Date: October 26, 2012
With Fuuta's Trail accomplished Soren must now walk the road to the shrine with his heart open.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Kitsune Crisis Part 5: Soren's Trail"
The Shrine of Beginings (Kitsune Realm)
With Fuuta and Sakuryu successful in their trails they'd be lead back to the Myobu Resistances HQ. Fuuta was in pretty bad astral condition and needed to rest. But both have received the Hoshi no Tama of the Myobu and were advised to return them as soon as possible. This left Soren alone to complete his last trail which leads him down a path with dead trees lining both sides of the pale white path. The ground was hard and brittle. The sky was a sickly grayish hue and as Soren walked this path he'd find in the distance what looked to be a shrine. It seemed to be a good ways away. Gengoro lead Soren to the path and told him that the shrine is just straight down the path at the other end. He also mentioned that Soren's trail would be down this path too and the only help he could offer Soren was a fragment of advice "Follow your heart". Gengoro departed with Fuuta back to the HQ but not before Fuuta got in a couple words at Soren. "Hey Tough Cookie. Now don't take this the wrong way but your girlfriend's eyes creep me out. Kinda makes me feel uncomfortable." Fuuta states with a stern look at Soren. "But I'd rather her eyes remain that way than become filled with sorrow. Regardless how you feel about her eyes you agree with that neh? Well make sure you don't let that happen." and with that Fuuta departs with Gengoro.
Soren's path seemed to stretch on for miles and miles. He didn't seem to come any closer to the shrine ahead. He'd also not that there were no land marks or anything he could use to determine the distance he's traveled. All the trees looked the same, the path ahead remained untraveled, and the sky had not a single cloud; the gray was everlasting and perpetual.
Soren makes a motion towards Fuuta and nods. "Don't worry buttercup, it’ll take a lot more than an angry fox and some trials to take me out." he says with a grin. But as his path departs from Fuuta and Gengoro, he makes his way down the path laid out before him. Soren had no problem walking for extended periods of time… but after a little while of seemingly no progress, it started to get a bit ridiculous. So he decided to poke his boundaries a bit, picking up the pace to a jog, making sure he had gotten this spirit movement thing down pat before he tried anything too outlandish. For now he was content examining his parameters, her coming up with a plan of action from there. After a few minutes of running, he also tried stopping in place to see what would happen. Maybe it was the ground moving beneath him?
As Soren picked up the pace there would be nothing of change to note. However as he continued he'd soon find a voice within his head muttering fragments to him. "Don't look back…." that's all the voice said. Soren now would hear something louder and clearer from behind him. A growl, a ravenous growl. The sounds of saliva being whipped from the maw of some beast lets Soren know that whatever was behind him it was big and hungry. He could then here the encroachment of the beast. The mesh of its mighty paws against the dead brittle ground growing louder and louder as it approached. Its bestial heaving breath came ever so much closer and was becoming louder until Soren would feel the hot breath on the back of his neck. It reeked with the smell of decay and rotten flesh. It was about to sink it's fangs into Soren.
The creature seemed to be on him near immediately. He didn't have time to be slowed by something like this. He had purpose, and reason to keep moving, but very little to turn and fight whatever it was that was behind him. Natural fear urged him to turn and look, but it wouldn't matter regardless if he couldn't make it to this orb. Just as it felt like the creature was about to chomp, Soren leaped forward, going from his idle jog, to a dead sprint hoping to outpace the beast, relying instead of on combat skill, on stamina and speed. Not the most elegant, solution, but it accomplished what needed to be accomplished.
When Soren broke into a sprint the beast seemed to stay right on his heels. Not once did its breath leave the back of Soren's neck. Once again though a small weak voice called to him yet again. "Stop…." it told Soren. But whether or not he'd heed the voice would be up to him. But as luck would have it the breath disappears and the beast seems to have given up chase. Soren would find that he's alone on the path again, by the sounds of it at least. The shrine would be no closer what so ever. He'd expend a little of his stamina as well. His astral form would flicker. But it was still strong.
If Soren continued he'd see something up ahead. It looked like a man. He too was walking. As Soren came closer he'd not doubt discover that this man was himself. But there was one difference. This replica of Soren had both his real arms. It continued on almost as if it was unapproachable but Soren would near it sooner or later. As he neared it would go on as if Soren wasn't there. The voice came again. This time it was even softer and weaker. "Look away…" it muttered.
