Hiyori and Yato walk in silence. Some boys from late practice pass by and one makes a pass at Hiyori. She responds by dragging a screaming Yato around the corner.
"Yaboku!" She uses his real name as emphasis, "What are you doing?!"
"Eh- Nothing!" He clams up immediately, hoping his fluffy scarf and night sky concealed his red face.
She rummages through her bag and finds a small plastic square bag. She thrusts it out to Yato, who looks at it apprehensively.
"It's for Yukine. Don't open it."
"Huh? You got something for him?" His face twists into a sly smile as he receives the gift, "Anythin' in there for your favorite god?"
The brick of a blunt refusal drops on the god quite literally. In fact, multiple bricks came down. Yato pushes Hiyori out of the way and turns towards the building top, where a wolf of otherworldly hue skitters about the wall's edge, pushing debris down. It is wearing a white mask with a single eye. An Ayakashi. It sniffs once, twice, then looks down and growls menacingly.
He grabs the girl's hands and they begin sprinting down the street, the beast in close pursuit.
"Of the times I don't bring Yukine...!"
As they make a sharp turn, Hiyori pulls a loose stack of straw rods loose. They clatter and fall, but the wolf easily bounds over them.
"No! Yato, that's-"
Before she can protest, he pulls her around another bend. This time, they end up in a dead end alleyway. Yato looks about frantically.
"Yato! I tried to tell you-"
"It's okay! It's okay!" To her surprise, he hoists her up, "I know my way outta tight spots!"
The wolf comes prowling and sees no one. Where was its prey? The scent leads up. It cranes its nose upward and sees the god hop just over the roof, having jumped wall to wall holding the human. Yato makes a neener face at the wolf just before disappearing. The wolf growls and howls a long note.
"Oh no ..." Hiyori glimpses other masked Ayakashi appear, "It's called its friends."
"They all have masks... Shoot, someone's controlling them. They don't usually gather like this-"
A large claw bursts from behind and swipes at Yato's back, costing him his footing. He bites back a yell. As luck would have it, they were just in between buildings. Hiyori gasps a little when she sees blood. Yato merely grips her tightly and they both fall down into the gap. They both land heavily onto the ground. Hiyori is largely unhurt, Yato having effectively cushioned her somewhat. The giant bear Ayakashi drops down on all fours and roars triumphantly. Other Ayakashi gather, some slithering and crawling, others guarding the rooftops. They all leer at the trapped prey, but make no further movement.
"Yato... Yato?!" Hiyori squirms out of his loosened grasp. She tries to rouse him. Her eyes look about nervously at all the phantoms.
"Unh..." Yato winces, gripping his side. One shoulder of his suit is torn open, revealing torn flesh. His back is seeping with blood from the bear. In labored gasps between pangs of pain, he tries to reassure her, "Hiyori … don't move..."
A loud screech is suddenly heard. The Ayakashi all look up in fright and begin to paw furiously. Hiyori clasps her head, trying to shield her ears. Yato grits his teeth and squeezes his eyes shut. The noise is kicked up a single hertz and suddenly the Ayakashi shatter like glass, cleansed. The masks clatter to the floor. A waraji sandal touches the ground softly, followed by another, as a deity in a divine cloak descends gracefully.
Yato opens one eye cautiously. The sound has stopped. This stranger turns around and he can see a plum branch in his right hand. The cloaked figure offers his free hand to Hiyori. She hesitates, then grasps it. Then he helps Yato up.
"T-thank you," Hiyori bows, breathless, "We would've been dead if it weren't for you, um … Mister …"
"... It was nothing," The rescuer responds in a throaty voice.
"Hey, she just asked you who you were!" Yato blurts, pointing his finger accusingly, "And I'm curious too! I'm pretty sure I saw you today at the cross-section with all those cloud Ayakashi!"
"Yato!" Hiyori tries to shut him up, "I'm sorry for his-"
The stranger holds up a hand and stops her mid-sentence, "I'm sorry. That was impolite of me. But as you can see... I am a Magatsukami. It would do you better to not know who I am."
"Oh, another god of destruction, huh? Well, you're lookin' at a former one right here!" Yato puffs his chest out proudly, "'Course I'm a god of fortune now!"
Hiyori slaps him lightly on the back, making him cringe from his wound. He doubles over, much to her surprise, "OW!"
"Oh, oh, I'm so sorry, Yato! I forgot..." She looks to the god who saved them and bows briskly, "Thanks very much for the assist. I better get him to a place to heal though..."
"Oh, of course."
"Um … if there's anything we can do for you..."
"You can tell me where Tenjin's shrine is. I'm kind of lost."
"Huh? But you can't miss it, really..." Hiyori pauses, "There's a school just west of here, go down the main road from there and you'll run into this long path of stairs with two statues. The shrine's at the very top."
"Much obliged... Your tail's sticking out."
"Eh?" Hiyori glances behind to see her 'cord' exposed. She'd slipped into projection unknowingly. Again.
