Act 9: Dawn of the Fox Manor
The warm delightful comfort of Momohime's futon was gone, including the surrounding of the fox manor, as she felt a cold fading embrace wrapping around her head and shoulders.
Momohime was laying her head and body on someone's lap in the fetal position. As she opened her eyes, she found herself surrounded in a dark room with a gray mist beneath her sandals on the red carpet floor with castle decorations.
Wait a second, this is Edo castle, main keep. Why am I here of all places? Momohime thought, feeling quite confused in this dreamscape.
She turns her eyes upward to see her long-lost sister Torahime, thought to be killed during the government's assault against the Narukami clan.
Now stands before her big sister Torahime, in her regular black, sleeveless, strapless dress with colorful leg guards, giant green and yellow crown in her shoulder-length black hair. She caresses Momohime's wavy hair and forehead, enjoying the little time she has left with her younger sister before she has to leave, and returns to the heavens to honor her promise to Lord Amitabha.
"Momohime my beloved little sister, my life is coming to an end and I have only a few words to say before I leave this transient world, so please listen closely." Torahime took a deep sigh. Ready to continue her speech.
"For centuries our family has been entrusted with guarding the Kuzuryuu sword, and now that I have sealed that weapon away, you may consider our obligation fulfilled." She said, relieved of the burden put on her family and clan. With a satisfied look on her face.
"Everything I've done was to bring honor to our father's death and the Narukami clan.
There is no disgrace in living for the sake of others. But I must confess that a small selfish part of me always resented having to devote my future to our family's traditions."
I wish I was never shackled with the burden of protecting the Kuzuryuu. I would much rather be focusing on my princess duties and becoming a daimyo in the near future, Torahime thought as continue her conversation.
"The only consolation was that my sacrifice meant you would not have to do the same. I will not tell you how to live your life. It belongs to you, now more sure than ever. But whatever path you choose, I know it will be one that continues to bring honor to our family."
Torahime said, trying her best to hold back her tears in front of her younger sister.
I already lost my father and now have to watch my sister leave me all alone. With no home to return! Momohime thought, quite sad and dissatisfied.
I finally got to see my O-Neesan in the flesh after several months have passed after knowing her death. Only to see her, leaving me alone to return to the afterlife alongside my father and family members.
I don't know if I can endure this loss and pain. But I'll do my best life up to you Torahime. I won't let your sacrifice be in vain. This I swear big sister.
"I have only one request."
"What is it, O-Neesan?" Momohime replied as she questioned her sister.
"Allow me to introduce you to Kisuke," Torahime said, as she carried Kisuke up, a few inches off the ground, holding him between his underarms, facing forward towards Momohime. As she continues her response before she leaves for the afterlife.
Why is Torahime holding me up like a cat or a present in front of her sister? Is she trying to be silly before she leaves for the heavens, Kisuke thought as he questioned Torahime's actions. Not that I don't mind, I feel quite comfortable, when she holds me like a little ragdoll. Kisuke blushed, just by being held in such a manner by his crush.
Torahime resumed her conversation and said. "He will accompany you. However he may appear rough around the edges, but he has proven himself to be an ardent defender. Usually, he is nice, polite, gives good advice and a friend beyond all measure."
Kisuke was blushing once again, by Torahime's actions once again. As he covers his red tomato face with his hand. Stop looking at me like Momohime and Torahime, it's embarrassing. Hearing my own crush compliment me and knowing how truly feels and thinks of me, Kisuke thought as Torahime continued her speech.
"Such a thing like friendship is precious in this dangerous transcendent world. Cherish him, as I have, and I believe he will do the same for you. Also, he may try to get himself killed sometimes. So please keep a close eye on him Momohime."
"It is time…I'm going to the heavens to honor my promises to Lord Amitabha. It is up to you to restore our dismantled family and the Narukami clan."
"Okay, Torahime I'll do my best to live up to our family name. Now that those who conspired against us are killed."
"I know you will Momohime," Torahime said as she felt her life slowly drifting away as she let go of Kisuke and gave her sister one last heartwarming hug.
"Momohime I love you," Torahime said her last words as her soul left her physical body and lay on the floor motionless. Torahime has passed away.
"T-Torahime, Torahime! O-Neesan please don't leave me, d-don't go!" Momohime shouted as she began to cry tears for her sister's death.
"This can't be real, this has to be a dream, an illusion!" Momohime yelled as saw the wall and floor collapse around her as she fell down with her back behind her; engulfed in darkness with no means of escape, as she continued to scream and pray for her life.
