Chapter Thirty: Rise:

February 10th, 1982.

Yumiko sat alone in a shed surrounded by cold darkness. The third son chained her to the wall last night. Yasuo and the second son beat her with big sticks for trying to escape once again. The final blow struck her so badly that she was out cold until this point. The injuries from last night joined the ones on her from the weeks of captivity. Dried blood coated her mouth and lower jaw. Her starved body did little to help her endure the daily abuse that her mother and brothers put her through habitually. She lost track of days and time in her prison of a shed. All she could think about was the pain and betrayal. How could her brothers do this to her? Her mother was one thing, but them both together? Yumiko didn’t care anymore; she just wanted her pain and suffering to come to an end now. The poor girl just wanted to die now.

The door creaked open and the girl tried to see out. A savior?, she thought. No, Yasuo and Haruka returned. Yumiko trembled in fear as Yasuo walked forward with a huge can of gasoline in his hands.

“Happy birthday!” he said in a cold mocking tone. Yumiko whimpered in agony as she struggled away from her oldest brother.

“No, no! Please! No!” she begged over and over again softly. Her pleas fell on heartless, deaf ears. Yasuo opened the gasoline and poured it all over her legs, arms, face, and stomach. Haruka stood back as her son lit the match.

June 19th, 2009.

Tsuzuki blinked in confusion. “What just happened?” he asked. Yasuo smirked at him.

“I siced Aki onto her,” he answered, “He used his teeth and claws to pin her to the ground. Now, he is draining the soul out of her body. Anna will be a dried corpse by the time Aki is done with her.” Tsuzuki glared at him.

“Bastard!” he barked. The Shinigami pulled out his fuda and prepared to attack. Yasuo snickered at him.

“Don’t bother,” he explained, “Outside attacks won’t work. The only way the spell can be broken is if the victim overpowers Aki before they die and my niece only has about…” The living old man looked at his black watch. “Fifty seconds,” he said. Tsuzuki glared at him as he clutched his fuda in grasp.

“Asshole!” the man barked. He turned back to Anna on the ground. She looked as if she was having a seizure to normal eyes. Only he and Yasuo could see the kitsune pinning her to the ground.

Come on Anna, Tsuzuki thought, Fight them! You have to survive for your father and aunts!

White noise greeted Anna as she slowly opened her eyes and looked around. She felt her body floating on her back in the middle of the emptiness surrounding her. She tried to lift her arm to no avail.

I can’t… move, she thought. The woman tried to piece together her situation.

Okay… I’m lying down in the middle of a white nowhere. I can’t move… Now what? A sharp pain shot through her chest. Her eyes widened in surprise as she winced. Thoughts raced through her mind.

I can’t breathe! What’s… happening… to… me? The pressure on her body was crushing her. I’m going to die here in the middle of nowhere. No one can save me; I’m just going to die here alone!

Anna-chan! Anna-chan! Anna-chan!

The woman tried to look up. No one was in sight. Who is that?

Anna-chan! Get up!

She tightly closed her eyes. But I can’t! I can’t move!

You have to! You have to fight!

Her eyes shot wide open with shook. Papa? Aunt Yumiko? Aunt Kirika? How do I get up?

Why do you fight?

Anna tightly shut her eyes. I… I…

The woman searched for the words in her mind. The pain spread from her chest to her lungs. She felt as if she was being torn up from the inside.

I don’t want to die! I want to live!

Then why do you fight?

I fight… I fight… Anna snapped opened her eyes. I fight to survive and keep myself together!

Aki was blasted in midair back over to his owner. The kitsune skidded across the pavement and hit his master’s feet with a thud. Both men looked up stunned. Yasuo went really pale.

“B-But… that’s not possible!” he shrieked as he stepped backwards, “She should’ve died by now! She doesn’t have the power to repel Aki so easily!” Tsuzuki said nothing as he saw Anna lying on the ground with her white wings. Her uncle picked up Aki and fled with a stronger hunger for revenge.

“I won’t let you off so easily, little lambs!” he shouted as he ran off, “I will be back to finish what I started!” He knew what to use for next time. The Shinigami raced forward and took Anna into his arms.

