Chapter 1: Prologue
Hiyori Iki sat in her room, reviewing for a forthcoming math test alone. Or so she thought.
Without realizing it, the young brunette had started thinking about someone who had been on her mind a lot recently: the one and only handsome, blue-eyed god Yato.
Somehow the god had snuggled his way into Hiyori's heart, whether she had recognized or not, and she now constantly thought about him. What he was doing, who he was with, where he was, and when she would see him again were things that invariably were on her mind.
Some would say that she was obviously in love, and she was, but she didn't think anything too bizarre of her fondness for the electric blue-eyed god.
She had thought about where her feelings lie many times, but she couldn't truly say anything until she knew how Yato felt. If he had feelings for her, then she would admit hers as well, but if the god proclaimed that he only thought of her as a companion, then she would keep her affections to herself.
The brunette sometimes wondered if that was the right thing to do, but she insisted that it was. She did have romantic feelings for him, but she also didn't want it to destroy their friendship if he didn't feel the same way about her. If there was one thing that she didn't want to do, it was hurt Yato or loose his friendship, so she would just work with whatever he'd say, too.
Well, at least that had been what she'd been telling herself that she would do if the opportunity ever came.
Recently, however, her amorous feelings had been growing, and she had many thoughts on how she might confess her love to the upcoming god of fortune.
Should she just tell him whenever she would see him next? Should she try and make it a date? Would a letter be a good idea? These were the questions that Hiyori was asking herself when she heard a knock coming from her window.
She got up and raced to the window, knowing that the only person who it could be was Yato.
Without checking to make sure it was the god, Hiyori pulled her window open and gazed out into the dark of the night.
"Yato?" she called into the navy sea of darkness.
When no one responded, Hiyori's nerves began to get slightly on edge.
"Yato, are you out there? Yukine? Kofuku? Is anyone out there?"
Hiyori frowned when no one replied.
Did someone fall from the ledge of her window? Was something wrong? Was anyone even out there in the first place? Was it all just a prank? Or was she only imagining things?
The young girl waited a few seconds and received no response, so she shut her window back and sighed.
She would have worried about it more, but she had convinced herself that it had only been her imagination. She was thinking about Yato before she heard the noise, so she had probably just hoped that he would show up so she could clichedly confess her feelings to him and he would clichedly confirm that he felt the same.
Not in the mood for studying anymore, she flopped onto her bed and let out a sigh.
Minutes later she was fast asleep.
Hiyori woke to her head throbbing.
She opened her eyes, planning on getting some medicine from her mother, but found that it was still dark; too dark for it to be morning.
Feeling hard stone under her, Hiyori also recognized that she wasn't in her bed. She wasn't even in an area that remotely resembled anything she had ever seen before.
She felt like calling out for help, but something told her that that would be a bad idea. Wherever she was, she had to get out, and quickly.
Her heart rate quickened and she tried looking around her, only to find that the only thing she could see was black. Wherever she was, there was total darkness.
Noticing an iron-ish smell, Hiyori touched her head to find a large gash on the left side near her hairline.
Her hand recoiled as touching the would had caused strong stinging, and her thoughts clouded with worry as she acknowledged that there was a trail of blood creeping down from the gash on her forehead to her pale cheeks.
Where was she? How did she get here? Why was it so dark? Did anyone know she was gone? Would anyone find her? Would she die here? Was the gash on her forehead really bad? How did she get it?
Her thoughts were broken off as light footsteps were heard roaming somewhere to Hiyori's right.
Her hopes soared as she heard the steps grow nearer.
"Someone, help me. Please," she whispered, still trusting her gut-feeling that she shouldn't scream.
The paces grew until they were right in front of her, and then they stopped.
The person who stood ahead of her turned, doing what she believed was facing her, and the click of a flashlight was heard.
They pointed their flashlight at her, and Hiyori stared above the beam of light, trying to see who had come to her rescue.
A scoff was heard and the person holding the flashlight turned it towards their face.
Chapter 2: Dreaming at the Most Inconvenient Time
"Lord Yato, Lord Yato! Sign my copy of your book!" A young girl held up a copy of a book called How To Become the Most-Worshipped God of Fortune and held it high in the air.
"Lord Yato, take a picture with me!" a young boy begged, sitting on his father's shoulders so that he could see over the horde of people that surrounded him.
"You're the greatest god ever, Lord Yato! You're even better than that slutty god Bishamon!" a group of young men and women called out, holding up various signs that displayed their love and affection for their treasured god.
The blue-eyed god sat on his golden, sparkly throne, admiring his many followers and worshippers. He was truly a beloved god, and he was very appreciative of his fans, but he couldn't shake the loneliness and solitude that was hidden away in the depths of his heart. Now wasn't the time for that, he had to act happy for his supporters.
Yato did his best to put on a fake smile and waved to the large crowd of people that had gathered in front of his shrine. "Hi, hello! Thank you for coming! Don't worry, I'll make sure to grant everyone's wishes, but only if you have five yen!"
His blond-haired shinki sighed, shaking his head. "You never will change, will you?"
"Hey! It's what I'm known for! Plus, it's sort of habit for me now. Why don't you help me sign these books?" Yato suggested, handing a copy of his famous hardback to Yukine with a smile.
He reluctantly took the book and placed it in front of him, grabbing a marker and quickly writing his name on the cover. "I don't see why I'm signing this. You're the one they want to see, I'm just a shinki."
The god shook his head, not looking up from the many books placed ahead of him. "Yeah, right. You're a blessed vessel! Of course they want you to sign their books! Plus, you do have quite a few obsessed fan-girls in the audience that would give anything to have you sign their pictures and stuff."
Yukine sighed, content with his master's reply, and took a stack of books and pictures and placed them ahead of him, getting ready to sign his name about two hundred times more. He loved being with his master, of course, and was very happy that he'd decided to stick with him as he accomplished his goals of becoming a famous god of fortune, but he couldn't really say that he liked getting so much attention. He could even tell that Yato was becoming tired of signing autographs wherever he went.
It wasn't that he didn't appreciate those who followed him, he was just getting a little bored with the royal-like lifestyle. It made him exhausted when he had to go on twenty-four hour stretches of only signing merchandise and flipping coins, but he never outwardly complained since this was for the sake of his fans.
The god and his shinki went on for another seven hours before they finished autographing their fans' various items, adding up to be fourteen hours of book-and-whatnot-signing, and to say that they were exhausted would be a gigantic understatement.
They both sighed and began to gather up the few components that they had taken with them, having already cleaned up the mess that was left from the mass amount of people, and began to descend the steps to Yato's shrine. Luckily, Yato had scrapped his original idea of having many steep stairs leading to his shrine, so they only had to climb up about twenty steps.
Yukine and Yato were greeted with a strong burst of cold air as they entered the shrine. It was summer, and it was often very hot and humid in Tokyo, so of course his shrine had to have proper heating and cooling.
Yato collapsed onto his bed, which only had the best of the best blankets and pillows, and pulled out his red flip phone as he felt its familiar buzzing against his pocket. The god smiled at the screen as he recognized the user that had tagged him in a tweet two hours ago. "Hiyori," the god mumbled, his beloved's name rolling from his tongue affectionately. Just saying her name seemed to discard any of the isolation he'd felt before.
He quickly selected her contact information and opened their conversation, smiling as he remembered the messages that had happened the day before. He sent her a message saying 'hello' and waited for her to reply.
When she didn't immediately respond, Yato began rapidly sending text after text. He sent her various messages, some of them saying things such as 'Hiyoriiiiii, answer me!' and 'Why aren't you replying? I'm lonely :(' and others telling her how much he missed her and wanted to see her. He sounded quite whiny and childish, but his feelings were genuine. He did miss her, and he definitely wanted to see her again sometime soon.
Minutes later, she replied with 'You could've waited a minute, Yato, I was taking a bath! Did you really need to send me over fifty messages just to try and get my attention?' and the god blushed, feeling slightly immature as she scolded him. He decided to send back a message that would probably make him sound like a five year old, but he didn't care. It was true, after all. 'I just wanted to talk to you. I'm lonely and I haven't seen you in a while.'
He really should have been sleeping, although it was only two in the afternoon, but he felt oddly adrenaline-filled as he spoke with Hiyori, so he kept talking with her, savoring every text they sent each other.
His screen lit up with a reply from the brunette. 'Are you at your shrine? I can come visit.'
Yato's heart raced happily as he sent her a message confirming his whereabouts. It had been eight days since they had seen each other last, which wasn't very long, but it felt a lot longer than that for the two. Even Yukine, who usually scoffed whenever Yato mentioned missing Hiyori's presence after a short time period, had declared that he was unhappy with the amount of time that had passed between their last meeting.
The blue-eyed god got up to tell his shinki that their half-phantom friend would be joining them, and entered their lounging area to notice that the blond had fallen asleep on the couch. Yato sighed and gently picked up the young boy, taking him to his room. The god placed his shinki on his bed, making sure to properly tuck him in softly.
He smiled for a few moments as he stared at the blond, proud of how far he'd come since he was only a newborn shinki, but stopped when he heard a small knock on the front door. The god turned on the small nightlight he'd bought for the regalia and closed the door, then leaving to go open the front door for Hiyori.
As he opened the door, he was greeted with a smile from his favorite human. He wrapped his arms around Hiyori gently and took a deep breath, taking in her strawberry-like scent. She melted into the hug, her face housing a smile that couldn't be anything other than genuine.
"How are you?" the brunette asked after softly pulling away from their embrace. She looked normal enough, wearing a white t-shirt and light pink shorts with her hair lying straight down her back, but Yato still found her extremely breathtaking. He studied her for a few moments, completely forgetting about her previous question.
"Um, Y-Yato?" Hiyori said, her face becoming slightly red from the god's intense gaze.
Yato broke from his thoughts and smiled at Hiyori, still failing to recall that she had asked him a question. "Oh, yeah. Sorry, you just looked really beautiful today."
Both of their faces flushed, and no one said anything for a moment.
As the silence passed, Yato questioned whether he had said the wrong thing, and had began to try and fix his previous statement. "Wait! Don't take it the wrong way. What I meant was that you always look beautiful, I just kind of became entranced with it now. Wait, no, I mean..." the god trailed off as he looked away, becoming more flustered by the second.
Hiyori giggled as she observed Yato's embarrassment, leaning over to gently press her lips to his cheek.
However, at the exact moment that the half-phantom leaned in to kiss the god's cheek, he turned to face her, trying to figure out what she had found so funny. The duo blushed when their lips met, and they both stood still for a moment, still not able to process what really had happened.
The god gathered his courage and closed his eyes, tilting her head back slightly to deepen their kiss. Normally, he would've just backed away from her and blushed, apologizing fifty times, but he also couldn't really say what he would have normally done in this situation since that was the first time something like that had ever happened.
Hiyori blushed and her eyes widened as she recognized that he was kissing her. She quickly tried to think through the situation, anxiety and hesitance filling her mind. If she kissed back, would it really be appropriate?
After a few moments, she returned the kiss, figuring that nothing was really appropriate when she spent time with the god anyway.
Yato's hands naturally cupped her head close to his as Hiyori settled her palms on the blue-eyed god's waist.
Both of their minds were clear of thoughts, yet filled with them. Neither really knew if this was truly happening.
T hey had both had held in their feelings for so long that everything they'd kept in over the years was uncovered again, filling their embrace with such strength and emotion that their kiss was almost too powerful.
Although they were on cloud nine, the duo were both running low on air, so they broke apart, their foreheads touching. The god and half-phantom stared into each other's eyes, neither of them really knowing what just to say.
Finally, Hiyori accumulated her courage and began to speak, her voice barely above a whisper. "Y-Yato, I... I lo-"
Yato's eyes snapped open as he felt someone kick his back, sending him toppling from his mattress and onto the floor. The god blinked the sleep away from his eyes and turned around, his suspicions being correct. "Damn it, Yukine! What the hell do you want?" he asked, angry that his perfect dream was ruined.
The blond shinki picked up the god's red flip phone and threw it at him. "While you've been dreaming about doing who-knows-what to Hiyori, we've gotten three missed calls! And, by the way, you really need to chill. I mean, yelling 'Hiyori's so beautiful, oh my gosh!' in your sleep is a little messed up. Just what the hell were you dreaming about?"
The god blushed and was suddenly struck with one of Yukine's thoughts. "Jeez, kid! I thought you got over the pervy thoughts. It was nothing like that!"
"Uh-huh, whatever you say," his shinki said, obviously not believing the blue-eyed god. "Anyway, shouldn't you be checking the three missed calls we have? It's not normal for there to be one missed call, much less three."
Yato sighed, picking up the old phone and flipping it open. He noticed that none of the numbers were familiar, which was good since the god had thought that something may have happened to Hiyori, but Yato still couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right.
Yukine crossed his arms, watching Yato expenctantly. "Well?" he asked, worrying that it had been something to do with Hiyori, as well.
The blue-eyed god selected the first number. As he waited for the other line to be picked up, he turned to his regalia. "How am I supposed to know? I haven't even called anyone yet. If I knew, then I would have told you. Just be patient."
The blond sighed, but didn't ask anything else since Yato had begun talking to whoever was on the other end of the line.
"Thank you for calling! Delivery God Yato, at your service! Fast, affordable, and reliable!" the god shouted his usual phrase into the phone with a little less certainty than normal, still having a bad feeling about everything that was going on.
The color in Yato's face drained as he listened to the words that were spoken through the phone. The god took in a long, shaky breath. "I-I see. And... you're sure?" he asked, his voice unstable.
Yukine realized that his master's tone had changed, and he looked away from the homework Hiyori had given him, turning around to see what was going on with the god. Upon seeing his master's somber facial expression, Yukine's eyes widened. Something was wrong, really wrong. The shinki stared into his eyes, questioning what was going on, but the god simply shook his head.
The shinki took a deep breath and closed his eyes, trying to calm his nerves, telling himself that it was nothing. Nothing bad was happening. Yato was probably just upset that he had to do some crappy job, nothing more. Everything was normal. Everything was fine... wasn't it?
Yato bit his lip, listening to the awful news the woman on the phone was telling him. "O-okay. Thank you for calling..." the god trailed off, suddenly thinking about something. "Wait, have you told anyone else about this, or does anyone else know?"
He listened to the woman on the other end of the line again, and this time, his heart plummeted. "Just those two?" he asked, his voice trembling. "No one else? No one else who would have... tried to get help?"
The god listened to the woman carefully, taking in another deep breath before saying, "Okay. If you don't mind, could you please have the other two at your house? I'll be there in a few minutes to check everything out."
A few seconds passed before the god spoke again. "Okay, thank you for calling. I'll make sure to help all I can," Yato finished, flipping his phone shut. He sat silently for a few moments, still processing everything that the woman had told him.
Yukine noticed that Yato was off the phone, so he quickly turned back around. If Yato had been worried before, then he was basically on pins and needles now. The shinki gulped audibly, his worry growing.
Sensing Yukine's worry, Yato turned to him, his face rigid. "You're worried," he said, knowing good and well what was bothering him. "And I'm guessing you wanna know what's going on." Yato's voice was rigorous, showing no signs of horseplay or happiness; whatever was going on, the god wasn't going to be playing around on this mission.
