It was an hour past the sunset when an Ishida convoy arrived at the province of Aki. A scout from the said province immediately reported it to his lord.
"Let them in," Mouri Motonari ordered.
The scout bowed before him and rushed out to state his command.
In the meeting hall of Aki castle, Motonari stood, waiting for the arrival of his guest. The doors were then opened by the Mouri soldiers clad in green, allowing the entrance of the visitors. Upon seeing them, the soldiers' eyes slightly widened, particularly at the bandaged man riding a levitating palanquin. That man, who was leading the convoy, was followed by a ghostly-looking woman who walked in a fitting eerie fashion. The soldiers could not help but slightly quiver in fear.
"Greetings, my comrade," said the bandaged man, Otani Yoshitsugu. "It is of great fortune that you allowed my presence here."
"There has not been any change in the plans, Otani." Mouri firmly reminded him.
"Oh, yes! In truth I am eager about the destruction that is to happen!" Otani's excitement then slid down as he continued, "however, as much as I am thrilled with the upcoming misfortune, that is not my intention of coming here."
"I know," Motonari responded. "I assumed it had something to do with…that." He pointed his gaze towards the woman behind Otani. She seemed to be isolated in her own world, quietly gaping at her surroundings.
"As expected from you, Mouri, as sharp as ever," Otani said. He breathed deeply first before continuing. "You see… I have gathered fine chess pieces as you know—the Cave Insect, the Priestess, and the Demon Queen. "
"These past days I have noticed how the Priestess and her," he glanced to Oichi who was behind him, "seem to get along quite well. While the priestess is such a naïve girl, I fear—"
"—you fear that when the time comes that the girl would know the truth, she'll bring along the Demon Queen with her?" Mouri smirked. "Really, Otani. Being wary like this isn't like you at all."
"I do not think it would hurt to be cautious, considering they are valuable pieces to our plan," Otani calmly replied.
"Still, I think it's your own fault for foolishly letting things get out of hand," Mouri retorted in a rather indifferent tone.
"That is why," Otani said, "I have a favor to ask you, my comrade."
This time, Motonari simply remained silent, shifting his eyes directly to Yoshitsugu's.
"I have decided to separate the two of them for the time being, perhaps just until the great battle which is to happen days from now."
Mouri arched an eyebrow. "So what you are trying to ask me—"
"—is that perhaps the Demon Queen could stay here for just a few days and nights?" Otani continued.
"Ridiculous," Mouri instantly uttered.
Otani did not seem to be surprised, as if he had already expected his answer. Nonetheless, he continued to persuade him. "Since we are allies, I could only think that you would be the one I could trust with her the most. Unlike the Priestess, I don't think she would trouble you at all. I assure you that the Demon Queen will follow your every command."
Mouri stood mutely, like he was actually considering the favor. He looked at Oichi, who still looked as absentminded as ever.
"So what do you say, my comrade?" Otani asked one more time.
"Tch," Mouri looked sideways before responding, "so be it."
Despite being fully bandaged, a smile could be traced from Otani's face. "Ah, I knew I could count on you, Mouri."
"However, if that woman does something foolish, I will not hesitate to execute her," Mouri harshly added, earning him a chuckle from Otani.
"But of course!" Yoshitsugu exclaimed. "Though, you still have my word that she wouldn't."
"Hn, whatever you say." Motonari dismissingly said. He turned around, intending to leave. He motioned his hands upwards, signaling the soldiers to go near him. "Bring her to one of the spare rooms."
"Y-yessir," the soldiers exclaimed.
"I express my deepest gratitude to you, comrade. May good fortune be bestowed upon you," Otani humbly said.
"You may leave now, Otani," Mouri said in response, stepping away.
Yoshitsugu motioned his floating palanquin in the direction of the Demon Queen. "Now, do not do anything foolish that would cause any trouble to your host," he said, pointing at Motonari. "Be a good guest too."
While she did seem lost in the clouds, she quietly replied: "Yes, Ichi will be a good girl."
Dawn peacefully came the next day at the province of Aki. Birds chirped melodiously, as if there wasn't any war at all in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Motonari woke up a few minutes before sunrise, a practice he did every day. Followed by three servants, he paced from his room towards one of the castle's hall. Upon arriving, his servants proceeded to push open the doors to the balcony, giving the view of sun about to rise.
