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The Goddess of Fate

I am a published novelist. I write fantasy/Dark fiction, and have one series already on book shelves, but I have a number of other books I am writing. When I saw this option, I thought perhaps I could share a little of one of the books I am still writing....

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Chpter 3 - An Unexpected Journey

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Chapter 3

An Unexpected Journey

“With death brings life, and a desire to fight;

a heavy burden alone to be bared.

To gain comfort for many, means loss in plenty;

a wicked life to never be shared…”

 

CHIRP, CHIRP!

My eyes crack open, thick with weary sorrow, as my gaze turns upwards to the dawn broken sky. Time to move on, I consider as my small body stretches, my claws scraping over bark. My action coming to a sudden halt, when my vision is filled by my Monkey, sleeping peacefully upon my perch.

What is he doing there? Did he sneak up while I was sleeping? I wonder in shock, when I realise that I just referred to him as MY Monkey! He is my nothing, but simply a child Lord. I chastise, shaking my head.

With a quick gaze down at the sleeping samurai, I assure their slumber before preparing for departure. As I reach the end of the branch, I briefly look back at Ryū, sleeping in ignorance. Goodbye young lord, may you serve your province with honour. A gentle curve of my maw in consideration of our encounter, before turning my back upon him, once more. I begin to consider my destination, when the subtle tug halts my thoughts. Do you have a plan for me? I internally chuckle at the Threads intrusion. Though rare as it may be, an image fills my mind of me accompanying the samurai in their travels.

WHAT!? You can’t be serious!? The image vibrates with surety, as though the Threads wish to imprint it within my mind’s eye. What is so important about these mortals? Of course I get no answer, only an affirmation of my journey.

“Fine!” I hiss aloud, before quickly retaking my godly form with a burst of dense black smoke. “GET UP!” I shout in frustration, making the samurai jolt awake in shock. But my anger forgotten in a moment when Ryū leaps awake, to suddenly fall from the branch. Without hesitation, I catch his form, moments before he plummets to the earth.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? YOU COULD HAVE DIED!” I scold while balancing on the winds.

A quick intake of breath assaults me, when I realise my actions, his face inches from my own. What am I doing!? I just saved a mortal!

With eyes as wide as saucers, he mutters, “We’re flying.”

My shock is forgotten in an instant. “Really!? That’s what springs to mind when you consider how close you came to death? RIDICULUS!” I snap, slowly descending to the earth.

Once my feet touch the ground, I release my hold and the idiot monkey thuds upon the earth. Before he has a chance to refute my actions, I snarl “Imagine that tenfold! As I assure you, it is nothing compared to what it could have been if you fell from that height!” I finish, pointing to a previous landing. “You are to be Lord of this province! Your life is indebted to honour your inheritance, so never squander it!”

“Well said, Shukumei–no–megami,” Kojuro suddenly interrupts.

If I am to be stuck with them, these formalities will become bothersome, I sigh, turning away for the indignant Monkey. “Enough with this -no-megami. I permit you all to call me, Shukumei-ten. I detest formalities.”

“No, Shukumei- no-me…”

Shukumei-ten, Kojuro. I do not wish to waste time with such waffling.” I interrupt, my irritation at its peak with current events.

“Why are you still here?” The Monkey questions, now back on his feet; dusting off his clothing.

“Trust me, Monkey! If it were up to me, I wouldn’t be!” Impertinent child! “But as I was taking my leave, the Threads stopped me and seems to insist on my accompanying you all, safely, home.”

Due to my attitude the previous evening, as well as this morning, I would never have believed that I would incur this reaction. All around are men with bright grins of pleasure, some even nudging their neighbour, nodding in satisfaction. But it is the Monkey that draws my full attention, lighting up with glee.

“Wait! Are you saying you’re staying with us?” His mirth bursts forth, causing my sour mood to sweeten.

The corner of my lip twitching in a smirk, I chuckle. “It appears so.” Returning my gaze to them all, I quickly drop my amusement, “with that said, it is time to move on. My time is not unwanted elsewhere.”