Exam week proved busy work for Tenjin's shrine. The keepers scurry about, making sure visitors were happy and keeping the courtyard clean. Streams of students eager for passing grades bow at the torii before continuing beside the Sei-chu. At the offertory box altar, they respectfully remove their head-wear and throw in the usual five-yen. Ring the bell, bow twice, close your eyes and pray in earnest, clap twice and one final bow …
Tenjin wanders among the goers, mingling and observing. He is especially close to the young girls, blushing if they mentioned his name in praise.
"I can always trust on Tenjin to give me a boost!"
"Last time I had, like, no time to study! I prayed and I passed!"
Tsuyu smiles at her lord's jubilance. Despite one side of the hill having caved in, he was still in good spirits at least. His face suddenly changes when the crowd shifts, allowing him to glimpse the straw-hat sticking out in the crowd. Fudou Magatsuhi.
The Magatsukami seems to notice him as well. A little girl follows by his side obediently, a plum branch sticking out of the side of her head. They both make their way to the Sei-chu before the temple doors, staring quietly. A tension builds in their stares, unspoken.
"You're doing well," Fudou coughs, breaking the staring contest, "Better than I thought."
"... What are you here for, you Magatsukami?" Tenjin spits out the last word. Magatsukami. God of depravity and calamity. He could just barely stand Yato as it was, "Surely not to disrupt Heaven at this time of year?"
"Would anyone be foolish enough to brashly do so?"
"I don't know. These have been turbulent weeks," Tenjin says, recalling the events of Bishamon and Ebisu in the recent time, "I plan to keep my realm in order, at least. Now, what do you want?"
"Hm..." Fudou takes off his hat and looks about with little interest, "Some wine of purification, maybe? Or do you still have that Water Place where they wash their hands? And an Omamori charm would be nice-"
"Are you making fun of me?" Tenjin sternly cuts him off, his eyes angling in quivering rage, "Do you take me for a fool?!"
"No. I speak in earnest," Fudou arches his eyebrows upwards, taken aback by the hostility.
Tenjin feels Tsuyu grip his arm and loosens his expression. Sighing he relents, "Take what you want. And get out."
"You're still mad as ever, Sugawara No Michizane."
A loud rumble of thunder issues, though there's not a cloud in the sky. Students turn to see that all the lanterns have fallen, crushed, by the temple steps. The chatter is reduced as a nasty gale sweeps through.
Tenjin turns slowly, aura blazing, to the Magatsukami, ready to blast him to pieces, "You dare utter that name here, you lowly Amemasu?"
"Hey, that's not nice you old fart!" The little girl accompanying Fudou retorts, sticking her tongue out in insult.
This only adds to the god's rage. The air only thickens with brimming energy, ancient energy that once almost destroyed the shishinden in Tokyo. Fudou moves in front of the girl, quieting her. He gets down into crouching position and pushes the girl down as well. She kneels reluctantly, albeit some mutters.
"... I only wanted to gauge you, Tenjin. I meant no offense," He speaks calmly, in even tones, "Please forgive Ume's tongue. Ume, apologize."
"Urgh … Sorry."
"Get out … GET OUT!" Tenjin roars.
Fudou remounts his hat and the two quickly make their exit. Tenjin tears away from Tsuyu and enters his own quarters, slamming the panel door extra hard. Tsuyu cringes at the sound of furniture flung and broken. By then the crowd had largely vacated. Class was starting.
"What was that all about?" Mayu asks Tsuyu. Many of the other shinki are huddled in gossiping groups.
"That was the Magatsukami Fudou Magatsuhi. He came for some things … and called Tenjin by his old name."
Mayu breathes sharply. Tenjin was a touchy person about his past as the violent ghost of the exiled scholar. In vengeance, he'd hurled lightning bolts at and flooded the Imperial City. Humans only deified him posthumously to appease him. To this day, he had his reservations about humans. Yet he continues, as the God of learning, to dote on students like Hiyori Iki.
"... Another Magatsukami is here? Why didn't we report him?!"
"Heaven is currently not speaking on such matters they consider trivial. Hopefully this passes over as just a cloud," Tsuyu murmurs, "He seemed peaceful enough, that Fudou."
"...Was he an old acquaintance?"
"... It was a long time ago. A strange god with a straw hat came from the northern island. We thought him to be of Ainu origin, like those other gods that have been forgotten. He and Tenjin never interacted extensively, so I'm not really sure of their exchanges."
"...That was an odd shinki at his side. She had a branch sticking out of her head!" Mayu decides to change the topic.
"I don't know. I feel some sort of kinship with her, I'll say. But I don't think she's ever been seen here before..."
"So she might be a plum spirit like you, Tsuyu-san?"
"... That would be a viable explan-"
The chatter is interrupted by a sudden tremor. Though slight, the shrine area felt especially susceptible. The surrounding buildings barely noticed their drinks ripple. The shrine workers did not take heed to anything. It was only felt by those non-human.
Birds flew from the temple in haste when several rats, large as a person's face, burst forth from the shrine floor. They spread from the shrine in large numbers, carpeting the ground with what looked like a moving brown carpet. Tenjin's shinki shriek in terror as the wave of rodents scurry underfoot. A loud groan is heard from the cordoned-off area of the shrine where it collapsed. It sounds like the gnashing of many metal blades.