He shook visibly as his body faded in and out, but he continued regardless, until he saw the other version of himself. He growled, and stopped in his tracks again, his eyes closing, as he looked away, a snarl on his face, clenching his one remaining fist. It was likely some sort of Genjutsu. The fact that someone had the gall to put this up in front of him was infuriating in and of itself. Regardless, he seemed to be doing what the voice said, even if it was for different reasons, as he turned a bit off the path, to avoid the clone of himself.
Soren has the right idea and continues past this image of himself. He would've made it along uninterrupted but he could feel something tugging on his prosthetic arm. His own voice could be heard now talking to him. "Why did you let that happen? So weak…." he remarks. He tugs even harder on Soren's arm. "Open your eyes." the voice calls out to Soren. "Why did this happen?" he'd ask himself. His replica kept pestering him with the same question. Soren would then find his neck being squeezed tightly. By his own hands he was being choked and it would feel very real to him. In fact it was real. The hands clasping around his neck were unyielding and savage. All the while the replica kept asking him begging for an answer. "Why are you so helpless?"
Soren's throat constricts at the savage hands, his eyes snapping open, as he glares at the spectre. "Because… we are weak… we are helpless… but life doesn't stop for us you selfish sunuva…" he says, his hand coming up to the opposite elbow, and rolling it, attempting to escape the grapple and move on. "It happened because I am weak. But I've never let that stop me before, and it won't stop me now." he says, looking around. That voice… it was so confusing. He needed to start ignoring it. It seemed only to be there to add to the strangeness of this place.
The specter eyes Soren back hardly and shakes it's head slightly. Its arm starts to fade away then it completely vanishes. "Well I hope you're strong enough this time…." it whispers back to him before completely vanishing. Soren would find nothing else on the path now. The trees seem to have all disappeared and the shrine was no longer in sight. The ground below him and the sky above was all that he could see. But that would change very soon. Before him stood a small orange golden eyed fox pup. Around its neck were shackles. It seemed to be injured as well. But it looked at Soren and approached him "They've invaded your heart." it warns him. Before it can elaborate the pup is put under the paw of a larger dark brown-furred fox.
"Stupid little pup. Be quiet. Oh well it doesn't matter. We've distracted you long enough…" the fox grins at Soren. "You've fallen into our trap human. TO think those weaklings would resort to using humans to fight their wars." It would shake its head and sigh "Nevermind that now. Let's get rid of you." The fox stands back and at both his sides rise shadows, formless shadows. On the fox's left the shadow begins to take shape. The shadow calls out to Soren "Hey Pup. It's been a while." Soren should recognize this voice but i he didn't he need not worry. It's form would come and there'd be no mistake in the identity of the figure that now stood at the Nogitsune's side. On the fox's other side the form took the shape of Yuzuna. The Nogitsune smiled "But I'll give you a fair chance. I've invaded your heart and it's only moments before your body will be mine. But…well I'll let your friends explain it to you."
Asuka started off "Ugh basically this guy needs to take root in your heart to possess your body completely. Right now you're still at the beginning of the path. You haven't taken one step towards the shrine." Asuka looks to Yuzuna. She then speaks "Soren you have to choose one of us for the Nogitsune to overshadow and replace in your heart. After that he will proceed to take your body if you don't then…" Yuzuna looks down. The Nogitsune sighs "Then I'll just erase you."
Pain welled in his heart, as he sit there, catching his breath again. He looked at the fox pup for just a moment, before the larger fox stepped on it. He started to rise, panic swelling as the gravity of his situation dawned on him, the realization that… this could very well be his end.
But how? How could he choose to let one of these two go? Yuzuna, the love of his life, and the woman he wanted to spend all of eternity with? Or Asuka, the wise mentor that he had come to love and respect as a father? How could he choose to lose either of them? His heart ached with the weight of the situation. He looked down at the fox pup for a moment, then up to the dark brown fox atop her. "So… what you're saying is, whichever one I choose… I'll forget? I'll cease to care for them?" he says, his body tightening, his hand clenching to the point where his fingers dug into his own flesh. "Answer me this, then, furball." he says, looking between the three of them. "If I pick neither of them, I'll die. But if I pick one of them, to forget, I'll be spared?" he asked. A terror dug its icy claws into him. A fear, and a rage he'd only experienced twice before. Once at the hands of Fuu Ka, the man who controlled the Beast of Blood. And once at the hands of Rankoro Akuro, the man who took Soren's arm.