They leap to action, as though on order, packing up camp without a moment to spare. As I watch their progress, the Monkey creeps towards me, gazing up in silence.

“What?” I blandly mutter, continuing to look forward.

Hesitation forgotten, he replies in a hushed tone. “After last night, I feared you would be gone before we awoke.”

I look down at him, from the corner of my eyes, “feared? I had thought you would have rejoiced?”

With a look of stunned disbelief, the Monkey shakes his head. “No! That is why I climbed up to where you slept, in hope of hearing you when you decided to leave.”

With a chuckle I turn my gaze forward, “And what would that have gained? If I have chosen to leave, none could stop my departure.”

In my wildest dreams, I never would have guessed his next words.

“I know, but to at least be able to say goodbye, and look at you one last time is all I had wished for.” He mutters.

Goodbye? “What a strange being you are.” I chuckle, turning to look down upon his child like features, “There will be times when you will not get the chance say ‘goodbye’, it is perhaps a lesson you need to understand.”

I jolt in shock when Ryū latches onto my kimono sleeve, “No! Please! Promise me you will never leave without saying goodbye!”

Confused and unaccustomed to such a reaction, I watch this child tremble with pleading eyes. “Very well,” I reply in a gentle tone, patting his head with my free hand. “I promise I will never leave with bidding you farewell. Now remove your hold on me.”

Content with my answer, Ryū releases my clothing, and turning bright red he turns away, muttering, “thank you.”

Still bewildered, I watch the young Lord gather his belongings, when Kojuro is the next to approach me.

“I hope you are not going to use formal speech with me, again, Kojuro?”

Casting his gaze downward for a moment, confirming that he was until I spoke. “I just came to ask how far you were to travel with us, Shukumei-t-t-ten?”

I could not help but smirk at his stuttering, before turning to face him. “From what I saw, it is as I said. I will be with you until you reach your doorstep.”

“And then?”

“And then, I shall leave you mortals to govern yourselves, as it should be.”

“Are we to experience a dangerous road?”

“You ask an awful lot of questions, Kojuro. What is it you really wish to know?”

“Please excuse my rudeness, but with you going so far as to accompany mortals to keep us safe, well, it makes me wonder why we deserve a Goddesses attention?”

“I do not have any answers for you. I do as the Threads direct, but I will share this. Not once have I been told to protect any mortals. The Gods should not interfere in the lives of men, but I believe your Lord may be destined for something that shift the world as we know it, and needs to live so he may fulfil his destiny.”

With a furrow of his brow, Kojuro fixes his gaze on me. “Do you not know the destiny of all?”

A sternness adds to my voice, as I reply. “Do not mistaken me. The Thread hold your fate, and are only revealed to me when I become, Senkensha.”

“Senkensha? But I thought you are the Seer?”

“I am, but also not. We are one but two. I cannot see unless she comes forth and becomes me.”

“Can you not choose to do so?”

This time I cannot help my snicker, “At times it is not a matter of choice, but I can, though I don’t believe you would wish me to do so.”

“Do you become different to who you are now?”

My eyes becoming as sharp as razors, I whisper. “Completely, a fierceness resides within her, she is not the merciful type. Always beware the elusive white tiger, Kojuro. As she is the frozen shard, within my heart.”

I turn away from Kojuro, pleased to see the others prepared. I motion with my hand, “Shall we be off, gentleman?” Cutting through their steeds constant nattering. I burst into a vision of feathers, taking wing to the sky, I climb. My plumes a brilliant ebony, my eyes sharp with vision. Let us see what the road holds for us, I muse, as my gaze penetrates the dense foliage. I relish in the crisp morning air, tumbling and gliding with freedom. A freedom I generally favour, but for the first time in my life, I truly feel alone.

It’s not like I enjoyed my time with those unrefined mortals, I am just remembering my charge. I screech in denial. My hawk’s eye view never wavers from their procession, and I begin to wonder upon their mutterings. Fine! I’ll just sneak behind them; they’ll never know I’m there. With a graceful loop, I dive towards my acquaintances. Once hitting the foliage my large hawk wings curl and transform to those of a shrike to then gently land on the branches above their heads. With quick twitches and steady movements, none take notice of my arrival.

