Her mother always told her stories, ones of magic and fantasy. One that young Hana Tanaka enjoyed was the story about these beings, ones similar to humans, that were referred to as Demons.
Demon's lived along side Humans, peacefully. They shared food, supplies, and Demon's often used their magic to assist the weak and sick Humans back to health. Demon's were considered to be incredibly powerful but very peaceful. They detested raising swords against each other and never took part in human wars.
Though, Humans could be so cruel. They began to abuse the Demons and their power. At beginning of the warring times they would take their family, the young and the weak, to force the strongest of Demon's to fight for them.
After that, Demon's disappeared. They seemingly died off, never to be found again. It was like these beings never existed in the first place.
Hana's favorite part of the story? About a young human woman who'd fallen in love with a Demon. Their shared love produced a child together. Hana was always curious who the young woman was and who the child was. But her mother never gave her a straight answer.
Hana grew not knowing if the stories her mother told were true. She knew nothing of her half-demon blood coursing through her veins. Nothing of her father who never visited and she never knew. Eventually, she stopped asking for the story and about her father.
Life was to change drastically for her. Just turning 18 the girl had stumbled upon her abilities, causing a bit of chaos in the human world and soon enough the world of demon's caught wind as well.
The Demon society couldn't allow a forbidden off-spring to live on or else their existence would be uncovered. The elders, those who have lived the longest among the demon clans and highly revered, sent off their strongest and most nimble men to locate and capture the girl. There the 5 chieftains gathered and with the elders were to decide her fate.
She was poorly welcomed. Hated. A half-blood was seen as disgusting. As they hated human kind and their 'evil' ways. They argued that her 'crimes' were punishable by death. Seeing as she had almost brought attention to them and their society after being hidden for over 200 years, let alone her birth was a crime in of itself. But one chieftain argued to save her, offered her a way out and live among them in their society.
The Chieftain who wanted to save the girl was entrusted with her by the Elders as no other wanted to take her other than to slay her. He was to watch her, help her integrate and prove her worth to the demon society and ultimately save her life.
Though, even if he wanted to save her life he wasn't particularly happy about being placed on babysitting duty. They were given 18 months. If she could not prove herself worthy to the demon society nor integrate with it's people...she would be put to death.
But she may not be the only problem stirring for the demon clans and their hidden world.
1. This isn't necessarily 'mature', but I would prefer a partner that can handle mature content if it were to arise as there is violence, romance and drama.
2. I would like to see a post about once a week. I do get busy myself, so I understand if it goes past a week. I won't complain! I can post anywhere between 1500-3000 characters. Really depends on how my partner would like it to be. No less than 1000, if possible.
3. Pictures are illustrated.
4. There are 5 chieftains, 3 elders. You can change the name of the one you choose as well as the personality. I just listed these here for later NPC uses. :) This will be a 1x1 and The one you choose is the Chieftain who wishes to save the girl :
[center Given name: [b Eikichi], Family name: [b Sato:] Chieftain of the Western Provinces. Known for their knowledge in medicine and magic. Eikichi is elegant and poised but has wicked words that are masked with a sarcastic smile.]
[center Given name: [b Hiroto], Family name: [b Ogawa:] Chieftain of the Eastern Provinces. Know for their swordsmanship and diplomacy. Hiroto is Traditional, Unadventurous, Law-abiding. Most dependable of the chieftains.]
[center Given name: [b Katsu], Family name: [b Kaneko:] Chieftain of the Wondering. Know for being 'Jack of all trades', gypsies, no home land. Katsu is a jester, prankster, takes nothing seriously and the youngest Chieftain.]
[center Given name: [b Makoto], Family name: [b Date:] Chieftain of the Northern Valleys. Known for their knowledge of wildlife. Often have animalistic features. Makoto is dependable and straightforward, cunning and often mistaken as the human equivalent of a fox. Also quite the womanizer.]
[center Given Name: [b Ryuu]. Family Name: [b Sano:] Chieftain of the 6 districts of the Southern Seas. Know for their hunting abilities, often are assassins. Ryuu is the largest of the 5, Can be seen as unsentimental and apathetic. Has strong loyalty to elders.]
5. There are a few more things worth adding to the plot, but I will explain those once I have a partner. You're always welcome to provide ideas once you join as well! I like when I can collab with my partner. :) To join just send me a Skeleton with a picture of your character:
[center [b Summary: Who are they? How did they become chieftain? How long have they ruled over their village? ect.]]
6. I am no NO WAY a expert in Japanese culture/History. So, if you know more than me and see errors, don't hesitate to inform me.
You don't have permission to post in this thread.
Hana finished her breakfast and carefully listened to Zakje. He spoke how different things affected Demon's aging, how they come in many forms, similar to humans. After hearing the ages of the other Chieftain it didn't surprise her that the elders were quite old, thousands even, though the idea was still something hard to wrap her head around. Most men, Samurai really, didn't live much passed the age of thirty. They often died in battle. If men were just farmers or lower class then often lived to be forty and much less often into their seventies like Zakje.
He'd mentioned she could probably even live into the hundreds. Hana was a bit in disbelief about that. Her mother being so frail in her thirties made her a bit reluctant she'd live must passed her own mothers age. But, nonetheless, she listened as he continued. He finally went into detail about the other Chieftain, their abilities, what they can do. Her eyes scanned over the Sato-san, who was well versed in medicine and magic. Then to Ogawa-san, a very diplomatic man and a great swordsman, and back to Zakje as he spoke of contests.
Hana had no idea there was so much to learn. So much to know. Things that they learned early and knew for hundreds of years beyond her. How was she to know, understand, and integrate so easily in just 18 months? Did they give her that small chance knowing she wouldn't make it? Hana pushed the doubt from her mind as she looked over to Date-san who gave her a wolfish grin as Zakje spoke. Hana quickly averted her gaze over the Zakje. So, his way of being in tuned to nature may be the reason he looks so...fox like? Hana nodded as he finished with Sano-san.
It's probably very important to understand and remember what the chieftains are well known for. Of course, she never planned to get in the way of any of them, but out of respect it's probably a good idea to drill information about them into her head. Yet, there was one chieftain he didn't explain to her. Himself. Hana found herself staring at him, his horns, the charms. What did it all mean? She knew he was of the wandering, that his clan didn't really have a home, but what did he specialize in?
Sato-san seemed to have the same idea He spoke up with a wicked grin over to them. Their banter continued and Hana quietly followed the conversation. Sato-san icily added about killing her once more. A shiver ran down her spine. Surely, avoid him until she can prove herself worthy of not being 6 feet under.
Date barked out laughter, "[#5397c1 Ogawa-san always one to scold. Take good care of the little rabbit, Zakje. I don't want to have to eat her.]" He stood and bowed to Miki. "[#5397c1 The meal was wonderful as always, lovely Miki. I'll be going, don't miss me too much.]" "[i How could I miss you if you haven't left?]" Her smile was sweet but her voice was total opposite. Date-san once more barked in laughter before leaving himself.
All that was left was Hana, Zakje, and Miki. Miki visibly relaxed with a sigh. "[i Man, those guys can be so stiff.]" She smiled over at Hana and Zakje "[i Don't worry, none of them actually want to hurt you. They aren't as bad as their bark. Well...maybe Sato-san and Sano-san.]"
Miki gave a kind smile before taking the bowl from in front of Hana and went to clean up, leaving Zakje and Hana alone in the large dining hall. "[#892a57 I'm curious about you. Your clan is more made up of wanders, correct? Well, how do you keep in touch? How do you watch over your people?]" Hana turned herself in her seat, looking up at the man, her eyes over his charms once more. Maybe it was similar to what he attached to her? Maybe it was some form of the magic he spoke of earlier with Sato-san.
[#00C78C "If I didn't know any better, I'd think you'd want to get rid of us Miki. No need to rush us, sides not like the others have much going for them,"] Zakje remarked with a smirk working on his side of rice.