Eyes closed, Motonari slowly walked to the balcony and stopped at a decent distance. There he stretched his arms sideways, feeling the sun's rays coursing through his body.
"Oh, O Great Sun…"
Still in his sleeping robes, he remained poised with his arms extended, slowly motioning his head up as he continued to feel the sun's warmth. His body was faintly glowing in effect.
"Aah," from the entrance of the hall, a sullen voice was unexpectedly heard. "It's you, Mr. Green… Good morning…"
While the servants appeared to be shocked by her sudden appearance, Motonari did not seem fazed by the voice of the newcomer.
"Who," he sternly responded without turning around, "gave you the permission to leave your quarters?"
The servants were then visibly shaking. They knew that whether or not Mouri had a good sleep the night before would not change the fact that the least that could happen to whoever was at fault was be punished.
Oichi did not seem to be aware of the predicament of the servants however. Instead, she remained standing in the entrance of the room. "Ichi does not like it there… It's really dark and Ichi feels alone…"
From the lady, the servants nervously shifted their heads towards their lord, awaiting his response. Mouri suddenly dropped his arms to his sides, causing one of the servants to squeak.
"Your troubles are no concern of mine," he answered with a harsh tone.
As if on cue, the servants gulped anxiously. Why did they feel like there was a sudden increase in the lady's aura?
However, instead of giving a response, she simply stared at Mouri's glowing figure. Just when the servants thought that no development would happen any further, Oichi listlessly walked towards the balcony. She was still in her battle garb, and with the way she walked, the tails behind her produced a sluggish, eerie effect, making the poor servants shiver incessantly.
She stopped a few feet from the entrance of the balcony, gazing at the rigid form of the warlord in front of her. "It seems that Mr. Green likes the light…"
Motonari remained standing still, not even flinching a bit.
She continued, "…something is strange though…"
"What do you want." He finally spoke. His voice was demanding.
She appeared to ignore him though, as she went on with her statement, "Your light is strange… It seems warm, yet it seems cold…"
Mouri moved his head down, and then motioned it to the side, glancing at her from the corner of his eye. "Leave. Now."
It took her seconds before answering him. "Strange… Mr. Green's light draws Ichi near… "
Like a marionette following the strings of her master, she then bowed her head.
"…but Ichi will still follow Mr. Green's orders, so…" She turned around and proceeded to walk out of the room, as one of the servants warily escorted back to her own.
She had not bothered him for the rest of the day.
Having finished reviewing the strategic plans, Mouri finished rolling up the last scroll. In the next five days, the western army would be attacking Tokugawa in Sekigahara as planned. He cared not whether Tokugawa or Ishida would reign victorious; in the end, all that would matter to him is that the province of Aki would remain secured. If it was triumphant, so would he. It would all happen if everything went according to plan.
Of course, it's not that he doesn't have a back-up plan. Motonari sneered confidently.
It was 10:00 in the evening when we walked out of the strategy room and glanced at the corridor. He could see the doors to the room of his "guest." The guest, one of Otani's special pawns, was the sister of the Demon King; she was then known as the Demon Queen of the Fifth Heaven. Despite her title, he did not really care for her one bit. While she may be a rather useful and powerful pawn as Otani regarded her, for Mouri, she was merely dirty corpse carelessly wandering around, utilizing the powers offered to her by the dead.
He merely accepted Otani's favor since he believed that it wasn't the proper time to betray him yet. The battle of Sekigahara would be the perfect time to execute it. Nevertheless he was aware that Otani already had the feeling that he, Mouri Motonari, would deceive him at some point. At the moment, it would still be proper to support his plans and maintain their alliance.
All of a sudden, Mouri felt chilly atmosphere not far away. He looked back at the door to Oichi's room and saw a faintly glowing pink aura forming from it. He briskly headed towards it and slid open the door, revealing one of his soldiers being held against the wall by black hands. They were coming from underneath the sitting Oichi. She was the source of the glowing aura.
"Ah, hello Mr. Green," greeted the Demon Queen, "you came to visit Ichi…?"
