“I-Inabikari?!” Jio yelped, terrified now. “W-Who... Why are you in my sister?”
Inabikari snorted as though Jio had made a joke, and then leant over Jio, who’s knees had given out, leaving him cowering beneath the body of his sister. Despite Yuki’s small frame, as Inabikari glared down at him her body seemed to tower above him.
“Yuki is my host body.” He explained, voice barely a whisper, taunting, “The only one suitable. I could only take over a guardian of my family, and how lucky I am; The want for revenge is such a great power that it can even spark the powers of a guardian into a bloodline. Isn’t it wonderful?”
He started to poke Jio’s head and tugging on his soft, pale blonde hair, grinning and chuckling again.
“This is great!” He cried, thrilled, “I can be a little kid again!”
Suddenly the echo of footsteps on the stars rang into the room, alarming Inabikari. He growled irritably and stood.
“Stay there, you snivelling pig!” He hissed at Jio, who yelped again. Jio’s whole body was shaking; he was so confused and upset that he couldn’t even bring himself to move. He was terrified.
Inabikari went to the door and swung it open. A long silver sword now gleamed in one of his hands, and in the other an unusual looking object rested perfectly, a comfortable shape in Yuki’s hand. Jio stared at the dark object, trying to make out what it was.
Inabikari also peered at the weapon, spinning it to get a good look and running a thumb over it’s curves and corners.
“Amazing...” He breathed, “So this is a gun nowadays...”
Jio recognised it now - it was some kind of hand gun, similar to one that his Master had shown him. The mercenaries had been out of the village scouting Petra, and had retrieved a few of them; the weapons were returned to the village, but none but Jio and Fuuma’s Master dared to use them - they had too much pride in their own, traditional weaponry. Jio had seen it in action against targets; it fired quicker and more efficiently than any gun or crossbow that the village used - for emergency’s only, as it was believed to be more honourable to fight close to the enemy with a blade -and Jio feared to doubt that it could easily rip through a chest.
Jio’s spine rang with cold at how perfectly such a weapon seemed to suit Yuki, though her face was contorted due to Inabikari’s cruel grin. He would not admit it, but that grin seemed to sit more comfortably on that sweet face with every minute that past.
Inabikari was quiet, crouched inside the room, his back against the wall, peering discretely out of the door.
Everything was quiet as the footsteps paused, except for Jio’s shaking breath.
“Yuki? Jio?” The call came from halfway up the stairs in the soft tone of the twins’ mother. Their parents’ bedroom was downstairs, closer to the door so that they would be the first to know in case of danger.
Inabikari’s glowing purple eyes were as sharp as a dagger as he turned them on Jio. A demand - Talk, but we wary.
“Uh… It’s OK, Mama!” Jio stuttered out, trying to swallow the shaking in his voice, fearing for his life. “Yuki was sleep-walking again, I took care of it. Don’t worry. Go back to sleep!”
After a moment’s hesitation, the footsteps disappeared back down the stairs. Inabikari waited until he heard the quiet creaking of bed springs downstairs before he moved again.
He wrapped tight fingers around Jio’s quaking hand and tugged him harshly to the door.
“Come on.” He chuckled quietly, sneering cruelly down at the small boy, “I’m going to make you watch.”
“W-watch?” Jio rasped, “Watch what?”
Inabikari didn’t respond; he crept downstairs, still dragging Jio, hand clamped around his tiny wrist like a clamp, nails digging into skin so hard that they drew small pricks of blood.
At the bottom of the stairs Inabikari paused to glower at the dark room, listening for breath; a psychotic smile curled Yuki’s pale lips as Inabikari found the sound, head snapping to the right.
Outside the door, Inabikari rose his sword high and drove it in the ground with a distinct thunk, and sighed in delight as the house creaked in response. The door squealed in retaliation against the small hand pushing again it’s cold surface.
From the large bed in the centre of the room a figure stirred to look at the door - a woman with bright blue eyes and deep black hair. Beside her lay a man with hair as pale as his children’s; he rasped in his slumber.
“Yuki?” The mother mumbled, rubbing her eyes to keep them open, “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
The smaller figure of Yuki stepped farther into the room, dislodging the tip of the blade from the floorboards with a crack. Inabikari moved slowly, stumbling, like a child just woken from sleep, and held the blade loosely behind his back.
The mother sat up in the bed, and stretched her arms out for her daughter, smiling wearily to comfort her girl, who, she thought, must have had a nightmare, but as she looked across at Jio, shaking with fear and clinging to the door frame, tears just dribbling over his very much awake eyes, she realised it seemed more like he had had the nightmare.
