August 23, 2012

Okurokami - part 15


   Wisps of clouds crossed the night sky as wan moonlight fell upon the mountain’s flank. A small pyre danced shadows in the mouth of a sacred cave, a long forgotten place of ancient power. The clean smell of burning pinewood soured as Taizan no Seimei fed the small flames with pages from the cursed foreign book he had gone to such pains to retrieve. The pages came alive, shriveling and hissing in vain attempts to escape their ashen demise.

   The mystic had been disappointed with the book: it had turned out to be the writings of a madman whose sole purpose was to bring ancient and uncontrollable evil into the world… He realized that it would be useless in bringing the corrupt Tokugawa government to its knees. Instead he had resolved to tax his powers to the limit and raise army of fallen warriors to fuel his revenge.

   It was time. Taizan touched the flames and they turned cold and brilliant green. The unnatural light was a beacon compelling wrathful spirits to return to the world. Its brilliance intensified the surrounding shadows and seemed to mute all sounds. Darker and darker the space around the mystic grew, til finally it seemed that the only thing keeping the oblivion from devouring him was the sharp sphere of silence and light emanating from the preternatural flames… Though there was nothing to be seen or heard, the obscurity was filled with a strong sense of mute malice. He knew this would be the time when he would the most be at risk, the moment when he would have to impose the strength of his will over that of the restless spirits, when he would have to dominate the hunger of the dead with his spiritual power, when the slightest mistake could cost him eternal torment.

   A sound tore through the silence… the sound of something that has lost the ability to recognize pleasure from pain, madness embodied in a tortured shriek of laughter that somehow conveyed infinite despair.

   The mystic’s absolute focus wavered for just a moment and the eerie green flame vanished. Darkness and silence. Absolute darkness and silence. Small specks of iridescent green lights appeared in pairs… They seemed distant and diffuse at first, but they came into focus as they swiftly and soundlessly moved forward, piercing the grand veil. The eyes, as he now saw them to be formed a ring a dozen or so paces away from him. A ring of eyes reflecting a light that was no longer there.

   A shadow crossed the baleful green gazes as it slowly circled in the darkness between the mystic and the ring glowing eyes.

“You said I could bring her back…” The accusation came from the darkness in a raspy sing-song voice that trailed into mirthless giggles.

Seconds passed, during which the mystic struggled to regain control.

“You were almost right…” the voice whispered close to his ear.

One by one the pairs of eyes closed.

A candle gutters, the tide crashes against the rocks, the tempest rages, and finally it dies.
The oblivion swallows all to the sound of vicious soul cutting laughter.
A vain scream is stilled in Stygian darkness.

A fading voice like a bitter memory riding an ill wind from over the Sanzu river,
“Almost was not enough.”