[#cf220c "Coming from a child such as you, sounds like you're going to abandon your duties, and leave the girl to the wolves. Or perhaps Date-san,"] Sato-san remarked coolly.
[#5397c1 "As lovely as Tanaka-san is, I'd still have to go with Miki, although if you truly don't want her, I'm sure I can negotiate with the elders to place her in my care,"] Date-san chuckled resuming his meal as Miki finished dishing them out, and openly ignoring the chieftain.
[#567a24 "Don't let the elders' faith, be misplaced in you, Kaneko-san. Surely you don't need any more bad blood between you and them or us for that matter,"] Ogawa-san stated levelly before going into discussion with Sato-san on trading between the two provinces. More business talk then anything.
[#00C78C "Really need to learn to move on, besides I know my place better than any of you, and rightly don't care in any regards to that,"] Zakje slipped in with a wry smile.
[#5397c1 "Sano-san would disagree with that."]
[#00C78C "He'd disagree with me if I got into a talk to him that the sky is blue and water is wet. Really, I'd like to enjoy a meal without thinking about him, beside he's not exactly here to berate now is he,"] Zakje stated with a shrug allowing the banter of the others turn to background noise.
Zakje enjoyed the rest of his meal, tilting his head slightly over towards Tanaka-san where she and Miki seemed to be in their own discussion. He turned his attention to Tanaka when she was speaking to him.
[#00C78C "Ah, I imagine that would come up before too long. She told you how old she is? You may have caught on to the familiarity some of us talk to her as well, to me, I've viewed her more as a sister then anything. Used to call her Neesan for the longest time. Said it made her feel old, so we've settled on Miki,"] he chuckled at the memories. [#00C78C "Easy enough to answer, with a few variations. Depends on the heritage as well as type of demon to affect age. Miki probably told you how old the others were, but as for the elders, I honestly don't know. At least upper hundreds for some of them, Arashiro may even be in the thousands. But as a whole I'd say demons can live between five hundred to a thousand years. Depends on one's lifestyle as well, naturally like humans, but I imagine only a few humans make it to my age and fewer still to one hundred or so,"] he explained with a shrug. [#00C78C "I imagine you could live easily to the mid-hundreds or so despite your heritage,"] he added. Zakje stretched out a bit at the table looking to the other chieftains with a bored expression. [#00C78C "We're in a similar situation as Arashiro and Miki has probably clarified for you. At least for you, you have someone with some experience to hopefully help your progress,”] he stated with a fanged grin.
Zakje rolled his shoulders looking amongst the other chieftains then back to Tanaka-san.
[#00C78C “Since I’ve brought it up couple of times and you can no doubt see for yourself that demons come in a variety of shades, so it’s a little difficult to actually classify us. Humans are like that too I imagine, having different customs, traits, and so forth depending on where in the world they are from. But to break it down more than that would be what we are capable of doing. Sato-san for example is knowledgeable in medicine and magic. Medicine being what you can expect knowing what can heal and harm you in the wild as well as in society if we are being specific. Magic, is a word I'm not a fan of, since things we do can easily fall under magic since humans simply aren't capable of it. He can dapple in a bit of everything when we talk about magic. Ogawa-san is more practical with his abilities, his swordsmanship being a key factor in how he obtained his title. Some chieftains hold contests every so often to change leaders or one is challenged for their chieftain and have to defend their claim to it. He's also knowledgeable with diplomacy, he rather talk then fight if it comes down to it. Date-san is more in tuned with nature similar to medicine but perhaps the very foundation of nature and wildlife. Understanding them, I could say controlling it, but not a word I like to use. Magic but more grounded in nature, the main elements of wind and earth. As for the illustrious Sano-san, more stealth then anything. Using shadows and misdirection to get what is needed. He is in charge of the districts of the Southern Seas, so water is another part of the magic he can dapple in. He is also a skilled hunter and tracker,"] Zakje explained.
[#cf220c "Awfully quick to tell her all our secrets, yet leave yours out entirely, that seems a bit unfair though isn't it? Never have I heard quite a coarse explanation of me."]
[#00C78C "You can tell her yourself, but that seemed a bit beneath you, so figured I'd beat you to it. Besides quick and dirty seemed to be the easiest way to explain such foreign concepts to our guest then using all the technical terms that Ogawa-san could use. No one exactly stopped me either,"] Zakje remarked with a smirk.
[#5397c1 "Quick and dirty seems to suit the Kaneko family though doesn't it,"] Date stated with a wolfish smirk revealing his own fangs.
[#00C78C "Can't deny that, nor my nature of not giving a damn about it either so try as you like to ruffle my feathers, not falling for it Date-san,] Zakje fired back quickly enough.
[#567a24 "Now you all are sounding like children, leave it outside then bringing it in here. But the morning has gotten late, and some of us need to be elsewhere. As always thank you Miki for the meal,"] Ogawa spoke as he stood up. [#567a24 "Advice for you Kaneko-san, you may want to see if she is capable of defending herself, we can't always protect her,"] he ended leaving the room.
[#cf220c "But we can certainly always kill her worst case,"] Sato added icily as he stood up and bowed on his exit.
Hana fidgeted in her seat as the others kept up with their banter. Zakje had finally arrived, no sooner had he arrived did he get wrapped up in the banter with Ogawa-san. He seated himself next to her and bid her good morning.
Politely, she gave a nod of her head and smiled, "[#892a57 Good morning. I slept fine, thank you.]" Hana felt the need to thank him. His kind gesture, small and probably out of duty, had made her feel a little more comfortable and enough so to sleep soundly. Though, almost uninterruptedly Sato-san was again speaking in such a way that sounded playful but deadly. Hana wasn't sure if he was someone to ally with or heavily avoid.
Her eyes were glued to the crystal blue eyed man as he was speaking with Zakje, mind swirling with questions, she barely noticed the other girl who had gotten in close. "[i Don't mind them. This kind of banter is normal. You see, Zakje is the youngest chieftain here.]" Hana glanced over at Zakje then scanned over the others in the room before looking back at Miki. "[#892a57 He doesn't appear to be much younger.]" she spoke a bit softly not to interrupt the conversation between the men.
"[i Ah, yes. Demon's don't age much in the ways of appearance. You see, Zakje is still technically a young adult. He's about seventy-eight, while like Sato-san is well into his hundreds as well as Date-san.]" Hana's eyes grew wide as she looked over the chieftain once more. She wouldn't have guested, Zakje didn't appear older than twenty-two, Date appeared to possibly be about mid-twenties as well as Sato-san. "[i I mean, I am not spring chicken myself!]" Miki gave a giggle at Hana's reaction. "[i I'm a hundred and fifty.]" the young girl did her best not to looked shocked but seeing Miki's amused look...it clearly didn't hold.
"[i Anyway, because he's the newest chieftain and much younger, he hasn't gained a lot of respect from the old timers over there.]" Hana glanced over at Zakje beside her. For his age, he'd be highly respected by humans. In her society, you respected your elders, no matter what. Then again, in age, he was quite young compared to some of the others. She wondered what it took for him to be chieftain at a young age comparatively for a demon, what it would take to gain their respect, their trust. Her optimism about the situation grew a little more grim at the thought. "[i - so, they respect he's a chieftain, but that's as far as it goes for him at the moment.]" Hana looked back at Miki, she'd set down her breakfast, a simple Miso soup.
"[i I just thought i'd give you a little insight to their...behaviors]" Her smile was gentle "[#892a57 Well, thank you. For that and breakfast.]" she gave a small bow and Miki waved her off. "[i No need for formalities. Eat up!]"
Hana nodded with a smile of her own. She waited patiently as Miki passed around everyone with their portion. "[#5397c1 Ah! You always make the best Miso soup!]" Date-san grinned up at Miki who merely ignored him. "[i Eat up, everyone. You all have a bit to travel and it's starting to get cold!]" Miki announced after the food was served and Hana took a few bites.
