Monday, July 9, 2012

Kaleidoscope, Ch. 4

Later, after the sun went down, Serenity slipped outside to Ratoshi’s backyard.  Kurama’s words from earlier that afternoon still echoed in her ears.  “You’ve been interacting with the Spirit World for a while now.  Who knows what kind of powers could be latent inside of you as a result?  I have a feeling that the ability to teleport is only the beginning.”
She stood in the middle of the lawn, staring up at the sky.  It was a clear night, cloudless and full of stars.  Okay, she thought, taking a couple of slow, deep breaths, where to begin…?  She was pretty sure she couldn’t force herself to trip on purpose to see what would happen.  But perhaps she could recreate a situation involving imminent pain.
She walked over to the nearest tree and began to climb, hoping that her idea would work.  She stood on a rather large branch high off the ground and bounced deftly up and down a few times.  Acting quickly so she wouldn’t have time to change her mind, she tossed herself downward, hoping to feel that sense of weightlessness from before…
A few seconds later, she was staring at the imprint she’d made in the soft ground, brushing dirt off her face and the front of her clothing.  “Brilliant idea,” she muttered to herself, wondering how exactly to proceed.
“It’ll come with time,” uttered a voice from above.  Serenity looked up and found Kurama, calmly perched among some sturdy branches right above her head.  Ratoshi Verdesca sat, smirking, beside him, her hand intertwined with his.  Blushing, her eyes pink with embarrassment, Serenity asked, “How long have you two been up there watching me make a fool of myself?” 
Ratoshi’s green eyes twinkled almost maliciously.  “Relax, Funaka…I’ve been watching you make a fool of yourself since the day we met.” 
“Shoo, Halfbreed,” Serenity retorted, rolling her eyes and motioning for Ratoshi to go away.
Kurama only chuckled softly.  Then, without warning, he flung something down at Serenity.  She staggered backward in an effort to avoid the projectile, but seemed to fall short of evading it.  Moments later, she was positioned on a branch not too far away from where Ratoshi and Kurama sat.  Folding her arms and glaring down at the thorny rose Kurama had just used as a dart, Serenity said, “When you told me this would come with time, I didn’t think you were planning on speeding up the process…”
Kurama smiled and jumped down from the lofty branches, still holding Ratoshi’s hand.  They landed lightly on the ground; Serenity followed suit and walked over to them.  “Don’t worry, it wasn’t premeditated.”  When he saw that Serenity’s eyes were tinged red with anger and her sullen expression hadn’t softened, he quickly changed to a lighter topic.  “The real reason why we’re here is that Ratoshi wanted to give you something.”
Ratoshi unwound herself from Kurama, reached into a pocket, and dropped a necklace into Serenity’s hand.  “I was going to give it to you a long time ago,” she said, “but you know how it is.  Things have been pretty hectic for a while now with reunion preparations.”  Serenity held the necklace by its golden chain, letting the scarlet, half moon shaped pendant on the end dangle before her eyes.  It looked like exactly the type of trinket Kurama would have stolen back when he was a thief in the Makai; it glowed magnificently in the moonlight.  As Serenity looked back at her friend and thanked her, Ratoshi motioned for her to put the necklace on, groaning and helping Serenity when she fumbled with the clasp.  The pendant came to rest below her collarbones and immediately grew warm, changing from scarlet to white.  All three of them watched as two wakizashi* appeared, one in each of Serenity’s hands.  The blades steadily glowed a pale blue with Spirit energy.  Serenity admired the swords, too excited to speak, her eyes golden once again.  “I know how much you love swords,” Ratoshi confessed, “so I figured you’d find this gift quite useful.”
Serenity nodded, looking down at the swords in her hands again.  “Thanks, Rato.”  She regarded both of her friends.  “I don’t think watching samurai movies is enough to say I’m a swordsman—er, woman—though.  Anybody want to help me start getting acquainted with these?”
Kurama looked at Ratoshi, whose shoulders hunched forward.  “Right now?  The two of us are tired…we were planning on turning in.”  She yawned as if for emphasis.
Serenity sighed and poked her lower lip out, pleading playfully.  “Come on, indulge me for a second.  Please?”