Yato's face was stony, hardcore, harsh, almost void of any emotion at all. However, his face contrasted from his eyes. His eyes were always where his emotions lay, and they were cold, dark, beginning to fill with worry and rage. One look into those eyes and you could tell that he was pissed. Pissed, but also scared and worried as hell.
The god stood up and began slowly walking, bending down to grab his tracksuit jacket and scarf. "Yukine, get ready to leave," Yato said as he slid his arms into his jacket, then tying his 'Fluffy-Fluff Scarf' around his neck loosely.
The shinki got up and put on his green coat, making sure to zip the front of it. "What the hell is going on, Yato?" he asked, crossing his arms as the god was beginning to walk towards the door.
"Hiyori's gone missing," Yato said, turning towards his regalia slowly. The two stared at each other for a few minutes, realization hitting Yukine's thoughts. Finally, the god turned back around, heading towards the door again. "And we're going to find her."
Chapter 3: Unsuccessful Search Parties
I'm posting this specially on August 10th because it's Yato's birthday! Happy birthday to the sweetest god! <3
Yukine followed his master down the steps quickly. The god led him into the kitchen, and the shinki frowned at his master. "Yato, why are we here? If Hiyori's really missing then we need to start looking for her right now! We don't have the time to play around, she could be in serious danger!"
The god sighed slowly and turned to his blessed vessel, his eyes just as cold and hateful as before. "Don't you think I know that?" the god snapped, narrowing his eyes. "I'm just as worried as you are, so don't act like you're the only one who cares about her. And, for your information, I was going to tell Kofuku and Daikoku about Hiyori disappearing into thin air. Is there a problem with letting them know that one of their best friends are missing?"
The blond's eyes widened and Yato groaned, mentally slapping himself. He didn't mean to shout at Yukine, and he now regretted it as he watched his regalia look to the floor shamefully. "Look, I'm sorry. I'm just stressed out about everything and I know you are too. I'm in no position to tell you that you aren't worried, I can sense your emotions for fuck's sake, so I'm sorry for lashing out."
The shinki looked up and smiled sadly at the god. "It's okay. I think everyone who knows is on edge. Speaking of which, let's go find Kofuku and Daikoku. You're right about them, they deserve to know."
Yato turned away and started walking through the kitchen, where the pink-haired god and her shinki usually were. However, the kitchen was empty and it seemed as if no one had touched it at all that day. It was practically spotless with no cooking utensils laid everywhere, which was how the kitchen usually looked when the duo had taken it upon themselves to make dinner, and all of the counters were wiped down until they were shiny.
The god and his shinki wondered where their friends could be, and their question was answered when loud yelling was heard from the gardening area. "Hey! What did I say about overwatering the plants?"
Yato walked outside with Yukine behind him. They found the pink-haired god and her shinki arguing over a watering can. "Oh, come on! I just want to water the cute little flowers," the god said, pouting at her regalia.
Daikoku shook his head firmly. "You're the god of poverty. If you water those plants, they'll die for sure! Just let me take care of it, please, m'lady."
The god sadly twirled her pink hair around her fingers. "Hmm, fine, but-" She stopped when she noticed that Yato and Yukine were watching them and gathered both of them into a bone-crushing hug. "Ah, Yatty, Yukki!"
Neither of them returned her hug, and Kofuku noticed Yato's unamused expression. "Hmm? Yatty, what's wrong? You seem awfully upset," she noted, knowing that Yato often tried to hide his emotions, but also knowing that his eyes always held the truth.
"Hiyori's gone missing," the god replied, using such a rigid tone that Kofuku flinched. "I'm taking Yukine with me to Hiyori's house. Her mother called and asked if I could try to help find her. There's supposedly evidence of some bullshit in her room, so we're going to investigate."
The pink-haired god frowned and her shinki turned to face them, suddenly joining the conversation. "The half-phantom girl? Have the police been notified?"
Yato nodded, his face still completely emotionless. "Mrs. Iki called them when she first noticed Hiyori was missing this morning. They've been sending investigators and search parties out, but no one's seen a sign of her anywhere. She found Hiyori's phone on her end table before the police got there and saw that the last messages she had sent were to me, so she called me and explained the situation."
Kofuku raised her eyebrows. "But Yatty, won't she wonder why you were friends with Yori in the first place?"
The god had thought about it, and he decided that he really didn't care. Her mother had seen him before, even when he should've been unnoticeable by the human eye, and she hadn't questioned him on why he knew her daughter, so he didn't worry about it. In fact, when her mother had spoken to him on the phone, she didn't seem surprised that Hiyori was friends with a god at all. Plus, Yato's main priority right now was finding Hiyori, not stressing about whether or not her parents approved of their friendship.
"That doesn't matter right now. All that's important is finding Hiyori," Yato said, his face slightly softening. He shook his head softly and turned his back on the group. "Yukine, let's go. Kofuku, Daikoku, you know who to call if you see her."
Daikoku and Kofuku nodded, shooting each other worried glances. "You have our word, Yato," the shinki said, taking in a deep breath afterwards.
A flash of bright light covered the area as the blue-eyed god and his blessed vessel transported quickly to their destination, and Kofuku gave her regalia a somber look as they left. "I really hope Yori's okay. I feel like we should be out searching for her, too. Are we completely useless, Daikoku? Is this an effect from my bad luck?" she asked, her voice suddenly small. The god was usually happy and tried to ignore her horrid luck, but this time she couldn't help but think that she had been the cause of Hiyori's disappearance.
Her shinki gave her a tight hug. "Of course not, m'lady. And you heard Yato, he wants us to stay here. If Hiyori does end up here, then we'll be the first to know. If we leave and she shows up, no one will be here to let anyone know. It's definitely not your fault; don't think like that."
Kofuku fell into her regalia's embrace and smiled. "You're right, Daikoku. Now, let's keep a look-out for Yori like Yatty wanted us to."
Yato and Yukine appeared in front of Hiyori's house as a white aura warned anyone around of their arrival, which was no one. The police had stopped investigating inside of the Iki home earlier that morning, finding nothing that would aid them in their searches, and all of their surrounding neighbors seemed to have other things to do, so the duo showed up going completely unnoticed; well, it wasn't as if people noticed them a lot, anyway.
Yukine began pacing towards the Iki's front door, not really noticing that his master hadn't taken one step from his place among the yard. He turned when he reached the steps to their house, giving Yato an inquiring inspection. "Yato?"
The god sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "Yukine, come here. It's best if you know everything before we go talk to Hiyori's mom," he said, his voice and face turning softer.
The blond obeyed and approached his master without saying a word. It took the god a few moments before he could speak, and when he did his voice was barely above a whisper. "When Mrs. Iki called me, she told me that Hiyori was missing. She had just woken up and looked into her room, and she noticed that her bed was empty. She called the police immediately and they began searching. The police found no evidence of anything unusual, so they left and called out a missing person report and had search parties begin hunting for her..." the god trailed off.
"They've found nothing," he said, his voice cracking. "No one has any idea of where she is. As of right now, it's almost as if she's completely vanished from the face of the earth..."
Yukine frowned. "But they've only been searching for a few hours. It hasn't even been a whole day yet, Yato. She may just be with one of her friends. You know, those two girls that she hangs out with at school?"
Yato shook his head. "No. There were three missed calls. Only one was from Mrs. Iki; the other two were from her friends Aimi and Yama. They both tried calling this morning."
The shinki nodded, fully understanding. "Isn't there any other place she may be? There's got to be somewhere that no one has checked," he said, racking his mind for places where his half-phantom friend could possibly be.
The blue-eyed god straightened, and when he spoke his words were cold once again. "Let's just go inside and see what her mother knows. And maybe you're right, maybe she's somewhere safe. She may be somewhere that she goes, but no one knows where it is. Everyone could just be overreacting at this point."
He spoke with such certainty and hope, but he couldn't really say that he believed any of it. No matter how much he tried to assure himself that she was okay and safe, he couldn't believe it. He still trusted that feeling that he'd had since that morning when he'd woken up; something still wasn't right.
They walked the rest of the way to the Iki's front door and pressed to doorbell. Not long after a loud ring could be heard from the inside of the huge house, and a woman who looked to be in her late-thirties quickly opened the door.
Although the woman wasn't very old, she had lines of worry and stress that made her age seem much higher. Her brown hair was messily tied into a bun on the top of her head, as if she'd only tried to make herself look slightly presentable, and it was quite the shock considering this was one of the owners of a classy hospital. It was obvious the absence of her daughter had taken a toll on her.
Yato recognized the woman to be Hiyori's mother and immediately introduced himself. "Yato, you called me earlier," he said, expecting that she might have even forgotten about her previous call.
The woman nodded, taking in a deep breath. "Yes, of course. My husband and I are very appreciative that you're so willing to help us. If you don't mind coming inside, I'd like for you to take a look around and see if you can find anything that we've missed," Mrs. Iki said, opening her door to welcome Yato and his regalia indoors.
She led the two boys through the house and upstairs into Hiyori's room. As they walked through the downstairs area, Yato and Yukine gazed at some of the expensive decorations in awe. Many magnificent paintings, beautiful statues, and classy pieces of furniture embellished the already flawless mansion.
Mrs. Iki opened a door on the right side of the hallway and entered it. The god and his shinki stayed in the hallway, recognizing that the room was not Hiyori's and was more than likely her mother's.
The woman exited the room and closed the door behind her, holding her phone in her hand. She beckoned for the duo to follow her once more and led them into another room across the hall. Behind the pristine white door laid what would be known as a casual sitting area to the Iki's, but it seemed like an entire other house to the god and his shinki.
Despite how amazed he was with the size of the house, since he had never really been exploring around much to know it was that elaborate, Yato kept his mouth shut and kept his face emotionless. It really wasn't the time to be admiring how wondrous their house was. And even so, Hiyori's mother might have found it rude for him to stare at her home in awe, and he positively didn't want Hiyori's parents to think he was rude.
"I figured you'd rather sit down and discuss what's happening than stand in the hallway. Please take a seat," the brunette said as she pulled her own chair out and sat down.
The god and his shinki both reluctantly sat down in a cushioned, tan chair and faced Mrs. Iki. They all sat in silence, no one really wanting to talk about what happened.
The mother looked down and sighed. She turned to look at Yato. "I'm sorry my husband isn't with us right now; he's accompanying one of the search parties. The other two who you requested to see will be here soon. Right now, I want to speak with you."
The god's blue eyes looked at the woman, and, despite not knowing him at all, she could clearly see that they were missing something. She decided not to talk about that and ignored it, for now. "Yato, the god, correct?" she asked, silently noting that she had seen this god eating from her fridge and impersonating her husband before.
He simply nodded, and Mrs. Iki moved her gaze to the young blond. "Who is this young man, then?" she asked, her voice calm and friendly, yet powerful and classy.
"My shinki, Yukine," the god answered, trying to keep his replies short. The less words he had to speak and the smaller the chance was that he'd break down in front of Hiyori's mother. He had to ignore the pain and hide it, for her sake. If he wanted to find her, then he'd have to forget about his uncertainties and keep his hopes high. He didn't need people worrying about him when he wasn't the one who needed attention. He wasn't missing. The god just wanted people to focus on Hiyori and not him.
The woman glanced back down at the phone on the table. "I see. If I can remember correctly, that means he's the spirit you named and use as a weapon, yes?"
Yato and Yukine jumped, surprised that the woman knew such things. Yukine looked at his master, his eyebrows raised in confusion. The god shook his head lightly and turned back to Mrs. Iki, and his shinki did the same.
Perceiving the others' confusion, the mother began speaking again. "As you've probably guessed, our family isn't what you would call 'normal'. We can see things, such as yourself, that normal humans cannot. The only one without that ability is my husband, since he didn't inherit the gene that came from my side of the family."
Mrs. Iki fingered a strand of her hair that had fallen from her bun. "We've all had this trait since we were born, so it shouldn't surprise you that I became entangled with the world of the Far Shore when I was younger. I met a god like you and became friends with her, but she disappeared one day and I never saw her again. The experience left me sad and confused for some time, but I soon grew to understand those of your world," the woman said, her eyes lost somewhere, focusing on broken memories of the past.
"Saying this, I guess I shouldn't have been too shocked when I recognized my daughter had made friends with gods as I once had. However, Hiyori isn't like me. She's more connected with your world. She's more emotionally attached than I was. She also transforms into something else, and I suppose you know what it is," Hiyori's mother said, her voice cracking when she spoke of her daughter's name.
Mrs. Iki stopped speaking for a moment, wiping the gathering tears in her eyes away. "Don't worry about answering that. I'm not looking to get intertwined with your kind again. I'm simply saying that you and my daughter seem to have some sort of bond, and, although I have no clue what your motives may be, I trust that you'll help us find her. And we thank you greatly for that."
Yato nodded and Mrs. Iki looked at her phone impatiently. "The girls should be here in a few minutes. I've been waiting for a message from them and my husband. While we're waiting, I'll take you to Hiyori's room so you can see if you can manage to find anything," the mother said, rising from her seat.
The brunette guided her guests into her daughter's room. As the door opened, a wave of air burst out into the hallway, and a scent that could only be described as 'Hiyori' rode along with it. The scent was enough to almost make them cry.
The young girl's room was nothing like how Yato had last seen it. Everything in her room had been moved around and thrown everywhere, which was more than likely work of the police when they had been searching for evidence.
"I looked through here myself before the police came. That's when I took Hiyori's phone and hid it in my bedroom. They'd have taken it and used it as evidence in the case. My husband and I thought that maybe there was someone that she talked to who could help us, and that's how we found you. Of course, it wasn't as cluttered before the police went through everything, but you still may be able to find something," Mrs. Iki said, leaning against the door frame of her daughter's room.
The god and his shinki entered the room, carefully stepping over anything that was lying in the middle of the floor. They both searched every corner of the room, making sure to overexamine anything and everything in hopes of discovering a clue to their friend's whereabouts. They moved every piece of furniture, read every sheet of paper, checked all the places where something could be hidden or incidentally left behind, but found nothing.
Sometime while the boys were searching through Hiyori's room, Mrs. Iki had left to go open the door for her daughter's friends. By the time she had brought them upstairs and into her daughter's bedroom, the shinki and his master had stopped digging through the mess of a room, their findings being zero.
Mrs. Iki introduced them to one another, telling the girls that Yato was trying to help find Hiyori, and that he wanted to ask them a few questions. The two agreed and walked back to the room they were sitting in before.
"When was the last time you saw Hiyori?" Yato asked Yama and Aimi, who looked like they were about to burst into tears at any given moment.
Aimi sat quietly and let her friend speak. "We saw Hiyori yesterday when school ended. We were going to all walk home together, but she said that she had to get home to study. I figured she had other plans since we had all weekend to study, but I didn't want to pressure her into spending time with us, so I just nodded. Maybe we should've said something..." Yama stopped talking and a tear ran down her face.
Tears began streaming down the sides of both girls' faces. Each had regretted not watching after their friend greatly, and they both felt as though they had failed at being Hiyori's friends. "I'm so sorry, Mrs. Iki. If we were only with Hiyori, then maybe-"
Yato cut Aimi off. "Stop blaming yourself for this. You're not the one who kidnapped her, so stop fucking apologizing. Nothing about this was either of your fault, so get yourselves together. If you really want to help out so much, then get a grip... for her sake."
