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(The Demon and the Blind Girl)

Once upon a time, in a village where the Chihana bloom, lived a young boy named Kaito. He was shunned and despised by the rest of the villagers, for he was the child of a demon, a demon that had ravaged the village seventeen years past.

The villagers' spurn of him cut to the quick, for Kaito was a kind boy, taught so by his human mother. Kaito lived at the edge of the village, in a small shack that needed much repair. He often sat on a tatami mat and played an old shamisen to passing travelers for coin. The shamisen was once his mother's and despite the wear on it, it still played on tune. His songs were full of sad melodies, tragic songs and mournful elegies. Every note that came from the strings sounded like a plea.

Once day, when the rains were coming hard, Kaito sat inside his leaking house trying to keep dry. When the rains came like this, it was better to sit inside, where one couldn't drown from the pour. He had his shamisen out and was playing it to the rhythm of the rainfall. As he played, Kaito suddenly heard a thump at his door. He looked up to see a rain soaked girl leaning heavily on his front door frame. Her eyes were bandaged up and she was covered in deep cuts and bruises.

"Please…," she said a weak voice. "Help…"

She shivered violently, sliding down the door frame and onto the floor. Kaito leapt from his seat and went over to her. Her face was hot with fever and she was shaking uncontrollably. Some of the cuts were still bleeding. Kaito picked the girl up and put her next to the fire pit. He removed her obi and kimono, leaving the white nagajuban in place.

He shook the water out of it and hung the kimono near the fire, then proceeded to treat her cuts. Her left foot was especially bad, because she only had one zori. It was cut and bloody on the bottom. He washed it in warm water, then wrapped it up with an old handkerchief. Kaito pulled out another one and dipped it in one of the buckets he had placed around the room. He rung it out and put it on the girl's forehead. Her nagajuban was almost dry, so Kaito picked her up again and put her on his futon, covering her with the quilt.

Kaito went back to where he had left his shamisen, picked it up and sat down next to the girl. Her shivering had quieted some and her face was less red. He put his fingers on the strings and began to play again. He was playing one of his usuals, a tragic song about a pair of lovers condemned to death because of their social status.

On the song went, mournful and depressing. As Kaito played the last note, he checked the girl's temperature. The fever was nearly normal now and she had stopped shivering. Kaito sighed and started to play another song. Before he was even half way though, he fell asleep.

When Kaito awoke, the sun was out and the rain had stopped. The girl was still asleep on his futon, the fever gone and all her cuts treated. Kaito stretched out the stiffness in his neck; he had fallen asleep sitting upright. He set his shamisen aside and went over to the fire pit. He raked the coals out and put new logs on, blowing gently to get the fire going again. Before long the logs ignited and Kaito set task to fixing breakfast.

While he was busy chopping a daikon for a simple veggie miso soup, the girl stirred. She sat up, taking the cloth off her forehead. She groaned a bit, holding her head.

"What the…where am I?"

"Ah, you're awake, that's good. How are you feeling?"

Kaito came over to the futon with a bowl of hot fresh soup. He put it in the girl's hands.

"Eat it while it's hot. Wouldn't want you catching cold again."

The girl sipped the soup. "Ow! My tongue…"

Kaito sat down next to the girl again and picked up his instrument. As he was adjusting his position, he accidentally stuck the stings, setting off a vibrating sound. The girl's head turned as she heard the sound.

"What? Are you the one who was playing?"

Kaito's head drooped. "Yes," he said solemnly.

The girl suddenly reached out and grabbed his shoulder. "My name is Miku! What's yours?"

Kaito was startled by this sudden change of subject. He stared at her for a moment before replying. "It's Kaito."

Miku let go of his robe. "Kaito, what a nice name. Kaito, will you please play something? Your music must have been what led me here."

Kaito smiled, glad to have someone to play for again. He ran his pick across the strings and began to play. This time he picked one of his favorites, a song about a well loved umbrella that is left behind when its master dies. He even sang to it, his tenor voice lilting the words eerily around the house. The entire time Miku sat quietly and listened. When Kaito was finished, she smiled and clapped.

"That was beautiful! It's too bad the umbrella never did find his master's soul…"

Kaito put the shamisen down. "Yes, it is unfortunate. Tell me, what are you doing all the way out here?"

"I was out in the woods looking for rain mushrooms when someone grabbed me from behind. The next thing I knew I was here in your house. I come from the village you know. All the people there are so kind to me. They give me food in exchange for the mushrooms I collect. How come you don't live in the village?"

Kaito turned away. "Oh, I…just like it out here better… You should probably go back to the village. Can you stand?"

Miku nodded and pushed the quilt off. She stood up and tested her bandaged foot. "Oh! You fixed my foot too! Thank you Kaito!"

Kaito's face flushed. "Y-yeah…no problem."

Miku and Kaito walked outside in the bright sunlight. Kaito looked up at the sun. "Sure is nice to see the sun again."

"Yes, it is good to feel the warmth again. It gets so cold during the rains." Miku turned her head towards Kaito. "I'll come back to see you tomorrow, alright?"

"But you can't…that would be impossible…"

"Nothing is impossible if you don't try. Bye-bye!"

And with that, Miku started walking down the road back to the village. Kaito leaned up against a support beam of his rotted out porch. What was wrong with him? It was just another human. Once she learned the truth, she'd turn on him. He didn't know why he suddenly felt a heavy loneliness in his heart as she walked further and further away. Kaito gave a sigh and went back into the house.

