Title: Ringing Bell
Anime: Shounen Onmyouji
Genre: Friendship, Suspense
By the way, I DO NOT own Shounen Onmyouji, but I do, however, own a character that is shown in this fanfic.
Chapter 1: Ringing Bell
I sit in front of the big, old oak tree near my grandfather's flat home, in a pensive state, trapped within the confines of the eternally black, bottomless, endless abyss in my head called my mind. Yet I still watch everything around me within the distance. The spring had come, the lucid, pristinely pink cherry blossoms were in full bloom, and the turbulent wind was carrying the fragile petals onto the quiet, calm, blue, lucid pond next to me, allowing them to dance onto the cool, gentle waters. I watched as the full moon as it shifted petal by petal by petal like a school of swollen white roses in the lake. I had recently finished reading an ancient poem written by a Chinese poet named Li Po, aka Li Bai, who had an uncontrollable fancy for drinking red wine and liquor and any kind of alcoholic beverage he could get his greasy hands on. He strongly believed that if the wine would permeate into his veins, that it would not be able to consume his very soul. I wonder if I should drink if I'm older...No! I can't! If I did, grandfather would be choleric with me and he would go on rambling about how he supposedly wasted his teachings by passing them onto someone like me and make a huge farce about it.
Don't get me wrong, I love my grandfather and I know he cares about me. He just likes to overexaggerate things a little, even when I do things to make sure his reputation is safe from being smudged by vulgar people who dislike him. I remember a time when I had first entered the Onmyou dorms, wearing my violet purple attire and my tall black hat, when Mokkun and I accidentally eavesdropped on some people who had insulted my grandfather, thinking he's simply trying to get attention and wanting to reveal that he was raised by a fox. I could not let them slide, so I decided to pull a little prank on them to teach them a lesson. I knew it was wrong of me to do so, but I did it because they were insulting the best Onmyouji around, and I couldn't let them get away with that, even though grandfather rebuked me in the process and I released the voluminous amount of anger that was all bottled up inside me all out in my room(1).
Even so, things have happened that have made me feel very sensitive and passive. I continue to sit in front of the big oak tree with it's cherry blossoms in bloom, watching a tiny blue bird flap it's majestic wings and gently rest atop of a smaller cherry tree singing it's song. It's nostalgic and gentle melody rang and echoed in my ears, causing me to avert my current negativity. The midnight blue sky was taking the place of the sun, containing literally a myriad of lucid, pristine, sparkling white stars covering nearly the entire sky, seeming like they were trying to detract me from my loneliness. Yes, I am lonely. I am lonely because I was forced to kill my best friend from infancy, a shikigami of
my grandfather's name Guren(2), who often turned into a fluffy white mononoke whom I named Mokkun, much to his chagrin. Of course, it was not out of malicious intent. A friend of my grandfather's, Enoki Ryuusai, was possessed by a heartless and corrupt demon named Chishiki no Guuji. Ryuusai's daughter, Kazane, used the forbidden Soul Binding spell to put Guren under her control. Guren nearly killed me, but I survived thanks to a kind, lady shikigami named Tenitsu, who unfortunately lost her life trying to save mine. Of course, the rest of the shikigami would basically loathe Guren for what he did. They even hated him when he was manipulated into nearly taking my grandfather's life long ago. They didn't understand that it wasn't his fault, not that I blame them or Guren, but it didn't matter. I felt so lonely when I realized that my friend from infancy, the only true friend I ever had, was gone from this world and literally all of his memories of me would be gone forever. I wept silently under the cherry blossoms. My crystalized tears streamed down my round cheeks, making my face feel warm, despite the air being deathly cold. My long, velvet brown hair was being carried by the breeze, despite my head being in front of a big chunk of bark. My velvet brown eyes could only gaze upon the pristine pink petals flying in the breeze, the lucid stars being reflected in the blue pond, the little blue bird singing it's heart to me, and the purple, white, yellow, and blue flowers near the trees.
My ears did nothing to barr the sounds of the little blue bird's nostalgic sound, the sound of the wind, the sound of...a ringing bell?