Everyone in the room looked at the blue-eyed god in awe. His words were sharp and cold, but they still calmed the girls and managed to talk some sense into them.
"You're right," Aimi replied, wiping the tears from her eyes. "If we're going to help, then the least we could do is keep our hopes up and stay moderately calm. Hiyori wouldn't want us to cry and worry about her."
The room was silent for a few minutes, each entity being carried away by their own thoughts. Finally, after a few minutes, Yato stood up and began walking out the door. "Let's go, Yukine."
The women in the room looked at him in confusion. Before anyone could ask him anything, the god gave them a hard stare. "We'll be searching for Hiyori. If anything comes up, you know who to call."
Before the blue-eyed god could leave the room, Hiyori's mother quickly spoke. "Thank you, again. How much shall we pay you? I remember that gods take money offerings; unless things have changed, then I believe we're indebted to you and your regalia."
Yato turned back around. "We don't need money," he replied. That wasn't necessarily true, but the god couldn't imagine being paid to find his beloved 'friend'; it would seem just... wrong. Plus, the only thing he and his shinki desired was for the half-ayakashi girl to be found; money was useless to them right now.
"Well, I insist that we pay you. It's the least we could do. You've agreed to help us when I'm sure that other gods wouldn't, and I cannot explain our gratitude. Please allow us to offer some funds," the brunette said.
The god shook his head. "No. I don't care how many times you beg for us to take your money, the answer is going to be the same. I haven't even done anything yet, so there's really no need for me to be paid, even if I did want your offer, which I don't."
Yato's tone should have suggested that the conversation should cease, but the mother wasn't giving up so quickly. "Are you sure? We would truly feel better about this if we could give you something."
"No. The only thing that either of us could want right now is for Hiyori to be home safely. It's unnecessary for you to feel like you need to pay us; we've denied your offer and that should be the end of this discussion," the god said, becoming less patient with the woman's every word. Why was she so persistent on giving him her money when he had obviously stated that he didn't want it?
The blue-eyed god and his shinki disappeared as a bright beam of light filled the room, temporarily blinding the beings of the Near Shore that were inside of it. After the boys left, the remaining women exchanged glances.
Yama rubbed her chin thoughtfully, her previous tears long gone as she had taken the god's advice. "Why would he be so worried about finding her if he didn't take your money? Isn't this all a bit strange?"
Her friend pushed up her glasses and frowned. "Hmm, you're right. From what I would think, gods wouldn't normally be so dismissive about their pay. Especially that god... I don't want to be judgmental, but he doesn't seem like the type to play around. He also seemed... troubled. His concern about Hiyori is obvious, and it's very weird. What do you think, Mama Iki?"
Sayuri gave the girls a small smile. "It's evident that Yato and his regalia Yukine both care greatly about Hiyori. I can only assume that his cold demeanor is his way of handling things. When he spoke about getting a hold on reality for Hiyori's sake, he sounded as if he was trying to convince himself of that too."
Hiyori's friends looked at each other, shocked. "You're saying that Hiyori's... friends with them? That's not possible! We've never seen them before! He must be a stalker. That's got to be it; if she was friends with them, then we would have seen the two before!" Yama said, shaking her head at Hiyori's mother.
The brunette laughed as the girls kept talking. Of course they both had suspicions, but Sayuri knew what was happening. Call it a mother's intuition.
"Wait, Yama... you don't think Hiyori was..." Aimi trailed off, looking at her friend wide-eyed.
The blonde gave her friend a confused stare, but then her eyes widened and she jumped from her seat. "Oh my god! Aimi! You think Hiyori was romantically involved with one of them? That's crazy! Why wouldn't she tell us? We're her best friends!"
Aimi crossed her arms. "Are we, Yama? Are we her best friends? From what it seems like, that god and his regalia are. And, I don't think she could have told us. The god obviously isn't well-known, so we would probably just think that he was some crazy dude. Plus, it isn't that strange for Hiyori to be in a secret relationship. She might have guessed that we would've gotten mad at her, or we may have not accepted him."
Yama sighed in defeat. "Well, when you put it like that, I guess it isn't that hard to imagine. I mean, we probably wouldn't have believed her if she had told us," she said, glancing at Hiyori's mother for a moment. "Mama Iki, why are you laughing?"
The brunette smiled, shaking her head. "Let's get off this topic for now, girls. Can you send a message to your parents? My husband will be here soon, and I planned on going with him on the next search party. If you contact your parents, they could join us and you girls could come along. If you want to, of course."
Both Yama and Aimi hastily agreed and contacted their mothers and fathers quickly, willing to do anything and everything to get their best friend back safely.
Meantime, Yato and his regalia were discussing their findings, which were close to none, with Kofuku and Daikoku. They had entered the shrine hoping to find Hiyori sitting in one of the dining chairs, a bright smile on her face, telling them not to worry and that she was perfectly fine, but there was no such thing. The shrine looked exactly the same as before, give or take the somber atmosphere, and there was no talk of Hiyori being found, or even seen.
"Yatty, what do we do now? We have no leads; nowhere to go, no one to ask. What are we supposed to do?" the pink headed god asked after Yato had explained their meager discoveries. Despite what Daikoku had told her earlier, she still felt as if Hiyori's disappearance was somehow her fault.
Yato groaned and ran his hand through his hair nervously. "Kofuku, I don't fucking know. I would say that we could go ask the police, but they're too busy doing a shitty job trying to find any evidence that Hiyori was even on this planet to begin with. The Near Shore residents seem to be either complete dumbasses or ignorant idiots, so we're not getting-"
"Wait, Yato, you said that those of the Near Shore can't find anything," Yukine said, giving his master a look that screamed 'I just figured out something, and I'm hoping that you can figure it out because it was really dumb that we haven't noticed this sooner.'
The blue-eyed god nodded for a few moments, not fully getting the idea until reading his regalia's thoughts. "Holy shit, Yukine. Thank the Heavens you're a fucking genius," he said, staring at the said shinki in awe.
Kofuku and Daikoku exchanged glances, figuring out the blond's previous statement. "You think one of the gods can help us?" the pink-haired god asked, her hopes slightly rising.
Yukine nodded. "Yeah. Hiyori was half-ayakashi, so there's a possibility that she may have been seen by one of the other gods. She might even be with one of them!"
Daikoku furrowed his eyebrows and slowly nodded. "It isn't that farfetched. As a matter of fact, the kid's got a point. It's possible that the girl's with another god. Near Shore inhabitants can't normally see things like that, so it'd explain why everyone is doing one hell of a crappy job searching for clues."
Yato stood up and signaled for his regalia to follow in suit. Yukine did so without question, knowing that his master was, more than likely, heading to go interrogate any god he could find.
Kofuku and her regalia, however, weren't so keen on what the blue-eyed god's intentions were. "Yatty? Where are you going? We still have things to talk about-"
"We're going to Bishamon's to see if anyone has seen Hiyori. We may end up stopping by Tenjin's too. Anyone who she may have went to see. We can talk later, right now actions are more important," Yato said, his tone becoming slightly less cold. Yukine's realization had given him more hope, which caused him to be a little kinder. That didn't mean that he wasn't completely, and crazily, worried about the young brunette, however.
The god nodded in understanding and grabbed her regalia's hand for comfort. The two watched as the duo left with the light enveloping them, once again. Each were dearly scared and concerned for their friend's safety, just like Yato and Yukine, but Daikoku tried to stay calm for his master's sake. If he worried too much, it would harm Kofuku, and he didn't want her to be hurt in any way whatsoever. Plus, he truly believed that the girl was perfectly fine... well, somewhat.
"Please don't worry too much, m'lady. I'm sure that Hiyori is okay," the regalia assured, patting his master's back softly.
She sighed and frowned. "I hope so. I just don't know what to do, Daikoku. I know Yatty wants us to stay here, but I feel useless. We have to do something else to help. There has to be something else we can do."
The regalia deeply inhaled. "M'lady, there's not much we can do. Yato told us to do the thing that would make the most sense, so staying here isn't useless. We're still keeping an eye out for Hiyori; it's not like we've just given up and stopped searching."
"I know, Daikoku, but it still feels like we're doing nothing!" The pink headed god covered her face with her hands, tears of frustration threatening to slide down her cheeks.
Daikoku frowned and brought his master into a hug. He held her for a few minutes, trying to decide upon what to tell her. "What do you want to do to help? It would make you feel better if we do something, so why don't we find another way to help like you suggested? I should've listened to you before."
Kofuku wiped her tears away and smiled at her shinki. "Thank you, Daikoku. Can we join one of the search parties? I know we've discovered that they're pointless for normal humans, but maybe we could find something?"
"Of course. We'll join one first thing tomorrow morning," Daikoku replied, smiling right back at her. "Right now, we'd better get some rest. It's late."
The blue-eyed deity and his blond shinki appeared in front of Bishamon's shrine. They glanced at one another, and then the god knocked on the huge door.
A girl who looked to be in her teens opened the door. She had light pink hair that flowed down to her mid-back and wore a black suit top and a lavender-pink skirt. As she gazed at the two before her she gasped, clearly surprised.
"I need to talk to the Crazy Psycho Bitch."
Chapter 4: Uncovering Obvious Secrets
"I need to talk to the Crazy Psycho Bitch," Yato said, earning a cringe from his shinki. Despite their good terms, the two gods managed to attempt to annoy the hell out of one another whenever they could.
The girl, Aiha, quickly nodded and opened the door wider, inviting the two inside. "Come in! I'll go let my master know you're here," she said, taking off down a long hallway.
Yukine and his master entered the shrine, closing the door behind them, and awaited the god of fortune awkwardly.
A few moments later, a huge group of people starting cascading down the hallway, all in pursuit of the god of war and fortune herself, Bishamon. The remains of her previous clans, Ma and Ha, glided behind her. There was a smaller group of them than before, but they were still quite intimidating.
The blonde god approached Yato with Kazuma by her side, signaling the rest of her regalia to stay back for the time being. "Yato?" she said, barely being able to say his name without scoffing. "What brings you and your shinki to my shrine?"
Yato took a deep breath. He felt like accusing her outright, but since they had become allies, the god of war had absolutely no reason to cause more arguments between the two. As a matter of fact, the blonde god had been mostly civil with him, so her taking Hiyori didn't really seem like something she would do. Plus, who said that she had been kidnapped? There was still a large possibility that the girl had gotten lost somewhere, or had decided to go somewhere without telling anyone; or maybe she had gone to visit one of the other gods. They couldn't just jump to conclusions, no matter what Yato had suspected.
"Have you seen Hiyori Iki? She was reported missing this morning. The Near Shore residents have been searching for her, but no one can find anything, so we suspected that it had something to do with one of the gods," the blue-eyed god said, his face back to it's rigid, emotionless state.
The blonde god bit her lip in thought. "Hiyori... The half-phantom girl? I'm sorry to say that I haven't seen her recently. Have you checked with Lady Kofuku and her regalia?"
"Yes," the blue-eyed god answered stiffly.
Kazuma's brows furrowed and he pushed his glasses closer to his face. "Veena, do you suppose that we ask the others? They may have seen her somewhere," he asked, eyeing the other shinki that were still standing in the hallway.
Bishamon nodded. "Of course, Kazuma," she said, then turning back to Yato. "You said the Near Shore citizens aren't finding any evidence? Have you looked around with them? Maybe there is evidence, but only someone attached to the Far Shore would see it."
Kazuma beckoned the rest of his master's regalia into the room. When they were all in the large entrance area, Kazuma called, "Have any of you seen Hiyori Iki? She's a young high-schooler; brown hair, magenta eyes, half-ayakashi."
The group made a variety of noises, the majority of them being confused remarks, and the gods turned to watch the many other regalia.
So many people were speaking at once that no one could decipher what anyone was saying, and Yato groaned before he yelled, "Shut the fuck up! Everybody!"
The shinki turned to the blue-eyed god, their eyes wide. Questions remained in their glances, but they did as they were instructed and stayed quiet.
"If you've seen Hiyori, then raise your damn hands! If you haven't, then just go back to wherever the fuck you stay in this hellhole," the god instructed.
Yato ignored the malicious glares Bishamon sent his way. He knew that she wouldn't tolerate his behavior towards her regalia, but he was on edge, and a room full of blubbering shinki didn't help anything.
Bishamon sighed angrily, but nodded towards her unsure shinki, who hadn't moved an inch yet. "Go ahead. Do as the scumbag says," she said, glaring at Yato again. "I understand that this situation can bring you stress, but I will not, under any circumstances, allow you to treat my regalia with such disrespect again."
The blue-eyed deity sighed and slightly nodded. He watched as the group of shinki exited the room in small groups, leaving not one of them behind to tell of Hiyori's whereabouts. Yato's hopes fell for a moment, but he quickly regained them and thought of the many other places his best friend, and love, could be. He had to stay strong for her. He had to.
"Yato," Kazuma said, catching the god from his thoughts. "Where else have you searched for her? There are many other gods that she could be with-"
"I know that! We haven't searched anywhere else besides here. We only just left Kofuku's shrine minutes ago when Yukine came up with the bright idea that she'd be with one of you," Yato said, his cold demeanor falling slightly, showing the more nervous and scared side of him that he was so desperately trying to hide away.
Bishamonten narrowed her eyes at the god, examining his features and tone closely. Could it be...?
The blonde god grabbed her exemplar's hand gently, pulling him towards another room to their left. "Excuse me. I need to speak with Kazuma for a moment."
The two entered the room and Bishamon closed the door behind them. As soon as she did so, Kazuma began speaking. "Veena, is everything okay? You look like you've been thinking about something."
"Kazuma, do you know anything about love?" she asked, her face completely serious.
The blessed vessel blushed and adjusted his glasses. "Ah, um, Veena, what are you suggesting?" he stuttered.
Bishamon furrowed her brows. "Yato's in love with the half-ayakashi." When she noted her hafuri's shock, the god rolled her eyes. "Kazuma, don't you think so? I mean, it's utterly obvious that he is. Why do you look so shocked?"
"I just... didn't expect you to say that," he replied, his face still red. "Not that it isn't obvious, because it most certainly is. Have you just now noticed it?"
The god's face flushed slightly. "W-well, I don't spend my free time stalking Yato and his love life..." She paused, thinking again. "Do you think Hiyori loves him, too?"
Kazuma nodded firmly. "Yes. Do you think so, as well?"
"From what I've seen of them, they do act as more than friends, and on several occasions, as well. How would they ever have a relationship, though?" The god ran her hands through her long hair in thought. "Not only do they face the problems of Hiyori being a half-ayakashi, but the Heavens most definitely would not approve of their relationship."
Her exemplar took a deep breath. "I'm not sure, Veena. I do hope that they'll be able to bypass their obstacles. Despite them being forbidden, you can't tell me they aren't a cute couple."
Bishamonten scoffed. "Well, fine. Maybe they are adorable, but that doesn't help us find the poor girl... Not to mention that Yukine will be put in an awkward third-wheel situation."