A good miso soup always warmed her up and put a smile on her face. She looked up at Zakje next to her and spoke at a volume only the two could hear, "[#892a57 Miki mentioned you were seventy-eight. Just how old to demon's typically live?]" He had mentioned he was better at answering questions than broadly speaking. Why not start off with basic knowledge?
Zakje meandered through the temple grounds, allowing the sounds of the night to distract his thoughts. Not that he had much of any going for him, his thoughts all over and nowhere at the same time. It worked for the most part for him, but well now he wasn't the only one he had to watch out for. By no means was he shirking his duties as a chieftain, they were his people but for the most part they handled themselves just fine. He'd visit them on a routine basis go to those in need, but for all things considered they sort of ruled themselves. A chieftain in name then anything, yet a name he earned. The night breeze was a little more brisk without his overcoat, but it was a calming briskness to it. He found himself smiling to himself when it appeared that Tanaka had finally fallen asleep.
[#33A1C9 "You seem to be in a better mood then I expected sir,"] Jiro disrupted his thoughts; Zakje glanced over to his shoulder where his second stood. He shrugged and kept smiling.
[#00C78C "Perhaps, or maybe something good has happened and I'm merely basking in the goodness of it,"] he offered with a smirk. [#00C78C "Shouldn't you be home with your kid? It's been awhile since either of us has been here, you don't owe me anything yet here you stand."]
[#33A1C9 "I owe you more then you give yourself credit for, as usual. Always so humble, as for Jaen he's hardly a child anymore, besides he's living his own life, seems his been part of the guard for a while now here, and rather you're a fan of this or not, sounds like he'll be heading over to the Southern Seas district. In fact I heard that Sano-san has already left back for his village. Jaen left with his retinue while you were out with Tanaka-san,"] he explained with a small, knowing smile.
[#00C78C "Is that so? As long as he doesn't become anything like Sano-san, I have no qualms about that and wish him the best. Still, it's unlike you to remain, thought you had that wandering itch that I have?"]
[#33A1C9 "I do probably has only grown after Yumeki, but I figured I should check up on you and that you didn't do anything recklessly stupid, just the expected stupid."]
[#00C78C "Glad to know you have such faith in my stupidity,"] Zakje remarked waving the thought away.
[#33A1C9 "I think this will be a good opportunity for you, sir. You need only call and I will assist where I can. I shall keep you posted on our people, good night sir,"] Jiro bowed to him and melted into the night. Zakje stood mildly dumbstruck for a moment staring where Jiro stood. He shrugged his shoulders.
[#00C78C "You're as bad a Miki at times when it comes down to it,"] Zakje spoke with a smile and turned back returning to his room for the night.
He may have returned to his room but he did little more than doze. It didn't bother him in the least, and very rarely did it ever show but he was up before too long. Seems he wasn't the only up and about he heard Miki do her rounds as well. She was always so considerate of everyone and spoiled all of them with her cooking; perhaps he could linger a little longer just to take part with that. The morning breeze tickled his nose jingling the charms in his room. Various images danced lazily through his head, nothing too worrisome as of yet. Perhaps his foreboding was for nothing, or whatever it was decided to conceal itself for the moment. He shook his head, again not wanting to make any rash decisions without knowing the whole picture. Zakje went about his waking routine to be presentable; since it sounded like only Sano-san left the others would still be there. Duties be damned but there was Tanaka-san to consider, she already had a rough start, no point to add to that with his own issues. Staying put wasn't going to get anything done so with a groan Zakje left the room blinking into the light. Others were up and about going through their routines; come to think of it he'd have to figure out some sort of routine for Tanaka before too long. He really wasn't one for setting up a schedule, which may have led him to think he was the wrong choice for this endeavor.
[#00C78C "Wondering about what could be is very much against my character, let it be,"] he clicked his tongue in annoyance. His meandering led to Tanaka's room, seems Miki had already gotten her prepared so she was probably down at the dining hall. What [i would] they say about him invading a woman's room not once but twice in such a short amount of time? He chuckled stepping inside he saw that Miki or perhaps Tanaka had folded his overcoat and laid it in the corner. Securing it around his shoulders he left her room once again and headed down towards the dining hall.
There was more cordial warmth in the dining hall today than it was last night, he could tell there was still a bit tenseness in the air but nothing compared to last night. He'd imagine that Miki had a hand with that, and with their duties taken care of there wasn't that oppressive professionalism in the air either.
[#00C78C "Come now Ogawa-san, you don't have to sound so put off by it. Besides we did settle the matter rather neatly all things considered, I figured that would put you in a better mood."]
[#567a24 "Late as usual Kaneko-san. You really should work on that lack of timing, shouldn't you have been here before your ward?"]
[#00C78C "Now, now, she's right there, and she has a name, no need to still sound put off by that. You're starting to sound like Sano-san. We really only need one Sano-san thank you very much. I missed part of the banter Sato-san but you could use a little more tact when it comes to our guests. I'd have to agree with Ogawa-san with that,"] Zakje announced taking a seat next to Tanaka. [#00C78C "And a good morning to you Tanaka-san, I hope you slept well."]
[#cf220c "Coming from the man who lacks any such thing, I'm not sure if I should be insulted or annoyed."]
[#00C78C "Annoyed, it’s easier to take things in stride if you are annoyed then insulted. You tend to miss things when you feel insulted, only focusing on the one causing the insult. Which would be me in this scenario, and really you always say you have something better to do then that, don't become a hypocrite while you are at."]
[#cf220c "How I miss your company at breakfast,"] Sato-san remarked his voice dripping sarcasm and venom.
[#5397c1 "Really gentlemen, get over yourselves we do have a pair of very lovely ladies here, no need to bore them with such banter,"] Date-san spoke evenly passing a wink towards Tanaka-san before turning back to his meal as Miki glared at him.
[#00C78C "Breakfast banter is far better than official banter, take my word on that Tanaka-san. All that put aside, I recommend you eat up while you can, not sure when you'll get another spread like this. I imagine we can start with basics, stick around the temple for most of that before we hit the road again. But I'll admit as I did yesterday, I do better with questions then explanations, I'm pretty much making things up as I go, perhaps for the best you got stuck with a whimsical individual as myself then one of the others who are a little more rigid. Seems we'll both be doing some learning."]
[#567a24 “As long as you don’t slack off, there is still a timeframe. I rather hate have to pick up after your mess,”] Ogawa interrupted briskly.
[#00C78C "We’ll cross that bridge when we get there Ogawa-san, I appreciate your concern but we haven’t even started yet. Have a little bit of faith, we may surprise you.”]
She was exhausted. So drained she could barely keep her own eyes open but sleep refused to grace her. The days events played over and over, the teary look her mother gave as Hana took off back to a safe place to call for Zakje once more.
Why was it haunting her this way? Hana stared off towards the ceiling. For such a large temple, with so many demons, it was eerily quiet. Once in a while it seemed some foot steps would walk back, muffled speaking, some of which she'd catch as the guard sauntered by her room.
"[i She's in there?]"
"[i [b Yeah, I guess Chief Kaneko is watching over her until she can...integrate, so to speak.]]"
"[i How could she ever fit into our society?]"
They had already made it past he room and enough away she couldn't hear their voices. How rude. Hana huffed, their words only making the ache of her situation worsen and the longing of her normal days increase. It wasn't so bad...he'd been very kind to her so far, but it was more than likely because of the elders words. He was doing this because he had to.
Which, all the more didn't help her depressive thoughts as they lingered. '[i Enough of that.]' she thought to herself rolling to where her back was facing the doorway. '[i Sleep.]' she demanded herself clamping her eyes shut.
It felt like she laid there that way for a long while before hearing footsteps coming close once more. The guards again? Hana kept her eyes closed and squeezed them tightly hearing the sliding door. Why had the entered without asking? Nervousness swept through her as she heard a light shuffling but suddenly felt... a jacket? Hana's eyes snapped open and she caught a glimpse of his charms and talismans. "Zakje?" But he was gone and his footsteps disappeared.
