kiss, go to school with humans?
Nura grinned as the shadow-yokai's confusion shown plain on her face. Even on the mainland, the thought of a yokai, any yokai, going to school like a human was shocking, incomprehensable. Always keep your enemy guessing ... even if I'd rather have her on my side. "Well, I better get back to my friends," he said, giving her a polite nod before turning away. "It was nice to meet you. I hope you find whomever set off the howling."
Oshiro could only watch the young man join his friends, watch the yuki-onna slip her arm around his, while one of the other young woman did the same on his other side. He was laughing. Making light with them. Treating the yuki-onna no differently than the humans around him. What.. Just... Happened?
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Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.
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Re: Nura: The Shadows Beneath the Sun

Postby LadyTevar » 2016-07-12 01:42am

NOTE: This is set in Okinawa, Japan. Therefore, unless marked by <>, all characters are speaking Japanese.

Shuri Castle
Shuriyamagawacho, Naha


Nura walked with the rest of the Paranormal Patrol back out of the Main Hall of the Castle, some distance behind the trio of American soldiers heading towards the gardens behind. Listening to his friend's conversation with half an ear, he considered how to tell the others about the woman he'd seen. He had sensed something outside, which had delayed his entrance long enough for him to actually see the yokai woman step out of the shadows. What he'd felt outside didn't feel the same way she had, however. It was far weaker, or hiding better, than the woman's aura. But if the guardian was focused on Tsurara, did that mean she had not yet sensed the other yokai aura?
"Master? Did you sense something?" Tsurara asked, holding his arm. On his other side, Kana also looked concerned at his distraction.
"The howl brought out a guardian, a woman with black hair. She was watching you inside the castle." Nura revealed quietly, tightening his grip on their arms to keep them from looking around. "I spoke with her and told her Tsurara weren't a threat. There's something else I'm sensing, but I can't tell where it's hiding." The girls both looked around uneasily at the news.
"Nura? Why are you frowning? Wait... is it a Yokai?! Are you sensing Yokai Nearby?!?!"
Nura winced as Kiyotsugu's voice rose in excitement. The yokai woman had shown up to answer the guardian's warning, she didn't need Kiyotsugu descending upon her and asking impertinent questions, especially if the fainter aura was trouble. "I'm not sure, Kiyotsugu," Nura admitted half the truth. "It's so faint, I can't tell where it's coming from."
Kiyotsugu took the news as a challenge "Then let's fan out! Everyone, pick a path and we'll see if we can find what's out there!"
Maki groaned, knowing how this usually worked out. "Yeah, yeah... split up, and wait for whatever it is to go after us girls while you and Shima never see a thing." As Kiyotsugu and Shima sputtered in denial, she took Torii's arm, then looked at Tsurara. "Would you please come with us this time? So we don't have to wait for Nura to find us and scare whatever's out there away?"
"Uh..." Tsurara looked from Maki to Nura and back. She was Nura's bodyguard, he was her Lord, the one she was sworn to protect. Even knowing he could protect himself didn't change the fact she should be with him. "... I... Uh..."
"Good idea, Maki," Nura nodded approvingly, ending the usual argument before it could start. As Tsurara reluctantly went to join the girls, Nura murmured a quiet order. "Ignore the woman for now. Keep them safe."
Tsurara gave a slight nod of acknowledgement before smiling confidently at Maki and Torii. "Don't worry, they'll be closing the castle soon, and we can go back to the hotel and plan the shopping trip tomorrow." The three of them took the path ahead, where the American soldiers had vanished, resuming an earlier discussion on where to go.
"They'll never find it talking like that," Kiyotsugu tsked. "Let's go, Shima!" he called out, striding down the path to the right. Shima sighed heavily, stuck once again with Kiyotsugu instead of his dream of a quiet walk in the dark with Tsurara.