"L-lord M-m-mouri…"The fearful soldier said as he struggled from the hold of the demon hands. He was turning pale from the grip.
However, Motonari's façade showed no concern whatsoever for the soldier. Instead, he grimly faced the woman. "I do not appreciate you assaulting my pawns."
Oichi frowned. "…But, but Ichi was only doing him a good deed…" The grip of the demon hands was still unyielding.
Mouri raised an eyebrow with her response, while the soldier looked even more terrified.
"…Mr. Soldier said that he didn't like working here anymore…" she continued. "To end his suffering, Ichi only thought of bringing him to the darkness…"
Motonari narrowed his eyes at the soldier before commanding, "release him."
The dark hands immediately released its grip on the soldier and retreated back to the black goo beneath Oichi. Consequently, the frightened soldier unceremoniously dropped to the wooden floors. He hastily attempted to leave the room, but it only led to him being slapped by Mouri who was blocking the exit.
Mouri continued to hit the soldier until the latter fell to the ground face first. The warlord proceeded to forcefully stomp on the soldier's head.
"Be thankful," he said while squishing his boot on the pawn's head as if it was a measly cockroach, "that I do not have my blade at this moment. My army does not welcome weak and pathetic men."
He released his foot.
The soldier weakly left the room as fast as he could.
Mouri turned his head back to the woman, whose face appeared neutral with her blank eyes. She then opened her mouth."Ah, that poor soul… And he was only bringing Ichi her food…"
He simply arched a brow in response and turned to leave, but he stopped half-way when Oichi muttered something.
"You're leaving already? Ichi really wanted somebody to talk to…"
He only glared at her unpleasantly, which unfortunately for him didn't seem to affect her.
"How about you, Mr. Green? Ichi could sense you need someone to talk to…"
Thinking it was one of her gibberish talks, he ignored her and continued to step out.
"…You are lonely too, right?" she innocently asked.
The question struck him frozen.
"What…?" he quietly hissed.
Despite his seemingly unforgiving tone, she still did not show any signs of fear. She instead continued to stare perplexedly at him. "You are lonely, Ichi can sense it…"
She positioned her right hand on her chest.
"Just like Mr. Butterfly, your heart… There is a hole in your heart… Empty inside, because everything has spilled out…"
He subconsciously clutched tight the frame of the door, quietly spitting the growing anger and confusion within him. "Wh-what did you say?"
"…however, unlike Mr. Butterfly…" Oichi continued, "Ichi could not sense even a hint of happiness in you…"
Mouri angrily stared at her, though he was already gritting his teeth in rage.
" You do not seem to have a true purpose to live…"
He then closed his eyes, attempting to suppress his anger.
"...You do not have that purpose which would make you happy."
However, Mouri's own attempt failed as he vehemently slammed his gloved hand on the door, having heard enough. "Y-you…! Cease your ridiculous prattling! You dare speak to me that way?"
Instead of confronting her, he chose to slam the door shut and leave. She was not worth his time, he indignantly thought.
Oichi could only watch his uncouth actions. "Ah, poor, poor Mr. Green," she whispered.
She shifted her head to her meal which had already turned cold. "Ah, poor, cold okras… Kind of like Mr. Green…"
He heard an annoyingly familiar voice.
"You know what I want to say, don't cha, Mouri?"
It was that pirate's voice.
"I'm taking you down, and then report it at my men's graves. I'll even take care of your men too."
"And then, it's over."
"After that, I'll completely forget about you."
"My dead men—I'll never forget them!"
"Even if I die, they'll remember me!"
"But for you… After you die, no one's gonna remember you!"
"Even with all your strategies, those are the most you could get."
"Because that's your way of life—a lonely soul!"
"Loneliness continues even after death!"
He then heard a female voice.
"You are lonely too, right?"
"There is a hole in your heart… Everything has spilled out…"
"Ichi could not sense even a hint of happiness in you…
"You do not seem to have a true purpose to live…"
"You do not have that purpose that would make you happy…"
The pirate's voice returned.
"Mouri Motonari! Cry and regret in you eternal loneliness!"
"STOP!" Motonari declared as he hastily sat up from his futon, waking up from his nightmare. Cold sweat was trickling down his forehead as he clutched the yukata covering his chest. His heartbeat was fast. He was panting for air.