Hana barely grasped what happened until she looked down at his greenish overcoat he'd laid on her. Did he know she was lonely? Was he attempting to comfort her? She was curious if it had to do with the thing he'd clipped to her before. Hana couldn't help but smile either way. Even if it was just his duty...he was very kind and the heavy loneliness lifted, even if just a little.
She'd gone back under her covers, allowing her gratefulness wash over so he would know, and held the jacket close. Finally, with a small smile, sleep over took her.
Morning seemed to come all too soon. Miki was up bright and early prepared quiet the breakfast for not only Hana but the Chieftains who spent their night there. Though, the man they called Sano was the only one to return to his village that night. The rest stayed and seemed to enjoy being pampered by Miki.
"[i Good morning!]" She was cheerful and lovely as always. Hana rubbed the sleep from her eyes. "[i I hope you slept wall, Hana-chan! Oh, I hope you don't mind me being so forward.]" Hana smiled and shook her head. She needed more close friends if she were to ever live past the next 18 months. "[#892a57 No, no, it's okay! You're very kind, Miki.]" The girl smile grew soft. "[i I can only imagine how hard this is. Us girl demon's gotta stick together, right? Like pointing out a certain mischievous cheftain stopped by late at night.]"
Hana grew flustered. "[#892a57 How-?]" Miki picked up Zakje's jacket out of her futon. "[i I'll keep it a secret.]" Miki teasted, Hana rolled her eyes. "[#892a57 He was just being nice.]"
The two enjoyed a it of 'girl' talk as she helped Hana get ready. "[i You have to look your best around the Chieftains if they are to accept you as a female demon.]"
Hana took the advice to heart. Look nice, proper, and lady like. Not too much different than a human girl.
The two made their way to the dinning hall where the Chieftain were awaiting. The air grew a little stiff once Hana stepped in, but Date hardly noticed.
"[#5397c1 You know, Tanaka. You don't look too bad for a half-demon.]" Date spoke gruffly. He had a wolfish grin about him, almost as if he would eat her any moment. "[#5397c1 Maybe I shouldn't have let Kaneko-san take you.]" Hana shivered at the thought. "[i Leave her alone, Date-san.]" "[#5397c1 Ah, Miki. You know I meant nothing by it.]" His clear flirtatious attitude shifted towards her. But she was clearly annoyed and ignored him.
"[i Sit, Kaneko-san should be in soon.]" Miki gestured kindly. Sato let out a puff of smoke from his pipe, "[#cf220c How was your first night, Tanaka? You know, we can kill you anytime if you think it's too hard?]" his voice was thick with sarcasm but a hint of disgust. But he broke out in a cackle, "[#cf220c Wipe that look off your face, I was merely joking.]" "[#567a24 Perhaps sound like it, Sato-san.]" Ogawa, was it? He'd just walked in the hall, seemingly annoyed. "[#567a24 She is a guest now. Whether we like it or not...]" He mumbled the last part before taking his own seat.
Funny, you think with the way these Chieftain act they would hate each other...yet here they are getting ready to eat together as if close comrades. Hana patiently waited for Zakje, she wondered if he'd also join them for the breakfast feast or would they start their journey and her lessons as a demon?
Zakje tilted his head towards Tanaka-san feeling the shift in her weight against his body; no one could rightly blame her for the tiredness of the day slamming into her now. He smirked as he shook head as a means to tell her not to worry as they continued their pace through the woods slowly as the temple came back in to view.
[#00C78C "Come now Miki, I'm not nearly as irresponsible as you all seem to think I am, which is also why every Kaneko-san comes with a Jiro to keep him in line, even if said Kaneko ignores and tramples upon said line. As for my [i 'ill']] [#00C78C intentions, surely you wouldn't mistake me as Date-san? I'm a little insulted by that truth be told,"] he hung his head in his hand shaking it in disbelief. Before looking through his fingers with a mischievous smirk, as he chuckled with her. [#00C78C "Hai, hai, I understand when a man is asked to leave a woman to her privacy, no need to be so obvious about it Miki, I'm pretty good at reading the situation not as vulgar as Sano-san when it comes to such sensitive matters,"] he explained straightening up. [#00C78C “Sleep well Miki when you get there and the same to you Tanaka-san,"] he called over his shoulder as the two rounded the corner.
See himself to his usual room? Surely she was joking; Zakje couldn't remember the last time he actually slept in that room. But as custom with all the chieftains, each one has a room at the central temple for such times as these. As expected with Zakje's, his was on the farthest corner closer to the woods then the temple but within a decent walking distance. It was more a shack then a room, that served his needs just fine whenever he was required to come to the temple. It was still a mild surprise that each time he slid open the door; the room was still there and not turned into a storage room for everyone else who used the temple a bit more frequently. It had a futon, a dresser, a wash basin, and a small lamp. Its main purpose was a place to sleep if the weather wasn't the greatest, but even so, some of his best sleep was in the middle of thunderstorms, getting drenched. Sato-san often said fools don't get ill and used Zakje as his favorite example of that. Zakje didn't bother correcting him, for Sato-san was the fool for not understanding the freedom of it all. The other chieftains still called him childish for such beliefs, saying too much freedom was a curse then a gift, not knowing where to belong, and not knowing one's place is what they meant to say. At least he got that vibe from Sano-san. Still none of the others challenged him on it, and despite his youth he did earn his chieftain as much as the others, a fact some still found hard to swallow.
The necessities were generic, but comfortable in the room, it was the knickknacks that told the real story. Charms and talismans of all styles and make covered the ceiling and walls, each one holding a unique story. Zakje stepped into the menagerie of trinkets to open the window, allowing the night breeze to rustle through, creating all sorts of melodies clearing the dust off some of them. Yet they were melodies that few heard, for so few ever truly listen anymore. It depended on the individual, but Zakje figured it was because many forgot how to do it. Such an obvious skill that many just took it for granted and eventually forgot how to use it to its greatest effect, such a waste. But it was their loss, and most times it was his insomnia. So who had the better deal with that? Zakje laid out on the futon resting his arm behind his head as he dangled one leg off his knee allowing it to sway to the rhythm of the night. He felt a pang of loneliness as he looked knowingly to where Tanaka's room was. More residual effects of the bond, but at this rate neither of them were going to get any sleep his lack was nothing new nor did he care to worry about it. It was simple enough for him to ignore such effects as the bond, but the elders did say she was his responsibility. He blew a sigh and pushed himself up off the ground, leaving the shack.
There were other demons wandering through the night, some guards some the more nocturnal ones as some who recognized Zakje gave curt bows or nods in his direction. Not as though he was unrecognizable, but he was rarely on the temple grounds, and his choices as of late hasn't won him many new friends; many of the others still walking cautiously about their newest resident. Truth be told it was probably only him and Miki that would be caught openly talking to Tanaka-san, and maybe some of the other chieftains. She had a long road ahead of her, but she would have to start somewhere. Zakje stood in front of Tanaka-san's room; softly he slid open the door seeing her back was towards him. [i Now] Miki may have had a legit reason to be on his case, but he was nowhere near as bad as Date-san. He shuffled off his jacket, gently placing it on top of her, and leaving as quickly and quietly as he entered, the door giving a soft click as it shut.
Hana gently touched the necklace her mother left her with as she listened to Zakje speak. She couldn't help but be overly grateful, it seemed his peers distaste of her and her existence was less with him. Or at least, he was very good at hiding it. She was surprised at such kindness..seeing as her existence was 'forbidden' but Hana choose to drop the subject. Demon's take on gratitude and respect were to much higher standards and she should learn to understand them as to not disrespect any one in the future.
She returned the gentle smile he'd given her at the mention of the neckless she now wore.
"[#892a57 I suppose that's true.]" Though, parting with her mother was nevertheless hard and the tightness in her chest felt like it would never leave. But she felt herself relax with Zakje and was comforted by him and it made the ache a little more bearable. "[#892a57 Alright.]" Hana agreed with a nod of her head as she took his hand once more through the portal he'd created.