Kazuma laughed. "You really are getting into this, aren't you, Veena? I can't blame you, their position really is quite intriguing. It's almost as if it were part of a movie, or TV series. Anyway, I don't think Yukine would be that disapproving of them. He already sees the two as his mother and father, that would just make things easier for him."
"I suppose that's true," she said, her face turning a light rose color. Since when was she so interested in Yato's affairs? "I think we should rejoin the others. Knowing that scumbag, he's probably already broken something by now."
The brunet nodded at his master and opened the door for her, walking out himself after she'd left.
The duo entered the atrium and, to their surprise, found it just as neat and nice as it was before.
Bishamonten sighed. "I see that you can stay unsupervised for a short period of time without damaging something," she said in a somewhat teasingly manner. "Now, back to the current problem. Since the girl obviously isn't here with us, it would be best to check with the other gods after you leave here."
"Isn't that obvious?" Yato mumbled, his irritable mood growing.
Thankfully, the blonde didn't hear him as she walked back into the large hallway. She was absent for several moments, in which the other occupants of the lobby stood awkwardly amongst one another, and she finally came back moments later with a large group of regalia behind her.
"On account of your very obvious affections for Hiyori, my regalia and I have agreed to assist in any way that we can to help find her. Unlike the Near Shore inhabitants, we will be in one large group, since many eyes are better than two." Bishamon paused, smirking at the deity's bright blush. "However, don't expect that we won't tease you about this later."
Murmurs were heard from the many shinki who were filling the hallway and lobby. Although it had always been rumored that gods and humans had fallen in love before, none of them had ever witnessed it with their own eyes. Kazuma quickly turned and shot them a glare, signaling for them to hush.
Yukine, who had been mostly quiet due to his own worries, let out a nervous giggle. He half-smiled at the god of war. "She's got a point, Yato. Your love for Hiyori is really obvious. I mean, your love for her is easier to see than Kazuma's adoration for Bishamon, and that is obvious."
The crowd of regalia then began murmuring again, this time causing a lulled roar of hushed voices to be heard. Kazuma shot them another look, this one more rigid than the last.
The blonde god gave her blushing exemplar an inquisitive glance, but kept her questions for later.
"Shut up. It's none of your business what Hiyori is to me," Yato said, staring at his shoes. He paused for a moment, but then continued talking, this time in a serious manner. "We need to start searching."
Kazuma nodded quickly, acting way too sophisticated for someone who had just been as red as a tomato. "Of course. Veena, where do you suggest we head first?"
"Ebisu and Tenjin should be our first guesses," the said god replied as she stepped to the door, opening it wide. "After that, I have no idea."
The troupe left the shrine and stood on Bishamonten's courtyard. Yato prepared himself to teleport, but the blonde god cut in. "What are you doing?"
"I'm teleporting," he said, giving her the 'you're a dumbass' look.
Bishamon rolled her eyes, matching his deadpanned expression. "Don't you think we should be walking around? We could find her on one of the paths to the other shrines."
Yato groaned. "I knew working with her would be damn annoying," he mumbled.
The blonde god furrowed her brows in confusion. "What?"
Yukine raised an eyebrow at his master, but quickly turned back to Bishamonten. "Nothing, nothing! Let's just get going, okay?"
Bishamonten nodded, disregarding Yato's previous unknown statement, and the group began walking towards the large shrine that Tenjin stayed at.
After about ten minutes of wandering, Yato groaned. "Why don't we just invite Kofuku and Daikoku? Then they can go with me and Yukine to Ebisu's while you take Kazuma and go see Tenjin."
"But what about her regalia?" Yukine asked, pointing to the blonde-haired god.
Yato groaned and was about to speak when Kazuma cut in. "We can split them into two groups and then one can go with you while the other goes with us. Or, they can simply head back to the shrine whilst we continue searching."
Bishamon gazed at her exemplar. "Thank you for your advisory, Kazuma, but I believe the shinki will stay with us while we search. They're worried about Hiyori as well, so they should help us look."
Kazuma frowned, obviously disagreeing with his master. "If you think that's the right thing to do."
The blonde god sighed and beckoned for the brunet to keep speaking. "Speak your mind, Kazuma. I can sense that you're irritated."
Kazuma wasted no time in doing so. "To be completely honest, Veena, I don't think you should have told the regalia about Hiyori's disappearance. Like you said, everyone's worried about her, and that may take a toll on you. You can feel our emotions, so if too many of us become stressed over this problem, something bad might happen to you."
Bishamonten smiled. "Don't worry about it, Kazuma. There aren't as many of us as there were before, so whatever your fears are, they should be manageable. I can withstand a great amount, if you've already forgotten."
The brunet exemplar blushed and nodded as he looked to the floor. "Of course, Veena."
The blonde god then turned to her fellow deity, furrowing her eyebrows. "Now, Yato God, do you really believe it's a good idea to allow a god of poverty to assist us in our searching?"
"Hey! She's not like that on purpose! Are you suggesting that Kofuku is the reason she's missing?" Yukine said, glaring at the god as he defended his friend. He knew that it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that she was, in fact, the sole reason that the young high school student had vanished, but he wouldn't have anyone go blaming the god of disasters for it. It wasn't her fault that she brought calamity wherever she went.
"Lady Kofuku wouldn't do so on purpose, but her aura of bad luck could have been one of the causes of this predicament. I mean no harm to her name; don't get my intentions mixed up. I'm only stating that it's feasible that this is an effect of the god's horrid luck."
The group was silent for a few moments, until Yato spoke moments later. "Let's leave Kofuku and Daikoku out of this for now, then. At that rate we'd only be wasting time, anyway. We'll do as Kazuma suggested and divide your regalia into halves."
Kazuma nodded and quickly divided the group into two equal parts, sending one of the crowds to stand next to the blue-eyed god while the other formation stayed where they were.
"Listen, shinki," Bishamonten called, causing many heads to turn her way. "Those of you who are with that scumbag, please try to be decent. I apologize that you will have to put up with him for a few hours, who even knows what he'll try to do, but things must be done."
All of the regalia agreed in various ways; surprisingly, none of them had gotten upset when they were paired with Yato.
The god turned to the group behind him and gazed at them, his eyes harsh; his eyes were always harsh now, it seemed. His face emotionless, he turned to his blond exemplar and beckoned him. "Let's go to Ebisu's."
Yukine lifted the cover from overtop his head and looked around. Huh?
He had woken up in the dead of the night, the bedroom he and Yato shared being cold and dark, due to the strange sound he'd been hearing. He had, at first, assumed that it was only his exhausted mind playing tricks on him, but he later realized that the noises he had heard were, in fact, very real.
The shinki was now looking at a figure in the corner of their room. Due to the almost darkness, there was a small nightlight that was on Yukine's side of the room, the figure's identity remained unknown to the regalia, but process of elimination--and a feeling in his gut--told him that it was his master. "Yato?" he called out sleepily.
The figure turned towards Yukine and then turned back around slowly. It was a few seconds before any noises were heard.
"Go back to sleep, Yukine." Yato's voice was choked and shaky; he had obviously been crying for some time.
Yukine obeyed and laid back down, trying to fall asleep again. It had been hard enough for him to fall asleep before, when they came back from Ebisu's--and Bishamon from Tenjin's--empty handed. It felt wrong to sleep whilst one of his best friends were gone, and possibly in danger, but his lack of rest helped him sleep at least a bit faster.
Yato, on the other hand, hadn't slept at all. He'd first tried to lay down and had successfully slept for maybe ten minutes when the dreams began. Horrors filled the god's head as he slept, consisting of nightmares where various terrors occurred.
The one that stood out the most to him, and still remained vivid in his memory, was one in which he was out walking around late at night, searching for Hiyori since they had still not found her. In his dream, the god wandered the streets depressingly, his heart aching heavily. He would be too caught up in his thoughts to hear someone call out his name. He would eventually turn around, just in time to see Hiyori running towards him. He would run for her, hugging her tightly when they would reach one another, and he would embrace her for as long as he could, but that wasn't long enough. Time passed all too quickly, and before he knew it, the girl had disappeared from his grasp, completely vanishing right before his eyes.
That was when the god would wake up, shivering and sobbing. His nightmares haunted him so greatly that the god had quickly given up on sleeping, instead picking his shrine from his desk and holding it close to him as he silently cried. He tried to be quiet whilst his exemplar slept, but a loud sob escaped his mouth, and his regalia was suddenly awake.
Yato watched his shinki fall back asleep and then stood up. He placed his shrine carefully back onto his desk and quietly left the room, heading downstairs into Kofuku's living area.
The god jumped slightly when he saw a silhouette seated on the sofa. He hesitantly stepped forward, turning on a small lamp as he was walking past.
"Couldn't sleep either, huh?" Kofuku asked, even though her tone implied that she knew good and well the answer to her question.
Yato sighed, taking a seat next to the pink-haired god. He stayed quiet for a few moments, mainly to maintain the comfortable silence they sat in, but also because he didn't truly trust his voice not to rat him out for crying. A few minutes later, he spoke in a hushed, heartbroken tone. "Why are you up?"
The god frowned, but refrained from raising her voice above a soft whisper. "Daikoku says that it isn't my fault, that Yori being missing isn't because of my bad luck, but I'm just so sure that my misfortunes have something to do with it. I'm so sorry, Yatty. I've messed everything up... And I know you care about her so much..."
"I'm the real reason this has happened. I should've cut ties with Hiyori like Tenjin said. I wouldn't have been happy, life would've been hell--for both of us, more than likely--but at least she would be safe. And I... I should have distanced myself... I'm selfish. I suppose the real reason I never cut our ties was because I didn't want to lose her, I thought that living without her remembering my name would destroy me... But at least, if we would have severed our bonds, then she would be safe... Damn, I'm so fucking stupid."
The two sat in silence for a few moments, each of them taking on the guilt of their actions--or what they didn't do--to heart.
After a while, Kofuku raised her head from where she was staring at the floor to Yato. "You love her, don't you?" she asked softly.
Yato turned around quickly and stared at the pink-headed god, searching for any signs of displeasure or mock. Seeing the god's face emotionless, he decided that he would no longer care what anyone thought. It was pointless to act like he was ashamed of something he would never be ashamed of doing. He knew that she would hold his heart forever, so there was no sense in trying to deny it anymore. "Yes, yes I do."
Meanwhile, a certain brunette's eyes flickered open. She had no idea how long she'd been asleep, or why she fell asleep, but Hiyori had the feeling that it hadn't had anything to do with exhaustion.
She gazed around, seeing the same surroundings as she had before; she was inside of a room made of stone, except that where the front wall should have been, there were rows of prison cell bars. The floor was made of rough stone as well, and she suddenly wished that she had something else on her tender feet besides the already-destroyed white socks she'd worn to bed however many days ago it had been since she had a normal life.
Many thoughts flooded into the half-phantom's head as she began to fully wake up.
Where was she? This didn't look like any place she'd seen before, and her lack of exploration around Tokyo hadn't helped her any this time. Of course she had the occasional outings with Yato and Yukine, but they usually only ever went to Kofuku's shrine, or maybe a park, but nothing too extravagant.
How did she get here? Although she knew who her captor was, Hiyori highly doubted that their frail and tiny frame would have helped heave her to wherever she was. It seemed nearly impossible, but there was probably some twisted way that they had captured her. After all, if not, then how would she have gotten here?
How long had she been here? Obviously Hiyori's kidnapper hadn't given her a clock, and she didn't own a watch, so her sense of time was completely wrong. There was no way for sunlight--or moonlight--to reach wherever she was, since it was nearly pitch-black, so how many days or hours--or maybe even weeks--that had passed were absolutely unknown to the girl.
Had anyone acknowledged that she was gone? Of course, it seemed that that should have been an obvious answer, yes, but the girl had no way of knowing for sure. One group who should have noted that she was gone should have been her parents, surely they would notice when their own daughter was missing from her bedroom in the morning. And, if they hadn't, then she knew that she could rely on her godly friends to realize her absence.
Was anyone actively looking for her? Another question that seemed to have an obvious answer, but, once again, uncertainty loomed over the brunette. What if everyone had seen that she was gone, but they weren't searching? What if no one cared that she was gone? What if... they were happy that she was missing?
The brunette shook her head slightly. Of course someone cared. Her parents most certainly would, and she could always count on Kofuku and Daikoku to watch out for her. Maybe Lady Bishamon and Tenjin were worried about her, too. And, most obviously, Yukine and Yato would search for her, so there was no need to worry about that. Someone would come save her soon.
"Yato," she whispered. He would save her, get her out of this hell-hole, and he would do anything for her. She knew this, she knew him, so there was no doubt in her mind that he would be her god-in-shining-tracksuit and rescue her.
Hiyori jumped as she heard footsteps walking towards her, and she prepared herself to see her kidnapper again. Moments later, the same face she'd seen previously appeared before her: ghostly-white skin, deep mauve eyes that were dark yet soft, pale rose lips, and dark black hair that reached just above her shoulders greeted Hiyori and told her what she already knew. "Nora."
The said girl smiled sweetly, but the expression was anything but friendly. "I see you haven't forgotten us yet," she taunted.
Hiyori glared daggers at the girl. "Sadly I haven't, which is a shame since you're not worth my memories."
The stray's smile fell. "I see you have more fire in you than before."
Her statement was true, but it was only due to the amount of annoyance that the girl felt. How many times had Nora tried to destroy her life in the past? It was simply getting tiring, and she was sick of having people try and control what she did. She was tired of being a part of her games.
The brunette sighed and calmed herself. "Why am I here?" she asked, her tone implying that she wouldn't take anything but the true answer.
"And why would I tell you that, you ignorant girl?" the stray cooed, a sly smile coating her face once again. "This isn't some silly game."
"My life isn't some silly game!" Hiyori snapped. "Why can't you just let us be?! Leave us alone! Leave Yato alone! If he wanted to be with you, he would have already left us and joined you again, so just move on!" Angry tears pricked the sides of her eyes, but she quickly wiped them away.
The stray's face was empty as she spoke, and it took her a few moments to do so. "So the rumors are true, then."
Hiyori looked up at her, her eyebrows raised. "What rumors?"
It took the girl a moment to speak, but once she did, her voice was cold and unforgiving. "You really do love Yato," she said accusatorily.
Hiyori's face flushed and she turned away from the stray, staring at the stony floor. She kept quiet, not really knowing what to say. Of course what she had said was true, but why would she tell the stray that?
"That explains your rude behavior then... This makes the plan all the more successful if Yaboku returns your feelings," Nora replied, not really speaking directly to Hiyori, but still speaking loud enough for her to hear.
The brunette stood, towering over the stray, hoping that that would add some type of superiority to her posture. "And what exactly are your plans?"
Nora giggled, shaking her head, reminding Hiyori of the young children at her school who would tell jokes to one another. "I'm not sure if it would be wise to tell you," she teased.
Hiyori sighed, clearly tired of the stray's constant mockery. "There's no one else I can speak to wherever we are, unless you haven't told me there's another person-" she paused, her own thoughts cutting her off. She was going to continue, but the look on Nora's face caused her to cease. "Who else do you have trapped down here?" she asked, fear and disgust filling her voice.
