• The Chronicles of Baku, Volume 2, Adolescence: In Which I Find My Way

    It is here that I was no longer a child, but instead a new man unto himself, unto his own purpose, and my new purpose was clear. No matter how hard I tried to connect to my siblings, I never seemed to really connect with them. I could impress them, I could frighten them, but I knew I was always estranged, not that they did much to dissuade me from the idea. I could now try to find the mother I never knew, but was so closely connected to.

    As I awoke for the first time as a man for himself, I could feel the soreness that was my physical flesh after the intense beating that was given to me at the hands of my father. I could not even manage to stretch out my arm that was how terrible the pain was. I found, however, that what my brother did to me the day previous. My silvery, fluffy tail wrapped around me for the first time I could remember. In order to control his sons, my father would lock away most of the child’s powers and strengths, which meant that the ears and tails, and anything that may have come from the mothers as well. I lay on the ground for what seemed like days, until one day a figure appeared behind me and laughed lightly.

    “I am guessing that you told them you released me didn’t you?” The familiar voice said as she walked in front of me. It was that same blond haired firefox from earlier. I would have been upset at her, if I wasn’t given this suddenly new perspective on the world. I didn’t say anything; it hurt me intensely to even swallow. “I guess I owe you something for letting me free so easily, I didn’t expect you to listen to me without a struggle.” She said with a light sigh. I looked at her and shook my head.

    “I am fine, I think, I should thank you. You helped me see my father for what he truly was, not what I wanted him to be. I should be thanking you.”I said at last. I am now sure that I was being honest, though of course my tone may have been a bit different back then. I can now tell that I was being sarcastic as I said these words, and she just smiled at me, before slowly walking away.

    “I guess you still have a lot more to learn, dear Baku. When you have learned about yourself, you will be able to find me, and I will help you once again.” She said gently before disappearing the same way she did on my last day of childhood. I sat there a while longer and slowly the pain began to dull. I could start to move my arms, and with those I pulled my tail close to my body, and hugged it close, for the first time in my life, and started to cry. I am not sure what I started to cry about, but I just bawled as I held myself. I could have been crying that I had been left to die, or that I had betrayed my father, but I now like to think that I was now crying for all the suffering he had caused me, and all the suffering I caused.

    In no time, I started to move my legs, a feeling that brought me from my depths of depression, and allowed me to crawl away from where I was sitting. I moved to a tree and pulled myself up, the strain was unimaginable now, and stood on my shaky, weak legs. My body ached as I tried to move away from the tree, and I fell over, hitting the ground with a thud. I don’t know why I was determined to move, why I needed to live, but I grit my teeth and bore it. I must have fallen over at least a dozen times before I successfully took my first step, but after I did, I managed to start walking normally, but with a limp in my left leg. I later learned that muscle in my leg was torn out by my father, and that my brother used all his healing ability to repair my leg as best he could, which explained why the rest of my body was in such disrepair.

    I did not know where I was, I was far out of my father’s territory, in a place I had never seen or been in. But with these new senses, this new awareness, I could hear a stream about 2 miles to the east of where I was, but much more than that, I could see the current of the energies that the river was pushing, which was quite amazing to my virgin eyes. It was like looking to the movement a bright blue stars moving slowly in the distance. I looked up at the trees, and I saw the energy of the winds moving through them, a green, sweeping motion that startled my eyes and made me feel like I was young again. To that point I assumed I had seen it all, but this made me feel like a babe in the woods.