Hana was interested and wondered if she'd ever be able to use such magic. From the occurrence just the other day it seemed quite possible. As the two had come back to the woods they had started in Hana could feel the exhaustion really set in. Today's events came in as a blur and reactively tighten the grip on the other's hand and leaned in on Zakje for a moment before righting herself and letting go. "[#892a57 Sorry, I didn't realize how truly tired I was.]" She spoke with mild embarrassment.
She stuck close by Zakje's side as the two had ventured back through the woods. The moon over head with streams of light through the tree tops, it was truly serene. It was but a short distance as the temple grew into view and the young woman that had treated her before stood out by the stairs, seemingly awaiting their return.
"[i Ah, back from your walk?]" Her voice was pleasant and her smile sweet. "[i Kaneko-san, you know it's not good to take such a young woman out this late. Some may think you have ill intentions.]" She teased the Chieftain and Hana felt flustered at the thought.
"[#892a57 Well, of course it was nothing like that.]" The girl Zakje referred to as Miki giggled to herself as if Hana had missed the joke. "[i Come I have prepared you a room. Kaneko-san, you can see yourself to your usual room?]" She phrased as a question but it seemed more like a statement as Miki took Hana's hand and lead her away.
"[i It's awfully late, you should get some rest. Remember, you have 18 months.]" Hana nodded. "[#892a57 You're right. If I'm going to learn or prove anything I should get enough rest.]" Hana glanced back at the Demon chieftain who was in charge of looking over her before they rounded a corner into the temple and to a room that was much cozier than the room she arrived in.
"[i Nice and comfortable for you. I know today has been a bit of a whirl wind for you, but I hope you can relax and get some rest.]" Miki smiled sweetly once more before bowing and exiting the room, leaving Hana to her own thoughts. This would be the first night she was spending completely detached, alone, without her mother.
Loneliness edged its way into her stomach as she laid down on the futon provided. It smelled clean, fresh, unfamiliar and only caused more ache in her chest. Sighing, Hana closed her eyes to try and force herself to sleep but clearly, it seemed sleep wouldn't be coming tonight no matter how tired she truly felt.
Zakje waved her off again for good measure as she bowed to him in gratitude and sending her thanks. He wasn't used to such gratuitous gratitude for doing an overall simple task by his standards. But that would be his standards, and she was just beginning to understand the depths of difference between humans and demons. There was also her situation to consider, so it seemed a little silly to berate her for being grateful. Truth be told he wasn't used to it from a human, let alone a demon, but she wasn't really either was she? He released a sigh as he watched her navigate the familiar territory. He kept his distance and using some of his other gifts followed after her until he saw the lantern flicker to life and her mother step out. He bowed his head and excused himself from the vicinity, navigating back to the woods. The woods were different from the ones back at Yayama or rightly any demon territory. But it was encouraging to see them still thriving in their own way.
[#00C78C "Just like us I imagine, although tis easier to grow a forest then replace lives loss,"] he spoke with another sigh. He really wasn't a fan of human villages, they filled his head with pessimistic thoughts that were very much against his character. He so hated being something he wasn't, but at least near Tanaka's house he didn't feel that animosity, there was a genuine warmth with that place. Although it may have been slightly biased view of his having created a sooth bond with Tanaka. He was feeling a little guilty about that as well, but that was something he could get over. Creating bonds like that required some intrusion on his part he didn't like doing, seemed against his free spirted nature but it was a requirement. So he witnessed some of her memories, he saw a very young Tanaka learning to sew from her mother, her falling asleep in her mother arms, and other such daily things, that she no longer would have. He closed his eyes discarding the thought. It was out of all their hands, now they just had to pick up the pieces and make it work.
No surprise his musings eventually led him into the treetops as he leaned against the trunk and got a better view of the night sky. Even the stars seemed to twinkle differently, but there was a night breeze which helped to clear his thoughts. The wind always knew his moods, and exactly what to do to lighten them. It made him smile a little at the thought.
[#00C78C "You know me so well, don't you old friend,"] he spoke softly. He looked to where Tanaka's house was, at least there wasn't any incidents with her mother and the townsfolk, but that was mostly likely due to whoever brought her in they used magic to make the people overlook the event, or simply remember it differently. Truth be told probably one of Sato's or Sano's clansmen. He found himself humming one of Tanaka-san's songs, as there was a brief flash of an image in his head. He couldn't be sure, but it seemed to have been her mother standing next to a man, her father maybe? He brought his hand to his face feeling the tears, another side effect at times with the sooth bond. Feeling the emotions of the memory, but Hana wouldn't have been born yet, so how would she have that memory? He wiped the tears away, probably the melody itself had memory, and perhaps it was her mother's way of sharing her father with her? Zakje tilted his head, he couldn't get any readings on the man to possibly signify what province he came from, so much for getting any hints to her powers. Not that it would make a difference just because a demon resides somewhere they can have very unique skills compared to others from the same area. There was also the glaring fact if it was her father, he may not even be alive. Now his thoughts were going to his own sordid family issues. The wind blew again, a little harsher, causing him to lose his balance to hang from the branch he was standing on. [#00C78C "And like any good friend you know when to kick me in the ass to get me back in the game. You will always have my gratitude,"] he chuckled to himself adjusting his posture as the wind blew gently like a kiss rustling the charms in his horns. His issues were resolved, more or less, now it was time to help Tanaka-san with hers.
Zakje had come to terms with his thoughts as he continued to hum a medley of the songs from Tanaka-san's memory, the wind gently tinkling some of his charms along to the rhythm. There was a subtle humming different from his. He shrugged his shoulders and began to descend from the tree, landing gracefully away from Tanaka-san so as not to startle as he walked up to her, the wind rustling the charms a little more to alert her of his presence. He could tell she was crying but he wasn't going to call her out on it.
[#00C78C "Again with the gratitude? You needn't worry about that, as I said it was the least I could do. A friend of mine once said a parting need not last forever,"] he spoke loosely seeing the necklace. [#00C78C "And certain people never really leave you even if you can't see them,"] he finished. He gave her a gentle smile. [#00C78C "I have no doubt you are but, the lessons can wait. It's been a long day, and more are sure to follow, so let’s get you back to the temple where I'm sure Miki has already prepared a room for you,"] Zakje explained as he pulled one of his slips out and placed it on a tree. [#00C78C "We have time, so we shall take it one day at a time, and go from there,"] he offered his hand again and pulled them through the portal.
Hana watched the crooked fanged smile spread on the Chieftain before her. She felt her self smiling in return as the other spoke and tiled his horns in the way of the woods as they needed to go further.
She listened whole heartedly as they walked together. Learning how demon's respected each other and how more complex it was compared to her other world. The one of humans. It was true they held high respect for elders but also for samurai and those of higher power. But was it truly respect? Or fear?
Hana mulled this over as she continued to listen to Zakje speak and giving her very first lesson on being a demon. Hana smiled again as she continued to quietly listen , she was still apprehensive but trusted that demon's looked scary but were very honorable and trustworthy.
The two walked side by side a little longer until Zakje found a spot he deemed good enough. He had pulled a strand of hair from her head and she winced slightly as it stung for just a moment. But was in awe as she watched the fine piece of hair twirl in his fingers before he blew softly causing it to become as stiff and sharp as a needle.
Hana thought to herself as she closed her eyes and began to imagine her home '[#892a57 Thank you,]' she thought before her mind was crowded with thoughts of her home, her mother, the songs her mother would sing to her as she fell as sleep or pretended to before getting up from her futon and sneaking into her mothers.
It was only a mere seconds later warmth washed over her, it was soothing and she almost felt like she could cry. It was comforting and she opened her eyes to take his hand before they were seemingly all of the sudden at the fringes of her village. Not far from her home. Zakje's demeanor shifted slightly. Like he was uncomfortable or maybe even unhappy. Hana couldn't thank him enough, even if this was only going to be short and bitter sweet.
