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Ishi_Kudo

[Ignorant's Route] Rumors and Telltales [Bloody Wonderland Rmk!]

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A typical past time of civilians was to tell stories. Stories that could either be based on known facts or were nothing more but fallacies made to boast one’s ego. There were also stories for the children told every bedtime, either to teach them a good moral lesson, or scare the heck out of them. There was one known story, perhaps a rumor, which spread like wild fire throughout the lands of Fire Country. Like any stories and telltales, it had a lot of versions and depictions. But regardless of who or how it was told, it all depicted a wraith-like creature, haunting the woods where once a proud hidden village once stood. Wherever it went, a disturbing giggle, chuckle and laugh could be heard. Many said it glowed in hues of crimson red at night. Others said wisps followed its wake. It was like a ghost. Disappearing and reappearing at will. And for those who have seen it with their own eyes and lived to tell the tale said that it had eyes as sharp as cats…

…and a very wide grin which showed a set of pearly whites. Lovely.

There were no specifics on how the story started, but it started spreading a year or so after the Great Upheaval. It was the time that the budding villages were looking for resources that they could use to rebuild their homes. It was said that this creature guarded a ruin which had countless treasures deep within. But no one was able to prove this. Those who tried to search for it either died or were forever lost within the woods, chasing the ghost-like giggles and laughter of this creature.

If you were one of those oblivious to the changes in the world and far more interested in unveiling mysteries that infested the lands of Seichi, you would find yourself traversing the unforgiving forests of Fire Country. Only the light of the full moon illuminated your path, caressing your face full of curiosity. Were the rumors about this ghost true? Was there really a ruin that had bountiful treasure within it? These questions would continue to flood your head as you took every step, further into the woods, heart thumping with excitement and fear.

And there it was. Just in the clearing ahead of you, sitting like a feline on top of a rock protruding from the very center of a pond, was a creature that had a glowing tail of red and blue. Surrounded by wisps of red and blue, faint giggles could be heard from it. As soon as you stepped in within the clearing, it would disappear before you could react. You would look around, perhaps even approach where it was before. You would perhaps dismiss it as nothing more of a delusion… until you hear its giggle.

“Curious as a cat are we?†The cat-like entity re-appeared on one of the branches nearby, grinning widely as its cat-like eyes glowed in the dark as it stared at you.

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It had been long, very long. Or, at least, it felt that way. It felt like it was just way too long. Long enough for the memories of before to feel like they belonged to someone, something else. But they didn’t. He knew that, of course he knew that. What was he, crazy? No, he wasn’t crazy. He was definitely, unequivocally, not crazy. The Voice might suggest otherwise, but he knew it wasn’t in control. Not all the time anyway. Granted, it was thanks to the voice that he was even around here right now. But, you know, can’t win them all. The Voice was certainly winning a lot of the time lately. Or did it just feel like that? It was so difficult to keep track of things. Was The Voice messing with his memories, could it? Was Enyo under its influence? No, never that. If there was one thing he could trust in this universe, it was Enyo. Right?

 

Enyo would definitely know if he was going crazy. Enyo would tell him. Enyo would tell him everything. Yes, yes he would. No, that’s not right. No doubts, not this day, not this time. The forest hides something. Forests always hide something. That’s their purpose isn’t it? Remember forests? Or, better yet, remember THE forest. Yes that one, with the wooded man and all the confusing fighting. Those were the days. You know, the days before it all went to Hell. The days before you had to wonder if you were crazy, if you were alive, if you were you, if it even mattered. Doubts are kicking in. That’s not why you’re here. It’s the mysteries. It’s the hunt. It’s the finding. It’s the chase. It’s The Voice. Where’s the mask? Where’s the blade? Where’s the friend? Where’s everything?

 

The forest. Is it there? Are they there? Is everything there? Is that why you’ve brought me here? ‘If I say yes, would that make you feel better?’ I’m not sure there’s a way to feel better, not in this world, not anymore. ‘Oh dear, so gloomy. And I don’t even have to do much. I like this new you. Things have really taken a toll on you. I’m quite certain that you wouldn’t have allowed me to take you here, like this, before. No, you would have put up a bigger fight, I think, wait, no, I know. Of course I know.’ Just tell me where to go.

 

 

The forest was beautiful. Forests always were, it doesn’t matter if they were destroyed, or burnt down, or didn’t have a single remaining tree. Forests were beautiful, they were special, Shibuname knew that. Enyo enjoyed them too, being a bird, it’s pretty much mandatory. The two of them were taking a not-so casual stroll through a forest in the Fire Country. They didn’t know much about what was going on. It was a bit difficult to keep track of the going ons lately. Shibuname was very surprised that there were still things going on after all that happened. But, it is the nature of humanity to adapt, to keep going on, and even though he often wondered if there was a point to it anymore, he kept going too. Enyo always by his side.

 

What were Enyo and Shibuname doing in one of the Fire Country’s forests? Well, they don’t know. Or rather, they’re not being told. After the disasters that happened, The Voice had started gaining a stronger hold on Shibuname. It was almost impossible to resist its pull lately. This was a cause for worry, but Shibuname didn’t have much in the way of options. Especially with it calling the shots most of the time. However, Shibuname and Enyo did know what was ‘special’ about this particular forest. It was the source of the legend. The mysteries, the myths, the rumors of the ghost. The Voice was very intent on getting them there and meeting the ghost. Enyo had resisted at first. It was still difficult to realize when his master was fully in control of his actions. But he was starting to notice the difference, practice makes perfect, after all. The bird knew that it rested on him to make sure his master survived whatever idiotic scheme his brain was getting him into. Just like old times.