Momohime started to shiver with fear, afraid to even open her eyes. Until she took one peek to see what nightmare she'll have next. Until she realized that her entire body with sweat, warped around her soft futon and lilac-colored blanket.
Was that all a dream or a simple recollection? Momohime thought as she questioned herself about what happened. The night she lost her big sister.
"Good morning Momohime, did you sleep well last night?"
"No not at all Kisuke; I had a nightmare," Momohime replied, feeling a little shy and embarrassed, telling her friend. Like she was still a child.
"Bad dream huh, was it the one where you were butt-naked in Musashi: Edo Nihonbashi, the other one where a horde of demons eats you alive, or the one where Jinkuro came from the dead to kill all of us," Kisuke said politely while guessing what type of dream Momohime had. So he can find a way to deal with the situation.
"No, no and for the love of Kami none of those crazy embarrassing dreams or death-related nightmares," Momohime replied while shaking her head no. "I had a nightmare of Torahime's death," Momohime said, with a scared expression on her face.
"Ohhhhhh; the pain and loss, leave mental and emotional scars in all us Momohime. It's what we do going forward. That demonstrates our true character and capabilities." Kisuke replied, doing his best to reassure her and making her feel better. With his words. Then he went under the blanket covers to give the princess a sympathetic hug.
Kisuke continued his straightforward response by saying. "I'll be completely honest Momohime, I'm no self-help book that can magically make all your problems go away. For now, all can do is say words of kindness and ease away your pain with a comforting embrace. I'll be here for you, every step of the way. We both have lost important people in our lives. But we have each other's moral support to get through the days of our lives."
Momohime used to comfort me just like this when I was feeling depressed. Like that one time, Momohime caught me crying in the bathroom about Torahime passing away. She knocked on the door to make sure I was dense and then embraced me in a compassionate hug and kissed my forehead.
In that one moment, I felt like an innocent child in her arms. I told her embarrassing personal stuff like how I thought about committing suicide in order to see Torahime again. Because I want to be with her so much, even if it is only a day or a minute. It would feel like a lifetime in my eyes. But Momohime reassured me that Torahime wouldn't want me to waste my life away so carelessly.
There will be times where I and Momohime will feel like this. But we are never alone in this supernatural world. So long as we have love and companionship, we can endure the pain together.
"Thank you, Kisuke," Momohime replied, with tears in her eyes. While she leaned on his shoulder in a warm and loving embrace within the blanket covers.
"Anytime Momohime, besides you have already comforted me a few times when I was feeling sad and cast down by regret, it's my turn to return the favor," Kisuke replied, reminding her that she always offered empathy and pity towards him. It's what best friends do for each other.
"I'm still grateful either way," Momohime replied with a smile on her face.
"Yeah. But seriously though Momohime, we both need to find each other a therapist. Because as we continue our quest to find all the Muramasa demon blades. Our past guilt and shame will continue to have a heavyweight on both of us. Which can drastically affect our actions and make us indecisive in crucial situations."
Momohime responded, with her face with furrowed eyebrows looking upwards with her thumb and index finger resting on her chin deep in thought of finding a solution to their mental health symptoms. "I agree with you Kisuke, I'm sure Honen, my distant relative from the Narukami clan could help us with our PTSD."
Kisuke replied. "Oh yeah, I know of him. He's an old priest that owns the Zendou Temple in the Nara province right."
"Wow Kisuke, you must be quite knowledgeable in your surroundings." This ninja really has been to all sorts of places, if he even knows of my distant relative.
"Not really. You see, I met him, due to an unfortunate situation. Which is a long story." I'm sure the princess wouldn't want to waste her time listening to my past history, Kisuke doubted within his own thoughts.
"I got all the time in the world Kisuke, plus it will distract me from remembering the vivid images of my nightmare last night."
She said as she moved closer to Kisuke, as she held his hand while using his strong shoulder as a pillow. Do her best to get comfortable beside him.
Oh, why couldn't I just dream something embarrassing instead? I could easily handle that and move on with my morning. But nope, I just had to dream about Torahime. Said Momohime within her frustrated inner thoughts.
"This all happened right after I fought that young female Yamabushi named Sayo. She uses paper charms, explosives, and crows in combat against Torahime's entire undead force."
"Oh, dear! Were both of you hurt?" said Momohime, feeling quite concerned about the ordeal. That Kisuke had to encounter face to face.
"Nah, no way some laughter stock Yamabushi was gonna stop me or your sister. She was nothing more than a thorn in my side."