He shooed her off but before then she bowed deeply to him "[#892a57 I can't thank you enough.]" She finally spoke after a long silence with him before hurried along through the darkness to her home - or at least used to be.
Hana arrived just a moment later as they didn't live far off from the edge of the village. "[#892a57 Mother?]" she called out into the darkness of the home when a lantern flickered. "[i Hana?]" Her mother spoke and seemed to have scurried from her room, looking surprised to see her. "[i I didn't think you'd be able to come back.]" Her mother smiled, she looked like she'd been crying.
"[#892a57 So...you know?]" "
"[i I'm your mother, of course I know. If I didn't what kind of parent would I be? I'm just surprised they let you come say goodbye.]"
"[#892a57 Well....]" She started not sure how to explain that she wasn't 'really' given permission. Zakje and her just had a little agreement.
"[i Any case, I am glad to get to say goodbye properly.]" Her mother smiled and gave Hana a tight squeeze. "[i Be good, I am sure they are skeptical of you and you'll have to earn your stay.]"
"[#892a57 How do you know so much?]"
"[i Your father warned me when I fell pregnant with you. That eventually you'd be found and that your demon abilities would show. He didn't stay long after and after all that happened the other day I knew it was a matter of time.]"
"[#892a57 I am sorry if I caused any trou-]" Before she could finish her mother waved her hand to stop her.
"[i You did no such thing. You should go though, I am sure the kindness wont last long.]"
"[#892a57 I wish it was different and I could stay.]"
"[i Now, now, none of that. If you cry you know I will.]" her mother half-halfheartedly joked. "[i Let's not waste their time much longer. I am glad I get to say goodbye. I love you, Hana. Stay safe, okay?]"
She smiled warmly and Hana felt a tightness in her chest, she wanted to cry, to stay, but clearly that wasn't something her mother would let happen nor something that could happen. Hana pulled back her tears.
Defeated and she gave her mother one last hug. "[#892a57 I'll miss you.]" "[i Hush, hush, you'll be okay. We couldn't stay together forever.]" She smiled again, but it didn't touch her eyes as they both knew this was more than likely the last time they would see each other. "[i Take this, that way if you get a little homesick..]" she handed Hana a little neckless of a butterfly, one she'd seen her mother wear many times before. Hana smiled as she placed it around her neck. "[i Now go on, any longer and it'll only make things harder.]" Her voice was hoarse, emotional, as she shooed Hana back out the door.
Hana smiled sadly and kissed her mother's cheek before she stepped back out. The night air cold as ever. She didn't turn back knowing that if she did she wouldn't be able to leave. Hana had walked far enough that her mother was no longer able to see her.
Hesitantly, emotionally, she spoke out "[#892a57 Zakje.]" Knowing now that they would be going back and she would be starting her next 18 months of proving herself worthy of being anything but dead. It was almost in that second he was by her once more. She quickly erased the tears, trying not to look like a sad little human. "[#892a57 I am not sure how to thank you enough. You've spared my life and allowed me time with my mother.]" They had known each other a mere few hour or more and he'd already gained her respect. Hana had vowed to work diligently. If not to honor the kindness he showed her.
"[#892a57 I'm ready for anything you have to teach me.]" She looked up at the odd looking demon with a halfhearted smile. Her heart still ached but Hana knew dwelling on it would serve no good and if she wanted to live, she knew she would have to use every valuable second.
Zakje smirked crookedly one of his fangs peeking out from his lips.
[#00C78C "I had a feeling you would, but we need to go a little farther away. I could say it is to avoid prying ears and eyes, but as demons we try to respect one another's privacy, we can't exactly be caught in fighting over petty little things. Respect is a very important part of our society,"] Zakje began with a shrug tilting his head towards the woods signaling for her to follow him once more. [#00C78C "I can't say I've lingered much with humans in the past, but perhaps our respect could be compared to how your elderly are treated? By human standards it may seem like some entitlement, that a human has lived so long that has earned them respect? There is a little truth to that in demon society but it's more than simple age. If age was the only thing that garnered respect, I can assure you I would not be a chieftain. Respect is earned, the means one obtains respect varies as much as there are types of demons."] He tilted his horns back towards the temple. [#00C78C "You've already seen we come in a variety of shades and hues; that includes powers. We'll need to do some tests to see where you fall in that, but again I digress. You needn't worry, we have time, and despite our looks and powers, we honor agreements, promises. We were lied to in the past, and promises were broken, one of the many events that led us to where we now stand, if you can trust in anything I say now, you can trust that you will be given your chance,"] he shrugged his shoulders and released a heavy sigh. [#00C78C "So how about I shut my mouth and start working on that wish?"]
They walked a little further, until Zakje paused and looked towards his back catching the flickering lanterns from the temple. Overhead the moon shone through the leaves creating a silvery dapple effect on the ground.
[#00C78C "This should be as good a spot as any, now I require a couple of things from you,"] he grinned as he quickly plucked a strand of her hair. He twirled the strand between his fingers a couple of times before bringing his fingers to his lips and blew softly. The strand straightened instantly like a needle as he began to twirl that between his fingers much like an impatient child. He held the needle of hair between one pair of fingers as he handed her the blank paper. [#00C78C "Close your eyes and imagine your home, in as much detail as possible. Memories in that place with you and your mother,"] Zakje spoke softly. [#00C78C "Most mothers have a lullaby for their children, recall yours,"] he began to tap the needle in the air to a rhythm all its own. The paper began to shimmer and grow warm in a soothing way. [#00C78C “Now take a deep breath,”] Zakje snapped his fingers and the needle snapped in two as they were engulfed in light.
Zakje emerged first holding out his hand to help Tanaka. It took a bit of effort on his end to not cringe at the change of atmosphere. He avoided humans as much as the next demon, but human village always had a draining like atmosphere to him. Perhaps it was his wondering spirit that didn’t like the idea being tied down, or caged being the more realistic result when it involved humans. He had the placement right to be on the fringes of the village and it was at night so there was the less likely chance of running into them. He wasn’t a chieftain for nothing.
[#00C78C “Take your time, I won’t be far,”] he smiled. The broken needle was still in his hand; he cupped the pieces and hummed a gentle tune as he unclasped his hand revealing a pair of small red wings. He clipped one wing to his ponytail as he handed the other to Tanaka. [#00C78C “Call my name, and I’ll be by your side; until you can earn your own wings. Now get moving while it’s still dark,”] he shooed her on her way.
Hana was hesitant to walk with the man outside. It was true the weight of everything, the information, the fact she couldn't see her mother again. It hasn't truly set in. At thing point, Hana was merely in shock from it all but her mind lagged to truly understand it.
18 months. That's all she got.
Zakje gestured her to come once he reached the doors and Hana pulled herself from her thoughts to quickly catch up to him.
The night hair was a little chilly but refreshing, it made her realize just how exhausted she'd be come in the short time they were in the temple for. The events were slowly setting in, her shoulders slumped, and her chest was tight. Even if she got this chance, what's to say in 18 months they don't just kill her?
Hana couldn't shake the depressed feeling that was washing over her but luckily the cool night kept her grounded. She had little time to be sad over it all, little time to process it. If she were to live..she had to use ever ounce of the 18 months she got.
She had stayed silent as she walked along with Zakje, listening to him intently. He spoke of how the Chieftains had parts of their society they ruled over. How he had no settlement, no home land, that he merely wondered and so did his people. Questions did bubble up. How did he stay in contact with his people? Did they travel as one large pack or just scattered staying in random villages?
They had reached just the edge of the temple. The outskirts more like it and Hana had gotten to see a few of the more townfolk people. Though, they appeared to have less power they still seemed like strong beings and their outward appearances differed so wildly. Hana knew she must stick out like a sore thumb.
Zakje spoke again, Hana agreed. She had lots and lots of questions but she was very tired. Zakje posed a question.