Good! Now to just hop along behind them. I congratulate myself, careful to not draw attention.

My curiosity is paid off, when I discover they are already discussing me.

“Momotami, have ever met such a beautiful woman?” One of the samurai nudges his neighbour, with a cheeky grin.

“Never! But then again, she is no mere woman, but a Goddess!”

A young, yet dignified, looking samurai rides up to join the fold, “But with her beauty I am sure there are many haiku in dedication of her!” he announces, a broad grin stretching across his face.

“Indeed, indeed!” Momotami agrees, slapping the dignified samurai on the shoulder, “even I could recite one if she were to stand before me again!”

I can’t help feeling smug towards their compliments. Well, at least they have impeccable taste!

“We are certainly blessed, to have such a fierce Goddess watching over us!” Another exclaims`, with a few others cheering on his words.

“But do you not fear her? Even a little?” One of the more solemn interjects, breaking my jovial mood.

“Fear?” One snorts, nudging his horse to a canter, “fear her strength, if you must, Yoshinobu, but to fear the Goddess, herself. Never!”

Not to be dissuaded, Yoshinobu retorts. “But forget not those Oni! The battle was over before we had a chance to clasp our hilts!”

“Indeed! What fine swordsmanship! I would very much like to be taught by a master, such as she, and I in turn could teach her a trick or two, in another sport.” He grins, waggling his brows.

“She did shame our Lord!” A scrawny samurai joins fray, calling over the insistent cat calls. “To give our master such a scolding, when all he spoke were truths!”

“Aye! That she did!” A samurai more suited for sumo, trots his horse between the men, “And if she ever wished, she could scold me all she likes. Telling me what a bad boy I’ve been!”

Hearty laughter calls out amongst them accompanied by a round of teasing, stating their chances of seducing a Goddess, or bravery in attempting the task.

Really… I thought these were grown men, I drawl as I hop over to the next branch.

Ignoring their chatter, my sights fall upon the Monkey, as his eyes remain fixated on the sky, as Kojuro continues to redirect Ryū horse, as it takes its own path due to his distraction.

After the fifth save from Kojuro, he sighs. “Lord Ryū, please look where you are going.”

“But I can’t see her, Kojuro! You don’t suppose she has left us?” The Monkey questions in a panic.

With a gentle smirk, Kojuro reaches to pat a fatherly hand on his shoulder. “If she has, then that is her will. Shukumei-no-megami is a Goddess, and may do as she pleases. But let me put your mind at ease.” Panic-stricken Ryū, considers Kojuro’s eyes causing him to chuckle. “The one you seek in not in the skies, but has been following us as a Shrike for quite some time now.” Kojuro finishes, turning to point directly at me.

Suddenly, several heads turn to look at me, and in a panic, I launch up and out to the open skies, once more. HOW!? How did he know!? Embarrassed, I decide to remain above their sights, turning back to my hawk form. But my bashfulness is quickly forgotten when I feel the familiar call within my mind.

Father…What does he want? And what am I to do now?

I send a quick reply stating the need for time, before swooping back towards the mortals. In a spin, I quickly break through thin branches and leaves, to startle Kojuro upon my abrupt landing on his shoulder. My talons squeaking against his armour while confirming my perch. “Shukumei-ten!” The Monkey shouts in recognition, which I ignore. “Kojuro, I am being summoned by my father. I must leave you for a time.”

“What!?” “We understand.” The Monkey and Kojuro reply in unison.

With a furrow of his brow, the Monkey barks out, “NO! We do not understand! Why?”

“My Lord…” Kojuro begins to answer, but I stop him with a tightening of my pincers.

With a quick flap of my wings, I leap to the young Lord’s shoulder. “Am I not fulfilling my promise? I said I would say goodbye.”

Sorrow blurs his vision, as he pleads with intensity. “But you were to be with us until…”

In an uncharacteristic move, I nuzzle my head against his cheek, whispering into his mind. ‘Call for me, and I will come! If ever you are in need.’