Ratoshi frowned and stood there for a second, thinking.  “Okay, Funaka, we’ll stay.  But I’m sitting this one out.”  She gave Kurama a peck on the cheek, strolled over to a fallen log, and sat down, crossing her arms.  “I guess you’re up, Fox.”
Kurama shook his head at his girlfriend as Serenity tossed a glowing wakizashi in his direction.  As he caught the sword by the hilt, he suggested some ground rules.  “Let’s make this easy.  Best two out of three kills.”  He stepped back until the distance between them was about twenty feet.  He then crouched into a wide stance, sword pointing straight in front of him.  Serenity felt she was being invited to strike first.  She took a few steps back, ran forward, and pushed off the ground with her sword raised over her head, closing the distance between herself and Kurama in midair.  He deftly blocked each of her subsequent attacks with his sword, his movements almost imperceptible.  When she finally jumped back a couple of yards to catch her breath, he smiled.  “You’re trying too hard.” Serenity heard Ratoshi cackle loudly and glared at her.  She barely had time to snap her head back and shakily parry a powerful blow from her opponent.  They struggled together for a few moments before one of Serenity’s knees lowered to the ground.  Kurama pushed her, and she fell on her back, groaning more in disgust than in pain.  He pointed his sword at her throat.  “Kill,” he muttered under his breath.  Ratoshi applauded with a smirk on her face.
Serenity got up, eyes red with anger and green with determination, lips pulled back in a snarl.  Note to self: NEVER let your guard down.  She took a minute to focus, then began to run toward Kurama.  He met her halfway, and they traded blows back and forth for a couple of minutes.  The sound of steel blades clanging against each other filled the air.
Flipping in the air to dodge a slash from Kurama’s sword, Serenity quickly took a few steps backward and tried to focus on teleporting.  She shut her eyes and jumped straight up as Kurama prepared to swing at her again, silently celebrating when instead of landing in her original position and relinquishing another kill, she landed some distance behind him.  As he turned around to begin another assault, she rushed at him with her sword pointed straight ahead, stopping only a few inches short of impaling him in the chest.  “That’s…a kill,” she said, her breathing ragged.
They separated and took up fighting stances once again.  Nothing, not even a blade of grass, seemed to move as Serenity and Kurama gazed at each other without blinking.  Each was so focused on the other, waiting for the first offensive move to be made, that neither one of them took in their surroundings.  As if on cue, they both lunged forward at the same time, swords meeting between them.  They both jumped backward and ran to attack each other again and again, falling into a certain rhythm; there was no sign that either would falter.
Sweat poured from Serenity’s forehead and neck.   She was concentrating so intensely on getting the winning kill that she didn’t notice that the amount of Spirit energy emanating from her sword—and coursing through her entire body—was steadily increasing.  Suddenly, Kurama jumped back, breaking the subconscious pattern they had set.  He was shielding his eyes as if momentarily blinded.  Now’s my chance!  Her eyes fully green now, she dashed forward, her weapon flashing beside her.  Trying her hardest to mimic the exact motions and mindset from before, she teleported directly behind her opponent and caught him in a tight sleeper hold with the blade of the wakizashi pressed lightly against his neck.  “Kill!” she growled huskily, pushing Kurama away from her.  He lost his balance and ended up in a sitting position on the ground.  Ratoshi ran over to him, helping him stand again. 
“Are you that happy you’ve won, Funaka?” Ratoshi asked, a sneer in her voice.  “You’re glowing.  Literally.”  It was then that Serenity looked down at herself and realized that her body was alight with energy.  The pendant hanging from the chain on her neck was a white-hot flame.  Without warning, as if overcome by what she saw, Serenity began to tremble, sinking to her hands and knees.  Her sword fell from her hands and immediately stopped emanating Spirit energy.  “Shut up…Halfbreed…” she managed before collapsing on the ground.

*wakizashi: a mid-length Japanese sword used by samurai

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