Would she like to see her mother? At least for closure. Hana had stayed quiet this whole time they had been alone. Not sure how to speak or what to even say. "[#892a57 Really? I could see her?]" Her voice was soft as she looked at the blank paper he's slipped out.
Hana looked up at his smile. She was very grateful, he seemed to be a very kind and generous Chieftain. Hana smiled back at him, "[#892a57 I can keep a secret. Thank you.]" Hana held back the tears that threatened to fill her eyes.
Her mother wouldn't be too mad, right? She probably knew all along this may happen. "[#892a57 At the very least, I'm content with seeing her once last time.]" she spoke more to herself, almost as if she was trying to convince herself it was okay that they wouldn't be able to see each other again.
Somehow it felt like Zakje was had, like Arashiro had this whole thing planned from the beginning for him to get stuck with the girl.
[#00C78C "I'm not so sure admitting defeat is the same as acceptance sir, nor do I care for what the others have to say. I don't intend to change their minds, I can't do that for them, but so be it. Say what you will,"] Zakje responded with a shrug turning his back to Arashiro and took to leaning against the wall. Zakje glanced to Arashiro then to Tanaka about the terms. He clicked his tongue in mild agitation. [#00C78C "Aye, I understand the weight of my responsibility but..."] he glanced back to Tanaka but shook his head as she agreed to the terms. [#00C78C "Not sure how much that would be."]
[b "You're quick to belittle yourself when it comes to matters like these. Showing little concern, but perhaps that is one of your better qualities, I believe you will do what you can to help her,"] Arashiro spoke over his shoulder and left before Zakje could say anything to that. He blew a sigh beginning to feel a headache come on as he looked over to Tanaka.
[#00C78C "Well you remembered that at least Tanaka-san. But I wouldn't thank me yet,"] Zakje stated as Ogawa spoke his peace. It was probably for the best if he kept his mouth shut, it was a rather nice statement coming from that chieftain then what he had given to him.
[i Now] they were finally alone, and he didn't have a clue what to do.
[#00C78C "I wouldn't say that either. I can imagine the weight of the situation hasn't rightly settled in for you yet. You're being forced from what you know to something probably straight out of a fairytale,"] Zakje broke the silence first. [#00C78C "Walk with me, it’s late but I imagine I can tell you a few things at least,"] he began as he pushed off the wall and walked past Tanaka he paused at the doorway and gestured for her to follow him. The night air was crisp and refreshing as he took a few deep breaths. [#00C78C "I believe it was Miki that prepared you for that gathering? She probably didn't get a chance to tell you much of anything. Our society is scattered, the proper term would probably be broken if I'm being honest. The five chieftains that you met are in charge of the different parts of our society,"] Zakje paused. He never was much of a teacher, let alone a babysitter, but he'd have to get used to it sooner or later. [#00C78C "My situation is unique in which I have no set territory, I'm known as chieftain of the wondering. Perhaps another reason why you got handed to me you can see more of our world then if you were with one of the others. However I believe that is enough from me for the moment,"] he ended scratching behind one of his horns.
Where they had stopped it was on the outskirts of the temple. A few other demons were moving about; no doubt word has traveled about their visitor. Zakje rested his hand on the back of his neck looking towards Tanaka then back towards the temple.
[#00C78C "I do better with questions then broad explanations, but I imagine it's late and you would like some sleep. Miki can take care of a room for you while you're here. But I have a question for you,"] he fished through his sleeve pulling out a blank slip of paper. [#00C78C "Would you like to see your mother? It would be against that bit of leaving your human life behind, and although you were brought here against your will, you still agreed to the terms. But it seems a tad unfair to expect you to drop everything so...messily. I would like to offer you some proper closure on that chapter of your life,"] he offered with a smile. [#00C78C "I can keep a secret if you can."]
Hana lifted her head from her from her bow as the chieftains began to argue over who would watch her. Relief began to fill her as they were seriously considering saving her life.
It was overwhelming what had all just happened, the information, that fact that her life still hung on the balance and really could tip either way. There were some tears she shed but was quick to wipe them away as the others began to file out.
No time to act like a weakling now and have them second guess her. That was the very last thing she needed.
All that left was herself, the elders, Ogawa-san and Kaneko-san. It seemed that Kaneko-san had given in, he was going to watch over her, and for that she had to thank him.
Arashiro was smiling beneath his lengthy white beard. "[b Very well, Kaneko-san. Your acceptance may well earn the respect of your peers.]" He paused before continuing on to the terms. Hana perked up as the elder looked back at her.
"[b You will learn of our ways, our traditions, from here forth..you are no longer human. You've left that part behind and we expect you to act as a full fledged demon. You have 18 months from this day forward and if in 18 months you come back without having learned what we deem satisfactory nor have gained any trust...we will have no other options.]"
The elder seemed to have harsh words but his eyes were gentle. Hana stood and bowed deeply. "[#892a57 Thank you. I will do my very best.]" "[b That's not to say, if you try anything that Kaneko-san deems to be a threat to us demons within the 18 months you are to stay with him-]" Arashiro looked over at Kaneko. "[b He has the elders full permission to kill you right then and there.]"
Hana looked over at the male. She felt a bit of a shiver, but understood these terms. "[#892a57 I understand.]" Arashiro nodded. "[b Kaneko-san, be sure to teach her as much as you know. She will need all the help you can provide. You are dismissed.]" Arashiro and the other two elders bowed to the two remaining Chieftains and excused themselves from the hall.
Hana was timid to approach Kaneko. She couldn't act as such now. She felt obligated to thank him, he was giving up 18 months to help her. Even if he was a little unwilling.
The girl approached him a little closer. "[#892a57 Kan-]" She stopped herself, remembering he had asked to be called Zakje "[#892a57 Zakje-san, thank you. You have no idea how much this means.]" Hana bowed deeply to him.
The other Chieftain spoke up. "[#567a24 You may be half-human, but that doesn't disregard to the half-demon in you. I wish you luck on this, Tanaka. You as well, Kaneko-san.]" Hana didn't hesitate to bow to him as well. "[#892a57 Thank you, Ogawa-san. I will do my best.]" With that, Ogawa sheepishly smiled at them both and also excused himself from the hall.
It only left them two. Hana nervously shifted, and glanced up at the male, "[#892a57 I look forward to learning everything I can about being a demon from you.]"
This was going to be her life for the next 18 months. She had to be respectful, listen, and do her best to keep her nose clean with Zakje-san or she risked the chance of dying. Either by his hand or...the larger males golden cold eyes popped up in her mind and she shivered. Hana certainly didn't wish to see those cold daggers for eyes on her like that again.
He was truly a terrifying beast. Zakje certainly had his quirk about his appearance as well. Hana gazed up at the horns that hung charms and talismans...it was almost whimsical and She had preferred his less terrifying appearance over the other Chieftains.
There was that nagging sensation in the back of his head as Zakje continued to listen to the banter between the chieftains about the fate of Tanaka Hana. Like an itch he couldn't quite scratch, he tried to absently scratch at the thought as his hand brushed against one of the talismans in his antlers, a gentle chime singing through that only he ever rightly heard. It seemed like her fate was going to be sealed so Zakje was all but set to leave, there was clearly a majority for her death amongst the other chieftains as well as the elders, what the elders said was law, more or less so what good would it do to say anymore?
[#00C78C "The more we talk the less likely she will be allowed to leave still breathing, since you have [i clearly]] [#00C78C decided her fate why prolong this farce of a trial? Sano-san seems all the more willing to kill her himself, that or Sato-san. If you had a choice, Tanaka-san, I'd recommend Sato-san. He's a bit cleaner with his kills, painless even for the victims."]
[#DC143C "That's probably one of the nicest things you've said to me, I'm touched. But I will decline having anything to do with the child. I'd have to throw my vote with Sano-san. Forgive me Arashiro-san, but I do have far more pressing matters to attend to then something as trivial as this, so with your permission I must be excused,"] Sato spoke as he stood and bowed towards Arashiro.