"Oh I see, then please continue."
"So anyway the reason why she was there in the first place was that. It was her duty to bar demons from the Great Eastern Road. That includes Torahime's ghost samurai army. They were all caught off guard by the ward. So they insisted that the Torahime escape on horseback to Zendou Temple and seek aid from the high priest Honen."
"The spirit of the Kagami family. Fought admirably to sacrifice themselves, in order to save my big sister's life and to complete the mission." Momohime replied as she clamped her hand together to offer a prayer to the spirits' safe return to the afterlife.
"So it was up to me to defeat Sayo. Which I did; but in doing so, Sayo accidentally restored all my memories, when she used her Buddhist charms. I remember it like it was yesterday you gave me a migraine headache."
"Wow, that gotta be painful," Momohime said, as she imagined that happening to Kisuke.
"It sure was Momohime. But it was worth it to learn everything about my past and mission to steal the Kuzuryu Muramasa blade in the care of the Kagami house of the Narukami clan. Falling in love with the sword's protector Torahime while posing as a servant boy, then betraying my fellow ninja and getting mortally wounded protecting Torahime. Later being given a second chance at life by the spirit of Senju Oboroya who used the soul fusion technique he devised, ceasing to be while giving me exceptional mastery over the Oboro Style."
"Huh, no wonder why you're so good wielding a blade. You're practically in stoppable." Momohime said, as boasted Kisuke skills and talents.
"I appreciate the compliment Momohime, but that is entirely not true. I was defeated once by Chigurui Bishamon, a ghost of many fallen soldiers who lost their lives as Kawanakajima has come together using a giant set of armor to create a warrior of incredible size."
"Wow, you got ass kicked in a sword duel!? Well, at least you didn't get a big head with a show-off mindset in your journey." Momohime said while giggling a little.
"Hey, that bastard only won that fight. Because he attacked me, on my blind spot when I thought the battle was finished okay. Plus it's no laughing matter Momohime, I could've died that day." Kisuke said, quite sternly and unhappy by Momohime's view on this side of the story.
"I'm sorry Kisuke, It was wrong of me to laugh at you, can you ever forgive me?" Momohime replied in a sad tone, showing her cute baby-doll eyes in front of Kisuke's face and snuggling up against his chest, wrapping her arms around his waist, and moving her head on his shoulder, while caressing his soft cheek and motioning her thighs near his legs, in a sexy manner.
Kisuke pulled her into him, hugging her gently. Her warm touch made him pause for a moment until he spoke nervously "U-Uhh, of course, I can forgive you Momohime, I can't stay angry at you for too long." Kisuke said, while looking away, so she won't see his blushing red face.
"If you do forgive me, then turn around and look me in the eyes and say that," Momohime said as she turned his chin to his face so he would look at her. "Aww, you are so cute when blushing like that my sweet little ninja."
"It's not my fault, you used that feeling sorry tactic on me," Kisuke said feelings were pissed off by Momohime's tricks. "Well I'm not just a pretty face Kisuke; you could never resist me forever," Momohime replied with a bright smile on her face.
Finally, Kisuke broke the silence and continued the ending point of his story. "Anyway back to the main plot of the story; It was up to me to rescue Torahime, Honen, and the monks inhabit the entire temple wear spider Tsuchigumo has captured and harvest them as livestock."
"But why would my sister go there in the first place?" Said Momohime, finding it rather confusing. "There must be another reason why she would go to the temple to seek out shelter and safety."
"Torahime visited Zentoji Temple to try and find a way to try and find a way to weaken the barriers around Edo Castle and recover the stolen Kuzuryu Blade. However, she was captured by the spider Tsuchigumo. And it was up to me to save everyone."
"I was completely covered in spider blood, after I killed Tsuchigumo and free Torahime, Honen, and the surviving monks," Kisuke said as he reminisced that fateful day.
"Very heroic indeed Kisuke, minus the fact that you were covered in oozing spider blood," Momohime replied, feeling quite disgusted knowing that blood all over himself after killing Tsuchigumo.
"What do you expect? I was hacking and splashing a spider demon for like thirty minutes. Plus that bastard Tsuchigumo put his spider fangs and webs all over her. So of course I wasn't going to be gentle."
"Good point. Plus it was me, you'll probably go on a killing spree with that spider too." Momohime replied, with a nonchalant tone.
Afterward, Kisuke and Momohime's slide door cracked open. Revealing Yuzuruha the Kitsune that is a servant to Inari. Yuzuruha then responded. "Am I interrupting something between the two of you?" Yuzuruha questions the ninja and princess. In their hugging position, while covered within a futon blanket.