"No one. Do you really think there would be anyone as close to Yaboku as you? Of course there's Yukine, but he wasn't as easy to achieve as you were. You were too vulnerable, and, don't tell him, but I'm very sure that you have greater meaning to Yaboku than Yukine does," the stray smiled, once again making fun of the poor girl and her situation.
"That's ridiculous. Yukine is precious to him; you don't know Yato at all!" Hiyori shouted, her anger boiling over the top. Nora knew nothing about who Yato was now. Yato cared for all of his friends equally; he would never pick favorites.
The stray laughed humorlessly. "Don't be so sure that Yaboku isn't gone. Maybe the ones who truly don't know him are who he's currently closest with. After all, do Kofuku and Daikoku know that much about him? And they've known him for many years. Anyway, I really must get going. Try not to forget anything while I'm gone, Hiyorin."
Despite her hatred for the stray, Hiyori found the emptiness smothering her as Nora slowly walked away. Plus, she had a flashlight and it was very dark in her makeshift prison cell. "Wait!"
She was surprised to see the black-haired girl turn around and glance at her. "Hmm? Already feeling lonely?" she ridiculed, a smirk playing on her lips.
Hiyori took a deep breath as she tried to think of something that would make sense. "Are you going to tell me what your plans are?"
She knew it was stupid, and it sounded so, but she had to come up with some reason for blurting out for the girl to turn back toward her, even if it made her look airheaded and naïve.
Nora blinked, tilting her head to the side, for once taking something seriously. "No. It's much too soon," she replied, then walking away once again, leaving Hiyori with more questions than she'd had before.
I'm sorry it's been so long since I've updated, school has been so stressful. Anyways, I hoped you enjoyed this chapter! Let me just say that it was so refreshing writing in Hiyori's environment for once. Comment where you think she's been kidnapped down below! (Not saying that I'll say who's correct, though!) :)
Chapter 6: Near Shore or Far
Happy birthday to moi!!
Small, soft footsteps were approaching, a soft light was seen far off in the distance, and Hiyori knew that it was time for her every-other-day meal. It sounded harsh, and it most certainly was, but it was better than getting no food at all. After all, Nora could have chosen not to feed her at all.
She used her arms to heave herself off of the cold, hard ground, sighing as she did so. She had been here for--well, in reality she didn't really know how long she'd been here, but it'd felt as if it'd been forever--and her body was definitely being affected.
Her legs and back ached from when she had to sleep on the uncomfortable stone floor of her cell; her knuckles throbbed from when she had tried to beat her way out of this hell a few--of what she assumed was--days ago, and her head felt as if it were trying to explode, the gash on it had only been getting worse as she wasn't provided with proper cleaning utensils to cleanse it--as if she would have been allowed something that would help her survive--and she was pretty sure that if it wasn't infected yet, it would be very soon.
And those were only her internal struggles; this didn't even mention her current appearance.
Hiyori's once beautiful brown hair was now matted and tangled so badly that she quickly gave up on trying to keep it combed through with her fingers. Her skin was dirty and pale, and she almost resembled a vampire who had come back from the dead--and they had died thousands of years ago. Her old pajamas, that had witnessed as much as she had, were so filthy that they were covered in grey, and they seemed to be permanently glued onto her body. If it wasn't for the small bucket that she'd found in the very back of her prison cell, then she would've been a ton more unclean.
So yes, conditions hadn't exactly been the best in her unknown location, but Hiyori was at least slightly thankful for the almost-daily food she was receiving.
Nora approached and pointed her flashlight inside the bars, making sure that the girl that was in her possession hadn't somehow found a way to escape. She uncovered a pair of keys from a pocket within her white robe and used it to unlock the cell's door--which Hiyori had failed to notice during her first few days.
Hiyori could remember the day that the stray had opened her cell for the first time very vividly.
She had woken up to rattling of the metal bars that held her captive, and her heart had skipped a beat. Originally thinking that someone was saving her, Hiyori quickly stood from the ground and rushed towards the door.
She was disappointed, and a little confused, to see Nora standing at her cell, unlocking the door for her and leaving it wide open.
However, when she came too near the exit, the stray smiled one of her nauseating grins. "Don't be so eager to leave, silly girl. If I find that you're not here one night, things won't look good for your dear Yato. I'm sure that one of my many masters would love a good brawl to the death. In fact, I can name quite a few right now who would jump at the chance to have the pride of killing another god."
That was all it took to keep Hiyori from escaping, and it seems as if Nora had known her very weaknesses. She hadn't once even tried to break down the bars again, as she had on her first day, and refrained from touching--or even going near--them.
Now she watched as Nora stepped into the cell and placed her food on the floor, hoping that her family and friends hadn't given up on searching for her. But, if she were to be rescued, that would cause the stray to attack Yato, and she couldn't have that, so she decided it was best for everyone--for the time being--that she remained trapped.
The stray stepped out of the chamber and watched the brunette eat, her face emotionless.
"How long has it been?" Hiyori asked, scooping a pile of ramen into her mouth in a way that was a little less ladylike than she was used to.
Nora cocked her head to the side, her eyebrows raised in mock confusion. "In what aspect do you mean?"
Hiyori wiped her face with her hand and took a deep breath. "Since I've been kidnapped," she said, her voice slightly cooler than before.
The stray nodded, as if she didn't understand what Hiyori had meant the first time. "Ah. Today is the fifteenth day that has passed."
The brunette nearly choked on her noodles.
It had been over two weeks? It had hardly felt like a week, in some twisted way, and her sense of time was completely messed up. Who knew leaving your normal lifestyle behind and being kidnapped to somewhere where there was no sunlight would destroy your sense of... well, everything?
"Don't die on us, now," Nora taunted, a smirk playing on her lips. "That would be so tragic. However, mortal lives are so very breakable that it wouldn't surprise me much."
The half-phantom bit her tongue and took several deep breaths. Deciding that it was best for her not to punch her captor in the face, Hiyori changed the subject to something that had been bothering the back of her mind for days. "Why are you feeding me?"
Nora shrugged. "Why not?"
"But I thought you kidnapped me to kill me. Isn't that the whole point of kidnapping people?" Hiyori furrowed her eyebrows and sat her empty bowl on the stony ground.
The stray only stared at Hiyori for a few moments. Then, finally, she said, "Killing is the most prominent motive for abducting one, but that doesn't necessarily mean that was my motive. As you can see, it would have been fairly simple to kill you, so obviously that isn't what I plan to do."
"Then what do you plan to do?" Hiyori asked, her voice void of the inner fear she felt.
The dark-haired girl sighed and looked to the ceiling, thinking.
Hiyori watched her closely, waiting for her reply, but there wasn't one. Instead, the stray walked back into the cell and grabbed the empty bowl, leaving and shutting the cage behind her.
"Yato, you have to get some sleep!" Yukine shouted as he shoved the god of fortune back into their bedroom. "How are we going to find Hiyori if you're passing out every ten seconds?"
The said god sighed, but stood stock still, resisting his shinki's pushes. "I'm fine, Yukine. Just go downstairs with Kofuku and Daikoku and help with breakfast."
Yukine crossed his arms. "No. Not until I know that you're getting some sleep!"
"Oh, come on! Do I really look that exhausted to you?" Yato said sternly.
He didn't have to hear a verbal answer, his exemplar's face said it all.
There were dark bags around the god's eyes, ones that didn't just come from a single day of no rest--these had developed over two weeks. Yato's posture was off as he was now often seen slumped over; not once had anyone seen him stand fully upright in the time since Hiyori's absence. His eyes were dulled with exhaustion, both mental and physical. Honestly, it was a wonder he was still fully conscious, and neither Yukine nor Kofuku or Daikoku could understand why or how the god kept from passing out.
Yato sighed, rubbing his face. "Look, I'm sorry-"
"Never mind. I'll just go help like you said," Yukine quickly stated, then scurrying down the steps that they had been standing upon.
"Damn it." The god ran his fingers through his hair and went back into their bedroom, grabbing his tracksuit jacket and putting it on.
He then walked down the steps and outside the door of Kofuku's shrine, only caring to yell an "I'm going out," as he closed the entrance.
Yato inhaled the fresh air, but didn't find it as relaxing as he used to. Even two days ago had felt more tranquil than this, and everything was pretty much the same. Well, except for the steady--but slow--loss of hope that the god felt as every day, every minute, every second that the girl he so cherished wasn't heard from.
He knew he shouldn't have been so close to giving up so soon, but he just had this feeling... this feeling that he would never find her. That Hiyori Iki was out of his reach--forever.
The more the god thought about it, the more he realized that Hiyori Iki had never been in his reach.
He had never gotten the chance to inform her of his affections for her, although he had implied it several times, and that slowly began to tear him to pieces.
But, then again, maybe it was for the best that she was away from him. After all, he had indirectly caused this, so maybe it was for the best if she just stayed away from him. Maybe he shouldn't try to save her... Was he only breaking his own heart?
" ...and I promise, I'm not going to forget you."
"Wait--I want to stay a little longer!"
"May Yato become whatever he wants to be..."
"Please Yato, I'm not ready to lose you yet!"
As their many adventures together played through the god's mind, he realized that he couldn't stop looking for her. Not only was it wrong, but he knew that he couldn't let himself stop searching for Hiyori. It was just something that he would endlessly do--even if they never found her.
Plus, he couldn't let her down like that. She trusted him, and she would be expecting him to go save her, so that's what he had to do.
His mind made up, the raven-haired male flipped his phone open and dialed a number. Minutes later, someone replied.
"Search party. Meet at Kofuku's shrine in ten minutes. Spread the word," the god said, shutting his red flip phone afterwards and heading back to the pink-haired god's home.
"This is the tenth search party you've assembled in the past week, Yato. It is unwise of you to use what little bit of energy you have left on creating useless attempts at trying to find the teenage girl," Tenjin said, giving Yato a displeased look.
Yukine rolled his eyes and Yato growled. "Like I give a damn what you think. If you're not going to listen to what I have to say and help us search for her, then leave. The only reason you're here is because the Psycho Bitch invited you."
Bishamon shrugged. "You said to spread the word."
Tenjin took a deep breath and played with his white beard. "Out of the good in my heart, I'll ignore your foolishness and assist you, but just this once."
"Good," Yato said, giving a quick glare to Tenjin. "You're here because we need to figure this out. It's been two weeks since Hiyori has gone missing, and there's still been no sign of her. As of right now, we need to see where everyone thinks she is."
"What do you mean?" Yukine asked. "No one knows where she is, Yato. That's the whole reason we're searching for her."
Yato sighed and rubbed his palm on his forehead. "I'm not a total dumbass. I was going to explain."
The blond shinki scratched the back of his neck nervously. "Sorry," he said, anxiously chuckling.
"What I mean is... The police haven't stated that this is true, but I think we can all come to the conclusion that Hiyori isn't just lost somewhere. It's been two weeks--actually over two weeks--and there have been no signs of her anywhere. I know it isn't the best idea to jump to, but I think someone might have..." the god trailed off, his previously steady voice now crumbling.
He didn't have to finish the sentence anyway. Everyone understood what he implied, and mostly everyone agreed. No one wanted to think that their precious Yori had been abducted by some old perverts, or god-knows-who, but that was the only explanation that made any sense at this point.
Kofuku sighed dismally and looked to the floor. "Poor Yori..."
Daikoku gently rubbed the pink headed god's back, bringing her closer to him. "Don't worry. We're going to find her, m'lady."
Kazuma looked at his master, who replied with a stern nod.
Bishamon's purple eyes met Yato's and her face hardened. "There are only two options as to who could have taken her. Either they're from the Near Shore, or they're a resident of the Far."
The raven-headed god sighed and ruffled through his hair. "I just... I really don't know what to do anymore."
Yukine sighed, but didn't reply.
"It just feels like we're doing the same thing all the time. We keep searching, we keep looking for clues, but we never find anything. It's so frustrating. I... I can't let her down. I have to find her, but it seems so impossible. We have no leads, no ideas..." Yato groaned. "What if... there's no hope? Everything seems so unreasonable--it feels like we'll never find Hiyori."
The blond turned quickly and stared into his master's eyes. "Yato, that isn't true. You have to keep hope--even when everyone else has already given up. Even... when I give up. I know that this is hard and frustrating, but--" Yukine looked around, trying to find the correct way to word his thoughts. "--you love her. You can't leave her like that; you can't give up. You don't give up on people you love, Yato. She wouldn't give up on you."
Yato smashed his face into his pillows. "I know, Yukine. And I never said I was giving up on her. I don't think I could. Sure, it seems hopeless, but I'm never going to give up. Even if it takes years, I'm not losing hope. I've made a promise to myself... to her. And I just can't let her down."
Kofuku ceased speaking, and Daikoku looked at her strangely.
"M'lady, are you--"
"Sorry, Kokki, but I need to go talk to Yatty," she said, her eyes wide and frightened.
Her regalia sighed and ran his hand across his face. "M'lady, do you really think this is the best time to go talk to Yato? You know how he's been since--"
The pink-headed god looked her shinki in the eyes, purple orbs bright with determination and emergency. "It's about Yori," was all she said before she dashed out of the kitchen.
She reached the top of the stairs and--her courtesy completely nonexistent in her state of haste--shoved the door to the god and his regalia's bedroom open, causing the duo to look towards her.
"Kofuku? What the hell--"
"Yatty, we have to find Yori--and fast," Kofuku said, her voice quivering.
Yato's eyes narrowed. "Well, what the fuck do you think we're trying to do?" he said, his voice sharp.
The pink-haired god ignored Yato's outburst and kept speaking. "She has problems with remembering the Far Shore, Yato. Don't you understand? We have to find her before she forgets us."
"Yeah, but she's remembered us before after she'd forgotten," Yukine said, shrugging his shoulders.
Yato shook his head. "That doesn't mean she'll remember after forgetting a second time. Plus, the longer her whereabouts are unknown, the higher the chance is that Hiyori will forget us permanently."
"Exactly," Kofuku agreed. "It's already been three weeks, Yatty. We really need to find her soon. She may have already forgotten."
"We'll do what we can, Kofuku. The only thing we can really do is look around and wait for some news to come." Yato then sighed. Having hardly any sleep and having the love of your life missing--and potentially in danger or critical condition--did not raise his mood.
Footsteps were heard once more and Hiyori knew that the kimono-clad girl would soon be coming to check up on her. She was correct as, moments later, the stray glided towards the brunette's chamber and began to unlock it.
"What do you want?" Hiyori's voice was hard and breathy, she'd hardly gotten any sleep on the rigid, stony floors, and her mood was absolutely horrid. Not to mention that she was getting really pissed about having to stay in this hellhole.
Nora shrugged lightly, an evil smirk spreading across her features. She then smiled innocently, and the half-phantom immediately knew that whatever she was about to say would be harsh and insincere. "Hmm? I just thought you might want an update on how long it's been. And... a few other things as well."
When nothing was stated, the stray took that as her permission to speak. "As of right now, it has been exactly three weeks and four days since your disappearance." She paused, trying to read the brunette's emotions, but finding her face a blank slate. "Now tell me, dear Hiyorin, do you remember what things were like for you back at home?"
Hiyori felt like spitting straight onto the stray's grinning face. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. And I can tell you that I won't be forgetting about Yato or Yukine anytime soon, so don't get your hopes up."
