Kindred of the East: the Song of Lanterns
Song of Shadows
P’O Nature: Legalist
Stealth: 5 specialties; Face in the crowd, shadowing
Investigation: 4 specialties; Blood spatter
Science: 5 specialties; surgical, heavy sedatives
Yin Prana: 1
Blood Shintai: 1
Demon Shintai: 1 demon traits; third eye
Dharma: Song of shadows
Yin Chi: 2
Yang Chi: 1
Compulsion (Blood): 3
Struggling. Helpless, in the dark. Pressure beating down upon me. I swim frantically. Up, I think. All of the sudden, I break out of the water. Floating under a dim light, illuminating some docks. City river docks, I think. Head hurting. Memories pounding. Limbs are heavy. Wait.
I’m not here yet.
Go back. Before the water. Before the heavy limbs. Before the struggling.
I’m a blood spatter analyst, living in the heart of Japan. I’m good at my job. Respected. Appreciated. Life is good. I work hard. I work early days and late nights. There is always work to do. Lots of crime in a big city. Lots of blood.
I don’t make time for much else. No friends. No family. No one to miss me when I’m gone. Live alone. Work is my life. I take pride in my work, and always have given 100%. It feels good to know you’ve done great work and have been part of the reason of bad men getting put away. Saving lives. This work is my life.
I start feeling sick. Been working on strange case. Case not strange, just strange things happen. Feeling sick in the gut. Everything is getting hazy. I know this case. The spatter reads clear. IDs the specifics on culprit. Almost hands us the murder weapon. But there’s a problem. The gut tenses. I feel the pain working its way through. The haze is growing. A man. A few men. They come to meet with me. They threaten me. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me to fix it. They threaten my life. The pain becomes unbearable. I cave. I follow there lead, do as they say. Everything should be okay. But the pain. Why does it not feel okay?
Something goes wrong, plan changes. I did as I was told, but it wasn’t good enough. The verdict was guilty. More evidence came into light, and tipped the verdict guilty.
The men come back to meet me. Their faces, their names, lost in the haze. They are upset. They tell me I did wrong. I show them, I show them I did everything they asked. They say it wasn’t enough. They punish me. They beat me. My gut is searing. The pain shoots all across my body. I tense. I know what’s coming. It’s going to get worse.
They make me watch. They gag me. So I can’t be heard. Then they tell me what they will do. They tell me what is going to happen to me next. I struggle. I try to get away. They strap me down. Helpless, I continue struggling. They make me watch. I see their tools. They start, by severing my legs, one at a time. Then they move up. I struggle, helpless. They severe my arms. They make me watch. I struggle, helpless. Then, they severe my head. This should be the end. But the pain in my gut is still there. …..Why do I still not feel okay?
Pain. I wake up from the black. The haze is strong now. I remember. They come back in bits and pieces. I remember. Me. In bits and pieces. They tossed me in the river. Then black. Now I have pain. And a tugging on the neck.
I struggle. Something’s wrong. The haze is still there. I try to turn my head, to look around. The tugging, in my neck, is still there. I can make out a face. It looks…. Inhuman. It… Seems… To be staring at me. It has human features, but it’s eyes. They carry a fire. It’s nostrils are slit open, and turned upwards. It is working away at something. My gut is pulsing.
I see the needle, coming up into view. The neck tugs.Then the needle goes back down again. This time I feel a sharp stab. The needle comes up, tug. Needle goes down, stab. All the while, the inhuman, this demon, stares at me. I struggle. He pulls up on the needle, the thread shining in the haze. My neck snaps up with the needle. I scream, but it sounds muffled. The thread looks almost metallic. I scream again. Nothing. They want quiet. They want me to suffer. Is this hell?
I wait for him to finish. I feel my body, creeping back into my neck. All the feeling, rushing back. Was I missing it? Was it gone somewhere? I look down. My limbs. They are nowhere to be seen. The demon looks at me, then looks back, staring at what seems like the horizon. The sun is coming up. I think I feel the sun coming up.