He then grasped his forehead, which was throbbing painfully. The last words from his nightmare painfully echoed in his mind.
He could not sleep peacefully anymore at his state.
He grabbed his blankets and ungraciously threw it to the sides. Still huffing, he remained sitting until his heart slowly returned beating in a normal rhythm.
'There is a hole in your heart…'
The thought caused it to slightly beat faster again, but he shook his head and stood up.
Slightly wobbling, he was relieved no one could see him in such a feeble state. He weakly changed his clothes into his battle attire, sans the helmet and arm guards. He then took a deep breath and poised himself, making sure to look confident and superior despite his condition.
The sleeping servant guarding his lord's quarters outside immediately woke up when the doors slid open, revealing Motonari. The servant trembled upon seeing his lord early in the morning. It was just 2 hours past midnight.
Was he snoring out loud that it woke up his lord?
He immediately grew pale with the thought and was about to blurt out apologies when Mouri walked passed him, as if ignoring him. The servant was relieved and surprised at the same time with his lord's actions but cautiously followed him anyway.
The two walked downstairs. While his servant remained at the corridors, Mouri went to the strategy room. There, he rolled open the scrolls on the table and reviewed his tactics for the upcoming battles.
He needed to refocus his mind on more important matters and not on those preposterous thoughts.
Such as loneliness.
Bitterly, he closed his eyes and scowled. "Focus, just focus," he thought, convincing himself.
"You wake him up…"
"No, you wake him up…!"
"Why won't you do it…?"
"You were with him earlier, so you do it..!"
Motonari could hear faint whispers of men, though he couldn't quite make up what they were saying. Slowly, he opened his eyes; at first, he could see a blurry image dominant in green. When his eyesight became normal, he saw a bunch of his soldiers crowded by his side; all seem to be nervous and sweating.
"Ah! Lord M-m-mouri! G-good morning!"
Motonari placed his hand on his forehead. In front of him were the scrolls he had been studying; he had fallen asleep.
Regardless of the situation, he faced the several soldiers rather frostily. "What are you all doing here?"
One soldier brave enough responded, although he could not help stuttering. "Lord M-mouri, the s-sun rose already… About h-half an hour ago…"
"And none of you woke me up?" Mouri answered immediately, cold expression remained unchanged.
Some soldiers began pointing fingers frantically while others were already saying their apologies. When Motonari suddenly stood up, they all simultaneously declared, "We're sorry, Lord Mouri!"
Mouri simply shoved them aside in a rough manner and left the room. While brushing his hair with his hand, he proceeded to the balcony.
He did his routine, closing his eyes and gesturing his head upwards.
"O Great Sun… Your power…is all I require...!" He convinced himself with that thought.
Although somehow, somewhere, something in him greatly hoped that it would be all that he'd need, but he would not—perhaps never—admit it.
Until evening, Motonari had kept himself again in the strategy room to read his scrolls. This time he was accompanied by bottle of sake.
He calculated again the number of troops he'll be placing in the battlefield. Considering the forces of the two opposing armies—the east and the west, he assumed that the end of the battle would really be a close fight. Both armies appeared to possess equal prowess; however, seeing as some generals defected from the western army to the other, the eastern army had the advantage. There was still the possibility of one of Otani's pawns, the priestess from the Kouno Army, Tsuruhime, defecting if Otani could not handle her properly.
Speaking of defection, he sourly remembered their failed plan to defeat Chousokabe Motochika. It seemed that he underestimated the pirate; the latter eventually knew that Tokugawa did not betray him at all. He poured sake onto his cup.
"That bastard…" Mouri dismally thought. He'd be facing him again in Sekigahara, and he assured himself that he would definitely eradicate him the moment they meet. Especially after he dared speaking ill of him the last time they met. That good-for-nothing pirate, accusing him of being lonely—he grudgingly thought.
"Because that's your way of life—a lonely soul!"
He sipped from his cup. He wasn't lonely, right?
"And then, it's over. After that, I'll completely forget about you."
And it wasn't because he wished to be remembered by someone else even just when he was still alive since no one would when he'd die that he spared Chousokabe's life at their last battle. He sipped from it again.
