Kurai put his hand to Kage’s neck, trying to feel for a pulse; but there was nothing. He felt his wrist, still nothing. Kagekao was gone.
Kurai laid the body on the ground gently, and then stood up. He looked up at Scollex, his one remaining eye blazed with hatred. Scollex was silent, but then started to laugh; he laughing at his pain.
Rapidly unsheathing his claws, Kurai ran towards Scollex.
“お前殺す!!” (I’ll kill you!!) He snarled ferociously, but Scollex merely stood there; watching as the enraged demon ran towards him.
Then Kurai noticed something that he wished he had noticed before; there was something higher up in the tree that was near Scollex. There was a scroll attached to the tree. It seemed to be blowing in the wind, despite the fact that there wasn’t even a gentle breeze; the air was still.
Scollex still held Kage’s eye in his hand, he looked at it, and then to Kurai; showing it to him mockingly. Kurai snarled and ran towards him faster. Scollex dropped the eye and prepared to slash out with his claws.
Kurai pounced, but went past Scollex, and landed on the side of the tree. He climbed up the trunk swiftly towards the scroll. He reached out a clawed hand and snatched it off of the tree.
This particular scroll, unlike many of the others in the forest, still had kanji on it. Kurai ripped it in two quickly, and then dropped down to the ground in front of Scollex.
Quickly after the scroll was ripped, the kanji written on it began to fade. The kanji itself read ‘最大の恐怖’ (Greatest fear), but the symbols faded, and the scroll became like so many of the others; a blank piece of paper.
Kurai looked up at Scollex. Like the kanji on the paper, Scollex faded away into nothing. Turning, Kurai saw that Ascaris also faded away, along with the bodies of Yuki and Kage; and all the blood and gore on the ground. Within a few seconds, they were all gone; as if nothing had happened. The only evidence that it had taken place was the torn scroll, and the memory of the scene in Kurai’s mind.
Kurai threw the paper to the ground and leaned against the tree, trying to get the horrible images out of his head.
“くそ! Another one of his damn illusions!” (Shit!) Kurai hissed, breathing deeply to calm himself down. “It was all just an illusion. All in my head. Kage and Yuki are still alive and back home; it was just a mind trick!”
He got up from the tree and was silent to calm himself down. Then he looked out at the trees, searching for someone.
“ダラクマキモノ!!” (Daraku Makimono!!) He shouted out to the trees, but only to receive no response.
“オイ! おまえどこに-!” (Hey! Where are you-!)
“静かにして、おまえ.” (You be quiet.) A voice interrupted him. It was an odd voice, it kind of sounded like half a dozen people talking simultaneously but saying the same thing.
“ここに鋳るよ.” (I’m over here.)
“え？どこ？” (Eh? Where?) Kurai looked around, seeing no one.
Kurai looked over and saw something fall from a tall branch. As it floated down to the ground calmly, he saw that it was a scroll. On the scroll was ‘堕落巻物’ (Daraku Makimono) written in black ink.
The scroll landed on the ground, and underneath it shadows seemed to gather up. The shadows joined together, and then rose up from the ground; lifting the scroll. The shadows seemed like fog or smoke at first, but then turned into a somewhat solid matter. They formed into a tall shadowy being with pitch black skin. Kanji symbols were written all over his body in gold. He didn’t appear to have a face, as it was covered by the scroll that had fallen from the trees. From his back were two metal poles, from them hung two chains. Another chain was also wrapped around his body.
It was Daraku Makimono (Corruption Scroll), the forest’s only resident shinigami.
“こんばんわ、悪魔.” (Good evening, demon.) Daraku spoke in his odd voice, and then noticed who he was talking too. “あ、クライツメ、久しぶりですね.” (Ah, Kuraitsume, it’s been a while.)
“それです、ダラク.” (Yes it has, Daraku.)
“え、おまえの顔、何してた？” (Eh, your face, what happened to it?)
“死神と戦うした。” (Fight with a shinigami.)
“あ、それか；この意地悪死神、え？” (Ah, those bad-tempered shinigami, eh?)
Daraku paused for a moment.
“Enough of this small talk.” He muttered. “ここに何してるの？” (What are you doing here?)