The sound was powerful, but very gentle and soothing, like it was an angel dressed in the whitest of silver, telling me not to cry and reassuring me that everything will be alright. The sound struck me awake, my velvet brown eyes shot wide open in response. I turn to the pond and I see...a tiny, scrawny, yet angelic little girl, staring nonchalantly into the pond reflecting the blue sky and the myriad of white stars. This little girl looked to be literally no more than at least between 7 or 8 years old. What especially struck me was the fact that her hair, semi-long and going down to her upper back, was yellow. A very, very, very pale yellow, almost white, but it was too dark to tell if it was yellow or not. And her eyes were a pure blue--blue--blue. A very serene, gentle, captivating blue color, like the sky. The only individual I knew who had yellow hair and blue eyes was Tenitsu, and she had already perished when she saved my life when Guren nearly killed me. Her eyes were quite wide and innocent, and just by looking in them she seemed like the actual image of an angel, which I had not seen. But this little girl was dressed in literally nothing but a plain dress, the whitest of silver I had ever seen in my 13 years of life. Was she a princess? A noble? These things I would never know. A tiny silver bell hung from her hand.
...Wait, a bell?
A tiny, tiny bell was cupped within the girl's small hands, which were thin, small, and soft, like an infant's. The bell was perfectly round, and perfectly sterling silver. It shone under the full moon's waning. The girl was staring at the silver bell in her hand. The bell also had a small blue thread attached to it, which was being gently carried by the turbulent wind. Then, out of nowhere, the girl suddenly turned her head behind herself and suddenly make full eye contact with me. I was frightened, yet at the same time, I was curious and smitten by her looks and innocence. She seemed to emit a strange kind of innocence and gentleness from her persona. Her wide, blue, shining eyes focused their effulgence onto my velvet nut brown eyes.
The bell rung again. The gentle, nostalgic sound rang in my ears. So did...
"Your heart is crying."
"Your heart is crying. The music in your frozen heart...cries for a voice."
Her voice was very small. Very high-pitched, but very gentle, very innocent, very pure, very serene, and very...angelic. Her voice was so small it was soft like the fur on a newborn kitten. It almost sounded like a squeak from a baby animal, but her voice seemed to amass a bright effulgence onto me, like it was trying to detract my heart from the suffering that it has endured. I couldn't reply to her remark at all.
"The sound of your bell has disappeared, trapped within your frozen heart and crying. But the ice shall thaw away, and the gentle sound of the bell will once again ring happily. But to do that, you must learn...to accept the new sound that accompanies it."
The words of the girl in white silver struck me like a bolt of lightning and were branded into my heart, never to leave. But as I finally gained the mettle to speak, I blinked and I shouted "Who are you!?" at the top of my voice. My voice echoed along the turbulent wind and went on for miles. But before I knew it, the little girl in white was gone in a flash. I was shocked, but I was becoming more and more curious by the minute.
Before I knew it, the white mononoke I know as Mokkun appeared next to me. I didn't know what to say. This was the very same Mokkun that I always knew as both Mokkun the mononoke and Guren, the shikigami who raised me since infancy. But this Mokkun was like a stranger to me. I couldn't speak to him, nor did he speak to me. I could tell by looking in his piercing goldenrod eyes that he did not have a single idea of who I was. I was like a grey blob to him, with big secrets that I couldn't release. I didn't have a form, a shape, a size, nothing to him. I was simply a grey blob to his golden eyes. And yet...he spoke to me.
"You're...Abe no Masahiro, right?" He asked me in the very same familiar voice that was burned in my heart. This was the first time he ever called me Masahiro right off the bat, without even calling me Seimei's Grandson. I always loathed being called Seimei's Grandson, but this new Mokkun called me Masahiro and not Seimei's Grandson. I felt a tug in my heart. Although I always hated being called Seimei's Grandson by anyone, I seemed to miss being called that by Mokkun, who always liked to tease me in some ways. I wondered...if I could really connect with this new deity. I finally gathered the mettle required for me to talk.