"You do not seem to have a true purpose to live… You do not have that purpose that would make you happy…"
And he did have a purpose to live. It was the well-being of the Mouri house. He believed it would make him happy, because nothing else was of importance. He drank the last drop of alcohol.
He was happy, right?
His head was aching again.
Lack of sleep. Headaches. Loneliness.
These were supposed to be the least of his worries especially due to the upcoming battle. He never even experienced nor thought of them in the previous days.
Not until she stayed here.
His face went dark. He clutched the sake bottle hard enough to break it. While he was fortunately wearing gloves that moment, it didn't prevent him from injuring the palm of his right hand due to the force.
Furiously gritting his teeth, he grabbed his ring blade and stomped his way towards the Demon Queen's room. A Mouri soldier was guarding the door.
"Lord Mouri, why—? " The soldier wasn't given a chance when the warlord mercilessly slashed him, along with the door. The solder dropped dead to the floor.
The destroyed door gave way to the exposure of Oichi. She was still wearing her armor; the tails behind her were synchronized like dark flower petals as she was sitting idly on her futon. The sleeping robes he provided for her were still neatly folded by her bed.
But it didn't matter. He couldn't care less whether or not she was awake or in her battle attire. It would not stop him.
She slowly swung her head to his direction. "Hello Mr. Green… You could not sleep too…?"
He hated that about her too. How could she simply sit there absentmindedly when his motives were right in front of her? How could she deduce that supposed loneliness in him in that state of hers?
"You… YOU—!" Fists shaking in anger, he swiftly swayed the ring blade towards her. Just before the blade could reach her however, the dark hands from before emerged and shielded her. He quickly drew back the weapon and defensively placed it around him.
The dark hands slowly recoiled from her front and began looming dangerously behind her. They didn't seem to have any intentions of attacking back just yet. It was as if they were waiting for commands.
Oichi quietly spoke, "what's wrong, Mr. Green…?"
His eyes turned to slits. "What's wrong? I'll tell you what's wrong! You! You're wrong! You and Chousokabe are wrong!"
She grimaced, "Please don't shout… It's scary… You're being like Lord Grumpy…"
"Silence!" He angrily commanded. "You! How dare you cloud my mind with foolish and unnecessary thoughts? You don't even know what you're talking about!"
For a moment, her frightened demeanor changed back into a somber one.
"But does Mr. Green know what he is talking about?" she quietly asked back. This caused him to snap again.
He rushed forward intending to strike her once more, but the dark hands were faster; it easily defended her. In the midst of it, Motonari did not notice a single black hand which then struck his right hand—the injured one—making him drop the ring blade. He immediately grabbed his right wrist with his other hand and attempted to jump back. However, another dark hand seized his left leg which resulted to him dropping back first on the floor. It then pulled him towards the Demon Queen.
He tried to resist being dragged by the demon hand, but his back hurt too much from the impact.
Nevertheless, his pride still hurt more.
Soon the single dark hand was back-upped by other dark hands which bound him by his other leg, then his arms, and lastly his torso to the wooden floors, which were then dyed black due to the supernatural force. He sought to break free again but the grip was too strong.
"Ichi does know what she is talking about…" She silently crawled next to his lying form, the dark hands still soaring above her. "Because Ichi is lonely too, just like Mr. Green…"
"S-shut…up…D-don't…start…" He could only mutter weakly. He wanted to tell her off again, but due to exhaustion he could not summon his strength. His head was a bit groggy too. He turned his eyes in Oichi's direction to see a blurry image of her. It must have also been the effect of alcohol. He mentally cursed himself.
"Are you lonely too?" she asked once more. The question echoed in his mind.
Was he really lonely?
Was he finally convinced that he was indeed lonely because at least two people said so?
For a brief moment he mentally shrugged off the thought. He had to escape, he persuaded himself. These things weren't important!
He needed something to distract her.
Just where were his soldiers at that moment?
Where were they when he really needed them?
His eyes then widened in realization.
It suddenly struck to him.
Something inside his chest hurt, as if a blade pierced right through it. His recurring headache even increased the pain he was experiencing.
"Have you finally realized the loneliness from within you, Mr. Green?" she asked, as if she was reading his mind all along.
