I do not own any characters, except my own. The book of life and it's characters belong to Jorge Gutiérrez. Kubo and the two strings belong to Laika.
In New York City, there were many exciting sights and places, including lots of museums. However, there was one museum that different than all the others. On the surface, it appeared to be like any other museum, but unbeknownst to most people it happened to be the favorite museum of the god-couple La Murete, Xibalba and their friend the Candle maker. Through the day was bright and sunny, the normally cheerfully La Murete's facial expression was the opposite of the weather as she appeared behind the museum window. As she continued to look out the window, her husband Xibalba teleported behind her. Sensing her saddened mood, Xibalba gently wrapped her arms around her and whispered "It's the anniversary of her death, isn't?"
La Murete could only nod in response.
If Xibalba was being honest with himself, he hated seeing La Murete like this. Grief was not an emotion that gods dealt with often. Even though they had kept their promise to their friend, even though that she had been reunited with her husband and son long ago, the knowledge that neither their friend nor her family could experience the joys of the land of living again alongside the couple still stung.
Just then, they heard the familiar sound of a bus pulling up and parking in front of the museum.
"They're here." La Murete said as her yellow eyes widen with shock.
"Well, we better get ready my dear." Xibalba said, feeling better that her grief was momentarily gone.
La Murete nodded and with a snap of her fingers, the goddess in red that was made of sugar candy was gone. In her place was a redhead tour guide named Mary-Beth. Xibalba soon followed suit and with the snap of his fingers, the god made of black tar and ectoplasm was gone. In his place was an elderly security guard with tanned skin and a white beard named Guicho.
"See you later, Balby." 'Mary-Beth' said in a flirty tone.
"It won't be long, mi amor." 'Guicho' replied.
With that Mary-Beth vanished and reappeared in front of the museum entrance. As Mary Beth walked outside she found the candlemaker's human self, Mr. C having trouble with the children, just like he did with the detention kids from before. However, instead of five children, there were fifth teen this time.
"Mr. Mizuki's class?" Mary-Beth called out.
At once, the children stopped teasing Mr. and started paying attention to the friendly looking tour guide.
"Are we going to tour through the history section again?" Asked a spiky copperhead boy. "We've been there last month." He complained.
At this, a Chinese-American girl shoved him in the ribs. "Don't be such a jerk, we might learn something cool."
At her words, a black-haired girl, a light brown-skinned boy, a Japanese-American boy, a mixed Chinese-American girl and two twin white boys nodded in agreement.
"Thank you, Stacy. But please don't hit Danny, again." Mary-Beth stated before turning to the group of eight. "You're names are Nancy, Cole, Bradley, Amy, Mark and Mitch correct?"
"Here." Cried the group of six.
"Wait, how do you know our names?" Stacy wondered as she readjusted her purple hair clip.
"Your teacher gave me a list." Mary-Beth replied as she turned towards the other seven children. "Hiroto, Lilly, Polly, Marina, Isa, Edison and Naomi?"
"Present!" Answered all seven children.
"Now that we got that out of the way, allow to introduce myself. My name is Mary-Beth and you won't be going to the history section this time. You're different than most children, you need to see something special." As Mary-Beth finished explaining she walked towards the wall.
"Wait, the museum entrance is that way!" Called out Isa as her narrow periwinkle eyes widened with concern.
"Do you really think the main museum entrance is the only one we have?" Mary-Beth said with a mischievous smile. With that, she revealed a blended in secret entrance in the wall.
"Woah!" Cried all the children. As they followed Mary-Beth the down the hallway, Danny could be heard whispering "And I didn't want to come to this thing."
Sometime later, Mary Beth lead the children to a dark room. "Behold children, the glorious beauty of Mexico!" She cried as the lights switched on.
As she finished speaking, the children began to 'oooed' and 'ahhhed' over the many objects in the room.
"Wait, a minute." Bradley interrupted. "If this is a room all about Mexico, than why is there a Japanese sword, armor and a guitar here?"