"Yes. I'm Masahiro," I told the white fluffy rabbit/fox/dog mononoke with a red spiked neck and black claws.
We only exchanged a few words, but I finally caved and fell asleep in my room, falling into the black, eternal, bottomless abyss called my mind. But...it didn't seem so pitch-black. I began dreaming about all the memories I shared with Mokkun, Guren, and even Akiko. But I also began dreaming about the little girl in white...and the silver bell she held in her hand.
I heard the gentle sound again as I slept.
I was oblivious to the fact that she was watching over me with such kind, innocent, magnanimous eyes. My heart began to pulsate.
The morning came. The golden sun basked it's shining effulgence upon my skin, causing me to wince and force my velvet brown eyes to open up for the first time in a while. The sky was a pure blue--blue--blue. A very serene, lucid, calming, and beautiful blue unlike any other. I turned to my left side and saw Mokkun, the new Mokkun, sleeping right next to me. I turned to my right and I saw Akiko sitting right next to me in seiza(3). Her long, velvet brown hair flew past her own feet despite the fact that she was basically 11-12 years old. She is Fujiwara no Michinaga's daughter and the princess of the Fujiwara family. She was supposed to be married to the Mikado, but due to a curse that was placed on her, she began living with me.
"Good morning, Masahiro," Akiko told me in an elegant, soothing and delicate womanly voice. I couldn't help but smile.
"Good morning, princess," I told her. But her expression changed in an instant.
"I told you to call me Akiko, not princess," She told me primly. She disliked being called princess. I guess it was because she wanted to show that she was more than a princess. She was a human and nothing else. I could understand that. I disliked being called Seimei's Grandson. I guess she knew about that too. She also didn't call me Seimei's Grandson right off the bat. Well, she did call me Seimei's Grandson when we met, but it wasn't to tease me.
"Ah, right. Sorry. My mind's been off and on lately," I remarked. Akiko flashed her smile again. I always remembered that smile of hers. She always encouraged me and helped me in my times of despair or when I feel abject or dejected. It seems she noticed that I was feeling pensive and dejected.
"Something's on your mind. I know it," Akiko told me primly. She wasn't one to be nosy, but she was a curious one. I didn't want to tell her that I'm conflicted with connecting with this "new" Mokkun, who's basically a stranger now, and about the little girl with the bell from last night. I tried to find the right words for it, but I fear she wouldn't think it was credible or my story wouldn't have a lot of credence. I finally gathered the mettle to tell her about it while trying to spoil anything.
"Akiko...if someone very special to you lost all of your memories and views you as a total stranger...and that his or her memories will be gone forever...what would you do?" I explained shyly. I had my doubts, but I didn't want to concede defeat in front of my doubts and my slight negativity. I was determined to make sure that whatever answer I got, I would take it to heart and fulfill it in the best way possible...not that I know where I might go woth this, of course.
I began considering the possibilities. I absolutely did not want to coerce the new Mokkun into being my friend in any way that he didn't want to, but I also didn't want to leave him confused or in the dark about this either. I wanted to atone for what I did to him in the past, despite Guren being the one corrupted with evil. I knew that Mokkun's memories would never come back no matter what I did. I wanted to connect with Mokkun in the most congenial and munificent way possible, so that this new Mokkun doesn't see me as a bad person. I simply did not want to be alone anymore. I remember a time, when Guren and I were fighting a demon named Kyuuki and his minions. Guren's life was on the line and I refused to let him die. A chunk of his arm was ripped off by Kyuuki's vicious, intimidating silver fangs as he saved me from the winged tiger. We were trapped within strife. I remember Guren finally telling me that he has been with me since infancy and that he's always watched me. Back then, I gathered the mettle to finally speak my thoughts. I remember the words I said to him while we were trapped in a blazing, vermilion red wall of fire.
"I'm going to be a great Onmyouji...and you're going to be there to see it! If you die in a place like this I will never forgive you(4)!!"