    I started to walk to the river; it was a long, plodding journey that made sore muscles absolutely ragged. When I was about half way to the river. I could hear something following me slowly, lowly, and it was trying to remain hidden among the bushes that were on either side of me. When I turned around to try and surprise it, in the weak and useless state that I was in, it wasn’t there, and made me feel like a complete idiot. I turned back around and continued walking, and for a short distance I did not hear anything. But when I turned around a second time, a small, evil looking beast jumped at me, it’s mouth wide open and glimmering in the light of the mid morning sun. I put my arm up and it bit down on it, its teeth cutting into my flesh like tiny daggers. It was a strange creature, unlike anything I had ever seen before. It seemed to be a small furry creature with thin arms and legs, with little more than teeth on its body and small holes for what I assumed were ears. I took my other arms and started to feebly hit the beast on its head. After a few seconds it let go and fell to the ground, gorged on my blood. My wounds from the beast were already healed, but I had lost a lot of blood, and a fell to the ground. I started to crawl to the river, which made what would have been a short walk into a long struggle for my life.
    I did not think I would make it to the river. I was fading fast, and what little strength was in my body fading even faster. I could hear the rush of the water when I could no longer move my body. I laid there in defeat, in agony as my body started to disappear from my consciousness. It is one of only two moments in my life that I was totally helpless. Out of nowhere, however, I was lifted off the ground and lost consciousness. I was often told that you are lifted from the Realm when you die, so I assumed that I was dead, and if I should ever awaken I will be in bliss, or in absolute hell. I learned that I would be victim to neither however, when I finally woke up from another long rest.
    My strength completely returned as I re-found consciousness, which lead me to think that maybe I found bliss, until I touched my arm wound inflected by that hairy little bugger from earlier.
    “OH WHAT EVER IS GOOD IN THIS WORLD!” I exclaimed as loudly as my voice would allow. That familiar laugh from earlier pierced my ears, and I looked around and found that same kitsune from earlier heating something up in a pot.
    “Yes, You’re welcome you stubborn little wolf demon.” She said nonchalantly as she smelled the contents of the pot and smiled. “You were more messed up then I thought you were, you should have told me that you were doing that badly Baku, there is only so much I can do to help you.” She poured the liquid into a small cup and handed it to me. “If you wish to live for much longer I suggest you drink this cup.” I looked at it curiously and sniffed it. I turned away but took the small cup in my hand. She looked at me expectantly, so I put the cup to my lips and drank the liquid quickly. It had a bitter taste that was without equal at the time, but I quickly found the feelings that came from the liquid filled me with joy and made me feel much better than I was doing previously. She smiled and poured me another cup, which I accepted happily.
    “Glad to see that you are listening to me again. That is Sake, rice wine, and I am sure that you and it will make great friends in the years to come. I am sure that by now you are able to see the flow of energies through the universe, am I correct in assuming this much?” I didn’t think much of it until then, but that was really how I found the river in the first place. I nodded and waited for her pour me some more sake, which she did with a sigh. I guess she was expecting some kind of conversation, but I was more concerned with drinking this wonderful elixir.
    “Then I guess I only need to tell you one thing. You can not only sense the energy of the universe, but you can also see the residue of souls of people and other living things. When we first met formally, I told you that your mother was not who you thought she was. Now I want you to go seek your mother, Baku, so that you can find your true self.” I drank down another cup and looked at her with curiosity, as well as a smile across my face.
    “Two questions, first, why are you concerned with my life? And second, how am I supposed to find my mother with this new power I have been given?” I put up my cup for another round, but she pushed it down.
    “I am an errant and other wise almost completely omnipotent being, I really don’t have much else to do right now, and I knew that you needed help. That aside, you are someone who needs to discover himself, so you really shouldn’t question my motive, unless you want to be a scorch mark that was once a living being.” she asked, producing a raging red flame in her hand, which she quickly extinguished. “And I was about to tell you the last important bit of information, if you had any patience. If you can recall any memories of your mother, or of anyone for that matter, you will be able to see a thin line of a distinct color before your eyes. This will be one of your greatest assets, and it should serve you well.” She pat my head when she was finished speaking and smiled. “Now, I must leave you. How much fun would your journey be if you had an infinitely powerful being to help you through every challenge? Not very fun at all, right? Get going Baku, we will meet again someday.” She said as she disappeared with a flame. I looked around and closed my eyes
    “A thought or memory of my mother?” I asked myself incredulously. I didn’t even know she existed until what I assumed was a few days ago, how could I possibly have any true memories of her? I searched my mind, and something very faint found its way into my mind’s eye. It was red, a comforting red that reminded me of something from years ago. Now, in order to keep this fair and in perspective, I should note that I am young and stupid at this point, and I could not see the obvious answer, which was that it was a memory of my mother’s priestess outfit. But back to the story. I sat there for hours trying to figure out what that color was, but I could think of absolutely nothing. I was so lost that I sat in one position for at least two days, though it could have been as long as four. Eventually I gave up and started to heed my stomach, which was making noises so loud it was probably scaring away small wood land creatures.

