Vibrant spider lilies fill the clearing where her clan had once prospered. With her pale, skeletal hands fondling their crimson flowers, she took in the sight of their reclaiming of the abandoned, crumbling village sector. From below the bright shades of green and red lay blackened charred wood and the tiny, broken remnants of their way of life. Scattered under her feet like a collage of their culture. Mindful of these obstacles, she nimbly walks to the center with a devoted focus that shields her emotions however brief.
Set in the rising sun of dawn, a tragically beautiful memorial stone stands tall in its golden splendor. The rays from the sun flicker through trees and the wreckage which cluster around the clearing, hues of red, orange and brazen amber glow off the stone shaped like their patron goddess of fire. For even in peace and the afterlife of death, they never lost their devotion to their warm goddess in the countless eras of warring states. And with her scarred, swollen hands dirtied by her funeral pyre and its ashes; she traces the names she haunting etched following the night she will never forget. All two hundred and sixty names she buried and eternalized in the stone by her own grief to carry on their legacy.
Her grief runs heavy and cold in her chest as she fingers the characters repeatedly. Her cousins, aunts, and uncles. Babies whom they joyously lit their birthing fires and feasted just not so long ago. The proud warriors returning from battles with gifts for their mothers and sisters. Her parents. Warm and gentle in their quiet stern postures and treasured glimpses of proud smiles. Grief chills her bones yet vengeance is hot that burns a violent fire in her soul.
She couldn’t save them. Any of them. And its only the tiny body wrapped in a rich silk sling that tethers her to the living and not diving headfirst to follow all of them whom had left her behind. Where she had lost everything, the warm and chubby hand of a newborn grasping the back of her kimono helps her ground to promise she vowed. To protect her little newborn sister as her parents decreed in their dying moments, choking on smoke and faces tinged from poison. The faith they wished to bestow upon their only remaining children.
She would bring her back when they were older. With respect to their fallen the village had robbed of their lives. As Hibara Shima turns to exit the graveyard fueled with vengeance, Kaida Tsukiyoma jerks awake with a silent cry. Memories swarm her mind of a past long gone as she gasps for air, lungs struggling to push through the alarming cloud of panic and violent emotions that had woken the young teen.
Helpless. Unable to save anyone. It tumbles through her mind like a broken record. The shame of her inability to do anything drives the self hatred in her own heart. Not even the ghosts of her past lives would allow her to escape that truth. Shaky hands rush to spill the details of the dream into the journal off her bedside. Event still, the memory fades like smoke and before she even finishes the page, she loses all details with frustrated scowl of repetition. Ignoring the trembling script from her haste, Kaida knew the vivid dreams would continue to haunt her dreams and wake her with the phantom pangs of emotions that echo from the soul stirring inside her own. With a reluctant grimace, she places the journal back and stands from the bed. Another early morning as the sun barely peeks out from the dawn.
Pale, scarred hands wrap her aging fleece blanket around her thin frame as she steps into the hallway of her small hut. The chill of spring snow from the mountain range she resides in did not abate even a little yet. The air fogs with her breath as she ambles to the kitchen to begin her morning routine of tea and cooking. Its as she slips into the living room to reach the kitchen that she stills at the presence that both irks and brings a smile. Laying on her couch with a book in hand, her best friend, Kira glances up to smile even upon trespassing into her home.