Without a second glance, I launch off his shoulder, summoning the void which will take me home. In a moment, I morph from bird to being, to step into the darkness of the between.  Shapes and vision of the dead, shadow my footsteps; the forsaken souls I left for judgement without blessing. I am haunted by their presence every time I journey between heaven and earth. Grasping hands surround me, as they attempt to exact their revenge, as cold numbs my body from their malice. Their icy grasps are washed away when I step through the warmth of heavens doorway, like an immersion of peace heating my frozen limbs, as my eyes open in wonder at the never-ending twilight of the heavens.

A rush of breath escapes my lungs, shortly followed by a gentle curl of my lips. Such a gentle child is to govern a province, I internally chuckle. In surprise of my actions, my fingers graze over my feature in remembrance of such emotion I have never felt before. What’s with me? Do I fancy myself his Mother? Or perhaps big sister is better suited.

My pleasant mood is abruptly interrupted when a scent I know all too well, attempts to creep up behind me. In fierce swiftness, Mōretsu slices through the air as I spin to a halt, with my blade held a hair-width away from my husband’s throat.

“Shukumei, is this any way to greet your husband?”

“Bishamon…” I sneer, “You should know better than to sneak up on me.”

Raising his hands in surrender, a wicked smirk forms on his cruel features. “Since we have the pleasantries out of the way, do you think you could remove your friend?”

“Why? I think Mōretsu likes you.” I return his quip with cold satisfaction, as Mōretsu resonates the malice of its namesake causing Bishamon to flinch, before I remove the blade, sheathing it back into the void.

“Come.” Bishamon beckons with his hand, “I’ll escort you to Lord Izanagi.”

“No need. I know perfectly well where to find him.”

In an instant, Bishamon, has me pressed against a near wall, his fingertips clasping my chin, raising it to meet his eyes. “What is so wrong with a husband wishing to spend some time with his wife?” He leers, before forcing his lips against my own.

I rupture into hundreds of spiders, scattering across walls and floors in escape. Bishamon leaps away in shock, before snarling in frustration as I gather back together, taking back my original form some distance away.

“Come no closer!” My voice commands, “You may be my husband, but these lips of mine, shall touch none but those of my choosing!” Turning my back on him, I head towards my father’s chambers, “And your lips, will NEVER be chosen!”

In an instant, Bishamon is by my side, his hand firmly grasping my wrist to spin me towards him. “So, those lips of yours touch another’s? Are you still embracing that filthy Kitsune?”

Shards of ice expel from my wrist, piercing Bishamon’s hand. With a sudden shout of pain, he releases his hold, igniting his hand into flames to dissolve my wrath. “Not that it concerns you, to whom I choose to share my bed with, but no.”

Bishamon’s feature twist with fury, he shouts, “doesn’t concern me!? I am your husband! The bed you should share is mine alone!”

My body shivers with cold fury, my eye’s slitting with disdain. “If your decision to become my husband was simply so you could lie with me, then you were mistaken. I said long ago that I will never consummate our marriage. You are my husband in name only, as Fate has no master.”

With ridged distaste, I turn from him once more, ignoring his muttered words, ‘you will be mine,’ I stride to my father’s room, so I may re-join my charges. A few onlookers mutter sneers in my wake, in their constant attempt to demoralise my stature, from jealousy of their own inadequacy. I am not a foolish girl to succumb to their smite, and nor do I wish to gain their approval. If it was up to me, personally, I would never return to the heavens. My duty does not reside within this world, but where others cherish and love what they have, and strive for what they do not. Not this shallow pool of superiority, due to birth. Even I am guilty of such shallowness, but I do not scorn those below me without reason. I use it as a tool, to keep a distance from those around me. Because there may come a time when they may be the next to face my blade. I have learnt what happens when I drop that wall, and I cannot afford to be hesitant again.