    As I started my search for food, I recalled that bear meat was delicious and very tender, so I decided to take advantage of the ability I was told I had. I concentrated my energies on the thought of bear meat, and a line of brown light appeared before my eyes. I smiled giddily as I did it, moving back and forth and marveling at how it worked. After my enthusiasm died down I started to track down the bear using the vector of the line. I never joined in the hunts in the clan because I was too busy trying to learn what little my brother knew about magic to be of use during such a time. This is important, because I did something that was very stupid at the time. I ran straight into the den of a mother bear and her cubs. I saw a cub and ran at it, knowing I could kill it and eat its meat. What I had not noticed, however, was the mother bear at the entrance of the den, and as soon as I took a step towards her baby, she leaped at me and tackled me to the ground. It bit into my shoulder and pinned me to the ground. I can equate the pain of this bite to that of having a plank filled with needles slammed into place with a giant hammer. I yelled very loudly and tried to bat at the mother, but she kept her grip and clawed at my back. I managed to punch her in the eye and she finally dropped her vice-like grip enough so that I pulled myself up and ran away, adrenaline pumping through my veins as I escaped. I stopped some distance away and climbed into a tree. I was holding my shoulder out of instinct, when I examined it I found that there was no blood, no wounds, not even a bruise. I poked where I was sure she bit me, and I felt nothing but the pressure of the tip of my finger. I marveled at this for a while and decided that maybe going after something so big and clawy was not a good idea. As weak as it sounds I focused on the energies of a small squirrel, and started in pursuit. I decided to take the stealthy route this time, I slowly moved towards the line, instead of rushing ahead and making a fool of myself. Not that it helped any really. When I was a leap away from the bugger, I thought I had it right where I wanted it. I leapt and right when I was about to reach it, it jumped right out my grasp and I swear it laughed at me as I took in a mouthful of dirt. I jumped to my feet and lunged again, and this time I grabbed his furry tail and looked at him with a smile.

    “You will make a good meal little punk.” I said with a smile as I grabbed his body in my right and grasped his head in my other. I was going to snap his neck, I heard him crying. I don’t know why I stopped, I was starving and I was nearly killed, by all means I should have snapped his neck and chewed his succulent flesh until his bones where little more than powder. But I took mercy on the little creature and just held onto his body, allowing him to speak. “Why should I spare you?”:

    “I am the son of a farmer in a village not far from here. He will be able to give you a good meal and a place to stay.” I was confused at his last comment but I thought it over.

    “What good would a squirrel meal do for me?” the squirrel looked at me like I was crazy.

    “I think it will it do you plenty good wolf, if you would put me down, I can show you why.” He said sheepishly. I looked at him with suspicion, but I complied, looking at him, readying myself for a chase. Suddenly the rodent changed his form, something that shocked me greatly. What was once a furry face changed into a clear, young boy’s face, not much younger than I was. His body was devoid of fur as it grew, instead clothes seemed to sprout as he became more human like. His ears and tail remained, though they enlarged to fit his new dimensions. He smiled and bowed nervously, trying to show that he could be trusted. “See wolf? I am like you. My father told me that I should remain in the form you saw, since it is harder to catch than this form, but I guess you proved him wrong.” He said with a nervous chuckle. My stomach rumbled and I looked at him with steely eyes.

    “My mercy can only last so long, so I suggest you bring me to your father.” I said as menacingly as I could. He nodded quickly and motioned for me to follow him. After a few minutes of silence, I sighed. “Your father will have meat, right? I haven’t really had much else to eat in my lifetime.”

    “Rest assured, you will be well fed wolf.”

    “Call me Bakuryu.” I said, irritated at being called ‘wolf’ he stopped and looked at me with a funny expression on his face, his tongue sticking out slightly as he squinted and readjusted his eyes.

    “No, Bakuryu doesn’t sound like what you look like.” He said with a smile. He looked at me again and smiled even wider. “How about Baku? That name seems to fit you better what do you say, Baku?” That is when became Baku, instead of Bakuryu. Though that Fox demon insisted in calling me Baku, it was the charisma of this young squirrel that convinced me to let it stick.

    “I guess it is okay.” I did not let my enthusiasm show, but I was quite happy with the new moniker. “What of you, what is your name?” I asked him, feeling it is rude to not know someone’s name.
    “Roro to my friends, Romuro by will of my father.” He said timidly. I nodded and we continued on our way. We chatted lightly of what we knew about the world as he walked, until I felt something start to trickle down my arm. I examined my shoulder, and slowly but surely teeth marks started to appear as the wound started bleeding more vigorously. The squirrel looked at me in horror as blood started to pour down the back of my robe. I fell to the ground, my body losing heat as I lost my sanguine life force. He ran to me before I blacked out, at which point I surely thought I was dead. I made my first friend, and I was dead. I don’t know why I thought I was dead, perhaps that maybe I welcomed death at that point.