I wake. The sun is down. What is this? Where am I? I look around. The walls are carved of rock. A cave maybe. But the sun, I could see it in the sky. Maybe a canyon. In Japan? I see movement. A figure in the haze. It’s the demon. It’s lurched over, walks as if it was dragging himself along. Something is held in its claws. it brings it closer. The claw, it’s holding an arm. I can barely see it, but I know. The demon has my arm. It pulls out a needle. And the demon gets to work. It stares at me, all while sewing my arm back in place.
Next sunset, the demon repeats its schedule. After leaving the sunrise before, I wake to it dragging back as the sun goes down. It approaches, carrying what looks like my other arm. I wait for it to start working. The demon lurks up to me, stops then drops the arm down in front of me. It looks down at me, eyes with the fire, clicks a few times as if to say something, then holds its hand out.
I freeze, not knowing what to do. It clicks again, and throws its hand out, closer to me. I lift my one hand up. For the first time since it had been attached, I felt it. The arm felt heavy, shaking as I held it out. It jerks the needle from its other hand into mine. Points at where my missing arm should be and clicks. I ease my arm down to pick up my other. I try to position myself against the unattached arm, give a worried looks to the demon, and plunge the needle in. I cry out in pain, hearing my voice for the first time since coming here. The demon nods, goes to sit across from me, and stares at me as I finish the job. I go to work. My limbs feel heavy as I stitch one arm back with the other. I cringe the whole time, trying to hold back the cries. It takes me the whole night. After, my eyes are no longer able to stay open as the demon lurches off.
I wake the next sunset to the demon kicking me awake. It clicks and throws down a leg, my leg. Holds it’s hand out. I do the same. It gives me the needle, and has me go to work while it watches, sitting across from me. I get the leg attached. Seems to be easier, with using two hands all my limbs ache. I don’t even remember falling asleep until the demon wakes me up, kicking me. It gives me my last leg, and has me go to work again.
I work through the pain, cringing with every stab. I am almost complete. This hell is almost over. Then why does my gut still hurt?
I finish stitching my last leg, with every inch of my body pounding away, limbs feeling heavy. I feel the dawn break, and fall asleep.
I am woken by the demon. It kicks me
To get me up. It is clutching some kind of tool. It throws it down at my feet. The tool looks like some twisted and broken pickaxe. I reach out to grab it. The tool ways me down, as both it and my limbs feel like they will give way. The demon clicks, pointing at the cavernous wall across from us. It wants me to use the tool on the wall, I think. Before I can get to my feet, the demon lunges forward and clasps a metal cuff around my ankle, then drags me by a chain towards the wall. I stumble to my feet to find myself standing in front of a wall of a sharp jagged rock formation. The demon points to it and clicks. I start to pick at the wall with my tool. The demon stares at me for a bit, then goes to sit across from me to continue staring.
The night goes by, I feel weak, with nothing to show but small hole in the wall and some rubble underneath. Near the end of the night, the demon lurches over and throws a large scrap of what looks like a ragged blanket. It then bends down and scoops the rubble up, then limps away. The sun peaks over the horizon, and my gut sinks.
This is different. The light hits my face, and it burns with searing pain. I coil back and scramble under the the arc of the hole I had dug. The sun creeps up, making me wish I had dug deeper. I spot the blanket, then swoop it up and hide underneath. The haze comes in, and I fall asleep until night.
The days pass by, each the same. Come night I work away at the wall with only my tool. The demon watches, scoops up the rubble after, then leaves me to hide under the blanket, away from the burning sun. Each night I work further and further into the caverns, hallowing out my own path. My limbs are still heavy as they were. I have made a little cave right in the side of the wall. Yet no matter how far in I work, each day the sun comes up and creeps in. The cavern walls themselves seem to be covered in a shiny gloss, as if the cave was to perspire each day from the sun. The sun uses this reflection surface to make its way through my tunnel, causing me to hide under the blanket each day, no matter how far I get. And each night, after the sun retreats, the demon lurches in. He squats down across from me, an waits for me to finish working for the night, seeing me exhaust myself. He then takes my rubble and limps out as I curl up in my blanket.