The Nogitsune smiled. "Sparred…sparred a horrible death yes. But I'm afraid that once I take root in your heart, as in take the spot of one of these two whom you will then cease to remember, your astral form will belong here for eternity." The Nogitsune explained. "Now choose." The Nogitsune demanded. The fox beneath the foot of the larger kitsune looked to Soren. "He's leaving a part out." a voice would ring in Soren's head. "You can force him out of your heart." the voice calls to Soren. "You must make a wager. He can't resist a good gamble." the voice advises Soren. "Well then? Who will it be Soren? Yuzuna or Asuka?"
Fear still tore at Soren's heart. Such a crippling cold, as it tore into his chest. But he closed his eyes, and took a nice deep breath. "You… think you're so superior… ambushing a foreigner in a land he barely understands, and thinking you've outmaneuvered him." he smirks a bit. "Such a superior little junction aren'tcha? Let's make a little wager then. I won't choose either of these two. You're in here." he pats his chest. "You should know that. But, I'll make this little deal. We will participate in a little… game of wits." he says grinning a bit. "You win, you can do with me what you will. If I win, you lose your captive. I'll even sweeten the deal. If you win, I'll show you where my allies are. No doubt they've recovered two of the Myobu orbs your kind was so desperately struggling to defend." he says, with a quirk of his brow. The icy grip of fear still gripped his heart, but he was starting to shake it free.
The Nogitsune grins "Oooooh you think I am wrong in believing that I'm superior to a whelp like you?" The fox grins and lets his paw off of the smaller kitsune. "Foolish human. Fine then I'll play your game. It'll give me a chance to prove your insignificance." The Nogitsune moves back and Asuka and Yuzuna fade with him. Then a door is constructed. The door is then split into two doors. One on the left of the Nogitsune and one on the right. Yuzuna then appeared at the left and Asuka appeared at the right. The Nogitsune grins wickedly at Soren "Ahh this should be a good game of wits. These two doors are very important. One leads me out of your heart. The other one leads me to your core and thus your spirit." The Nogitsune grins. "Now your two friends here are gonna help you send me through the appropriate door. One of them will lie to you…the other will be as honest as you /think/ they are. Hehehe oh and for flavor…." Asuka and Yuzuna both begin to fade into the shadows from which they came. "You've got a time limit. They'll both disappear if you take too long and when they do you'll forget them and then I'll take your heart anyway…." The Nogitsune laughs showing sharp fangs. "Are you ready? Clocks tickin' pick a door and send me through it."
Asuka has always been honest, and Yuzuna has no need to lie in the culture she was raised in, so one will tell the truth, and one will tell lies. If that's the case, then "How about we sweeten the deal. I finish this in 3 questions or less, and you let the little one there go." he then waits for the Nogitsune's response before starting his own.
The Nogitsune inclines his head "3 questions or less?" The Nogitsune then looks to the smaller pup. "This one? Haha this pup has the ability to peer into the hearts of others. Otherwise rather useless…but I guess she did help me with your heart." The Nogitsune hums "Alright fine. You've got a deal. But hurry…" he looks back to Asuka and Yuzuna. Half of each of their bodies already have faded into the shadows. "These better be short questions. I don't know if they'll last three questions." The Nogitsune taps with its paw showing impatience. 'Sorry…I can't help you here.' the voice from before rings in Soren's head.
Soren grins, and looks up to the other two. "Point to the door you're… eh… floating in front of." he beckons the imitations of the people closest to his heart.
"That's not a question." The Nogitsune grins and as such both Yuzuna and Asuka do nothing. Yuzuna seems to wince a little bit and Asuka shakes his head "Come'on pup…" he mutters. The Nogitsune looks back to the two. They're time was almost up "2 questions left…." he grins at Soren. "No pressure."
Soren snickers. "Ah… crafty one. So 3 questions left. Since, you yourself said it's not a question." he grins. "Which is the door you stand before?" he asks with a smile.