***

Nura and Kana walked hand in hand down the third path, which lead into the deepening shadows cast by the castle's walls. "You're sure the woman you saw won't hurt them?" Kana asked, eying the thick flower beds along the path. She knew Nura wouldn't let anything harm her, as he'd been protecting her long before she knew he was part yokai.
"Why don't we ask her?" Nura suggested, stopping by large willow overhanging the garden bed. "You are hunting what made the guardians howl, yes?"
Kana clutched Nura's hand fearfully as a figure stepped out of the shadows under the willow's branches. Clad in grey Mandarin tunic over black pants, the young-looking woman with the black hair bun gave a respectful nod of greeting to them both. Kana felt the woman's dark eyes flicker over her, weigh her up, and most of all notice they were holding hands, which only made Kana more embarrassed.
"You are a talented young man, whomever you are," Oshiro remarked, slightly amused at how the young woman reacted. Do they realize how clear it is they're in love? "Very few could sense me when I hide that way. Who are you?"
"This is Kana Ienaga," Nura began, and Kana gave the woman an abbreviated bow. "And I am Rikuo Nura, Third Heir of the Nura Yokai Clan ...,"
Oshiro stepped back in shock as the young man was changing as he spoke. His hair grew, thickening and sweeping out behind him like a two-toned calligrapher's brush, pale white over ink black. His face sharpened, maturing in seconds. His pupils narrowed into cat-slits, the iris bright blood-red. Even his clothing shifted, the shirt and pants flowing into a long black silk kimono, zori sandals and tabi replacing his sneakers. A brilliant blue kosode hung over his shoulders like a cloak, and the wooden hilt of a sword was tucked into his obi. "... Lord of Pandemonium, Master of One Hundred Demons," he finished his formal introduction, one yokai to another.
For a long moment, Oshiro could not move, caught in the sheer aura of power pouring from the man in front of her. This Fear... how did he hide it before? He was right beside me, how did I not sense him? How was I blind to this? A low chuckle broke her out of her entrancement to notice the slight twist of a smirk on the young man's face. Flushing slightly, she gave her own introduction. "I am Oshiro Sho, Honored Ancestor and Protector of the Royal Lineage of Ryugyuan Kings, Guardian of Naha and Shuri Castle." She did not bow to him, no yokai bowed to another outside the Clan hierarchy, but his sheer power had her neck tensed. She fully believed his claim to the highest title of Mainland Japan. Despite her bloodline, she was as a diamyo to his Shogun. "You are what the shasi sensed, then. Why are you here?" Despite his power, she had her duty to keep.
Rikuo gave a small smile to Kana, still holding her hand as he lifted his arm to tuck her under his arm. "To take a walk and enjoy the gardens with Kana," he said glibly, slitted eyes watching Oshiro aside as he dampened his aura. There was no need to provoke Oshiro further. "Although I believe your guardians were sensing something other than my companion. There is another presence here in the castle, is there not?"
Oshiro flushed more, gritting her teeth behind her lips. Had she been deceived, or deceived herself by focusing on the stronger aura? Now that he was no longer overwhelming her senses, the faint tickle of the other aura was back. Fool! You know how the Possessed feel, how they hide. I should have checked the lesser first. "Know that if you lie, if you are here to harm the castle, I will find a way to stop you." The warning had to be given, even as she knew she'd never be able to take him alone.
To her annoyance, the warning only made Rikuo give a cat-like smile. "You will do your duty," he acknowledged. "But touch one of my friends, and I will not hold back either." Warning returned, he looked down at Kana, who was following the conversation wide-eyed. "It's been days since we've walked together, Kana. Shall we?" With a soft smile, he guided her to continue down the path, as if they were no more than two lovers out for a stroll. As he walked away, Oshiro could see the family crest on the kosode's back -- a stylized diamond-shaped fort with kanji FEAR in the center, drawn as the symbol for 'demon' plus the symbol for 'whip'. A play on a yokai's aura, the 'demon's whip' that could strike fear into human and yokai alike. Fear, like she had felt when Rikuo had revealed his nature. Hands in fists, she stepped back into the shadows and vanished.

