Akagane blinked at me a few times, before he breathlessly exclaimed, "M... Mother is alive?!"
I recoiled a little guiltily, having assumed that he was not nearly so stupid. "Er, no, I mean she's a gho--"
"Aka-chaaan!" came a female voice from behind a tree. A woman who looked exactly like Akagane except a woman (so... exactly like Akagane) came running out, waving him down. "I'm so glad I finally found you!"
I stood dumbfounded as Akagane and the mystery woman tearfully embraced. Kogane, suddenly able to walk, jumped up and exclaimed, "Mommy! You're alive!"
"Yes, I have been alive this entire time," explained the woman who was apparently Akagane's mother. "I managed to survive the attack and have been living in secret ever since, hoping that someday I might be reunited with you."
I held up a quizzical finger. "Uh, didn't you say her head was bitten off? How exactly do you recover from something like that?"
Akagane's mother clasped her hands together and solemnly turned away. "Aka-chan, I never got the chance to tell you this, but I am actually... a wolf demon. And that means that you are also..."
Akagane stared at his hands and gasped. "I have always suspected that I was not human. Now I understand just how special and unique I truly am."
Hisui draped herself over him. "Yes, my mate, you are truly the most amazing, special, wonderful, attractive, intelligent, humorous, powerful, beautiful, talented, and gracious person who has ever existed. I live to be a symbol of your masculine dominanace."
Akagane bared his fangs, which he now had, and purred, "Then I shall bestow upon you the mating mark of my people so that it shall forever be known that your are my mate and no one else's."
"Ooh, I hope it turns me into a wolf demon, too," Hisui said. "Our relationship would just not be pure otherwise." And so Akagane carried her off to go do this "mating" thing that no one had ever talked about before.
I rubbed my arm and looked uneasily back at Akagane's mother. "Okay, so... you're a wolf demon, and apparently he's a wolf demon, too, despite having behaved and smelled exactly like a normal human up until now. It's great that you're alive and all, but, just... how? None of this makes any sense!"
"You can thank me for that!" came another voice. From behind the same tree, a girl looking to be about twelve or thirteen stepped out. Her hair was a shimmering silver, the long, silken strands fluttering in the wind and gently brushing over the pair of pink stripes that adorned each of her supple, lightly-blushed cheeks. Shining amber orbs regarded me intensely, briefly flashing crimson to indicate her capricious mood. She was adorned in a gorgeous flowing-- wait, why the HELL am I suddenly describing her like this?!
The girl padded lightly towards me, then declared, "I've been looking for you... Onii-chan."
Aaaand there went my brain. "Wh... what?! You're saying you're my... sister?!" I took a deep breath, not wanting to come across as excessively rude in the off chance this was actually true. "That would be great and all, but I absolutely don't remember my mother having any other children. And if you say she abandoned you or something, then that's just... so completely not something she would do."
The girl clasped her hands and nodded tearily. "Yes, I have had a very tragic life. My name is Bake-Yasha Tennou--" I'm sorry. "--and I am the daughter of Souzou Tennou. He killed my mother and kept me in his dungeon for years, torturing and brainwashing me." Okay, THAT I could believe. "He raised me to be an assassin so that I would someday hunt you down and kill you, but I used my powers to escape him."
The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Wait, where did this music come from all of a sudden?
Bake-Yasha continued her story, proclaiming, "I was so lost and alone once I escaped. I didn't have anyone who loved me and had nowhere to go. I was hated and rejected because I was Souzou Tennou's daughter, so I moved into the mountains and built myself an ice castle with my ice powers."
Let it go, let it go
I chucked a youki blast randomly into the forest to make the music shut up. Turning back to Bake-Yasha, I took a few more deep breaths to re-compose myself. "Okay... I really want to feel bad for you, honestly, but it just... nothing adds up! First, Souzou Tennou considers women inferior and executes any that are born on the mountain, so I don't understand why he'd keep you around. Second, I know you have no reason to know this at this point, but I've read ahead, and am sorry to say that it's VERY improbable that he had any other children. Third, he wants me alive in order to carry on his work, so there's no sense in training an assassin. Fourth, his major element is fire, so I don't get why you'd have ice powers. And lastly... what the HELL kind of name is 'Bake-Yasha Tennou'?"
Bake-Yasha put her hands on her hips and exclaimed, "Duuuh, it's because 'Tennou' is Souzou Tennou's last name, so that means it's my last name, too!"
I pinched the bridge of my nose. "No... no, it's a title, not a name. And masculine. You have a name meaning 'Lord Demon-demon'."
"Cool, isn't it?" she beamed.
Lacking the will to continue this futile discussion, I finally relented, "... Yes. It is very cool."
A few moments of silence passed between the two of us before she prompted, "So... feel free to fawn over me because of my tragic life."
"Oh yeah, that," I said, having completely forgotten about what she said. "You just... don't seem too terribly broken up about it. If you've already managed to overcome your tragic past on your own, you should be applauded, not further coddled."
Bake-Yasha puffed out her cheeks, then tossed a rosary around my neck and commanded, "SIT!"