"Hmm well time was your real enemy. I guess you still have three. But that was back when they had time for three…barely three that is." The Nogitsune grins. "But now well forget three…you barely have time for two…" Only heads of Asuka and Yuzuna remain before their respective doors. When Soren asks the Nogitsune grins. "I stand before the door that leads out of your heart." Says Yuzuna. "I stand before the door that leads out of your heart." Asuka answers. "You should be more mindful with your questions lad…that just cost you the game.
Soren smirks. and nods. "Final question. What do you see me as?" he asks with a nod, confident in his final question.
The Nogitsune blinks "What kind of question is that?" he asks. Only small fragments of either remain but they manage to squeal out an answer. Yuzuna answers first "Someone who I can trust and confide in. Someone I'll always love." While Asuka answers "A burden. An annoying brat who's can't even use what I taught him to protect himself, let alone others." With that both Yuzuna and Asuka would've faded into nothingness. "Well that's all three of your questions. Too bad you failed to send me through a door. Both your friends are gone…looks like I win." The Nogitsune chuckles and raises one leg high. Razor edge claws aimed for Soren. "Now time to reap what you sew." but before the Nogitsune could swing he felt a sharp pain at his side. The smaller pup bit him sharply. 'Quick force open the door out of your heart!' the voice commands Soren. Which door would he open though? The left or right?
He turns to the door on the left, before turning back to the Kitsune. "You… you little… you have twisted the image of my mentor into something horrible… you have attempted to turn me into a puppett, and worst of all… you have hurt the innocent, and tried to go back on your word to me, you little…" his rage boiled forth, nearly uncontrollable as he glared at the nogitsune. He bared his fangs in a snarl. "Game over. I win." as his body retook it's shape, a right arm forming from the stump shoulder, extending out in a perfect expression of Soren's fury. What revealed itself, not a hand, not a creation of flesh and blood, but a vicious looking prosthetic limb, ending in a clawed hand. Soren rushed forward, snapping the brown fox up with his new appendage, gripping the creature's throat, as he shifted direction, twisting his body and dashing towards the left hand door, swinging with all his might, and slamming the beast against the door, smashing it through the barrier, and through to the other side. "Go on, scoot you little fork stain!"
"Ayame you little!" the larger kitsune snarls. But as Soren seizes the beast by its neck it squirms. "No wait let's make another deal! I can give you your real arm back. I can reunite you with Asuka…wait wait!" but Soren's mind was made up and as he smashed the Nogitsune through the door the realm he seemed to be in was shattered. There was darkness for a while and then Soren would awake before the path that he had originally started out on. There was no sign of the Nogitsune or the other fox pup with him. Soren was back.
When Soren came to, he took a look around, glancing about, making sure there was nothing else around him, before sighing. "Thank you, little fox." he says, rising to his feet. He looked over at his right shoulder, his vicious looking arm, still there. And with a long breath… he let out a cautious sigh of relief. He looked forward, his shoulders back, and his breath steady. He then turned about for a moment. That other fox… the nogitsune… he likely wouldn't release Ayame without Soren's help… but… there was a job that needed done. One that he absolutely had to finish first. With that, he kept moving, towards the temple before him, hoping the orb he sought would be within.
Indeed Soren was free of the Nogitsune's possession. As he walked the path he'd notice that this time the road head would become shorter and the shrine would get closer. Next thing he knew he'd be right on it. And there on an altar would be the hoshi no tama. As Soren approached it he'd feel a burning in his chest. A strange light escaped his chest and landed on the orb. The light took shape and form and it was revealed to be Ayame, the small fox that helped Soren out. "Thank you. I took refuge in your heart. It seems during my master's game you opened a spot for me in your heart. I found it and escaped there." Ayame bowed her head. "This is what you're after right?" it picks up the orb and leaps onto Soren's head dangling the orb in front of his face. Ayame would drop it into Soren's hands. "I hope it isn't too much to ask but could you do me one more favor? Could you take me back with you?" Ayame asked of Soren. With the orb recovered Soren was free to do as he wished with the young pup.
As the light sprang from his chest, Soren leaped back, getting ready to fight off the Nogitsune again… but as Ayame appeared, he couldn't help but smile a bit, stepping forward, as she started to speak. "Thank you… Ayame. And it would be my pleasure to take you back with me." he says with a smile, bowing just a bit. "Thank you… for all your help… Ayame was your name, right? Well… this looks like the start of a beautiful friendship." he says with a grin, reaching up to pet Ayame with his left hand, scritching her behind the ear, as he starts to head back.