He could not find the voice to answer her. Instead, he could feel something streaming from his eyes, making his eyesight much more blurred. Though weakly, he cursed again.
"Ah, please do not cry, Mr. Green… Ichi does not like seeing people cry…" She delicately caressed his face, wiping the tear from his eye. "It makes Ichi pity them more…"
Her hand was cold, like a corpse he always presumed her to be. It quivered his senses. Desperately, Mouri attempted to escape for one last time, but it proved to be futile. While the hands seemed to be gentler that time, they still possessed the strong capability to hold him back, being tangible yet seemingly intangible at the same time.
Soon he stopped struggling; he was tired too. Oddly though, he got used to the strange comfort given to him by both the Demon Queen and her demonic hands.
"Why…?" he asked in a mumbled voice. "How…?"
It was one of the few times he spoke without spite.
"Hush…" she whispered, still stroking his face. "There seems to be no one that pities you… So Ichi will do it…"
A dark hand emerged from the black puddle, which then covered Mouri's eyes. He couldn't see anything at that point.
"Mr. Green likes the light, doesn't he…?" Her chilly hand left his face as she shifted her attention to his wounded hand. She gently held it, as the dark hand fastening it to the ground loosened its grip. She slowly removed the glove, exposing the cuts in his palm. "You know, Mr. Green, Ichi thinks your light is a lie…"
She gingerly touched one bruise, thus making his body twitch.
"Perhaps it has blinded you already…?"
He could still hear her, though quite hardly. He still couldn't see. He couldn't move as well.
"Light could be comforting too, but too much of it can blind you…"
Gently, she let go of his hand.
"So this night, let Ichi show you the comfort darkness could offer as well…"
Mouri could sense the black puddle spreading beneath him. Slowly, he could feel it was engulfing him.
Was he going to hell?
Was it the end?
Was he going to face eternal loneliness?
He could hear her faint whispers.
She was singing a song—an eerie lullaby which lulled him to sleep.
Motonari opened his eyes.
He saw a familiar ceiling and immediately sat up, looking around the place.
He was in his room.
He was no longer bound by dark hands. He wasn't seeing all-black anymore.
"Was it…all just a dream?" he asked himself. He raised his hand to touch his forehead but noticed his suspiciously clean palm. The wounds were gone. He couldn't even see a hint of a scar. He was starting to doubt the reality of last night's events.
He observed his left hand. It was still covered by his glove. In fact, he was still wearing his battle clothes which exactly was he was wearing the night before. Although he couldn't quite recall clearly what happened, he believed that it couldn't all be a dream.
Deciding he needed some fresh air, he stood up intending to open the windows. Upon walking, he noted another strange thing—his body felt odd, but in a good way. If all the events the previous night really did happened and he miraculously survived through it, he'd at least expected to have strained muscles. It would be an understatement to say that his body just felt fine; it felt…perfect. He did not feel any strain at all.
Maybe he really just was sleeping all the time. It could all possibly be a nightmare. A strong and vivid one.
"Still… The facts don't add up," Mouri thought deeply as he slid open the window. Whatever thoughts he had were momentarily forgotten as Mouri gazed at the view before him. The sky was painted indigo, with slight shades of orange rising from beneath the mountains. He mildly smiled. "It's already dawn."
He then heard a knock from his door. The door slightly opened and a servant peered. "Lord Mouri? Oh, you're a-awake."
Motonari's smile then turned to a frown. He'd have to deal with his more often than not useless servants. Though there was a miniscule part in him that was slightly relieved in knowing that he was not alone at time.
Meanwhile, the servant found it strange how his master was already dressed, though gloveless on one hand. But since he still valued his life, he decided against asking his lord about his odd sense of fashion. "Is my lord ready to walk to the castle hall?"
"No." Mouri responded.
"T-then this servant shall await for his lord outside—"
"No," Motonari snapped back. "I shall do my routine here in my room. Leave."
"U-understood, my lord!" The servant closed the door hurriedly at the same time gently as possible.
Mouri shifted his gaze back to the scenery by the window. A giant golden sphere was now emerging beneath the mountains. It stained the heavens more with warm, yellow and orange hues, taking over the dark, indigo colors of the skies.