I feel the days go by, feeling numb. I don’t feel my gut burning. I don’t feel the weight of my limbs. My mind feels like there are pieces missing. I remember waking up here, I remember working on the wall. I remember the sun burning. But what was before that? Was I somewhere else? The haze is slowly consuming me.
I work long nights, taking pride in it. The cave walls feel safe. The pick tool is my brush, and the caverns are my canvas. I am a cave worker, and I am good at it. I find myself working, trying my hardest, numb to anything else. Then one night something happens.
I feel it. It comes on slow. It feels as if there is tapping on my forehead. The tapping feels like…. It’s coming from inside my forehead. I try to push it back. Keep working. Keep digging. It creeps across my skull, the tapping becoming a dull pounding. Then I see it. Not with my eyes. But I see it. In my head, I think. The haze that has been numbing my insides, starts to lift. My gut starts to tear up inside. I remember the heavy limbs. I feel the need to run. The need to fight. To break something. The need for freedom. The pain of my past coming back takes a toll on me. I try to stiffen up. Can’t show it. I can feel the demon watching me, my hair starting to rise on my neck. Can’t panic. Have to remain calm. Then the haze starts to let back more. I can see the demon. Not with my eyes, but I can sense it. The demon suspects. I wait it out. Just keep working. My time will come.
Once the demon leaves, I pull up my blanket. But I don’t sleep. I keep seeing. This ability, to sense my surroundings, feels good. It feels corrupt, and good. I close my eyes and concentrate. I see my nights. Eternal work, eternal torment. Stuck in this hell. If only. Maybe. I will wait.
A series of nights go by, I work, fighting through the pain. Ever since the numbness has dissipated, the nights have been hard. The demon still watches. Every night. I think it has slipped back into a false safety. I press further. I have started to pick at the walls, slowly working down. Something is driving me. I keep and eye on the rubble, looking them over. I do this as discreet as possible. The demon must not know. What does it use them for? I know what I want them for. I look for sharp ones. Occasionally I lightly tap the tool up against the top of the cave. I slip up intentionally, knocking rubble around. The demon stops watching to gather it. While it does I take the sharp ones I’ve positioned near me and hide them in the blanket, without the demon seeing.
In the day, I take the sharp rocks, pierce them through the blanket, then dig them into the holes above I made in the wall. This allows me to work in the day. Keeps the sun out. I dig further down. Each day I can feel the cool breath of freedom coming up. I can see what’s down there. A watery depth. My way out. The demon doesn’t even suspect.
Finally, the day comes when I break through to the water. I realize I can leave. Just get out. But what of the demon. All it’s torture, it’s slave labor, and what if it follows? Somewhere in me I feel to dark hatred murmuring inside. I grab the blanket, and throw it over a small cavern formation, grab my tool sneak into the water, and wait.
Night comes. The demon comes limping in. It spots the blanket. The demon lurches up to it, and stares down. It kicks it to wake me up, only to have the shooting pain of kicking a solid rock go right up its leg. That’s when I strike, from behind. I do it quickly, quietly, then I take it in. The demon just lies there on the ground, bleeding.
I start tearing up the blanket. I use the strips to tie the demon up. I wait for it to come to. The demon starts to stir. I kick it. It clicks out of pain, as I’d to scream. I take my tool and go to work. I start at its legs, then work my way up. I let it watch. Last I swoop down upon the demon’s neck. I got caught up with the delicious revenge, I forgot about the time. I feel it. The sun starts to creep through. I turn to see the shimmering light coming to burn me. It moves along the walls as if to take me for what I’ve done. I brake the tool over the demon’s remains and bolt to the water. With a splash I flee the sun’s wrath. I dig deeper into the water. I struggle, limbs heavy. The haze starts to peel away more and more. I am a blood spatter analyst. I died, was killed by evil men. I went to hell, then broke out. And I will take my revenge on those who have wronged me.
I wade in the water, making my way to edge of the docks. I climb up over, then pass out. Next thing I know I’m being told to fight for my life.