***

Tsurara tooked back, feeling Nura's aura flare, then die back peacefully. Did he run into that yokai again? Or... or did he become Rikuo just to walk with Kana? The sun had nearly set, the shadows under the garden's tree lined path was already dark enough for him to shift to his night-form, and he was alone with Kana... Tsurara mentally shook herself Stop It. Why be jealous of a human who'll only be with him 60yrs? I'll be there for as long as he lives
"Still jealous of Kana, huh?" Maki interrupted, and Tsurara blushed. Torii patted her shoulder consolingly, and Tsurara lowered her head.
"Do you think he notices?" she asked in a small voice, and while Maki shook her head, Torii looked thoughtful.
"I don't think he wants to hurt either of you," Torii mused. "You've both grown up with him, and I think he loves you both."
Tsurara clutched her hands together "He does?! Are you sure?"
Maki sighed, unknowingly echoing Tsurara's thoughts "Well, you and he will out-live us, right? So, he could marry Kana first, and then marry you later."
Tsurara flushed as hot as her nature allowed, tactfully responding only to the first question. "Yes ... yokai can live for centuries. Grandfather Nurarihyon is over five hundred years old." And he had also married a human woman, but never married again. His son Nihon had married twice, once to a yokai, then centuries later to Nura's mother Wakana. Which one will Rikuo take after?
"Um... how old is Kurotabo?" Torii asked softly, drawing Maki and Tsurara's attention. Flushing herself, Torii protested "I'm just asking...." which set the other girls giggling. The elder yokai monk had saved Torii's life more than once when the Paranormal Patrol was just formed, and she remained fascinated by him.
"He's not sure," Tsurara replied, which set off questions on how could someone not know how old they were, and that conversation carried them giggling further down the shadowy path. Distracted, Tsurara almost didn't feel the presence in front of them. "Wait, what's that?" She stopped dead, hands out to keep Maki and Torii from going any further.
Ahead of them were the trio of American soldiers, standing in front of a small shrine set back from the path in a small clearing. The three men turned their heads to stare at the girls, and one grinned widely. "<Hey, guys, look what we have here,>" he said in English. "<This day is getting better and better.>" The other two soldiers smirked, laughing as if at a private joke, and the three started spreading out to block the path. In the light from the lamps around the shrine, they all looked similar; short cut dark hair, khaki uniforms with the shine of medals on the shirt pockets, and the same disturbing look on their face.
Tsurara edged Maki and Torii back behind her, "<We were just leaving,>" she announced, thankful that she'd taken the time to learn English with the other students. Maki and Torii picked up on the hint, backing up the path and allowing Tsurara to keep herself between them and the soldiers.
"<Why leave?" the first one taunted, spreading his hands as if in welcome. "<You just got here. Wouldn't you like to stay a while?>" As he spoke the other two continued to walk forward, closing in on the girls.
Tsurara thought fast as they closed in. If she used her powers, she risked hurting the soldiers. It would be very hard to explain frostbite in the middle of summer. More than that, however, there was something somehow off about how they were moving. It was like predators trying to encircle prey. There was no way forward, she could only continue to back Maki and Torii down the path. Should I have them make a run for it?
As she opened her mouth to speak, the leader barked "<Get Them!>" and the soldiers leapt forward.
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Re: Nura: The Shadows Beneath the Sun