The moment I stand before my father’s chambers, the doors swings open without my touch, to allow my immediate admittance. With a roll of my eyes, I notice the figures of two sleeping Goddesses within my father’s bed, as my stride passes them, in disgust. Beyond the gossamer draped, balcony doors, I see the figure of my father, his long black hair loosely tied to cascade over his shoulder, as he leans against the rails, staring out to the twilight sky. Reaching out my hand, I brush aside the cloth to open the balcony doors, causing him to turn to my entrance. I note his loosely fitted yukata, exposing his well define chest as he beckons me over with a wave of his hand.

“Daughter,” he states, once I stand beside him. “It feels as though it has been eons since I saw your beautiful face.”

Reaching out with his left hand, he curls his palm around my cheek. “You look just like your mother. Such a cold, refined beauty.”

With no change in my expression, I reply. “Is that why you called me? So, you may remember what mother was like? Do you not have your fill of beauty within this very chamber?”

With a bark of laughter, Izanagi removes his hand, “Indeed, beauties they are. But none gives me as much pleasure as your own.”

The usual waffle it seems, I think as I turn my gaze to the twilight. “What do you need of me? I am a very busy woman, as you well know.”

Mimicking my gaze, Izanagi rests his elbows upon the rails; releasing a shallow sigh. “Bishamon was missing you, he cannot step upon the world of men as freely as you can.”

I snort in response, “missing me? He just finished attempting to assault me, just moments ago.”

With a creased brow, Izanagi turns his focus to me. “Assault?”

“Nothing more than the usual.” There’s no need to delve to deeply, as I know my father’s concern is only skin deep.

Not failing my prediction, my father bursts into a fit of laughter. “Oh, that man!” He snickers, wiping away his joyful tears. “Though I do feel pity for him. Why not just bed him, and be done with it? I have heard he is an extremely, generous lover.”

Not taking my eyes away from the glorious view before me, I reply, “You know very well why I cannot.”

“You put such weight on that vision! In my opinion Senkensha is not to be trusted, she is nothing more than a beast.” My father snaps, detesting to topic of the seer.

Rounding on him, I jab a finger against my chest. “I AM SENKENSHA!” I roar, “Senkensha is a part of my heart which is locked away. Saying such things means you do not trust me!”

My eyes shimmer, changing from ice to midnight blue. The roots of my hair quake and vibrate washing away ebony, to glow a startling white. My K-9’s elongate to ferocious fangs, to be accompanied with snarl. Without choice, my father is now faced with the very being he dislikes above all.

With a purr, I step towards him, “or is it that you detest how simular to my mother I really am in this form?”

“Give back my daughter, you beast!” Izanagi retorts.

“You will never understand, will you Lord Izanagi. I am your daughter, we are one piece of a whole, I am still Shukumei, but now I can see all! I can unravel the lies and deceit with a simple look. Nobody’s fate can be hidden from me.”

The draw of the Threads fills my mind with images, as words erupt from my lips. “With death, brings life, and a desire to fight; a heavy burden alone to be bared,

To gain comfort for many, means loss in plenty; a wicked life to never be shared.

With a blade, well hewn, and the cold madness of the moon; turning one’s heart to ice,

Beware the fury that sings, and a chaos that swings; all shall pay the ultimate price.

For the bound shall dare, when carrying its share; resolved to honour its fate,

But alone it will waver, with a curse cried in anger; thickening with scornful hate.

But the tide will turn, with the heart that yearns; the father’s will destroys the sin,

But all will be in vain, with such suffering and pain; allowing cracks to form within.”

A violent shudder vibrates to my soul, as I collapse upon the balcony floor. I am Senkensha no more. With panting breaths, I rise to my feet, clasping the railing with a shaky hand.

“Shukumei, are you alright?” My father asks, reaching out to clasp my face.

I pull away from his touch, “do not concern yourself.”

“Shukumei…” Izanagi’s voice murmurs.

Turning my back on him, I head to the balcony doors. With my hand poised on the handle, I look back to my father, “I have matters to attend to in the mortal realm, go back to your Goddesses Father, as I am sure their presence gives you more pleasure than my own.”

Without giving him a chance to respond, I transform the balcony door into the void of the between, turning my back on the heavens.

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