At his words, the class turned to see Bradley pointing to a set of golden samurai armor, matching helmet and sword and a shamisen guitar on a shelf close to him.
"Ah...there's an amazing story behind that armor, helmet sword and Shamisen." Mary-Beth started to say as Guicho entered the room "And it can be found in the book of life." She added as she walked towards a Humongous book.
"The book of life?" Lilly questioned in a South African accent.
"Wait, what's a Shamisen?" Cole wondered.
"It's guitar from Japan." Answered Bradley, Naomi and Isa at once.
"Yes, and the Book of Life contains every story ever written." Mary Beth explained as she began to flip through the pages.
"How?" Was all Mark and Mitch could say.
"That's a secret. Now some stories maybe true and some stories maybe false, but the one thing we know for certain is that Mexico is the center of the universe; and in the center of Mexico was a town named San Angel." Mary-Beth narrated.
As Mary-Beth paused, Marina beamed behind her.
"Because San Angel was in the center of Mexico, it was and continues to be visited by two gods named La Murete and Xibalba." Mary-Beth recounted.
"Who are they?" Amy wondered as her pigtails bounded alongside her confused head.
At this Mary-Beth gave her a smile and answered "La Muerte is the ruler of the land of the remembered, a lively afterlife, she's made of sugar candy and sees the best in mankind. Xibalba is the ruler of the land of the forgotten, an awful afterlife, he's made out of black tar and sees the worst in mankind."
"But you know they're not the only god and goddess in the world. In fact, La Muerte made friends with a Japanese Goddess named Sariatu, who was one of the daughters of the Moon King." Mary Beth added. At the mention of the Moon King, Mary Beth friendly tone, slightly became filled with anger.
"Sariatu, who's she and what she a goddess of?" Polly inquired as curiosity filled her light green eyes.
"Don't you mean she was a goddess." Guicho suddenly spoke up. As Mary-Beth and the children turned to stare at him, Guicho suddenly felt a sense of embarrassment.
"I'm so sorry for interrupting, please continue." He quickly said as he shifted his gaze towards the floor.
"Excuse me, when you said "Moon King" earlier, do you mean that he's a god too?" Naomi piped up.
"Clever girl." Guicho said with a smile. "Yes, the Moon King was a god and his daughter was a goddess, until she fell in love with a human." He added.
"What happened to her?" Hiroto asked as a look of worry came over him.
"You'll see." Mary-Beth answered her voice resuming her normal friendly tone as she found the page she was looking for. On the top of the page, in bold italics, were the words The Tale of Kubo. Below the title was a picture of a twelve year Japanese boy carrying the same Shamisen on the shelf and wearing an eye patch over his right eye.
Before any of the children had the chance to ask about Kubo's eye patch, Mary-Beth said "It all started as La Muerte and Xibalba were visiting San Angel one evening many, many years ago."
The stars shone brightly on the town of San Angel as La Muerte watched Manolo and Maria Sanchez welcome two brand new additions to the family, outside their bedroom window.
"Wait, Manolo and Maria Snachez?" Edison wondered. "Who are they? I thought we going to hear a story about Sariatu and Kubo." He added.
"Don't interrupt." Guicho scolded the young Native Hawaiian-Japanese-American boy.
"Besides, they'll have an important role in the Tale of Kubo later on." Mary-Beth added before she continued the story with. "As I was saying…"
"Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez." The town doctor said with pride. "You have two beautiful daughters." As he finished speaking, he placed the two crying bundles in a tried Maria's arms.
"Oh, they're beautiful mi amor." Manolo whispered as he stared at the babies in awe.
"Si." Whispered Maria as she adjusted herself into a sitting position on her bed.
La Muerte smiled at the sight.
A year has passed and they already have children of their own. They will make excellent Sanchezs. the ruler of the land of the remembered thought to herself.
"What will we name them?" Manolo wondered with delight.
Before La Muerte could hear Manolo and Maria decide their daughters names, a voice that she hadn't heard for many centuries suddenly appeared in her head.