Nora only laughed. "I think you may want to take that last statement as advice for yourself. After all, your hopes shouldn't be too high at this point."
The brunette glared angrily at the stray, wishing with all of her might that she could harm her without something terrible happening to Yato in turn. "And what is that supposed to mean? You think that just because I haven't seen Yato in a few weeks I'm going to forget him? That may have happened before, but I'm not allowing myself to forget them again. Our bonds are stronger now, and I'm relying on that blessing to get us out of this situation."
"I wouldn't be so sure of yourself there, Iki," Nora said, her eyes smiling with mock joy.
The half-ayakashi had had enough. "Can't you just get over the fact that Yato doesn't care about you anymore? He's moving on and becoming a better person, and we're helping him with that. You're one of the very few people who are holding him back and I'm getting sick and tired of--"
"He isn't looking for you," the stray interrupted, giving the girl a look that seemingly said, 'I-told-you-so.'
That caught Hiyori off guard, but she merely narrowed her eyes at the wicked regalia and spoke against her. "Yeah, right. Of course he is. We're best friends, and I trust him with my life, so there'd be no reason why he wouldn't be searching for me." Her voice made her words sound stronger and more convincing, and the brunette hoped that they would convince her as well.
"Exactly," Nora replied, "so why has Yaboku still not found you? If he had been searching as much as you believed, then he should have found you by now. That is, if he actually cared about you at all."
The stray's voice because mesmerizing and hypnotic, and she approached Hiyori and placed her hand under her chin, raising it to hers as she stared into the girl's magenta eyes. "Have you never doubted him? Never once thought that maybe this has been our plan the entire time? It's quite genius, but I can't say that I took part in this one. Yaboku truly isn't gone after all, he's simply been covered up by this false mask of 'Yato.' How spectacular."
Nora's palm fell away from the brunette, and as if that was the only thing keeping her stable, she then collapsed onto the ground in a heap of tumult. She knew she shouldn't have taken the stray's words to heart--hell, she shouldn't have even listened to anything that she'd told her--but she couldn't help but wonder if that was true. Had 'Yato' even existed?
Not giving up hope, Hiyori stood back up and shook her head violently. "No, Nora. You're completely wrong. I know Yato, and he's certainly not a fake cover. Yaboku is gone; face it and stop trying to mess with my head by lying."
"Hmm, you are rather smart. Smarter than I thought, at least. I guess I'll be on my way then, since you seem to know everything that's going on around here." Before the brunette could protest, the stray had walked out and locked her back in the cage, and she was left to worry about just how sure she really was about what she'd told the stray.
"I need your permission for something." A small figure stepped into the bright of a room with dirt walls and clay floors.
Another figure turned it's head from it's desk and sighed, clearly thinking that whatever the request would be that it would be a waste of time. "With what?"
The other figure looked around the room casually, eyes roaming from the boring brown walls to the almost identical flooring--or lack thereof. "I think it's time to begin initiating TDY."
The first silhouette rolled their eyes, turning back to the area they'd been working at. "And you think that's not what we're doing? I swear, if this is something utterly useless I'm going to--"
"Listen. I think... it's better if we notify Subject B of our intentions. I know you're going to disagree, but we could work this to our favor."
A scoff was heard. "And telling Subject B is just the greatest idea ever, huh? I knew I should've never allowed you to watch over them. I can't believe you've disappointed me so much."
The first figure flinched, but regained their calm and controlling demeanor. "We can tell Subject B these plans, slowly and painfully allowing one phone call a day, until Subject B is broken. After all, a broken Subject B is just what we need to complete TDY."
"You know how stubborn B is. It'll take quite some time to break them, and I want this to be over with as soon as possible."
The first shadow smiled. "Don't underestimate me. B's own thoughts, along with my inspiration, are breaking them. I can see it. If you allow this, the whole process can be sped drastically."
"I suppose. However, just because I allowed this doesn't mean that you're any higher up than me. Don't forget who the master is here."
"Of course." The first shadow then walked from the room, laughing their whole way out.
I'm so sorry that I haven't updated this in forever, life has just been super hectic and I have hardly had any time to do anything. :( Anyways, hopefully I can update more often now.
"Lucky day for you, Iki," Nora said, giving the girl an evil smirk. "Today's the day where you get to learn everything. Every single bit and piece to this plan that's been made."
Hiyori sighed as she watched the girl try to make her nervous by pacing around her. "C'mon, cut the garbage. I just want to know how long it's been, Nora."
The girl shrugged. "The only way to find out is if you listen to the whole story."
"And why do you want me to know about your plans? Obviously they're not that important to you if you're only going to expose them all at once to me," Hiyori stated matter of factly.
Nora laughed coldly and met the brunette's magenta eyes once more, attempting to entrance her with the words that came from her lips. "Dear Hiyorin, do you have any idea why we may have taken you here? Do you know why we've kidnapped you to begin with?"
The brunette swallowed nervously and shook her head, not saying much of anything to the stray.
"You know, Iki, you mean a great deal to Yato. I'm not sure if you realize it or not, since you seem to be fairly dense when it comes to these sort of things, but he cares for you more than a friend would," Nora stated, smirking towards the girl. "And I'm sure you're aware that Yato is a rather selfless god when it comes to people he admires being in danger."
Hiyori stayed silent and tried to take long, deep breaths to calm down her racing heart.
Nora's smirk grew as she watched the brunette slowly begin to fall apart, and she knew that she'd done her job well. "I'm sure you can connect the pieces by now, right?"
After a few moment with no answer from the brunette, Nora began speaking again. "You're the final key. Whenever Yato comes to save you, he'll do whatever he has to to get you out of here, and we plan to use that to our advantage."
"He won't find me. You've even said so, yet you still believe that this absurd plan is going to work," Hiyori said gently, finding it difficult to find her voice.
The stray smiled and began straightening up the brunette's clothes, as if she were readying her for a party of some sorts. "Oh, but you obviously don't realize how simple our plan really is. It's actually quite easy for him to find you. You forget that we are the powerful ones here; we are the gods and the shinki. No matter what you may try to do, just never forget that we will always be more powerful than you."
Hiyori shook her head and spoke again, this time with a stronger voice. "You still haven't told me what you'd gain from this. I'm assuming you want 'Yaboku' back, is that all?"
"Yes, our main goal is to regain Yaboku, however, with our plan, we might also gain another stunning prize, perhaps even the blond blessed vessel," the stray said mockingly, bending down to where the girl was crouching on the floor.
The brunette, however, was tired of the regalia's games. "And who's 'we'? You've told me that you're the only one down here with me, but obviously that's a lie since you've been speaking as if there are others here."
Nora smiled and stood up, slowly making her way towards the exit, but not fully leaving yet. "Oh my, it seems that's all I can tell you. Don't worry, though, you'll find out within enough time, precious Hiyori, and whether you like it or not, you will be the ultimate cause of Yato's demise."
Yukine sat and watched the old TV in the living room for what felt like the thousandth time, thinking that this would be yet another hopeless endeavor. "Kofuku, there's seriously nothing on the news about her anymore. I think we would do better if we just kept going out like we used to."
The pink-haired god shook her head towards the blessed vessel, still not fully looking away from the dinner she was trying to prepare. "Yatty went out with Bisha and a few others an hour ago to search for her. We don't need to intervene right now, there's a better chance that we'll see something that will help us here."
The blond sighed and nodded, knowing that it was pointless to attempt to argue with the god. "You told him to call us if he found anything, right?"
"Of course," the god stated, "they said they would send one of Bisha's regalia to notify us."
"Okay, good," the blond replied, beginning to pay deep attention to the local news station once more.
Just as the blond began to grow bored of the repetitive stories he'd seen for the past few hours, a picture of the girl he so greatly missed appeared on the television. Now realizing that the TV was too quiet to be heard, he quickly snatched the remote and turned the volume up until it was loud enough to be heard from anyone who would decide to pass by on the street.
"Kofuku!" the blond shouted, pointing towards the bright screen and gaining the god's attention.
"Now, Jai will tell you the newest updates on the missing Iki girl. Jai, what do you have for us? Has she been found?"
"No, I'm afraid she has not. Just to recap for anyone who hasn't already heard the tragic story, the mother of young Hiyori Iki called the police department early one morning about two months ago. She reported that her daughter was missing. As they began to search through the house for any clues of her whereabouts, they discovered that nothing was amiss, and that everything was normal, other than the fact that the teen was missing. Since then, no one has reported seeing her or of finding anything that would aid us in our search. It's almost as if she's vanished from the face of the earth."
"Wow, anything else, Jai?"
"Yes, actually there is. With the area's law enforcement code, it seems that the search for the girl will be held off soon. I was contacted by the head police chief earlier this morning and he said that he would be notifying the family and friends of the girl that they would have to tone down their searching due to other cases of more importance. While this is a rather somber decision they've had to make, they've advised citizens to keep an eye out, but they currently don't believe that the girl will be found."
"Kofuku, they're giving up! They don't even think she's alive anymore!" Yukine yelled, frustrated tears pooling up in his amber eyes. "They can't do that! I know they've barely found anything, but they're still trying to help!"
The purple-eyed god took a shaky breath and picked up the home phone that was on their kitchen counter-top. "I'm calling Yatty."
Yato sighed and looked at the area around him, seeing that many of Bishamonten's shinki were looking around in the wooded forest. "Okay, everyone. We've covered the vicinity and have found nothing. I think it's safe to say we can head to another area."
As the horde of godly citizens began making their way back to the sidewalk, the blue-eyed god felt his old phone ringing in his back pocket. When the group ceased walking and awaited further instruction from the raven-haired male, he simply beckoned for them to go ahead. "I'll catch up."
He put the red cellphone to his ear, and his eyes began to grow wide as he listened to Kofuku. "They what?" he asked, slowly becoming more and more pissed off.
"The police had officially given up on looking for her, it was just on the news. They've advised for citizens to keep an eye out, but they don't even have the slightest bit of hope that she might be alive."
The deity's blue eyes narrowed, but before he could spout some angry protests and complain about how terrible some humans could be, a certain blonde placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'm assuming from the look on your face something's wrong."
"Kofuku, we'll be there in a few minutes," he said, then hanging up on the pink-headed god.
Bishamon's eyebrows raised and the blue-eyed god began to explain. "The fucking police aren't searching anymore. They've already gave up on searching for Hiyori, which just shows how shit most of the people in this damn world are. Not to mention that no one even thinks she's fucking alive anymore."
The purple-eyed god sighed and shook her head. "Well, it's expected of them. After all, we've concluded that the girl isn't somewhere that humans could see, so why would they continue their searching when it's obviously pointless? Just because they're giving up doesn't mean we are."
"Ah, fuck. The damn fools have probably already contacted Mrs. Iki. I'm going to have to call her and explain all this bullshit to her." The god pulled his phone back out of his pocket and began dialing the older woman's phone number.
After explaining the situation to Hiyori's mother, who was in hysterics when Yato called, she had calmed herself down and had regained hope for her daughter's return. Yato, however, was still pretty angry about the given up hope from the citizens.
"Calm yourself, Yato god," Bishamon said, trying her best to be patient with her ex-enemy. "Hiyori will be found, we just have to be patien-"
"Vina!" Kazuma shouted, urging the blonde god to approach the area where many of her shinki were surrounding something. "Come quickly! We've found something!"
The two gods began rushing towards the shinki, who parted so that the deities could see whatever had gained all of their attention.
Of the list of things that either of the gods were expecting to see, a seemingly homeless man was not what they thought of.
The man was wearing dirty, dusty clothes that were stained brown from being surrounded by dirt for a period of time. His hair was matted and covered with huge clunks of dry soil, and it was covered in so much of it that you could only barely tell that this man had blond hair. There were large bags under his eyes, and he looked as if he hadn't slept in several years. His features were old with exhaustion. While all of these things were mildly alarming, the most concerning thing about the man was that he looked at the many people around him in an odd way, as if he hadn't seen another person in an eternity.
"What the hell?" Yato questioned as he gazed at the strange person.
"Everyone, I need you all to back up. We don't know who this man is, and I'm not sure how he can see us like this," Bishamon said, causing her regalia--excluding Kazuma--to step back two or three paces.
The blue-eyed god approached the man. "Who are you?"
"The girl! You have to save her! I... I don't know where I was, but... it... it was over there! I don't know how I escaped... I don't remember much of anything... But the girl! You have to go save her!" The man pointed off into a direction that was farther into the woods, and while many of the shinki were confused as to where that would lead them to, the gods, Kazuma, and Kinuha knew exactly where the man had directed them.
"The Underworld," Kinuha said, speaking the words that were in the two gods' minds.
Double update! Hope you enjoy!
Chapter 9: Risks
"Do you think he's talking about Hiyori?" Kazuma asked, looking at his blonde god expectantly.
Bishamon shrugged and looked towards the direction of the entrance to the Underworld. "That's what I would think, but I can't be sure. The psycho didn't say much about whoever the girl is."
"It's Hiyori," Yato stated bluntly. "I'm going. If Kofuku or anyone asks where I am, you know what to say."
Before the blue-eyed god could walk back into the woods, Bishamon grabbed his shoulder and held him sternly. She narrowed her eyes at the god as she spoke. "How do you know it's her, and where the hell do you think you're going? Going into the Underworld without a shinki is just asking for death. If there's anyone who knows how bad Izanami is, it's you, so think about what you're doing before you act, unless you want to die before saving her."
Yato sighed and ran his hand through his raven hair. "I'm not taking Yukine down there. It's too dangerous. And trust me, I just have this strong gut feeling that she's down there."
"And if she isn't, you're going to risk your life for nothing," the blonde god said, sighing deeply and reading her palm to her face momentarily. "This is really sad to say, but this is one of the dumbest things you have ever even thought about doing, and you've tried a lot of stupid things."
The blue-eyed god rolled his eyes. "I'm not fucking around. I'm not taking Yukine down there. Yes, I've seen what Izanami is capable of, which is why I'm not taking him."
"Then you aren't going down there alone. It's far too dangerous. How many times must we tell you this?" Kazuma said, butting into the conversation.
"To risk my life for her sake, even if it ends up being a lost cause, is the most honorable way I could leave this world, and you have no right to keep me from doing so," the deity said, his blue eyes staring straight into his acquaintances' orbs. "Now, I don't know about you, but there are some people who I'd be ecstatic to die for, so please stop trying to convince otherwise."
The blonde god took her hand away from the raven-haired deity's shoulder and watched as he made his way into the forest. "I'll stop arguing with you, but it'd at least be wise to say farewell to Lady Kofuku and your blessed vessel."
The god turned around and sighed. "Fine, but only because there's a high possibility that I may not make it out alive."
"You're what?! No, Yato. I'm your exemplar and I say no. You have to at least bring me," Yukine argued, watching his god's blank expression that he knew all too well.
Kofuku and Daikoku sadly watched as the two males fought over the inevitable situation.
The deity slowly shook his head, seeming to not have enough energy to put up much of a fight with his regalia. "I'm not taking you. It's too dangerous for you in the Underworld."
"So now I'm too weak to go to the Underworld? Is that why you didn't take me when you went the first time?" Yukine yelled, his voice hot with anger and frustration.
Yato's eyes widened at the blond and irritation bubbled up inside him. "I didn't take you because I didn't want you to get hurt! I was trying to protect you!"