[b "A moment Sato-san,"] Arashiro spoke stopping Sato as all eyes went to Ogawa and Zakje. He wouldn't say he was actually [i defending] her it seemed more like he was stating an obvious fact to a child that the situation did seem a little unfair.
[#6B8E23 "There are options-,"] Ogawa began until Tanaka interrupted him. Zakje covered his mouth swiftly in an attempt to conceal his snicker at the look of disbelief as the girl interrupted Ogawa. Ogawa clearly wanted to say something else but Arashiro beat him to it. All the chieftains looked to the elder at the mere thought he was going to allow this child to prove herself. It was laughable that he was willing to entertain such an idea. Sano was the first to recover from the shock, clearly shaken that the elder would allow such a thing. Sumida was all too eager to join Sano in that statement.
Zakje felt that tickle of a sensation again as all eyes went back to him.
[#00C78C "No, no way in hell am I doing this."]
[#DC143C "Now that look of shock suits you, Kaneko-san, I'm glad I stayed. But I really must be off, for this situation has clearly been resolved, at least to the point that I'm needed to be here,"] Sato spoke doing little to hide his smirk as he bowed to the other chieftains and elders as no one stopped him as he left the hall.
[#33A1C9 "Have fun Katsu-kun. Seems that mouth of yours has finally decided to turn against you. It was bound to happen with your flippant behavior,"] Date finally spoke chuckling wolfishly as he stood as well bowing towards the elders. He ruffled Zakje's hair to the point he grimaced as he left as well without another word.
[#CD3278 "I must admit, as Arashiro-domo has said this is rather interesting,"] Hiroki the last of the elders finally spoke. Zakje could never get a read on that one. Sumida was easy to figure out; he kind of hated everyone and was willing to do anything to keep everyone feeling under his thumb. Arashiro kept him around because when he wasn't being such an ass, he did have a good head for tactics. Hiroki was the quietest of the lot, and truthfully probably had the most of Zakje's respect. [#CD3278 "What do you think Ogawa-san,"] he turned his gaze to the only other candidate for babysitting.
[#6B8E23 "Sir, I believe Kaneko-san would be the best fit to watch over the girl."]
[#00C78C "Now wait a minute! Don't I get a say in this debate?"]
[#6B8E23 "You said plenty when you defended the girl. I may have as well, but you did so first with no hesitation something rather unlike you. If we're being honest you are closest to her in age. Perhaps she would feel more comfortable and may actually do something with this chance,"] Ogawa remarked as he stood.
[#996633 "We can't trust her, so you want to pair her with the other least trusted person here? A bold move may earn your place here Kaneko-san or show your true colors like certain others-"] Zakje was on his feet with his hand on his hilt ready to draw in an instant. Hiroki was quicker, Zakje didn't even see him as the old man managed to be standing right beside him with his hand covering his keeping the sword sheathed.
[#CD3278 "Sano-san I believe a decision has been made, thank you for your input and you may leave now,"] Hiroki spoke levelly not showing a hint of frustration or anger as Sano backed down, bowing to the elders and leaving as well.
All that remained were Ogawa, Zakje, the girl, and the elders. It seemed it was a losing battle, and then Zakje released a groan, relaxing his posture as he finally got an answer to that nagging sensation, hindsight was never his friend.
[#00C78C "Aye, very well I'll keep an eye on the girl,"] Zakje admitted, mildly defeated but he shook his head. [#00C78C "I'll watch out for Tanaka Hana. Arashiro what are the terms of her proving her worth?"]
It was now that the younger ones that seated themselves around the elders began to speak among themselves. The much, much larger man spoke out in a booming voice.
[#ab714f "The answer should be obvious, kill her before the situation escalates,"] but all Hana really focused on was 'kill'. Her heart felt like it was going to beat right out of her chest, her head light and her hands began to tremble...but she didn't want to show weakness. Not if she was ever going to get out.
Hana seated herself to regain control of her emotions and folded her hands in her lap to stop them from visibly shaking. Trying to keep her mind calm and sharp. Panicking right now wasn't going to help. The Chieftain continued to speak and argue about what they were going to do with her. Half-demon came up again? The elder, Sumida, had mentioned before she was only half-human. It didn't take long for realization to hit her.
Clearly these men weren't normal. They seemed godly like in power and appearance..but the stories were merely stories? No time to truly process what's even being said about her or the situation.
Eventually the room finally had turned their attention completely back to her as the man that called himself 'Zakje' spoke and asked for her name. Even the elders quieted down and focused on her. [#892a57 "My name is Tanaka Hana."] She mustered out her voice and did her best to not seem fearful, but her voice still wavered.
"[b Tanaka-san,]" the eldest spoke her name with a moment of pause.
"[b It is that merely your birth in of itself is a crime.]" Hana blinked in confusion. How can she commit such a crime when she had no choice in the matter? "[b But the real issue is you almost uncovered what we had worked so hard to hide. Demon's do not fear humans but wish to never interact with them again. If they were to know we still existed...who knows what wicked things they may try to do.]"
It started to make sense. Her mother didn't tell her pretend stories..they were real. Hana's eyes flickered to each man in the room. Their people had suffered a great deal due to some of the nasty beings that lived in her world...but how was Hana at fault? "[b I can see you're still confused. Do you not remember just yesterday? I am sure you are well aware of the power you exerted to those men on the street corner.]"
Without hesitation, [#892a57 "I was protecting a young boy. I had no idea..."] her voice trailed off once more as her eyes fell to the hands that tightly balled up in her lap. It was true, she did some how release this 'power' from her hands...but she had no idea how or even how she could do it again. She felt angry, scared, she didn't want to die. Not for something she had no control over.
[#892a57 "Until just yesterday I was a human girl. Nothing different. Now today you tell me otherwise? That I am at fault. I believe this is unjust!"] She found herself shouting, tears of frustration in her eyes. Though the eldest, Arashiro, seemed amused by the outburst but the others were quiet the opposite in their reaction to her outburst.
[#ab714f "You are in no position to speak of what is unjust nor raise your voice at the Elders. How are we to just assume you're not lying? Half-demon or not you're still partly human...and still untrustworthy. Clearly this girl has no respect..my opinion still stands."]
His voice was cold, his eyes even colder, if looks could kill Hana would have died a thousand deaths. A cold chill down her spine and she was quick to quiet down again. "[b Now, quiet down, Sano-san.]"
"[#cf220c Yes, no need to get so hasty, Sano-san. She's clearly lashing out like a terrified little rabbit wanting to live.]" his words seemed to be in her defense but the smile and his eyes said he'd personally cut out her tongue if she spoke like that again.
The one they called Sano let out a gruff sigh but quieted down. "[b You're right, as was Kaneko-san, and Ogawa-san. But we simply can't let you go back to the human world. There is just too much information that you know now. What shall we do? I don't suppose the Demon society would be so kind to accept her.]"
"[b [i Of course not!]]" Sumida shouted. "[b [i She a walking reminder why we don't mingle with humans. Who would allow such a thing to continue.]]"
"[#cf220c Well, surely we can't just sit around all day. I have other business to attend to. What shall it be?]"
"[b Well, lets ask those who defended her.]" She followed the gaze of the rest of the men to those who did speak up in defense. The one they called Ogawa and Zakje. "[b What do you say? If she cannot return to her home, and demon's will seemingly reject her?]"
Why should she allow her life to rest in their decision? Maybe if..."[#892a57 What if...]" Hana started and their eyes all snapped back to her. "[#892a57 What if I prove myself worthy to be apart of your society? I am half-demon after all...I think I have that right.]" She bowed with the request, keeping her eyes on the floor, saying a partial prayer in her head.
"[#ab714f Not possible. Who could trust her? Surely none of us would want to babysit this girl until she ultimately fails.]"
"[b [i I agree, Who would even watch over her?]]"
Hana could feel her heart sinking but continued to bow deeply. "[#892a57 All I ask is a chance. My life depends on it.]"
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