Miku kept her promise and came the next day, as well as the day after that. Every day that week she came and with each visit, Kaito became more and more excited to see her. After this week of visits, Kaito decided to go into the village himself, something he had never done before. Normally, he wouldn't do this, but meeting Miku had given him courage to face his persecutors. He put on his best kimono, wrapped a white cloth around his head and started for the village. It was about an hour's walk from his little shack on the edge.

As he came over one of the hills, he could see the village. It was comprised mostly of houses similar to his, though these were much better kept. There were stalls open along the main street and smells of every kind filled Kaito's nose. There was so much he wanted to see, but he kept his thoughts on his mission; finding Miku in this town.

Kaito looked from stall to stall, never really stopping. People out on the street were giving him funny looks and some were even glaring. Kaito noticed a stall selling a large assortment of white flowers. He stopped and sniffed one of them.

"Ah, sir you like the Chihana flowers? They bloom only once every thousand years you know!"

A small man had emerged from the stall's back. He wore a ring of sakura blossoms around his neck and a kimono with a floral motif. Kaito picked up one of the flowers.

"Excuse me, do you know a girl named Miku?"

"Why?"

"I want to visit her. Do you know where she lives?"

The man's expression changed from eager to sell to suspicious in a split second. "So…you must be the demon who's infatuated her so. Well, you won't this maiden for your collection!"

"What? No-I-,"

But the man's accusation had brought the attention of almost the entire street. They were all wearing looks to complete loathing.

"A demon?" said one.

"Go back where you came from!" shouted another.

"You're not welcome here!"

Someone threw a rock, striking Kaito on the head. He stumbled from the blow. More rocks came, hitting him from all sides. Angry voices rose as well and the crowd was moving closer. Kaito scrambled and made a run for it, pelted by rocks thrown by the villagers. He tripped at the entrance, skidding across the ground and crushing the tiny Chihana blossom he had inadvertly stolen. Another rock stuck his head.

"Don't you dare show your face here again, demon!" yelled a villager. There was a chorus of agreement. Kaito got to his feet, injured from the stoning. He didn't bother to look back as he limped back home. If he had, he might have seen Miku standing in the crowd.

A couple weeks after this incident, Miku had brought a white Chihana flower with her. She proudly presented it to Kaito.

"I can't see what it looks like, but it smells so nice! Umamaki the flower man said they bloom once every thousand years and this year is one of them!"

Kaito took the flower from Miku's thin fingers. "It is pretty. Why do you keep coming here? The villagers must tell you to stay away."

"I don't care and besides, I like coming. I like talking to you and hearing your songs. They make me happy." Miku moved closer to Kaito. "You make me happy…"

She reached out and took his hand. She felt the long slender fingers and the long curved nails that ended those fingers. She gave a small gasp. Kaito's heart sank; there, the deed had been done. Now she knew about him. Kaito pulled his hand gently from hers, even as she reached for it. He turned away from her, a small tear rolling down his face.

"You should go home," he said quietly.

"I-I heard about what happened," she said. "I didn't – I mean -,"

Kaito was silent. He didn't want to hurt her. She was a human and he was a demon. They would never be accepted anywhere. He couldn't make her choose that. She deserved to live her life out with other human, not a demon despised by everyone.

"I'm sorry Miku," he whispered. "This is goodbye."

"Why?!" she shouted. "I don't care if you're a demon! I – I love you!"

She was crying now, the tears soaking through her bandages. Still though, Kaito had made up his mind. It was better this way. He began to walk away from her, turning towards the deeper woods. He was gone soon after that, swallowed up by the woolliness of the forest. Miku sank to her knees, sobbing.

Kaito never did return. Everyday, Miku went to his house, bringing white Chihana flowers for him when he returned. Eventually, she moved into his dilapidated shack and waited. For years and years she waited and still he did not come back. Then, many many years later when she was on her deathbed, someone came to the house. Weakly she raised her head.

"Oh, Kaito is that you? Have you come back?"

The figure didn't say a word. Silently he went to her and sat down by the futon. Miku reached out a hand and stoked his face.

"Kaito, you haven't changed at all. Let me hold you hand…just once last time."

The stranger extended his hand. Miku took it, tracing the long slender fingers. She closed her blind eyes and smiled. "I always knew you would come back," she said peacefully. "I…always…knew…"

Her hand grew limp and slid out of the stranger's fingers. He sat there by her body, unmoving. He clenched his fists against his legs, tears streaming down his face. His lips moved but no words came. But words weren't needed here anymore. Anyone who may have happened to come across them would have known his last words.

"I love you too."

We were told in the past long, long ago of a village girl and a blue demon who was kind of heart.

Let us hear about you, let us hear about you

The outskirts of the village at the entrance of the woods goes a trail to the demon's house.

The lost daughter of blindness reached the house without even knowing it's also a demon's house.

Then the smiling daughter and the demon spent one night and enjoyed their time together.

The daughter talks about the village and the people.

The demon learned for the first time what it was like to want someone to talk to.

She said, "See you again" and "Goodbye"

He said it was impossible but she just smiled.

At the entrance of the woods she waits

If he talks she turns around

The next day and the next one too

And one day she learned the demon's figure wasn't human

His looks...are scary

One day, people came to the blue demon's home

They trembled and were frightened

"Don't meet with her, promised demon!"

"Don't come again!" they swore on him.

The outskirts of the village, the entrance to the woods

The farewell is here

For the daughter's sake, he doesn't speak

She cries, but he ignores her

He cries too, enduring self denial

Daughter of the village brings a white flower to see the demon

Everyday, for a long time

One day she'll hear him, she believes it

Hey, behind you, can you hear his voice?

~The Tale of the Demon and The Blind Girl~