I was immediately slammed into the ground face-first. I pushed myself up, my face still buzzing as I spat out a mouthful of dirt, and demanded, "Wh... what the hell was THAT?!"
"It's because you need to learn to be nicer to your sister! I'm the sweetest, kindest, most lovable person in the world, so you can't treat me like that," she chastized sweetly.
I sprang back up and attempted to remove the rosary, but found that some force was preventing me from doing so. Angrily, I pointed at her and demanded, "Look, you can't just--"
"SIT!" she shouted again, slamming me back into the ground. "Tee-hee, silly bake-inu."
Akagane reappeared, face positively glowing after his euphemism-laden mating session. "You should get along better with your sister, bake-inu. She is your family and is therefore allowed to endlessly harrass you without repercussion."
I extracted myself from the me-shaped crater in the ground again and whirled around. "Since when?! Didn't we have a long discussion about how I shouldn't be obligated to respect a terrible person just because we're related by blood?"
"Nope," said Akagane, conveniently forgetting about chapter 104 because it was inconvenient. "And I do not see how you could consider her a 'terrible person'. She is the sweetest, kindest, most lovable person in the world, after all."
"Hey!" exclaimed Hisui, suddenly a jealous bitch.
"But that's just based on her own claims! She hasn't demonstrated any of those qualities at all!" I shouted in exasperation. "Ever since she got here, she's done nothing but abuse me and fish for unearned sympathy."
"Just let it go, bake-inu."
Let it go, let it go
Urrraaaaaagh! KAZE NO KIZU BAKURYUUHA SANKON TESSOU!
I stood panting in the middle of the crater I had created. For the love of dog, she had to be one of the most aggravating people I had ever encountered.
Souzou Tennou suddenly descended from the air, smirking. "Hmph. So we meet again."
... You know, sad to say it, but I'd actually consider him a step UP.
Before I could say anything, Bake-Yasha appeared out of the debris and puffed out her chest. "I'm not afraid of you, Ten-chan. I've become much more powerful than you now!"
"Ah, I see you have returned, my little assassin. Excellent. Now hand over the bake-inu." Uh, they do realize the only one who calls me "bake-inu" is... oh, forget it.
Bake-Yasha clung to me and exclaimed, "No! He's mine! I won't let you have him! I will fight beautifully to the death to save everyone!" You go right ahead.
And so Bake-Yasha and Souzou Tennou had a huge and spectacular battle that I didn't really pay attention to since I was busy making sure that Akagane and Hisui weren't hurt by my prior outburst. Kogane and Akagane's mother seemed to have vanished from the face of the story, however.
But, alas, Bake-Yasha was struck down, and she fell gracefully from the sky in slow-motion while everyone else called out and wailed. Souzou Tennou knelt before her broken body and cradled her in his arms, shouting to the sky, "My beautiful daughter! What have I done to you?! Your death has made me realize I was wrong this whole time and I swear I will never do evil again! I will turn my mountain fortress into a shrine to your memory." And with that, he took her and flew away.
Oniuma and Onishika, who were also there but didn't do anything, looked at each other in slight confusion. "I suppose this means we get off work early today," Onishika surmised.
"Best. Birthday present. Ever," agreed Oniuma. And the two of them flew off as well.
I nibbled at my lip anxiously, watching them until they were but a speck in the sky. "... Is it over?"
Suddenly, Hisui held her pregnant belly and exclaimed, "Ohhh... the pup is coming!" ... Seriously? Akagane ran around in a frenzy while Kogane, who had magically reappeared now that she had something to do, helped Hisui lie down.
Hisui was in labor for about five minutes, and gave birth to an immaculately clean baby girl. Hisui and Akagane snuggled together and cooed over their new... er... "pup", and for now I couldn't help but think, well, I guess this isn't so bad. Everything worked out for the best.
"What shall we name her?" Hisui wondered.
Akagane smiled. "I already had a name picked out. Her name shall be Elsa Raven Storm Kawaii Malfoy Cullen." I faceplanted into the ground again, and not due to the rosary this time.
Later that evening, I sat up on the bluff, watching the sun set beyond the river. Today had just been... weird. All of our problems had just been spontaneously solved, so it was like... everything we'd worked for up until now had been completely meaningless. It turned out Akagane's mother was alive, but she'd simply disappeared shortly thereafter and no one seemed to care. And apparently Akagane was a wolf demon. And now Souzou Tennou was reformed so I guess I could just go ask him for my mother back. And I'd had a sister all this time, but she'd died right after I met her.
I felt guilty about that. Not about never getting the chance to know her, but that I didn't CARE. She was my sister, right? I should feel SOMETHING about her untimely death, but I just... couldn't bring myself to do so. Had I really become such a horrible person?
Akagane came up the bluff and sat down beside me. I allowed my frustrations to escape in a sigh and admitted, "I'm glad today is about over. I don't think I could take another crazy thing happening."
Akagane turned to me, and proclaimed, "Actually, bake-inu, I wanted to confess that I have always been romantically attracted to you."
I looked at him flatly. After everything else that had happened today...
... honestly, I could live with that one.
I shrugged, and the two of us made out on the cliff for the remainder of the night.