“Speaking of what I am doing here,” Kurai turned to look at the place where he saw the illusion, “Are the illusion trap scrolls really necessary?”
“Yes; you know I enjoy my solitude. The scrolls keep people away.” Daraku looked at the torn scroll lying on the ground. “Quite interesting as well, I see that your greatest fear is that you won’t be able to protect your family; hmm Kuraitsume?”
“Yes . . . ” Kurai sighed, “I fear that that might be coming true.”
“But still. I don’t think you’ve come all this way just to discuss my methods of keeping out intruders. It’s been a couple of years since the last we’ve talked; am I to believe that this is just a casual visit?”
“No, it’s not.”
“Oh, so you’ve just come back to see your old friend Daraku Makimono for a favor? I see how it is.”
“I know, I’m sorry, it’s just that-”
“Hey, don’t worry about it Kurai. I know how it is; おまえの家族が重要.” (Your family is important.)
“ありがとう、ダラク.” (Thanks, Daraku.)
“So, what do you need?”
“I need you to make me a mask.”
“A mask? Simple enough.” He held out his hand. “I’ll need the blood though.”
Kurai took out a small vial of blood and handed it to the shinigami. Daraku looked at the blood, and then back at Kurai.
“I’ll have it in a few hours; stay in the area.” With this said he departed; melting into the shadows of the forest.
Kurai was left alone. He supposed he ought to find some way to pass the time; so he walked around. After walking a little ways; Kurai noticed that there was someone else there. Looking over, he saw them sitting on the ground with their hands covering their face.
This person was dressed in black with the hood up, and they seemed to be very frightened by something. Kurai walked over, staring at the person. Looking over to a tree in front of them; Kurai saw that there was a scroll on it. This scroll had ‘化け物’ (Monster) written on it. This person was probably seeing some horrifying creature created by their own deepest fears.
Kurai, taking pity on the person, reached over and tore the scroll in half. After the kanji had faded, the person looked up; confused at the sudden disappearance of the creature. Kurai noticed that they too were not human, but a demon.
The demon saw Kurai and grew frightened again, and fled. As he watched him go, Kurai thought about Daraku.
Daraku Makimono was an odd shinigami. While most of them, as shown by their name, enjoyed killing and taking other’s lives; Daraku was more of a neutral peaceful type. He was not hostile or malicious towards others, but enjoyed his own solitary lifestyle in the mountains. He had the ability to write something down on a scroll, and whoever ventured too close or if the paper was attached to them, would experience whatever was written. Mostly these visions were derived from the one’s own thoughts and beliefs, and they were the only ones who could see it; only them and Daraku. Although most of the time these visions were physically harmless, only mentally damaging, sometimes the vivid visions would drive the person to death one way or another. Daraku used this method to keep away humans, demons, and shinigami alike.
In addition to this, Daraku also was skilled in creating unique items. He could create a weapon or an item for a person that was uniquely tied to that one individual in some way. All he needed was a vial of blood from that person and he could make what they wanted.
Because of this, he was often sought out for by demons and shinigami who knew of him. Most of them were scared off by the scroll traps, but a few managed to reach him. Although he didn’t do this for just anyone; he mostly only did it for ones that he considered friends, or in exchange for something else.
Luckily for Kurai, Daraku considered him a friend.
* * *
After a few hours, Kurai was still waiting; walking around. Then he saw someone coming towards him; by the scroll on his face, Kurai could see from a distance that it was Daraku.
Daraku was holding something in his hand, a mask. The mask was blank, and was half black and half white.
“Here, the mask for your son.” Daraku handed him the odd mask.
“But, I didn’t tell you that-?”
“I can tell a lot from a blood sample, Kurai.”
“Ah.” Kurai looked at the mask forlornly.
“What’s wrong? Do you not like it?”
“No, it’s not that, it’s fine; it’s amazing. But there’s something else . . .” Kurai sighed.
“I can feel that you are going through a lot of mental anguish, Kurai. I wouldn’t mind talking about it with you; but I sense that there’s something greater you must attend to.”
“Yes, yes there is.” Kurai turned to head out of the forest. He turned to look at Daraku.
“さようなら、ダラク. ありがとう.” (Goodbye, Daraku. Thank you.)
Daraku Makimono bowed his head, Japanese custom, and then turned and disappeared into the forest.