Mar. 5th, 2012

voidbearer: (The Void)
"Did you see the paper this morning, Saori?"  Grandfather asked, quietly munching away on a piece of dry toast.  His wide, hairless forehead furrowed in obvious displeasure.

"No I didn't, Grandpa.  Why do you ask?"

"Daiki Kubo made the paper again.  You know, that boy you used to go to school with? I never liked that boy, you know? He was nothing but trouble."

Saori sighed heavily, already knowing where this was going.  Her long, dark hair swished as she turned to walk off, hopefully ending the lecture before it started.  Whenever someone she went to school with came up in conversation, the old man would always rant and rave about how stupid it was of her parents to send her to that public high school instead of a respectable private one.  The old man had been a teacher for almost forty years at St. Michael's Catholic School for Girls in Shinjuku, and he was very set in his ways regarding education.

"Bah, waste of space, that school of yours.  Seriously, go check out the paper and see what they are saying about that rat Kubo," he went on, regardless of the fact that his granddaughter was ignoring him.

Flippantly waving one hand over her shoulder, Saori made her way into the next room and flopped down lazily into the recliner, staring blankly at the television which had been left on the local news station.   Hazily, she felt around for the remote control, her hand scrabbling on the table next to the chair.  Finding nothing, her fingers began probing into the seat cushions, her delicate digits sifting through the accumulated dust to no avail.

"Dammit, where did that thing go?"  Saori mumbled, looking around the room.  Groaning, she sank lower in the chair, looking for something, anything, to keep her distracted from the newspaper that was sitting on the table.  She knew what had happened last night, and didn't want to read about it.  But there the paper sat, just taunting her until finally she leaned over and snatched it.  Tearing it open, she thumbed through until she found the article Grandfather had talked about.  The more she tried to avoid reading it, the faster her eyes moved along the page.

"Dammit Daiki.  How could you be so stupid?"


voidbearer: (The Void)
 It was days like this that made Saori regret moving to Yamagata.  From November till March the entire prefecture was one gigantic snowdrift.  The white stuff just kept piling up and piling up, meter after meter until it was pretty much impossible to get anywhere quickly.  To make matters worse, half the roads were blocked up with snow, so she couldn't even take her car into the shrine.  So, here she was, walking from her little home all the way up to Mount Haguro, just so she could sit up in the honden and freeze for a few hours while nobody even bothered to make the pilgrimage up to see her.  In the spring, she knew she'd have many visitors, pilgrims come to visit the Daughter of Wind and Rain. Even a testament to the existence of the divine couldn't drag a human out of the comfort of their home out here if it could be avoided.

As she trudged on through the snow, her blue and white robe shifting in the chilly winter air, Saori silently wished that she'd been granted dominion over more than just rain and thunderstorms.  She absolutely hated how she could pass through a torrential downpour completely dry, but even a hint of snow and she'd be soaked through.  Perhaps it was all a nasty prank from the winter gods that ruled this sleepy stretch of backcountry, but in the modern age even they didn't have as much power as they had once held.  Could they even command the elements as they had in times long past, or had science and reason encroached so far that there was no mystery left to winter in the mountains?  

With several kilometers still ahead, Saori pulled her hood even more tightly over her head, small hands clutching at the sky-blue fabric.  Covered in snow as she was, it was nearly impossible to note the herons lovingly embroidered all over the kimono, but the black crows that spotted it were even more plain.  High above, feet clutching a telephone wire sat Samjeok, the enormous corvid that followed her wherever she went.  The creature watched, cawwing merrily at its mistresses discomfort but never leaving its lofty hideaway.  Had it been another time of year, he wouldn't have dared, but she was nearly powerless in this dreary winter, a fact the wicked bird was unlikely to forget.

"You know, there are times when I REALLY don't like you," she mumbled, only to receive a peculiarly loud squawk from Samjeok.

Up ahead, a truck loomed in the distance, its massive tires festooned with chains to allow it to move through the snow.  The enormous metal monster roared past, spraying up muck and grime and coating the hem of Saori's robe.  Snarling, she twirled and shook a fist at the driver, sparks crackling along her fingertips.  The energy couldn't go far in this weather though, so she dismissed it with a grumble.  Times were tough, and winter was the worst time of all.

"Asshole" was all she could think to say as she continued tromping down the road.

 It twisted and turned, weaving its way through the sleepy village where she resided.  The streets in front of the main shops were clear enough, the owners salting the sidewalks so that they could maybe get some business.  Everybody suffered in winter, and as time went on, these little rural hamlets were the hardest hit.  Tourism ground to a halt, and the locals barely left their homes, so most of the shops closed in the winter, with the majority of shopping being done at convenience stores and small, family markets.  And high above it all loomed Mount Haguro, with its thousand year old shrine and massive temple complex.  "Black Feather Mountain" as Westerners knew it had long remained an isolated locus of spiritual power, with few outsiders coming near until Saori had adopted it as a home.  Her status as a divine champion had revitalized the area, bringing in pilgrims, New Agers, and even the odd occultist or hedge mage.  

Quietly, she trudged onward until at last she stood before the massive torii gate that marked the entrance to the main complex.  Resting atop the arch was Samjeok, his black, beady eyes narrowed down at her.  Quorking merrily, he fluttered his wings and gave her as smug a look as a crow possibly could give.

"Quiet you," was all Saori could think to say as she slid open the wooden gate, opening the temple for another sleepy winter day.

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木村沙織

August 2015

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