"And it's my job to protect you, Yato! You keep forgetting that I'm the regalia here; I'm the protector, so stop acting like you have to take care of me!"
"Well, I'm sorry that I fucking care about you and don't want to see you get hurt or possibly die!" Yato screamed.
The regalia was stunned for a few minutes, but eventually found his words once more. "You see, that's how I feel about you. I don't want you to die alone for Hiyori. I'm her friend too, and I want to go down with you if you die so she can live. At this point you're both family to me, and I'm going to do whatever I have to to protect my family. You can either allow me to go with you, or I'll find my own means of getting into the Underworld. Me staying here while you risk everything for her isn't an option, and it never was."
Silence filled the area for a long while, but the blue-eyed god eventually broke it as he sighed and spoke. "Get ready, we're leaving no later than tomorrow morning."
Yukine nodded towards his master and marched off to his bedroom to ready himself for their expedition to save their best friend.
"Please, try to be careful, Yatty," Kofuku begged, jumping up and catching the two in a group hug.
Yato sighed and stepped back from the god's embrace. "I will, but don't expect me not to sacrifice myself if Hiyori's in danger."
The pink-headed god nodded and wiped a few tears from her cheeks, giving the two a somber smile. "I'm not asking you not to. Just... try to bring all three of you home safely, okay? I really miss when we could be happy together and didn't have to worry so much. It feels like she's been gone forever..."
Daikoku wrapped an arm around his lady's shoulder and rubbed small circles on her back. He turned to Yato, and his eyes watered as he began speaking. "Whatever you do, make us proud. Make her proud."
The blue-eyed deity took a shaky deep breath and smiled at the two for what might've been his last time, knowing that he would--no matter what--make Hiyori proud... even if that meant that she would forget him as he faded away into nothingness.
"Yato, are we almost to the entrance? We've been walking forever..." Yukine complained, groaning as his feet began to grow numb from overuse.
The god sighed and nodded, pointing about twenty to thirty-five feet away. "The opening is right past those trees. We'll have to turn to the left to see it, though."
When the duo reached the entrance to what looked like a normal cave, they stopped and simply stared on into the pitch black abyss that made up the cave's insides. Neither of them spoke for a few moments as their minds were filled with many worries.
There was always the possibility that this was a wild goose hunt, which was one of their more mild anxieties. There were higher chances of the two failing to save their brunette friend, or--worse--failing to make it out with everyone alive. Yes, the group had faced death many times before, but something about this time was different. It seemed as if the odds really weren't in their favor for this round, and both of them felt it.
However, they knew that they had to get going soon, for sitting outside of the Underworld's entrance and only looking at it wouldn't get their best friend back.
With a deep sigh filled with apprehension and uncertainty, the blue-eyed deity finally figured that they had wasted enough time already. "Yukine, I want you to be careful. I know you're already aware of how insane it is in here, but I don't think you're really going to get it until you see it. I'm going to try and keep you transformed--because trust me, we're going to need full protection--but if... something bad happens, I want you to haul ass to Bishamon. Don't try to go save Hiyori on your own, whatever you do. A shinki alone down there might as well be a blind mouse surrounded by cats."
Yukine gulped audibly and furrowed his eyes towards his master, a question obviously on the tip of his tongue. It took him a couple minutes for his words to function, and when they did his voice was incredibly shaky. "Y-Yato... if something... bad happens, am I going to become a nora? Who's going to save Hiyori if w-we can't?"
Yato took a long breath and stared straight into his vessel's eyes, signifying the importance of his next words. "If I go down, I'm going to release you. And then I want you to go find Bishamon and let her name you, even if you have to beg her to. She's the only other god I know that's badass enough to continue wherever I leave off. If we can't save her, she'll be able to."
The two exchanged a look containing many emotions, and they consecutively wished one another luck, and hoped that the gut feeling they both had for inevitable failure was false.
"Are you ready?" Yato asked, giving his regalia a weary smile.
The regalia scoffed and shook his head, trying to take on a better attitude in hopes that that may alter their performance in the seemingly impossible mission. "As ready as I can be. I don't think anyone's truly ready for what's in this type of hell."
"Fair enough," the god replied, hesitantly looking at his blessed vessel. He raised his arms and held them in the air, much less firmly than ever before, and opened his palms, readying himself to be responsible for the life of his loyal shinki. "Come, Sekki!" he shouted, causing the blond to turn into the signature double blades with handles wrapped with old, white cloth that felt so familiar to the deity.
Yato slowly began pacing towards the entrance to one of the few places he'd vowed to stay away from, his hands sweatier than ever before. In an attempt to lighten the nature of their life-or-death rescue, he laughed and said, "I hope you can bear my infamous sweaty hands today."
The regalia only rolled his eyes and smirked. "You know, I think I'll be able to handle them for now... Blech! But they're definitely thirty times worse than normal. I still think you should see a doctor about that."
"I will if we make it out alive," he said, suddenly changing the tone of the conversation back to something serious.
The god stepped up until he was five feet away from the opening of the realm controlled by Izanami. A soft breeze blew through the trees, carrying a scent of lavender with it, and the sun decided to exit from it's cloudy facade just long enough to make the area seem paradoxically tranquil. However, the two were too keen on what the Underworld was really like.
"Yato, you know we have to get down there as quickly as possible. Don't forget about Hiyori," the blond shinki gently reminded the deity.
The said god nodded and took a deep breath as he looked around himself, attempting to savor the way it felt to be a part of the world; attempting to memorize what every tree looked like and what fresh air smelled like, because who knew when he would be able to experience it again?
Knowing he was partly stalling and partially preserving the memory of the outside world, Yato realized that he was out of time. It was time to put them to the test, to see if they could really save their precious Hiyori.
Yato gave his natural surroundings one last glance and muttered, "Goodbye. If I find myself lucky enough to survive this, I'll cherish every day of my life on this planet... Somehow, I've lost that over the years."
Finally, the god stepped into the entrance of the Underworld, only glancing back once to refresh his already diminishing memories of what life looked like. He confidently walked into the realm, only barely jumping when a heavy stone door came crashing from the roof of the area to trap them inside.
The deity then walked forward into the hell-like location, no signs of further hesitance despite the fact that he knew this would probably be his last task before he vanished from the face of the earth without a trace.
Unbeknownst to them, as the two made their way farther into the Underworld, nature seemed to weep for their misfortune as the perfect blue sky turned grey with clouds, and rain fell down like a large, endless bucket of water was being poured from the sky.
It looked as if even nature were preparing for their death.
Chapter 10: Reunited Temporarily
As soon as Hiyori had awoken she knew something was off.
As if the feeling in the pit of her stomach hadn't already hinted towards one of the brunette's greatest fears, the nostalgic scent that she could pick up (despite the object producing it being quite far away) was one she could never forget.
The brunette took a deep breath and tried to calm herself before the tears could fall from her face. Oh, please, please, please. Yato, go back. Turn around. If there's any possible way you could be hearing me right now, then turn around.
The girl scolded herself for being so foolish and decided that she would just have to hope that the god would be found by her before Nora could get to him. Although it was simply wishful thinking, there wasn't much more she could do to protect the god.
If only I had my phone, then I'd be able to call Yato and tell him to turn back, the girl thought, yearning for her long lost belongings.
She took a deep breath and composed herself, getting ready to look out for the blue-eyed deity and his double-bladed shinki.
"This is ridiculous," Yato stated, groaning as he gazed at the many passageways that surrounded him. "I swear there weren't this many paths last time..."
Finally following his gut and following the tunnel to his far left, the blue-eyed god noticed that his regalia had been awfully quiet throughout their--so far--clueless escapade. "Yukine, what's wrong?"
The blond stayed silent for a few moments as he furrowed his brows, obviously deep in thought. "Don't you think it's strange that we haven't seen any of Izanami's servants? I remember you and Bishamon both said that there were an absurd amount of them down here... Now that I think about it, we haven't even seen any ayakashi."
Yato paused and sighed, using the back of his palm to wipe a drop of sweat from his forehead. "I've noticed that too. There are two main possibilities that I've thought of... Either we've just been very lucky, or someone's with Izanami. If she has someone who's vowed to stay with her, then she typically has her servants and the surrounding phantoms alongside her."
"But who would be crazy enough to stay down here?" Yukine asked. "This is pretty much just hell."
The deity shrugged, his blue orbs narrowing. "Only a complete idiot would promise to be companions with her."
A few moments of silence passed as the god started walking again, but it was cut short by his blessed vessel.
"Yato, do you have any idea who may have kidnapped Hiyori?" the blond questioned, raising an eyebrow expectantly towards the deity.
The god sighed once more and looked at his regalia who was in weapon-form in his palm. "I... have a few ideas. I'm really hoping it isn't who I think it is, though... I really don't feel like dealing with their bullshit again."
The regalia nodded and stayed quiet once again.
What felt like hours passed and the duo had considered that they'd made hardly any progress. It seemed as if they were only circling through the same exact tunnels over and over again, and before long they found that the complexity of the cave-like structure had began to manipulate their thought process.
"I'm pretty sure we've passed that same weird-looking stone six times now," Yukine warned, taking a deep breath in attempt to refresh his mind. "This is hopeless. We've made turns that aren't even in the original tunnel, yet we still end up in the same exact areas."
Yato sighed and leaned against a stony wall, deciding that it'd be best if they took a short break to try and clear the fog and confusion that was clouding their sense of direction. "Revert, Yukine," he said, causing the two swords he held in his hands to transform back into the blond teenager.
"I thought I wasn't supposed to be out of my weapon form?" he asked, staring up at his master in perplexity.
The raven-haired male let out a low grunt and cursed himself for forgetting his original plans. These passages really were getting to him. "Ah... I'm sorry. All of a sudden I'm just very exhausted, and I figured you could stretch your legs for a bit too. Just make sure to be ready if something starts to happen."
"Okay, Yato," the blond replied, nodding.
Once again the two sat in silence, neither finding anything to say.
Finally, the god began muttering, just loud enough for the blessed vessel to be capable of hearing. "I don't know where to go. I just feel so lost that I can't make sense of where we are. I'm sorry, Yukine..."
The said shinki shrugged. "It's okay. I think if we just take a break for maybe ten minutes or so then we'll be able to understand better. We're just overly stressed and it's covered our mindset."
The regalia then moved to join the god in lying against the wall, but when he leaned on a certain chunk of particularly spiky stones, a loud sound erupted from behind him, and the two quickly hopped away from the wall just in time for it to crumble into several pieces of rock.
"What the fuck?" the god exclaimed as he watched the last few particles of the previous structure fall to the floor.
Very cautiously, the male began climbing over the hunks of debris, hoping that he wasn't just imagining the small beam of light that seemed to burst from a tiny hole in the scattered boulders.
"Yukine, get up here and help dig these rocks off," the god commanded as he began lifting huge pieces of stone and moving them out of their way.
The shinki did as he was told, and within ten minutes the god and his regalia found that the wall collapsing had worked greatly in their favor.
Hidden behind the rickety structure had been another passage that seemed to run deeper down into the earth, and both the males had a feeling that this was where the captured prisoner would be.
"Come, Sekki," the deity guided once more, finding his trusty katanas back in his palms in mere seconds. "Be cautious. I don't have a good feeling about this."
He gazed about himself momentarily, noticing that the only difference between this passage and the others they'd been in was that there were lamps hung on the sides of the cave, lighting the way for someone or something that had decided to reside here. Those definitely weren't here before. That's got to be something her captor did, Yato thought.
The god wasted no time in tracking down the tunnel, his feet only hitting the scattered rocks that made up the ground for seconds before picking them up once more. The luck with the fallen wall had given him a new energy, despite having little to no sleep within the past few months, and had filled him with a new confidence. In short, his hopes had been revived.
After more hours of seeing the same stony surroundings, the regalia and his master were more than ecstatic when they came upon rows and rows of prison-like cells, which were most certainly of no use to the god that called this her home.
"Yato, what is this place?" Yukine asked, his eyes widening as he stared at the chains. "It's almost like a gigantic torture chamber..."
The deity's brows furrowed as he tried to come up with an explanation that would make even the slightest bit of sense, and he groaned lightly when he found none. "I don't fucking know. We don't really have time to be worried about it. Finding Hiyori is our priority right now."
"Okay," the blond replied, waiting a few seconds before asking another question. "Can you please revert me? I want to help look for Hiyori too."
The god only shook his head, giving the shinki a stern glance. "Not yet. Someone could attack you if I turn you back right now. Just wait until we leave."
As the area fell silent again, Yato started walking down one side of the cells, looking into each and every one of them before walking forwards, being sure that he didn't miss the brunette anywhere. "We're going to look through every damn one of these until we find her, no matter how long it'll take."
Hiyori's heartbeat raced as the intoxicatingly familiar scent began to drown her lungs, and she knew that she was too late. Yato was going to show up and then Nora and whoever she was working with--if there even was anyone else--would strike.
Damn it, Hiyori. Figure out something! she thought, cursing herself for allowing the raven-headed god to come find her.
There had to be something she could do.
She knew that he definitely wouldn't listen to her if she told him to abandon her here, no matter what she'd say the reason would be, so that was out.
The brunette scanned her brain for answers, hoping that something--anything--would appear to her. There had to be another way.
The girl felt hot, frustrated tears fall from her cheeks as she felt herself losing hope. Her mind had provided her with no proper ideas--it only began to picture every single tragic ending to their existence possible.
Luckily--or maybe not so luckily, in some cases--the shadow of a man with a pair of swords in his hands had began to approach her cell slowly. However, the brunette's vision was blurred by tears, making it nearly impossible to notice her best friends' arrival.
"Wait, what's that noise? Yato, is that crying?" The blessed vessel immediately began searching the premises as the unknown noises became louder.
The god paused and listened to the noise very intently, hoping that he would be able to gather some sort of idea of where it was coming from.
Without speaking, Yato rushed down the long corridor, perplexing his regalia. Although he was utterly confused with his god's decisions, Yukine kept quiet for the sake of still being able to hear the crying sound.
"Yukine, revert," he said hastily, leaving his regalia to run after him down the hall.
Although the blond would normally chastise the god for such behavior, he was far too intrigued by Yato's actions to complain about it.
The god's eyes widened as he gazed in between the black bars, and he felt a sole tear run down his face.
He stared at the brunette in awe, noticing how thin she was; how matted and filthy her brown locks were; how she was wearing the same uniform she'd been wearing when he'd seen her last; how pale and fragile she looked. He felt like tackling her into a warm embrace, but worried that he might break every bone in her body by only touching her.
"Hiyori," the god whispered, his voice giving out. He couldn't bring his gaze away from her as emotions began to overrun him--sadness, guilt, and anger.
The brunette looked up at the god, her eyes tearstricken. Her own thoughts were paradoxical--she was so happy that he was there, so relieved that her god of fortune had rescued her, but she also was aware of the dangers he was going to face. Him being here was dangerous.
"Yato, I know you aren't going to listen to me, but you need to leave. Nora... she's planning to attack you and Yukine. I was just bait for her to defeat you. I'm so sorry," she gushed, tears falling faster.
