Ah, well. Here's the start of my (hopefully) epic fic series based on the Shounen Onmyouji anime, loosely based on the bits of the novels I've had access to, and a whole bunch of miscellaneous other sources. It's basically an alternate continuation with the inclusion of many OCs. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I don't own Shounen Onmyouji, in its entirety. Saying it only once.


Shades of Black

Prelude


Soft snores rumbled through the otherwise quiet room, interrupted by muttered words as the man dreamt. A small choke and the resulting coughing fit served to bring the sleeper awake, and he reached for a nearby flask. A sound caught his attention, causing him to set down the flask and stand. Opening the sliding screen leading to the courtyard, he looked around. Seeing nothing amiss in the soft glow of the moonlight, he shrugged and shut the screen, unaware of the slender figure standing behind him. The sickening thud of steel driving into flesh was followed by the wet, muffled gasp of the dying. It was over in seconds- for the dead at least. Now, only now would her work start.

A pale slender hand, the nails long and wickedly sharp, reached out and took hold of the robe, stripping the body. The moonlight reflected darkly off the wet blood, throwing it and the skin it adorned into sharp relief. Taking firm hold of the corpse, the figure swiftly arranged it in a ritual pattern, then dipped a finger in the congealing blood to write out esoteric symbols on the now bare flesh. A low murmur issued from ruby lips, and as the chanting increased in volume, the symbols started to glow, filling the room with a harsh green light.

As the light faded, the echoes faded until all that was left was a beautiful woman with bloody hands and a feral gleam to her eye. A smile grew across her face, cruel and predatory, as she surveyed her work with satisfaction. Bending to retrieve her weapon, she cast one last glance around her surroundings before turning to leave. The killer left as she had entered, with a whisper of silk, leaving behind a naked corpse and a room covered in bloody symbols. It would only be the first of many nights filled with death.


"Masahiro!" Taiin called. "Masahiro! Where are you?"

The child-like shinshou flew around the clearing, calling for her charge. Ever since Masahiro had recovered, he had taken to going on long walks alone, saying he needed to 'clear his mind'. Normally Taiin wouldn't be worried, since Kouchin or Rikugou usually shadowed the boy, but today, the two had accompanied Narichika to a nearby village for provisions.

"Calm down, Taiin," a light male voice said from somewhere behind her. "I know where he is. He's fine."

Taiin turned towards the voice, huffily planting fists on her hips and glaring at the boy with short dark hair and the garb of another shinshou. "What if something attacks like the last time, and we're not close enough to help, Genbu?"

"He'll be fine," repeated the boy, slipping off his perch on a branch to come face to face with Taiin. "He's recovered, there aren't any monsters close to here, and Touda went with him."

"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" retorted Taiin, wind gusting around her, setting her ponytails to flight. "In case you forgot, Touda doesn't seem to care about Masahiro's safety much anymore!"

Genbu waved a hand at her, as if to brush aside her concerns. "He knows better than to let Seimei's heir get hurt. Besides, I'm keeping an eye on them through my water mirror."

Taiin subsided with a small mutter that sounded suspiciously like, "You could've said so before…" She brooded for a moment before grabbing hold of Genbu and dragging him towards the small stream nearby.

"H-hey, wait," Genbu protested as he was dragged along. "Where are you taking me?"

"To the stream, so you can catch some fish for Masahiro's dinner," Taiin replied. "You know I can't handle small things like that."

Genbu sighed, resigned to his fate, and allowed her to march him to a spot she deemed worthy. He briefly wondered why he let her do these things to him as he prepared to 'fish', but the thought slipped his mind as he drew the first batch of tiny wriggling fish out of the water.


Masahiro sighed, settling down onto a comfortable patch of grass. He'd heard Taiin calling for him and had deliberately ignored her. After all, he could only get so much time alone nowadays. And he wanted, needed time alone. Time to think, train, and most of all…heal. Not so much physically, but emotionally and mentally. Losing an important and dear friend was taking as much of a toll as dealing with the constant fear and anxiety the loss of the Kenki sight had wrought.

Hardly glancing over at the white fox-like creature that settled down on a nearby rock, he concentrated his senses, willing his eyes to once more open to the sight of supernatural beings. Ironic how this one creature who could cause him so much pain was the only one he could see clearly at all times. Yet if he saw Mokkun too clearly, he'd lose his concentration. The hurt was still too raw.

However, now that he knew Mokkun-no, Touda was there, he couldn't help the memory from rising up.

"I-I can't see," Masahiro murmured, eyes wide with shock.

"What?!" Kouchin risked a glance back at the boy. "It's right in front of us!"

"I can tell it's there, and I can hear it, but I see…nothing." Masahiro's hands shook as he stared down at them. "It's almost worse than when I couldn't tell where they were at all."

"Feh, useless," Mokkun grumbled as he jumped off the roof. "And this is supposed to be Seimei's heir?" He transformed into his humanoid form with a burst of red light, and made short work of the monsters.

Masahiro looked up at the cold face of the tall shikigami, hope flaring in his chest before being crushed at the distant and contemptuous look that flashed across Touda's tanned face as he caught sight of the kneeling boy. He turned and started to walk away, when a pained whisper escaped Masahiro's trembling lips.

"Guren…"

Touda stiffened in shock and whirled to face Masahiro, rage emanating from every inch of him. "What did you call me?"

"Guren…" Masahiro repeated, blind to the danger, raising one hand beseechingly towards the enraged shikigami. A single tear escaped his eye.

"Touda!" Kouchin yelled as she stepped in between him and the child.

"Why do you know that name?" he asked in a frigid tone. "Answer me!"

But Masahiro wouldn't, or couldn't, reply. The silence stretched on, before Touda turned his back contemptuously and muttered, "You have no right to use that name…" before walking away.

Weeping silently, Masahiro clutched at his robe as images from the distant past came to him. Flashes of memory…a time when Mokkun had told him his true name and given him permission to use it…when Mokkun had endlessly teased him by calling him 'Seimei no mago'…all this faded into a blur as he slumped to the ground and darkness engulfed his mind.

Masahiro shook off the flashback and the dark mood that accompanied it. It did no good to dwell on the mistakes he himself had made. Good intentions aside, the memory loss and the resulting consequences were something he had to live with, no matter how painful.

Sighing, he stood, knowing his concentration and peace of mind were shattered. He wouldn't make any progress in this state. Briefly wondering if his brother and the others were back yet, he idly brushed off a few stray blades of glass and headed back to the clearing that was their campsite. Heading back now, before the sun started to set, was a better idea than holding out and getting a long-winded lecture.


A simple dinner consisting of small fish and a few things Narichika had picked up in the village market made Masahiro content and drowsy. Arms curled around his knees and head resting on his arms, he stared into the fire. His brother was saying that they ought to head back now, since Masahiro was well enough to travel and they had spent enough time away to make their journey to and from Izumo convincing. Masahiro sleepily murmured assent, his mind wandering to how long it was before the firefly season on Kifune mountain.

Narichika glanced over at his younger brother, noting with amusement the half-shut eyes and occasional yawn. He shifted, setting aside eating utensils and prepared to stand and suggest retiring, but a figure melting out of the tree line stopped him. Rikugou bent, scooped up the lightly dozing boy, and walked off to the little cabin they had been using. Narichika smiled and carefully banked the fire, before heading towards the cabin himself. They had a long journey back to the capital ahead of them.


A/N: Well, that's the first bit of it. Read, enjoy, review if you want. The next chapters will probably be longer. This was revised and much improved thanks to chickenbiscuit, a fellow SO fan.