 

Wait.

 

We’re close.

 

No.

 

We’re here.

 

Oh, yes. It’s finally happened. I can see it. That must be it, right?

 

Just ahead of the group, it appeared. A clearing, and in the center there was a cat. Shibuname grinned, but the smile wasn’t his. Enyo burrowed his head under Shibu’s neck, something about the creature frightened him to his core. The human master was not feeling the same way. He kept getting closer to the creature, following the urgings of the voice inside his head. ‘Here we are. Meeting the ghost. It’s a cat. Oh, how wonderful. Can I talk to him? Let me talk to him. I will talk to him now.’

 

Shibuname stopped in front of the cat and bowed extravagantly. “Oh good sir, or do you prefer cat? No matter. I came following what the common tongues where spewing, and I am so glad to see they did not speak lies. Oh, this is such an honor. The meat suit and the bird didn’t want to come, but I forced them. Because I knew there would be something special about you. And I was right. I can feel it. We’re going to be great friends, aren’t we?â€

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A set of pearly white, pointy teeth fashioned into a wide grin.

That was the last thing Shibuname, or whoever was manipulating him, would see after giving his greeting. The creepy smile remained where this ghost-like creature was last seen, before fading into the darkness. The wandering duo might look around, and if they did so, would only see an empty clearing illuminated by a number of tiny wisps of red and blue.

“Friends?†The creature spoke, voice reverberating throughout the clearing. “Do you really want to be friends with me?†The ghost added, each word was spoken in long syllables and laced with an eerily playful low pitch and tone.

A long pause. Just like how the air seemed to remain still within the clearing. Just like how the sounds from critters and insects disappeared. Regardless of how sharp their senses were, they wouldn’t be able to sense anything. Not even their breathing and heartbeats. Everything within Shibuname and Enyo’s line of sight seemed to have been frozen in time.

Then a mixture of cold and warmth would be felt by the duo, as the ghost, known as the Cheshire floated behind them, its arms wrapped around Shibuname’s neck.

Leaning towards Shibuname’s right ear, the Cheshire opened its mouth and whispered to him, with all of the toothed mouths on its person mimicking every words it spoked, ending in a chorus of audible, white noise.

“Or do you need something from me?â€

Before Shibuname could react, the Cheshire vanished again, only to reappear just in front of him after a few moments. Its head pressed gently on his chest as if listening to his heartbeats.

“But I must say, you are such a peculiar one.†The Cheshire commended, not Shibuname, but the one influencing the wanderer’s actions. “It has been a while since I met someone as intriguing as I. Who or what are you?†The feline asked, curiosity reeking from its spoken words.

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It felt odd. Everything about it. The whole thing, from the very beginning. But nothing felt stranger than this right now. The actual meeting. The way he, or it, moved. The way it talked. The way it made them feel. It was otherwordly. Enyo had nothing to say. He barely seemed disturbed. That was strange. There was certainly cause for alarm. But they didn’t feel any. This thing glided around them like smoke. It was talking to them, but his voice was... was everything. There was nothing going on anywhere in the world that didn’t contain his voice, his eyes, and his wicked smile. The entire universe was him.

 

The cat got closer. It started talking. But it wasn’t talking to Shibuname. No. It didn’t care about him, at all. It was talking to her. To The Voice. And she was very eager to speak to him too. It had been her idea, after all, to come here. Shibuname didn’t know how long she had planned it, or if she even had planned it at all. All of her machinations were a complete mystery to him. He could only glimpse at them when they were happening to him, like right now.

 

The Voice tried to move Shibuname’s body. It felt odd this time. This was something he hadn’t experienced before. It felt heavier, but not a physical heaviness, no, this was different, a bit more... ethereal? It was hard to tell. With some effort, Shibuname’s body started to move. His eyes met the cat’s for a brief moment as he circled the ghost. “Okay, I assume it’s time for me to answer, yes?†Shibuname clapped his eyes excitedly and twirled with a grin on his face. “Firstly, yes I do want to be your friend. Very much. But I do want something from you. After all, every great friendship in history has been born out of some kind of need. Even the most selfless ones. After all company is a need, is it not? Everyone wants companionship in one form or another. It’s how we’re built, these guys in particular.†Shibuname gestured at himself, there was a look of disgust in his face now.

 

“I’m hoping that we can help each other out. That’s how every great plan starts, right? Now, you’re keen to know what I am. That’s good, because, well, that’s what I want to know too. And if you ask meat-dummy here, I’m sure he’ll say the same. After all, my appearance was a big surprise to the both of us. I don’t know about the bird. Frankly I’m surprised I haven’t eaten him yet. I was told they’re poisonous or something. But that aside, what brings you here, and how can we help each other out?†Shibuname dropped to the ground and managed to land with his legs crossed holding his chin with his right hand and a notebook in the other one. He looked at the cat and smiled widely.

 

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