"N-No, not at all Yuzuruha." Momohime replied, feeling quite nervous about her seeing them in this situation.
"Really because it seems like the both of you are enjoying each other alone time," Yuzuruha said with a smirk on her face.
"It's not w-what it looks like okay, Kisuke was just telling me a story of how he met one of my relatives, that's all," Momohime replied while moving away from Kisuke.
"Well, you're not hiding it very well young princess. Anyway Lord Inari wants to come forth for breakfast." Yuzuruha announced.
"Okay, we'll be right there"
"Oh yeah, please watch your step Momohime, we wouldn't want another glimpse of your panties in the morning hours, now would we," Yuzuruha replied in a teasing manner as she left the room.
"I swear that Kitsune is testing me, day by day." Momohime murmured to Kisuke. With an angry tone under her breath.
"Hey don't let the sly Kitsune, get under your skin Momohime. Besides, I think those panties look quite cute on you." Kisuke replied with a helpful tone and a joking demeanor.
Momohime hit him in the arm and said. "Not funny Kisuke, but thanks anyway."
"Happy to help any time Momohime," Kisuke said while rubbing his arm on the spot Momohime hit.
"I'm going to the bathroom to change out my night robes. So stay right where you're, mister ninja pervert."
"Hey, I only said that joke to get your mind off of Torahime's death. The least you can do is say thank you Kisuke." Kisuke said with a pouting face as he turned his face around.
Momohime sighed and responded. "Yeah, you're right Kisuke. Your story distracted me from remembering my sister's death. For that, I am grateful and award you this."
Momohime walked toward Kisuke and kneel in front of him. Then bestowed upon him a soft kiss on the young ninja's forehead. Kisuke was a little surprised at first, as he stood there in silence. As he looked at the princess in the eyes with a blushing crimson red face.
"There will be more affection for you my little ninja, so please be on your best behavior and I'll maybe give more than just a peck on the forehead."
"Uhh, o-okay Momohime I'll be good," Kisuke replied while stuttering a little, by Momohime's daring action.
I handle killing demons, supernatural creatures, and ghosts. Yet I can't act cool when it comes to human affection and romance. Kisuke said in his own inner thoughts.
Momohime swayed her hips and butt as sexy as she could as she walked back to the bathroom. Upon noticing Kisuke gazing at her she cracked open the bathroom door and winked at him and replied, "I'll be right back." Then closed the door to change out her sleepwear.
"Don't wait too long, I'm missing you already Momohime," Kisuke replied, trying to flirt right back to her.
I swear, it's either gonna be Momohime or the Kitsunes that are gonna kill me with their sexual attempts and flirting. Kisuke thought, as began to change out his pure white nightwear robes and dressed into his iconic blue and black ninja attire.
Kisuke and Momohime were fully dressed in their regular attire, as they held each other's hands side by side through the fox manor corridors. Until they reached the dining room where Lord Inari and the rest of Kitsunes awaited them.
"Ahhhh, the ninja and princess have finally arrived. My Kitsune was getting a little hungry and feisty for waiting so long for breakfast. But I ordered them to wait until you two were."
"Sorry for being so late Lord Inari. It won't happen again." Kisuke and Momohime said simultaneously. As they bow their heads as mutual respect to the Lord's hospitality.
"What took you so long? Were you both playing around with each other too long last night or were making out early in the morning?" Lord Inari said, with a smirking face. Getting the right idea of what's going on between the young love duo.
"Why would I make out with her in the morning? Ever heard of bad morning breath, Lord Inari." Said Kisuke, with his eyebrows slightly raised and eyes looking to the side, feeling quite unamused due to hunger.
"Plus wasn't having sex or doing any other inappropriate stuff last night or today. Just little harmless flirting and teasing. Isn't that right Kisuke?" Said Momohime, as she smiled and stared with angry intentions should Kisuke say the wrong words or tell the truth of what really happened between them.
"It's just like Momohime said. Also if we did do the dirty business last night. You would've heard us probably."
"Good point, Kisuke. Now enough small talk it's time to feast, don't you agree?"
"Yes indeed Lord Inari, thanks for the food."
To those of you who were expecting chapter 9 to be Fancy Foxy Party. I regret to inform you that I have to change the name of the title. Because I want chapter 9 to be a shorter chapter. Don't worry you'll know more about Lord Inari's plan to help Momohime and Kisuke. In chapter 10 Fancy Foxy Party. Thank you all for patiently waiting.