Postby LadyTevar » 2016-07-21 03:51am

Shuri Castle Gardens
Side Path


"Rikuo?" Kana's voice was soft, reluctant to disturb the silence of the gardens around them, but she knew the yokai lord well enough by now to see beyond his obvious actions. "The sun hasn't set fully. Why did you change to night-form?" They had walked several meters from the willow where the woman -- Oshiru Sho -- had been.
Rikuo Nura tilted his head slightly, giving the young woman under his arm a slight smile. "Are you not enjoying the walk?" he asked in return, an old game between them of answering questions with his own. He looked up and around at the bordering walls and overhanging trees that cast the path in deep shadow. "It's not every evening one can walk in the footsteps of kings." Mischief trickled in his eyes as he looked back down at her. "The moon has risen, the shadows are deep... and there is such a lovely companion to see it with..."
As he expected, Kana flushed at the compliment, but didn't let it distract her. "You're expecting the other yokai to attack us, aren't you. That's the real reason why you changed, isn't it."
"Kana, Kana...," he paused in the path to look down at her fondly, lifting her chin up to face him. "When did you stop being scared?"
If you're scared, close your eyes.... The familar refrain whispered inside her head, the first words this Rikuo had ever said to her before saving her life long ago. Words he'd repeated on other occassions when she'd been in need of his help, as yokai had threatened her and their other friends. Words that told her he cared about her, long before she knew her school friend Rikuo Nura was also the mysterious yokai lord. "When I stopped closing my eyes."
That drew a soft chuckle from him at the jest, and he chose to be truthful. "Yes. I believe they will make their move soon." As Kana looked down the shadowed path anxiously, Rikuo shook his head. "Not here. There's a shrine nearby, that is most likely their target." He felt Kana tense, and guessed the reason. "That is why I sent Tsurara with Maki and Torii."
Kana relaxed, having seen Tsurara use her icy breath to entomb attackers. She will keep them safe, until he gets there. "Do you want me to wait here?" she asked, and saw him shake his head.
"Best to stay together," he answered, eyes gleaming. "Would you like to keep walking? Or shall I carry you? The Party's about to start."

***
Shuri Castle Gardens
Royal Shrine


She had followed the trace, and found them where she should have started her search -- the royal shrine in the depths of the garden. The Americans are learning, attacking our places of power. But why now? why not before? Standing hidden in the shadows, Oshiru held her hand out, and the shadows beneath her outstretched hand began to move. Concentric circles contracted inwards, a pool rippling in reverse, until a blade shot skywards, the blade extending several centimeters above her head, before she grasped the shaft and it solidified into a yari not quite two meters long. The double-edged blade was a full half-meter of shadow-born steel, with twin blades extending from the base like the points of the crescent moon. The shaft ended in a heavy pommel the size of a baseball, both a balance to the blade and another weapon. Oshiru swung it point-down, and gazed deep at the shadows the American soldiers cast in the lamplight.
Distraction came down the path; the Yuki-onna and her human friends. As the American soldiers turned from the shrine towards the young ladies, Oshiru silently cursed. Ancestors, if you're listening, please don't let her kill them! As the Americans started to spread out and surround the trio, Oshiru continued to focus on the shadow of the nearest soldier, reading it, seeking the source of the wrongness. Her hands tightened on the yari's shaft, her eyes slitting in concentration as she looked for the place spirit joined to flesh ... THERE!

***

Tsurara thought fast as they closed in. If she used her powers, she risked hurting the soldiers. It would be very hard to explain frostbite in the middle of summer. More than that, however, there was something somehow off about how they were moving. It was like predators trying to encircle prey. There was no way forward, she could only continue to back Maki and Torii down the path. Should I have them make a run for it?
As she opened her mouth to speak, the leader barked "<Get Them!>" and the soldiers leapt forward.

Before a blow could land, a shadow leapt from the pathway wall and slammed a spear blade deep into the ground between one of the soldiers and Tsurara. Shockingly, the soldier cried out and dropped to his knees bonelessly before falling over on his side. His shadow, on the other hand writhed like a dying snake, pinned to the earth by the yari held by a yokai woman in grey and black. As Tsurara gasped, the woman glared at her, sending out an order on a wave of yokai power. "Take those girls and RUN!"
Tsurara resisted, her own aura rising to match that of the stranger's and finding an even match. The aura of Fear hit Maki and Torii, strong enough to trigger their flight instincts, and they took too their heels. Tsurara hesitated, flight or flight? Protect Maki and Torii ... he wanted me to protect them. The Yuki-onna turned and chased after the fleeing girls, torn between shame at running and the knowledge that she was doing as ordered by her Lord of Pandemonium.

