365 Writing · Book · Stories

Jin and the Solstice of Blood (Part 6)

The Yōkai lunged down at me at the exact moment I made a swift retreat towards the door. I could hear it crash into the temple supports sending the rest of the structure wobbling, and myself tumbling across the splintering floor. My sandals slipped on the rotting wood, but I maintained my balance. I knew I only had a precious few seconds to make it out the door and out of its line of sight.

The floor began to shift underneath me again, and a sound like a boulder turning came swiftly up behind me. Knowing I wouldn’t make it I threw myself off to the side behind a rotting column and the blue giant came hurtling past me.

Based on how swiftly it moved I knew that I would only have only a second to get out of its path again. The wall a couple of meters in front of me looked as unstable as the rest of the building and I made a quick decision.

Running toward the wall I could hear the Yōkai begin to hurtle toward me, I readied myself and jumped directly into the weakened portion. It started to give way underneath my weight, and I could hear the temple behind me finally beginning to crumble thanks to my force against the supporting sections.

Suddenly I was hurtling down at a large pond that had gathered along the side of the temple. With the sound of the Yōkai still behind me, my short dive ended in the muddy rainwater.

It felt like ice, which was a relief in a way compared to the muggy day, but it also hit me in the chest like a bamboo rod. Fearing to open my eyes as the dirt was so thick, it would be nearly impossible to see again once I surfaced, I continued until I touched the soft soil at the bottom of the pond. A split second later my pursuer crashed into the water as well, offsetting the pond water and propelling me somewhere off the side and into a rock with a harsh impact. 

Please don’t break too many of our ribs. Ikiru’s voice shot out as the pain of freshly broken bones and the water around me made it so it was all I could do to begin paddling slowly to the surface. All the while water was still spinning about the pond making it next to impossible to locate the creature, some rational part of my brain hoped it wouldn’t be able to navigate water as fast as it could land.

Surfacing I gasped for breath and felt a sharp pain in my side. I hoped as well that I had granted Ikiru’s request and not broken too many ribs. Doing my best to clear the water from my eyes I hauled myself onto the shore and looked at the pond behind me straining against the pain. The blue creature was indeed slowed by the water, at least to the point that it matched my normal land speed, but it was swiftly headed toward me. In front of me lay nothing but open fields and the few other crumbling buildings around the temple. Running was shortly becoming less and less of an option.

You can’t defeat this by your strength.

“I think I figured that out by now.”

With Yōkai you have to beat the concept behind it. Trust me. I want to keep living now as much as you do. Write the following characters into a circle in the dirt.

It was getting closer, and I didn’t see the better option as I quickly began following his instructions. The water had mercifully slowed it, but it was still only seconds away. Blood from several small cuts all over me dripped down into the dirt I was scribing in.

Use your blood that’s been dripping from that cut you just got and wipe it on me, the blade.

Doing what he said I turned just in time to see it leave the water and begin scurrying again towards me. Institutionally I held my sword ready as the creature, it’s claws outstretched, all but flew toward me like a blue cloud.

While something with it’s size would have usually overwhelmed me, I felt Ikiru nudge me to move toward it blade first, trusting in this last ditch effort I held my ground as the blue mess met with my sword.

What goes into something is often just as, or more important than what comes out.

My stance held and the creature let out a cry of pain as my sword was buried deep within its shaggy husk. I was surprised at how little the beast’s impact shifted me at all, and I twisted my sword deeper trying to deal as much damage as possible in the limited span this was working. It shrieked again and pulled itself back off the blade with as much swiftness as it had displayed earlier. Rapidly bounding onto the shattered remains of the temple building and diving out of sight past it. For a moment I could hear it cry again and then there was silence but for the sound of the rain around me.

I held my stance for a minute longer until I felt most of the tension pass. The eerie stench that I now realized seemingly came from the creature was now dissipating, and I slumped to the ground. My chest erupted in pain from those ribs, which had been broken in the impact before. Likewise, my head was throbbing, and I started to feel dizzy as my body shifted out of the fight.

Now that was close.

“I’m not liking this, Ikiru. What was that?”

I made the ground you stand on into a talisman of sorts, and your blood as a Qi focus. Glad my guess on what it was was close enough.

“Close enough?”

It was that or be dead again. What’s life without risk anyways… boooorrring.

I ground my teeth as I took out a cloth from my robe to collect the blood of my blade. It was almost black, though a light burgundy shone off the stains from the dimming light. Keep that, it might be useful.

“I guess listening to you wasn’t the worst idea…” I acquiesced between my teeth as I sat down for a moment to catch my breath. “For once I think I must admit I’m out of my depth.”

Good, because you totally are.

Taking some wood that and using a scrap of cloth to tie it to my side in a splint I gritted my teeth against the pain. I had to figure this out before it killed me. “In that case, what do you suggest? Because now we’re totally out of leads.”

I might have one idea.