    Whatever the case, I was wrong, and I did not die. I woke up some time later in a small but luxurious room in a state of complete repair. I was confused, but I did not question this happening as I sat up and examined my body, before I heard a door open and a small old lady walked into the room. She was dressed in a stunning blue kimono, her hair was white, though silver strands stood out here or there. He ears seemed almost too big for her head, and her tail was half as big as she was.
    “So Baku, you have finally returned.” She said as she walked up to the bedside to examine me closely. Her eyes were dull greenish yellow, which betrayed her apparently demure personality. She smiled as he sat on the bed and touched my leg lightly. “I did not think we would ever see you again Baku-chan” she said with a soft smile.

    “How do you know who I am? I imagine Roro must have told you my name, but why do you talk to me with such familiarity?” I asked, slightly uncomfortable with all this attention. She looked at me with mock scorn, with brought a small smile to my face.

    “I certainly thing I have earned the right to call you anything I please, all the cleaning, feeding and tending I did when you were a baby.” She could only keep this fake disposition so long before she broke out in laughter, hugging me close. “Baku-chan, oh Baku-chan how I missed my grandson so!” She exclaimed as she sobbed. I did not know who she was, but I was compelled to rub her back and I teared up a little, if only from sympathy. She parted from my chest and sat up. There was a knock on the door and she smiled. “Now, here comes your old man, be nice and thank him for patching you up, you were in deplorable condition. I shudder to think what your monster of a father did to you after he took you back.” A man not much taller than the woman walked in without a sound. His silver hair he held in ponytail, his eyes were obscured by dark glasses. His aged featured looked rather ominous, but he did not give off a threatening presence. He instead jumped onto the bed, opened my mouth and looked inside. He looked at me and nodded in approval.

    “Yes, you are Baku.” He said lightly before jumping off the bed and walking away.

    “Thank you, thank you for helping me.” I said before he walked through the threshold. He looked at me and grinned, he looked like he was planning something.

    “You can thank me tomorrow, when we start your training.” He said before walking out of the room, chuckling slightly. I was confused, but I was soon reminded of my physical limitations as my stomach roared, startling the old woman at my side.

    “Well well, that is a sound I haven’t heard for I while, you must be starving. Let me fix you a nice lunch while you regain your strength.” She pat my head, which made me feel pleasantly tingly on the inside. I lay back down and got comfortable, since it would be foolish to deny this hospitality. I heard a knock on the door a short while later, and Roro walked into the room.

    “Baku, what happened?” He asked me as he walked up to me, fright in his eyes. I looked at him reassuringly and sat up.

    “I am fine, I should thank you. If you weren’t there I surely would have been bear food. Come, sit, you seem to need a seat.” I said as I pet the space next to me. I know now that Squirrel Demons are a very sensitive sort, but at the time I did not understand this.

    “You bled so much, how could you possibly be alive?” He cried into my shoulder. My eyes widened as he did this. My extent of male interaction to that point did not include, at all, another man crying on my shoulder. I pet his back awkwardly, as the tears slowly slid down my shoulder, onto my body.

    “I guess I am an indignant b*****d, aren’t I?” I said, trying to cheer him up. He sniffled lightly and looked up at me.

    “I guess so.” He wiped a few tears away and smiled weakly, chuckling a bit. “Yeah, you certainly were. My clothes were soaked through and through with your blood.” The old lady burst through the door with a big plate of food.

    “Here you go Baku-chan!” She exclaimed energetically as she put the plate on the blanket that covered my legs. The food looked unusual to me. I was used to a big slab of meat in my hands that I could tear up and make a bloody mess with. To me, this new cooked food was a little more confusing, but it smelled delicious. Even more perplexing were the infernal chopsticks that I was expected to eat with. That was my first encounter with a utensil that was not meant to kill or maim someone, and I did not make a good first impression with the patron of chop sticks, I let them slide of the bed and I started to dig my hands into the meal. It was a little hot, but I was too hungry to let minor burns keep me from filling my stomach. They chuckled at my naiveté and apparent barbarism. When the plate was sufficiently licked off I laid back and the old lady smiled. “Well, I suppose we let you rest now Baku-chan.” She kissed me on the forehead and walked out. Roro bowed slightly before exiting after her. The meal filled up my rumbling stomach so I found it much easier to succumb to the peaceful realm of sleep.