Good, she listened Oshiru thought as she gave the yari a vicious twist. The pinned spirit, visible to her eyes as a American soldier in WWII combat harness, gave a last wail and dissipated. Cursed Americans ... possessing their own people to attack mine yet again. Do they hate even their own? She pulled the yari free with a snarl, rising to face the two remaining American Marines. "<Why don't you bastards stay dead?>"
"<Fuckin' Jap bitch, you'll pay for that!>" was the leader's retort. Regrouping, the two soldiers pulled out bayonets; not from their furlough fatigues, but from the ghostly combat fatigues overlapping their bodies. The air tempature dropped as the ghosts began to catiously move in, respecting the yari's reach, holding their own blades as knives. Like wolves, they took turns lunging, feinting, making Oshiru give ground as she tried to focus on keeping them between her and the lamplight. Only their shadows would show the weak point where spirit bound itself to flesh. Only striking that point would free the Marines without hurting them, but the possessing spirits had no such honor. To them, Oshiru knew, the Marines were only puppets, used to continue their fight to take Okinawa.
"<Two against one? Not very sporting...>" Oshiru was as startled as the Americans when Rikuo appeared in their midst. His off hand was slung inside his kimono, the other held a bared wakazashi-length blade carelessly resting on his right shoulder, his face held a sly smirk and mischief-filled eyes. The two Americans turned and slashed at him, only for the blades to pass harmlessly through him. As his image faded into mist, Rikuo was suddenly standing by Oshiru's side, still in the same pose as those laughing eyes glanced her way. "Would you like a hand?"
Oshiru instantly recognized the trick for what it was. That's his fighting gift! He cloaks himself in illusions! "Careful! They're not Yokai!" she warned as the unnatural chill started to frost the pathway. "Fear doesn't always work on them, and we can't let the humans get hurt."
Rikuo's answer was a slow nod, watching slit-eyed as the soldiers once again regrouped. "Not yokai? Interesting ... is this chill theirs as well?" Silently he gauged the situation, weighing his options.
"Yes," Oshiru confirmed. "It will start to slow us down if we don't end this quickly."
"Understood. If you can distract them for a few moments, I can end this. Just get clear when I give the signal."
Oshiru hesitated, still wary of the Mainland yokai's motives, but the two possessed soldiers seemed ready to return to the fight. "Make it quick," was her reply before she used her ability to pass between shadows. Reappearing behind the duo, she intentionally aimed wide, forcing the soldier to her right to dodge into his partner. On the offense now, she focused on keeping the soldiers at range and off-balance, striking to the left or right as needed to prevent them from separating and flanking her. It was harder than it looked, as the chill air this close to them started to drain her speed.
"NOW!" came the roar from down the path, and Oshiru leapt backwards onto the garden's retaining wall. Rikuo was glowing slightly, his body bent low in a classic draw-strike stance. Before she could voice the protest, to stop him from striking down the humans with his blade, he blurred and vanished in a bright flash. Throwing her hand up too late to shield her eyes, for a moment she was light-dazzled. Blinking rapidly to clear her eyes, she saw Rikuo standing only a meter from her, calmly sheathing his blade. In the pathway behind him, the two Marines were slumping to the ground as bonelessly as the first, while the ghosts of the dead hovered in place. Like bamboo staves cut by a master swordsman, their upper halves slowly began to slide sideways, dissapating into mist before either half hit the ground. As they vanished, the unnatural chill vanished, returning the garden to a warm summer night.
Oshiru rushed over to the fallen Marines, roughly turning one over in haste. There was not a mark on him -- even his clothing was untouched. She checked the other, finding him also unharmed. ".... how....?" Her eyes turned disbelivingly to Rikuo, who gave her a sly glance before holding his hand out to the shrine sitting off in its clearing.
Kana emerged from behind the shrine, crossing the distance to take his hand with no fear. Only when she was once again tucked under his arm did he answer Oshiru's question. "My blade cuts yokai only. It seems that applies to these American ghosts as well."
His wording sank in, and Oshiru exploded. "You did not know for sure when you struck? What if it had not? Do you know the trouble it would cause if one of them returned to base injured?"
"They were possessing humans and using them to threaten those I care about," his voice was calm but held a hint of steel. "I swore long ago that I would not tolerate any who did harm to a human, yokai or otherwise." His eyes met and held Oshiru's, and hers were the first to drop. "Now, what will you do with these men?"
In answer Oshiru stabbed her yari point-first into the shadow at her feet, where it sank like a stone into a deep pond. From inside her tunic, she produced three thin strips of paper covered with black calligraphy, fanning them out before flicking them towards the unconscious Marines. The paper touched them and shone briefly before sinking into their bodies. "That will muddle their memories, they will remember coming here, and concoct their own excuses for why they were lying on the ground." Her eyes flicked over Rikuo resentfully, before she turned and started down the path out of the garden. "Let us find your Yuki-onna and her friends. The sun has set and the keepers will be along to chase out stragglers."
Only Kana heard the light chuckle Rikuo gave before they followed Oshuri out of the garden. "Kiyotsugu missed seeing new yokai again. How upset do you think he'll be at us?" he teased Kana, causing her to giggle as well at how fate always seemed to deny Kiyotsugu the one thing he most desired.
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Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" -- Leonard Nimoy, last Tweet