The blue-eyed god sighed and shook his head, knowing that his previous hopes for who her kidnapper was were pointless. "Fuck, I was really hoping things wouldn't be this complicated... Hiyori, I don't care what Nora said about me dying; our main goal right now is to get you the hell out of here. How do you unlock this cage?"
Hiyori brushed the tears from her face and looked around, hoping that something that would resemble the key the stray used would be there. "Nora uses a key to unlock it, and it looks like we weren't lucky enough for her to have dropped it nearby... I don't know. Can you pick locks, Yato?"
He smirked and turned towards Yukine, calling him to transform once again. "Only if you count this as lock picking."
The god raised one of the blades high above his head, bringing it down sharply on the gate of the cage.
Hiyori stood back and watched as the lock and many pieces of the door shattered and fell to the floor in metal bits. "I think that can count," she teased, her mood improving just from being around the dark-haired deity and his blond blessed vessel.
The brunette then cautiously walked out of the cell and towards her friends, catching them in a long hug as soon as she could. "Thank you for coming to save me."
Yato stepped back and gave the girl a confused look. "You don't have to thank us for saving you, it's what friends do. Anyways, we really need to get out of here before someone catches us."
As the trio were preoccupied with trying to assist Hiyori in beginning to escape, none of them noticed the infamous black-haired girl and another not-so-familiar figure enter the room.
"Oh, you don't have to worry about getting caught," Nora said mockingly. "We knew you would be here. As a matter of fact, we knew exactly when you approached the entrance to this realm."
The three turned around to see the stray and another figure that Yato was not happy to see.
His eyes widened and he tried his best not to grip Hiyori's arm too harshly. He gave the auburn-haired man a look that could kill, and tried his best to stay composed as the anger he held for the man who called himself the god's father pulsed through him. "You bastard."
Fujisaki, as he liked to call himself, gave his 'son' a far too kind-hearted smile, obviously belittling the deity's abilities. "Hello, Yaboku. It's been a while, hasn't it?"
Chapter 11: Inevitable Demise
"Leave Hiyori the fuck alone. She has nothing to do with us," the blue-eyed god said, snarling at his 'father'.
Fujisaki only smirked and shook his head, wondering how foolish the mere trio truly was. "And you believe I just suddenly forgot about her little threats at the school? Really, she's the one who involved herself with us. She just had to impulsively go run her pretty little mouth to me. You'd better be thankful that Mizuchi was kind enough to insist on keeping the mortal alive. If it were up to me, she'd have been dead long ago."
The stray gave the visitors a warm smile, as if she thought she had actually done them a favor. "You're welcome."
"Sekki," Yato called, regrettably having to leave Hiyori wobbling behind him as he stood in front of her, keeping his promise to everyone. He would get her home--no matter what happened.
The auburn-haired male stood still and furrowed his brows at the god's actions, trying to seem as innocent and naive as possible. "Yaboku, why are you equipping yourself with your vessel? I just want to engage in a nice conversation with the three of you."
"Sounds like bullshit to me," Yukine stated, rolling his eyes in his weapon form.
Fujisaki then laughed maniacally, the sound sending shivers down the regalia's spine. "You're right, Yukine. I'm getting tired of this bullshit act of mine as well. It's time for a real fight. Unless, however, you want to give us what we want."
Yato's eyes filled with hatred as he listened to the man's pathetic attempt to get him to rejoin them. "I don't even want to hear any of it. Everything you've ever done for me was pointless. Putting up with all of those years of abuse--mental and physical--was wrong. You pushed me to kill innocent people. You raised me to think that it was okay, and if it weren't for the people I'm with now and Sakura, who--may I remind you--you viciously murdered, then I would still believe that it's right to kill. So no, I will not join your fucking selves again."
"I see," Fujisaki said, nodding at the god in approval. "Then there's no other choice for me. You've always been a pitiful waste of a wish--a pathetic excuse of a god. No one would miss you if you're gone. No one would remember if I suddenly happened to accidentally slit your throat... I suppose that's the option I have. It doesn't bother me, however. It'd be an honor to take you out. After "
Hiyori gently patted the god's back, trying to signify that she was wishing him luck without drawing attention to herself.
The god nodded and positioned himself in a stance that would keep the half-phantom safely behind himself if there was a sudden attack.
Fujisaki smiled eerily and pulled a huge sword that resembled the one Bishamon had from inside his jacket. He angled it many different ways before catching the light perfectly, and he looked at it with admiration. "Meet Toki; he's quite agile and intelligent. Definitely hafuri vessel quality... maybe even better than Yukine. I guess we'll find out."
The male quickly jumped forward and brought the gigantic blade down on the god, who luckily raised his dual blades to defend himself. Metal hit metal, and Yato hastily stepped back when he spotted Toki's edge slightly gaining the upper hand in the fight.
Yato gracefully brought Sekki towards Fujisaki's head, attempting to close the two blades around his neck.
The male, however, blocked the attack with his weapon, not appearing to care when seeing his enemy's swords overpower his own. "Toki, you'd better not give in so easily. You know how hard you practiced for this. Remember what I promised you if you defeated them."
Toki, who was a redhead who seemed to be around the age of fourteen, nodded her head and bared her teeth. "Yes, master. I won't let you down. I'll work not only to go back to my family, but out of my respect for you."
Yukine tilted his head at the others' conversation in confusion. "Yato, he's a human. How can he name vessels like a god?"
The deity took a deep breath and sighed. "I don't know everything. All I know for sure is that he's been messing around with some sort of craft. Somehow, he's been labelled as a godlike entity for centuries. He moves along from human to human, possessing their bodies until they die. Yes, he is only a human, but he doesn't have the normality of a human."
"Hmm, spilling my secrets, are we?" Fujisaki teased, readying himself for another attack. "That isn't very kind. You know what everyone says: 'Mind your own business.'"
The villain launched forward, and a thin slice was made on Yato's arm as he and his regalia weren't fast enough to protect themselves.
The god grunted at the pain and lifted his shirt sleeve to reveal a cut about as long as his forearm and as deep as a penny. "Fuck," he said, trying to cover the open, bleeding wound with his scarf which he took from his neck.
"Yato, are you okay?" Hiyori yelled out, voice filled with worry. She didn't move from her place against the wall, fifteen feet away from the fighting, however. The brunette knew that if she did, the god would be extremely pissed with her.
He nodded and dodged another attack from the fawn-haired male, finding that he was losing stamina very quickly.
Fujisaki noticed this too, and found that he would use his strongest attacks to defeat the deity.
He used all of his arm strength to bash the sword down on the god's head, but became frustrated when he was stopped by the blessed vessel. Fujisaki pressed the sword farther down into the regalia, hoping that he would be able to eventually break him. However, the blond was much stronger than he looked, and his blades began slowly tearing through the larger blade.
Knowing Toki wouldn't last much longer, the male retracted the vessel from the other and stepped back. He glared at the redhead and refrained from breaking her the rest of the way himself. "You bitch. You'd better fucking destroy him or I'll murder you and your whole family."
The girl nodded and placed her hand at the huge gape in her head, hoping that she would make it out of this fight alive.
Yato took the opportunity to swing his swords at the auburn-haired man, who wasn't paying attention to anyone but Toki. The shiny metal pierced through the leg of Fujisaki, and blood slowly began pooling from the dense cut in the flesh.
Father's eyes narrowed at the god and he leapt forward again, sword meeting swords once more. Sparks flew from the weapons, but no one was directly impacted from the hit.
Both of them stepped back and slashed their swords at one another over and over again, until they realized that their plans for war would have to alter. They were using the same strategy--just hitting whenever they felt like it--and it was proving ineffective.
Yato decided to block the opponent's attacks like before, but didn't keep the weapons above his head for as log as he had before. Instead, he began attacking directly after blocking to attempt to catch the male off guard.
The swordfight continued with only minor injuries until Fujisaki had decided he was tired of playing fair.
The auburn-haired male watched as the god began to strike him, and as soon as the blades were seconds away from hitting him, he used his regalia to slap the handle of one of Yato's blades, sending it flying across the room violently.
Yato didn't even look over as he laid his hand out like normally would, signalling for the weapon to fly back into his palm. However, when there was no impact from the sword, he turned over quickly and found that the blade was trapped under a huge boulder.
The two began fighting ruthlessly once more, until the blond spoke out to his master in a breathless voice. "Yato, it's getting very hard for me to breathe. I think it's because half of me is under that rock."
"I'm trying, Yukine. I can't get over there right now, but I'll try to slowly get there soon," Yato said, frowning as the single sword he now held was slightly bending from the force of his opponent's titanic blade.
He stepped to the right some, which happened to be the direction where the other half of Sekki was, and took a moment to catch his breath. There wasn't long before another hit came from Fujisaki, however.
Yato slowly made his way towards the other katana, and when he finally was in arm's length of the sword, he quickly turned and picked it up as quick as he could've.
However, it wasn't fast enough.
The god gasped as he felt the enemy's weapon slice through his back, and he knew that the wound would leave a long, thick scar. He placed a hand under his shirt and touched his cold skin, and when he cared to gaze at his hand once more, he found that it was fully soaked in red blood.
Hiyori stood completely still when Yato turned his back towards her. Blood was seeping through his tracksuit jacket at an alarming rate, and the brunette had enough common sense to know that the severe injury would hinder his ability to fight greatly.
Yato turned and gave his best attempt at trying to hit the male, but he was far too slow, and the god soon found that another deep slice was carved into his right arm.
Fujisaki smirked as he noticed that the deity was slowly nearing his demise, his red eyes smiling at the thought of taking the useless deity out of the world. "Guess what, Yaboku? You don't have much time left, my son."
However, the god was unfazed by his creator's pitiful mocking. He ignored the almost-playful teases the other male made and continued attacking, launching Sekki towards Fujisaki several times in a row.
The god's blade made impact with his enemy's body many times, and when he stopped to take a breath, the auburn-haired man was gasping for air as he had long marks covering himself.
Fujisaki was enraged, and he ran towards the god as he slipped over his own two feet, finding the perfect opportunity to use his strongest hit.
Time seemed to pass by in slow motion as the giant sword was heading directly towards Yato's head. Knowing this was the end for him, he closed his eyes and awaited the impact from the attack.
Thinking that he'd had hid eyes closed far too long, the deity opened them just in time to see a flash of brown dash in front of him.
Suddenly, everything happened all too quickly.
Yato's eyes widened in shock as he watched Fujisaki's sword smash down onto the brunette.
Hiyori looked at her shoulder and gazed at the spreading red river that appeared through her shoulder before falling to the floor abruptly.
"H-Hiyori!" Yukine yelled, wishing desperately that he could have done something to protect the girl he had come all this way to rescue.
The god quickly croached and caught the girl, staring at her with horrific wonder. He opened his mouth to speak, but was too shocked to say anything.
"Yato... get Yukine out of here for me, okay? Become the god of fortune you've always wanted to be. Gain thousands of followers and dedicated worshippers like you said you would," Hiyori said, her voice barely audible.
As if he had just now processed everything, tears began slipping down the deity's face uncontrollably. "N-No! I... I can't make it without you, Hiyori! You were always there for me; you're the only reason I am who I am today. I-I'll get you out of here! You'll make it, we just have to hurry--"
"Stop being stupid," the brunette interrupted, frowning at the god. "I'm not going to make it. I'm only a human, remember? I'm not able to withstand the amounts of pain that you can... But, I want you to be happy without me. I want you to make it without m--" the girl was interrupted by a cough, and she pulled back the hand she used to cover her mouth to reveal blood on her palm.
Yukine began shaking his head, attempting to convince himself that the scene before him wasn't reality. "Don't say that, Hiyori! Y-You have to have hope!" The shinki's voice cracked as he started crying.
"No... it's not fair! We-we barely got to do anything together! We... we'll never go back to Capypa Land, and we'll never be able to go on another group vacation with Kofuku and Daikoku--and even the Psycho Bitch! I... I'm not even exaggerating. I can't make it without you, Hiyori." Tears were now streaming from the gods face as he held the girl in his arms, cradling her close, as if that would somehow keep her alive.
"Revert, Yukine," the god quickly whispered, realizing that the blond deserved to hold the girl in her final moments as well.
The blond rushed to the duo and joined their embrace, knowing that the brunette would soon be gone forever. He said nothing as he nuzzled against her, knowing that there was nothing he could say to make the situation better.
"Before I'm gone, I want you to know something, Yato," the brunette said, her voice becoming more and more inaudible.
The god gazed at the girl and nodded his head, already knowing what to expect from her. He knew what she was going to say, and it would stick with him forever. It would sting every time he would think of her now, and he couldn't help but wish that he'd acted sooner... It was far too late, now.
"I love you," she said.
She said those three little words that held so much meaning... enough meaning to destroy a god.
Yato felt the tears stream faster as he leaned down towards the girl and brought her into a closer embrace. He quickly pressed his lips against hers for a second, and although it was only a second, it was all the two needed.
"I'll never forget you, and I promise you that. Whenever I become famous like you said, I'll build you a temple. It'll be filled with statues of you and stories of our adventures together. I'll make it seem like you were the god, because to me, you were. And, no matter what, I will forever love you, Hiyori Iki. There will never be anyone else for me," the god declared, sensing that the girl's time in this form was limited down to minutes.
"I won't forget you either, Hiyori. I'll always remember how you taunt me to read and write, and how you saved me from becoming a phantom and killing Yato... You were my savior... You're the only reason that I'm still here. Thank you. Thank you so, so much!" Yukine burst into tears by the end of his ode, not believing that their time together was already going to be cut so short.
Hiyori smiled at the two and, knowing she didn't have much longer, gave them her last words. "Thank you. Meeting you was the best thing that happened to me, and I'm happy with the way I'm going to die. Thank you for accepting me and making me feel at home. You were a part of my family. Thank you."
The two watched as the girl they had gone so far to save gave them her last smile. They watched as her magenta orbs blinked for their last time. They watched as her chest moved with the last breath her living body would take. They watched as their best friend died.
No one moved for the longest time. Even Fujisaki and Nora, who was a bystander for most of the fighting, were oddly quiet.
Yato finally dropped the girl gently to the floor, wishing that he could just hold her forever; wishing that if he did, she would somehow find herself standing and laughing and talking to them once more.
He looked at the corpse of the who he loved and only fell back to his knees. He cried for so log over her, wishing that he had taken her place; wishing that he had been the one to die instead of her.
He sobbed loudly, not giving a damn about who happened to be listening to him. His whole body ached from the loss of his only love, and he knew that if he lived through this fight, he would never be the same. No matter what he thought Hiyori would want him to do, he would never be able to be the same quirky, funny, mainly-enthusiastic god of fortune he was before.
He knew that it would sting every time he would see something that reminded him of the brunette--it would sting much more than blight from any other regalia Yato had named.
He knew that the heartache from the loss of her would hurt him so greatly that it probably would have killed him, and that's why he didn't even move when he heard Yukine yelling out his name. That's why he didn't move when he heard the sounds of footsteps inching dangerously closer to him. That's why he didn't move when he heard the sounds of the stray's psychopathic laughter, which seemed to mock his very existence as it always had before.
That's why he didn't even blink when he heard the sound of a blade aiming straight for his head.
That's why he didn't even fight when his creator slit his throat.