La Muerte, help me! 'cried' the frightened voice.
Sariatu? Is that you? La Muerte 'wondered.'
Yes, please hurry. My sisters took my husband from me, and they almost took Kubo! Sariatu 'pleaded.'
With that, La Muerte teleported out of San Angel and arrived on a island in Japan. Unlike San Angel's clear sky, this part of the world had a stormy night. Before she had the chance to look for her old friend, she heard her husband Xibalba appear right beside her.
"Not I'm complaining or anything, but my dear why did you leave San Angel so suddenly?" Xibalba questioned. "It's not like you at all." He added.
"It's Sariatu, she contacted me and she needs my help." La Muerte explained.
"What did Sariatu say and how did she manage to contact you?" Xibalba questioned.
"During our last meeting, I secretly gave her a metal. If the Moon King and her younger sisters ever turned on her, all she need to do was bend the metal and I would be there." La Muerte explained.
"I hope she finally found the courage to leave that heartless excuse for a father." she added with a rare look of anger on her face.
Xibalba could only blink in shock before he and his wife suddenly heard the sound of a baby crying.
At once, La Muerte rushed towards the sound and stopped in front of a backpack that had washed up on the sand. As she picked up the backpack, Xibalba appeared behind her and said "I know you are fond of children my dear, but doesn't your friend need you?"
"Balby, I can't leave…" La Muerte started to say as she started to open the backpack.. However, whenever La Muerte was going to say, Xibalba never found out. For when the backpack was open, she gasped at the shocking sight within. It was sweet, but frightened looking baby boy with an eye patch across his right eye. However what worried La Muerte and even Xibalba most of all, was that the eye patch was brand new.
"Oh, my sweet child, who could've done this too you?" La Muerte whispered as a look of shock, horror and fear appeared on her face.
"His grandfather." Answered a familiar voice that was filled with contempt.
La Muerte and Xibalba turned their heads to see a young mortal woman with long black hair and a scar underneath her right eye.
"Sariatu!" La Muerte cried with relief. "Are you…?" She started to say, but Sariatu interrupted with "We have don't have much time, just take me and my son someplace safe where his grandfather can't reach us."
"Your son?" Xibalba whispered in a strange voice.
"His name is Kubo." Sariatu whispered before she passed out on the wet sand.
"HIS GRANDFATHER RIPPED OUT HIS OWN GRANSON'S EYE?!" the entire class cried at once.
"What kind of sicko is he?!" Danny exclaimed.
"Why are you telling us this gruesome story? We're just kids!" Naomi wondered as she held out her arms.
"Don't worry, Sariatu and Kubo will get to safety." Mary Beth assured Naomi as she gently placed a hand on her shoulder. "Now, where were we…?" Mary-Beth wondered.
For several minutes, La Muerte stood unable to think. She didn't know what shocked her more, the fact that Sariatu, the goddess friend from the other side of the world, sharing secrets with...had become mortal or the fact that she had married a human and had a son with him.
That moment ended when she heard her husband whisper "Mi amor, we have to get Sariatu and leave."
With that, Xibalba hurried over towards the now unconscious Sariatu and gently picked her up in his arms.
As they were about to leave, they heard two identical familiar voices.
"Baruby and Muertita." The two voices whispered ominously.
At once almost as though he could sense the danger he was in, the baby in La Muerte's arms began to cry. La Muerte quickly wrapped her arms around the infant in an even tighter grip.
Xibalba moved closer to his wife as he replied through gritted teeth "It's Xibalba."
The voices ignored him as they answered "We thought our father told you and your wife to stay away from our sister. He was quite clear on what would happen if he ever saw either of you again."
"Your old man can't see, he's blind as a bat remember?" Xibalba taunted with a grin.
"We're on the clock." La Muerte reminded him.
Then the voices replied "We'll deal you later, we're here to pick up our nephew." As the two voices finished speaking, the owners floated down from the sky above, they were dressed in black, wore black rimmed hats and white masks.