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Re: Nura: The Shadows Beneath the Sun

Postby Steve » 2016-07-25 12:35am

This story thread needs more responses. :P I'm completely unfamiliar with the setting and yet Tevar is making the story interesting for me.
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Re: Nura: The Shadows Beneath the Sun

Postby LadyTevar » 2016-08-23 02:37pm

Shuriyamagawacho, Naha

Nurarihyron; a demon said to take the form of an elderly man. He sneaks into people's houses and steals food and sake without them ever seeing him.
Looking at Lord Rikuo at the other end of the table, Oshiru was starting to believe he really was the fabled yokai lord's grandson. Here she sat in her grand-niece's restaurant, listening to the young lord's human friends chatter as they ate, and wondered just how she'd gotten to this point.

She had meant to leave them at the entrance to the Castle gardens, but the yuki-onna and human girls they'd saved from the American ghosts were there and demanded to know what had happened. The young lord had introduced Oshiru and credited her with far more than she'd done in the battle, and the girls had bowed and thanked her for saving them. That was the point the loud-mouthed one, Kiyotsugu and his partner Shima had returned, and put on quite a show of remorse and wailing over missing out on seeing new yokai -- until it was pointed out that Oshiru was not just a yokai but a Guardian Ancestor of the Sho Dynasty. He'd then needed reminding of his manners, as pelting a new acquaintance with a hundred questions and not giving her time to answer was extremely rude.
Thankfully, at that point one of the Castle attendants had approached to politely usher them all off the grounds of Shiro Castle. Oshiru paused to inform the attendant, another of her family's descendants, of the American soldiers who'd need help leading the grounds. She'd hoped to be rid of the young yokai lord at that point, but found the Kiyojuji Paranormal Patrol members waited for her with a more important question -- where could they find a bite to eat. Oshiru's attempt at directions was met with bafflement, and so she'd lead them here, where they insisted they owed her dinner for her kindness.

From the other end of the table, Lord Rikuo met her wondering gaze with a sly smile before taking another sip of sake from a fine china sake-bowl Oshiru knew did not come from this store. When did he get the sake, anyway? She didn't recall her grand-niece bringing a bottle to the table. Distracted, it took her a moment to realize she was being spoken to by Torii, one of the girls she'd saved. "Oh.. yes?"
"Lady Sho," Torii repeated, using the same honorific as she did for Lord Rikuo, "why did those soldiers attack us?"
"They were possessed," was the short answer, the easiest answer Oshiru could give.
"They were going for the shrine, but stopped when they saw us," Maki of the dyed blonde hair pointed out. "It wasn't because they didn't want witnesses, they wanted us."
It was an uncomfortable subject for Oshiru to discuss, especially to young woman like these. "You are correct, you became more important than the shrine," she hedged. Many yokai fed on humans, either spiritually or physically, and Oshiru hoped that implication would be inferred. But Oshiru had forgotten the yuki-onna.