“Anna!” he shouted as he gently tried to shake her awake, “Stay with me, Anna! I’ll call for help!” He reached for his cell phone in his coat when he heard a single applause inches away from him. Tsuzuki looked up to see Emiko walking towards them clapping.

“Well done!” she cheered, “Beautiful, beautiful!” Tsuzuki glared at her.

“How long have you been standing there?” he asked in a hiss. The butch demon shrugged.

“The whole time,” she said something.

“You were there the whole time and did nothing?!?” he shouted.

“I wouldn’t have much help anyway, would I?” she asked. Tsuzuki looked away frustrated and turned back to Anna. She looked like she was in a rather calming dreaming state in his arms. Emiko cleared her throat.

“Anyway, Anna’s going to be fine,” the butch demon brushed off, “She just needs to sleep it off.” Tsuzuki looked puzzled at her.

“How do you know all of that?” he asked.

“She’s a strong woman,” Emiko broke down for him, “Her own strength is what pulled her out of Aki’s death trap. Lucky that she found it just in time; otherwise…” The butch demon shook her head to herself rather than finish her own sentence.

“How did she get out though?” Tsuzuki asked.

“Dunno,” Emiko replied with her eyes on Anna’s crumbling wings, “You’ll have to ask her when she wakes up. Right now, we have to get her inside for proper rest.”

“Right,” Tsuzuki said with a nod. They both took Anna into Kimoto Manor right away.

Tsuzuki, Hisoka, and the demons monitored Anna through the night. The wings on her back crumbled away within hours as she slept. Despite her borrowed life span being shortened for a second time, Anna looked like she would fully recover. Near sunrise, Tsuzuki came into the living room to check in Anna. He found Hotaru sitting next to her painting her nails in the dim lamplight on the side table next to her.

“Hotaru, what are you doing to her?” the Shinigami asked rather curious. The loli demon didn’t look up as she painted Anna’s left ring finger nail with blackish-blue nail paint.

“Just thought I’d give her something nice took look at when she wakes up,” she said before blowing on the nail, “Is that okay?”

“Ah,” Tsuzuki replied without much thought. Hotaru finished up the manicure and closed the nail polish.

“There,” she said once she gave all five nails on the left hand one final blow, “We just have to wait for her to wake up.” She and Tsuzuki turned back to Anna as she slept on the brightly colored couch in front of them.

By morning, Anna woke up to see Tsuzuki sitting by her side with a soft smile.

“Hey,” he whispered. The woman looked around with a blank stare.

“What happened? Where am I?” she asked. She looked at her hands and noticed her nails. “And who did this to my nails?” Anna asked.

“Hotaru,” Tsuzuki answered, “Your living room and you survived Yasuo’s attack.”

“Ah,” Anna said in a quiet voice.

“Speaking of which, how did you break the spell?” Tsuzuki spoke up. The woman thought about the best way she could answer.

“It’s hard to say,” she said as she tried to collect her thought, “It was like I didn’t want to die that kept me going.” Tsuzuki noticed Anna shuddering in her pause.

“What’s the matter?” he asked as reached for her hand. Anna looked up at him rather pale.

“While I was out, I saw how my aunts were killed,” she said in a slow cadence in her speech pattern. She trembled before speaking. Tsuzuki grabbed her hand as if to try and help her through. Anna swallowed and forced herself to keep going.

“Yumiko was burned and died of shock later that die,” she spoke, “Kirika was severely beaten and went brain dead in the hospital after nine days.” Anna felt her stomach turned as she fought down her sickness.

“That bitch! What a horrible way for somebody to die!” she cried, “She needs to pay for what she has done! I want… I want… I want to kill her!” Tsuzuki lightly took Anna into his arms. She went silent almost immediately.

“Shhh, it’s okay,” the Shinigami murmured as he held her tightly, “You will avenge your father and aunts soon. Don’t let your grandmother work you up. You’ll just play into her hands. Please don’t do anything rash, okay?” Anna said nothing and sighed against his chest.

“Fine,” she whispered.

“Very good,” he said softly in her hair. Tsuzuki knew that wouldn’t be enough keep her calm anymore. After all, the black pawn had already been moved for them in this unforgiving game.