Metaphysical Graffiti - Hikari Oshou's Tale
Copyright 2017 all rights reserved, all characters are property of their respective creators
"Stars Can Frighten" - Pink Floyd, "Interstellar Overdrive"
Beginnings have their place in all, young ones. For myself, it was centuries ago. This country had our first official emperor, and all seemed right with the world. I was just a humble monk back then, training under the High Priest of this same temple, and was on my way to achieving mastery of the secret rites and rituals, when the Oni invaded.
Momotaro? Where was Momotaro you say? Well.... Legends and myths were born of more mundane things, Yurie-chan. There was no heroic peach boy of fairy tales that saved us. Only monks like myself, and the newly-formed Imperial Army who stood between the Oni and all of Japan.
It started when the stars fell from the sky one night, cascades of them, ribbons of blue and white dropping from the heavens, some falling to earth and making the people believe that another great jishin was on its way to topple their homes. We had no idea that the heavy vibrations in the ground were actually the footfalls of an approaching army of real live ONI. Devils from the past, made suddenly real had revealed themselves to us in the flesh. Priests prayed to their gods in vain, for the Seven Gods of Luck had abandoned us this night. I ran to hide in the back of the temple, as I was only a boy then and couldn't fight. I ran and ran until I couldn't remember where I was. Everything seemed very unfamiliar. That's when the walls caved in, and I was knocked unconscious by a large stone.
When I finally awoke, everything was upside-down. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that I had been tied up with rope, and hung by my ankles about 10 feet from the ground. As I looked about in a daze, I saw the remains of villagers, monks, soldiers.... And my teacher, the High Priest. All of them had been violently dismembered - literally pulled apart - and some had been partially eaten. I wondered to myself how the gods could allow something like this to happen, and that's when I heard the scream off to my left.
Two Oni, larger than a human, bearing tusk-like fangs and distorted features had descended upon a shrine Miko, and were attempting to play a game of "Tug-of-War" with her. As they each grabbed one of her arms, she screamed again. That's when the voice came. I wasn't sure if I had heard it or it was just my imagination. All it said was "SAVE HER". It wasn't my own voice, it was a woman's voice.
Again, the voice came: "Save her, Hikari. I will help you."
"Who are you?"
"I am she that may be found within and without. I am the air, the land, the sea. I am life. Heed my call, and become a hero, Hikari."
Ha. Yes, you guessed correct, both of you. It WAS Chocora Megami-Sama. I felt a warmth enter my body, then something like an arc of lightning shot through my soul. I found myself ripping free of my bonds, dropping to the ground, and grabbing the nearest thing I could find as a weapon. It was a naginata, a long polearm with a sharp blade on the business end. Everything was a blur of fire and blood after that. I felled both Oni before they had known they were dead. The shrine maiden was overjoyed to see me alive, and we both started to make our way out of the ruins. Before we left, I took a small idol and medallion, so that when I rebuilt this place it would be in the name of the goddess Chocora. To this day, it is still a one-deity temple. You will not find anywhere herein a mention or visage of the gods and goddesses who had abandoned us that night.
We wandered for three years, but it seemed an eternity. We fought different Oni in different towns, and not one looked identical to the other, as you see in old paintings and woodcuts. When we finally reached Kyoto - the Capitol at the time - We discovered that there were no Oni anywhere. They had covered all of Japan, but left Kyoto alone. Upon meeting with the Emperor (who was actually an EMPRESS - I'll tell you more later) we discovered that the High Priest of the palace temple had been the one who brought the Oni upon us all, by making a pact with the Anti-Chocora. He wanted to rule from the shadows, and didn't care if every single person in Japan died, as long as he remained safe. Kyoto had actually become his prison, although he didn't know it yet.
It's getting quite late, and you two need to get some rest. You've both had a very busy day, and my story is far too long to tell in one night.
No, No, you both need your sleep. I'll keep watch. Good night, Mei-chan. Good night, Yurie-chan.