    When I awoke the next day the old man was standing beside my bed, a smirk painted across his face.

    “Baku, you know start your training as the civilized being you are supposed to be.” If I ever thought that training to become a warrior was a challenge, it was quickly overshadowed by the strange rules and regulations of etiquette and good manners. Though I have since forgotten many of the less important things, it is during the unusual training that I found the image that would serve me well through most of my life. During the years my grandfather took to train me, I kept my hair down and un tied as was proper of a young man. I found that a female kimono fit my frame much more comfortably than a male one. It was also during my training with formal alcohol etiquette that I learned where those wounds disappeared to from the bear incident. When I consume sake (as that fox demon was getting at) my physiology changes, and I am in fact invulnerable to non mortal wounds, as long as the alcohol is running through my blood. I discovered this because for every drop I spilled my grandfather would hit me with his pointer, which ordinarily cut as soon as it hit, but was delayed by about an hour or so after I drank some sake. I also learned that I am an absolute wuss when it comes to the consumption of any other kind of alcohol, just one cup (or shot or bottle or glass) of any other kind and I am as drunk as can be.

    During my training Roro stayed close to me and was always the female stand in for the bits that required it. He even started to live with my grandparents to assist with my training, I saw him as the little brother that I never truly had, since he liked me for what I was feeling more and more comfortable being, a man of culture and refinement. A man who at the time knew the difference between a soup spoon and pudding spoon. But I also learned, after one incident, that he held me much closer to his heart. I do not know how he had such string feelings for me, but it culminated to a single night, in the bath after dinner, about 2 years after I returned. It was not odd for us to bathe together, sometimes my grandparents would join us, but was unusual was how quiet he was being that night.

    “Roro, is there something wrong?” I asked, relaxing in the warm water that enveloped me. He looked at me and looked away.

    “Nothing’s wrong Baku, I’m just thinking.” He said, slightly nervously

    “What about? I can’t stop thinking about the blade I am going to receive after I finish mastering my forms.” I said. My mind was always on finishing my training, since it brought a smile to the grizzled old man’s face. He shifted uncomfortably where he was sitting.

    “It’s just, that it is unfortunate that you always have to stop before the kisses in our scenario training, since you can’t kiss me.” I thought about it for a second, and looked at him with curiosity.

    “Why can’t I? what is wrong with kissing you?” I never really thought about it, aside from my grandfather telling me that a kiss should be on a woman and that Roro was just a stand in. “Doesn’t it kind of defeat the purpose of learning the proper way to kiss if I can’t kiss?” I looked at him and stood up, my long silver hair clinging to my back and chest as I walked up to him. In these two years I grew much taller than him, about a foot and a half taller than when I arrived, so I was much taller than him. I stood him up and recalled one of the lessons, where I pulled him close, and kissed him gently on the lips. Much like the kisses my grandmother gave me, this made me pleasantly tingle on the inside. It was much more potent to Roro, who fell to his knees into the water. We finished bathing that night, mostly unchanged, but profoundly different. From that day forth, he and I would occasionally go off to kiss, and so one the most important skills in my formal life was learned informally in the arms of another man.

    While I was there, I learned much about my mother, and many memories were rediscovered, as I figured out what the red meant to me. She was a priestess of the goddesses of the Realm (who consequently wore red robes, as he did up to the day of her death), and lost her priestess title on the night of my conception. My father raped my mother, but she allowed him to because it saved the village at the time. As it turns out, my mother was killed trying to prevent my father from stealing me away. I learned bits and pieces from my grandmother here or there, but since my grandfather felt it dishonored my mother to speak of her I didn’t quite get the full story at the time.

    Once I finished my training with my grandfather, he handed me my sword, which I still use to this day, some six hundred years later. It is a unique sword. The blade is two shaku (11 ½ inches= 1 shaku) long, with a hexagonal steel guard. The thing that makes the sword so different is that the handle is two shaku long as well, which gives it incredible cutting ability. I still hold the green blade to my side, it is even present as I write these memoirs.

    That was also the day that I left the comfort of my grandparents house to continue my quest. My grandmother was crying, which in turn was making me cry. Roro would not come out of the house, though I did see him peek out from the window a few times before I left. My grandfather smiled approvingly, glad not to be rid of me but to see that he had done a respectable job training me so quickly. He handed me a large jug of sake, a straw hat and a green cloak, and I was off, searching now for my mother. I had finally found my way.