Ready for his routine, he was about to raise his arms when he looked down from the window. He saw something that caught his attention amidst the green grass. There lied a pink and black figure, which from above, looked like an isolated, lonely flower in a giant field. However, Motonari was not fooled as he immediately recognized what, or rather, who it was. He quickly grabbed a spare glove to cover his bare hand and then clasped his arm guards. He secured his helmet on his head and stormed out of his room.
The sunrise was momentarily forgotten.
Mouri briskly walked to the palace's garden and stopped at its entrance. From a distance he could see Oichi, whose back was facing him. She was sitting on the grass like a child. She was humming a song.
He then finally decided to step in to the garden, making his footsteps louder than normal to get her attention. Indeed it worked, as she stopped humming and turned her head. He stopped a few meters from her.
"Hello, Mr. Green… The flowers here are really pretty…"
"You." He ignored her statement and instead went straight to the point. "What did you do to me?"
However, she seemed to ignore him too. "There are pretty white flowers here… Ichi hopes you don't mind her picking some…"
"Silence!" His tone was unkind. "Stop talking about worthless nonsense and answer me!"
Oichi simply stared at him. At the same time, Mouri's impatience increased by the second. After a seemingly long moment of silence, Oichi opened her mouth to speak, but was unable to do so when a Mouri scout appeared from the entrance.
"Lord Mouri, the Ishida convoy to pick up the Demon Queen has arrived."
Mouri closed his eyes, and then took a deep breath. The timing was just perfect. "Let them in."
Oichi slowly stood up, flowers still in hands. "Mr. Butterfly is here already?"
"Yes. Otani is here."
"That's nice…" She walked in his direction, still in her wobbly state. "Ichi is sure he would like these pretty flowers… Maybe Lord Grumpy too…"
Mouri opened his eyes, gazing at her severely. "I will not permit you to go unless you give me answers."
Like before, she did not seem intimidated. She continued walking until she was a few feet beside him. "Ichi thinks..."
He turned his head towards her. She was holding out a flower.
"…darkness suits you more," she continued. At that moment, he found himself lifting his hand subconsciously, accepting the flower given to him.
Brieftly, he flinched, stunned with his own actions.
He then looked intently at her; she was already walking away.
"Thank you for keeping Ichi here, Mr. Green…"
She turned her head after saying this, and started walking away again.
"Perhaps Ichi shall meet you again…in the battlefield…"
She paused for a moment. He was still watching her actions.
"Ichi hopes that by then, you are not lonely anymore…"
Upon hearing it, Motonari simply looked away.
He allowed her to go, as she was being escorted out of the palace. Soon she would be out of the province as well.
Mouri looked at the object on his hand. It was a white flower. Its petals would have been purely white, if not for the black pigments coming out from its end.
A servant then appeared. He reported that his lord's ring blade was found inside the room previously occupied by the Demon Queen. A worn-out black glove was similarly found there.
Though he did not outwardly express it, Mouri was surprised. Then, realization sunk in, making the thinnest of smiles form on Motonari's lips. He clutched the stem of the flower tighter.
He then looked up.
It had been half an hour after sunrise.
He missed his routine again.
After hours of travel, the Ishida convoy arrived to their camp. Yoshitsugu welcomed Oichi again.
"Ah, you brought me flowers?"
"Yes… Mr. Green said it was OK… At least, Ichi thought so…"
"I see. How was your stay?"
"It was nice… It was nice to know Mr. Green…"
"…Is that so? You did not do anything to trouble or hurt him?"
She quietly nodded, and then said, "Of course… Because Ichi promised to be a good girl."
A friend of mine requested me to write something about her favorite characters, Motonari and Oichi. I accepted it, even though I was quite aware how…difficult it would be. So this was the result. I apologize for inconsistencies, confusion and such!
The events here were after Motochika's path where he learned that it was Otani and Mouri's plan all along to make it seem like Ieyasu betrayed him. However, here, Mouri ended up winning while Motochika was able to escape, so I hope it's cleared up. Also, I had Oichi call Motonari "Mr. Green" since I don't really know how she refers to her in the game… orz (If someone does know, I'd be really happy to know it and I'll edit this. :D) (Also, I originally intended to call him "Mr. Okra," but yeah. XD)
That's all! Reviews are appreciated. :)