"Sorry sisters, not happening." Xibalba declared. As he finished, La Murete, Kubo, Sariatu and himself vanished in front of Sariatu's creepy younger twin sister's eyes.
The quartet quickly reappeared in San Angel.
"That was too close for comfort." Xibalba said.
La Murete could only nod in agreement. Now that they were safe, sound and back in San Angel, only one question remained.
"Who's going to take care of Sariatu and Kubo?" La Muerte wondered as her yellow eyes brimmed with concerned. "We can't take them with us to either the land of the remembered or the land of the forgotten. Even if we could, those places aren't the safest for a baby." She wondered aloud as she looked at both Sariatu and baby Kubo with worry.
As much as Xibalba hated to admit it, his wife was right. While he might be able to hide Sariatu in one of the many lands of the afterlife, he wasn't so sure he could do the same with little Kubo, since he could sense that he was part human. There was only thing to do.
"Mi amor, I can't believe I'm saying this, but you're right. Our only option at this point is to find a trustworthy human and ask that they keep Sariatu and Kubo safe." Xibalba stated. "But who?" He added.
"The Sanchez's could look after them." La Muerte suggested.
"The Sanchez's, they can't protect them, they just had twin girls. They need someone strong. A fighter. Someone like Joaquin." Xibalba argued.
"Manolo knows us." La Muerte stated.
"And so does the rest of the town." Xibalba counted.
"Manolo came back from the dead." La Muerte reminded her husband.
Xibalba frowned, La Muerte never let him live it down. Still if it wasn't for Manolo, he and his wife might've never gotten back together.
With that they teleported themselves, Sariatu and Kubo right in front of the Sanchez household.
After slightly adjusting Kubo in her arms, La Muerte simply knocked on the front door. A few seconds later, the sound of footsteps reached the door, followed by the sound of the door handle turning.
"How can I…?" Manolo 's voice started to say as he opened the door, but stopped at the sight of the god couple that he had once met.
"La Muerte! Xibalba!" Manolo exclaimed with shock, before realizing they had an unconscious East Asian woman and her baby with them.
"Who are they? Where are they from? Is she okay? What happened to the baby's eye?!" Manolo exclaimed.
"This is Sariatu and this is her son Kubo. They're from Japan." Xibalba explained.
"Japan!" Manolo cried out in shock.
"It's no longer safe for them. They're in danger, especially Kubo." La Muerte explained.
"Who's after them?" Manolo demanded.
"A being known as the Moon King. He maybe like us, but he doesn't think and feel the same way we do." Xibalba said in a voice full of contempt. "He's Kubo's own grandfather and he's responsible for Kubo's missing eye." He added.
"What!" Manolo cried out in a voice full of disbelief, horror and shock.
"Look after them, and this is very important, never let Kubo and Sariatu out after dark. Make sure they always come home at sunset." La Muerte ordered.
"Of course." Manolo promised. "But I'm confused about something." He added. "Why…?" He started to say.
However Xibalba interrupted with "Because the Moon King and his forces can only come out at night."
"No, I mean why me? Why did you chose me?" Manolo clarified.
"Because you're the first and only human who died and came back to life." La Muerte reminded him. "You and your family won't be shouldering this alone, Manolo." She added. "We're protecting them as well."
At her words, Manolo smiled and said "We have a guest bedroom and I'll talk to Maria."
"No," La Muerte interrupted as she placed the now sleeping Kubo in Manolo's arms. "I'll talk to Maria, I think it's best if she hears this from me."
With that Xibalba teleported Manolo, baby Kubo, Sariatu and himself into the guest bedroom. He gently placed Sariatu on the bed, made a small bed out of blankets for Kubo, before he turned to Manolo and said "Please look after them."
"Yes, of course I will." Manolo said. "However, I just have one question, how do you know this woman?" He asked as he gestured towards the now resting Sariatu.
"She's a friend of my wife." Xibalba deadpanned, before he vanished.
So what do you think?