He was looking at Yuki like she was a demon.
Slowly, she looked back down at her daughter, and noticed the glowing irises of violet, the devious grin.
The blade, now held tightly by her side.
“Yuki! Put that down!” She leapt from the bed to grab the sword, “You should not be messing with something like that!”
When the girl refused to give up the sword, the mother clipped her on the head.
Inabikari froze, the devious look driven from his face by surprise.
The silence fell once more around Inabikari’s shock, but as much as the mother tried the sword could not be removed from her daughter’s hand.
When Inabikari’s face lit up, twisted with rattling laughter, even the mother was horrified. Finally, she realised something was terribly wrong - this was more than just a misbehaving child, more than a premature rebellion...
She opened her mouth to call for help...
Only a stream of crimson erupted from her throat. A blade dived into the night from within her, followed by the hands of her daughter, gripping tightly to the sword as blood dripped and danced over her white skin.
To Jio, watching, frozen, from the door the crash as his once-loving mother’s flinching corpse hit the floor was more deafening that anything he could ever hear.
And to this sound the father groaned and rolled, woken.
Inabikari lifted the gun and cocked it slowly, relishing the feeling of a new weapon. With three short, sharp shots the twitching mother lay still, chilling in a sticky mess of her own blood.
“This is what this village is made for!” Inabikari screaming in satisfaction, dropping the weapons and dragging red-bathed hands through Yuki’s soft, pale hair, dragging them over her clear cheeks like grabbing claws. “Blood! Chi! Like the name! Just like it’s name! This is the truth!”
The father cried in a blind rage, and jumped to Inabikari and his wife’s fresh corpse, who’s eyes stared eerily, coldly, towards the door.
In Inabikari’s hand a large, long shotgun appeared.
Whilst the father mourned desperately for his wife, confused and angry, Inabikari took his time aiming, like this was no more than a game. In what seemed to Jio like a single moment, a glimmering bullet tore through his father’s jaw, followed instantaneously by a small, shining blade.
The father suddenly found himself grasping for his sobs, stolen by the severe of his wind pipe.
For more than a minute, he gasped and clawed at his throat. For more than a minute, Inabikari watched in satisfaction as this man kneeled before him, tears running over his cheeks, fingers clawing into his neck, oxygen shortage turning his skin a sickly shade of blue.
For more a minute, Jio did nothing, feeling himself slipping into a world he didn’t want to know, hadn’t even wanted to consider.
And then the room erupted with the shink-ing of metal on metal- dozens of blades of all kind flew in every direction, but never left the room, plastering the walls with vicious gashes, cutting gaping holes into the ever-weakening supports. But not once hitting the small being still alive within it.
“It’s not enough.” Inabikari whispered, desperation ringing in his tone. “Not enough... it’s not the town... not like the town... not enough... not satisfied...”
Inabikari’s eyes had begun to flicker - purple, blue, purple, blue - and his body convulsed as though it was being infused with a bolt of lightning, like there was a war going on inside.
Jio almost dared to step in, to take his sister’s hand, to lead her back to herself.
Before he had taken a step he froze. The purple was back, deeper than before, swirling like toxic clouds. Inabikari knelt in the red, and suddenly drove a hand into it. And again. And again. Giggling quietly, manically, he seemed to play in it, like a child in the grass. He bathed Yuki’s hands in the viscous liquid and then run it through Yuki’s long, pale hair again, pulling it round, studying it. When he seemed to find it wrong, he did it again, and again, muttering madly all the while, until Yuki’s hair appeared not white, but the deepest, darkest crimson.
“It’s beautiful...” He whisper, running a shaky hand tentatively over the strands. “Yes... Don’t you think so, Jio?”
Jio screamed them, and fell pitch blackness, pulled into himself and shaking by the door. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t remember where he was.
In the darkness, he felt warm, he felt protected; his mother’s voice called to him on a light breeze, and he was safe.
When he awoke, he found himself an orphan curled up in the wise-woman’s house. The scent rising in the smoke of the candles thickened the air into a soup in his throat.
Tontidai looked heavily upwards in his direction from where she slouched like an abandoned rag doll. On her knee was the body of a small, white-haired girl, stained with red.
Mingled with the sickly smell of the candles was a sticky, metallic stench that wrapped itself around Jio like a coat made of rope. He looked around fearfully.
The curtains that hid Madelli’s bedroom were closed, and another cloth had been placed roughly in front of them, attempting to hide a lump that had escaped the confines of the room’s walls. A single object stuck out from beneath the freshly stained cloth.
A single wrinkled finger, grey with the grip of death.