"They weren't moving to kill us," Tsurara pointed out, forcing Oshiru to hide a wince. "It was like they wanted to catch us."
"You said they were not yokai," Lord Rikuo added, "They spoke English, but it was not the humans who were talking, was it."
Oshiru was unable to lie further. "They were American Marines ... who died on Okinawa during the War," she admitted. "They are ghosts, but they are not yokai. Most are stuck in one place, never leaving it ...."
"The base hauntings!" Kiyotsugu interrupted happily. From the expressions on the other Patrol member's faces, this wasn't unusual as Kiyotsugu continued. "There's dozens of sightings of American soldiers walking about the bases, or along roadsides! Some have even forced people out of their homes! They are seen by different people at different times, always in the same places, always repeating the same actions, like a video playing over and over...."
"But these weren't like that," Lord Rikuo broke in, stopping Kiyotsugu's rant. "These had a purpose, even before they attacked the girls."
With a heavy sigh, Oshiru answered. "Yes. They have started attacking shrines ... but before that, they were attacking women ... just like they did during and after the War."
Dead silence hung for a moment, before Kana whispered the truth of the matter. "They ... dishonor women?" Oshiru's lowered head was all the answer she could give.
"But... why?"
"They are Americans," Oshiru spat, head raising. "It is what they do, because to them the War hasn't ended. They are still fighting the battle they won decades ago, and using the bodies of today's soldiers as weapons."
"Why haven't they been stopped?"
Lord Rikuo's simple question caused Oshiru's fist to clench, and the shadows around the table twitched eerily in response. "As your friend has said, they vanish, only to come back. We kill them, and They. Come. Back."

***

Udonshiki
Urama Prefecture, Okinawa


The building was not marked on maps, for the village it was in no longer existed. At one time, it had been a grand house, home to a minor noble family. Now, it was a ruin sitting on land owned by the United States Military overlooking Zukeyama Dam, hidden by trees and vines. In the center where the once manicured garden ran riot, a richly robed figure sat plucking a sanshin with long thin fingers. The music from the three stringed instrument carried softly through the ruined house, the song unplaceable, but the melody counterpointed by footsteps approaching from behind.

The Marine Colonel stopped short of the figure in robes, executing a sharp, perfect salute. He stood in WWII regulation rear echelon, his chest beribboned with medals of Midway, Philippines, and other battles won, but none for Okinawa. The only reaction from the figure was a slight change in the melody, but the Colonel smartly dropped the salute and assumed parade rest as if ordered. "Brigadier General, you wished to see me?"
A feminine voice drifted to him, following the melody of the song. "Yes, Colonel. Have you word from those sent on the mission?"
"Yes, sir," the Colonel replied. "Foreward scouts report they entered the objective, but there has been no change in the activities at the enemy base." The report was delivered concisely, with no hint of any emotion.
"Have the soldiers returned to base?" A single sour note was left to echo about the garden, before the long thin fingers again picked up the tune.
"Yes, Brigadier. They report they were discovered and routed by the enemy commander ... but also that she had an unexpected ally."
The music paused, then resumed, as the woman processed the answer. "Were the men able to identify this new ally?"
"No, sir. They did not get a good look at him before they were routed." Predicting the general's next question, the Colonel continued, "The foreward scouts also were unable to identify where the ally came from, but left in the company of the enemy commander."
"I see."

For a moment, the garden was silent but for the sanshin's quiet tones, before the Colonel cleared his throat. "Shall I prepare the men for larger raid?"
"No, not at this time," came the woman's sing-song answer. "As yet, the enemy does not know our plans. Our numbers must stay hidden as long as possible."
"Yes, sir, Brigadier." The Colonel clicked his heels and snapped a salute, before executing a sharp about-face and marching out to the beat of the plucked strings. From his collar a hair-thin thread stretched out, silvery, near invisible, floating out behind him and to the robed woman and fastening to the head of her sanshin. The song continued, seemingly aimless and purposeless, echoing out of the garden and throughout the house, as the Colonel went to give her silent orders to the company of Marines within.
Image

Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" -- Leonard Nimoy, last Tweet


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