I said that with such a choleric expression, yet my heart and determination were burning brightly, like the vermilion red flames dancing around us as the monkey demon minions tried to attack us. I remember my velvet brown eyes suddenly turning a blazing vermilion red orange as I said those words, as if they were also on fire. I didn't want to lose anyone that I cherished. My father, my mother, Akiko, Guren and Mokkun, not even my grandfather. I know my grandfather likes to pick on me sometimes, but I know he means well and I know he cares about me in his own way. I would make sure anyone I loved was safe, no matter how dangerous the situation would be. The specter of Guren being corrupted by rancor and evil still flew in my mind, but I gained the mettle to block it out. Then, Akiko finally replied.
"I think...I would try and connect with him. Get to know him. I would start with a simple conversation about any kind of nonsense and take it a step at a time. But I wouldn't pester him about his past life, nor would I want to simply tell him about his past life right off the bat and get him confused. I would let him take his time to process everything in the most munificent and congenial way possible. Oh, I sound quite weird. I'm sorry,"
Akiko's advice seemed very poignant and sound, but I couldn't help but feel my heart pulsate at her advice. She almost sounded like the little girl with the bell, only Akiko seemed more verbose. I remembered what the little girl said to me. That if I were to get the same familiar sound back, I must accept the new sound that accompanies it. I smiled again.
"Thanks, Akiko. I'll do that," I told her. Akiko smiled in response.
I took her advice to heart. Literally. For almost a week, I invited Mokkun to all the activities I did, ranging from practicing how to read the stars (though I still do a cursory and atrocious job at it as usual) to banishing evil demons from the capital. Of course, the banishing demons part I saved for later. We also stargazed, walked, and even played around a little. I tried my best to make sure that I made a good first impression and was attentive to him too. Before, it seemed I wanted to avert this stranger who was taking the place of my friend from infanthood. He seemed the same way. But looking at his eyes, gestures, expressions, and movements over the first week, I began to see the same animated and frivolous personality that the Mokkun I always knew displayed on a regular basis. Of course, I tried to consider his feelings too, so sometimes I give him some space to calm down. I didn't want to be a bother to him.
The week passed, and it was night time again. The sky was lucid, with the same voluminous amount of stars it had before. I was trying to read the stars, though my reading of the stars is still cursory and atrocious. I tried hard, but I simply couldn't tell anything apart, no matter what (basically, in modernized conclusion, Masahiro is Dyslexic when it comes to reading the stars. Of course, Dyslexia didn't exist in the Heian Era...or did it?). I was standing under the big oak tree that didn't have it's pristine cherry blossoms anymore. It was now consumed by evergreen leaves. I stared up at the sky quietly. I wondered if the little girl was ever going to come back. Then...
"The ice confining your heart...is beginning to thaw away."
The nostalgic sound of the bell and the girl's gentle voice both echoed in my ears. My eyes shot open and there she was again. Her pale golden hair, her serene blue eyes, her white dress, and the sterling silver bell hanging in her hand. She gave me the same smile Akiko gave me earlier, only her's was much more pure, magnanimous, and somewhat angelic.
"Soon, the music in your frozen heart will fly into the earth, freely and happily. It seems you have almost decided to accept the new sound that accompanies you. If you continue to accept the new sound, then a the familiar melody may ring it's bell again."
I was awestruck, but I gained the mettle to speak to her.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"I am...Suzu. I am a youkai who saves memories from disappearing from the earth." She told me.
Wait. Did she just say that she's a youkai and that she saves memories from being gone forever? That gave me an idea.
"Suzu-san. Are you saying that you--" I tried to talk, but she cut me off.
"Yes. I witnessed the corruption of Touda. I knew how heartbroken you would be if Takaokami no Kami told you that the memories of your beloved will be gone forever once you kill him. But...I took action and I quickly saved his memories in the nick of time. Memories are precious and imperative for a life. If one does not have memory, shape, form, or structure, the spirit will not have the worthiness to live. I wanted to prevent that from happening. You and Touda are so great together, it would be a shame if both of you caved and broke into a repulsive state of negativity," She told me gently but with a solemn attitude. So, she witnessed Guren getting corrupted by the Soul Binding spell and she retrieved his memories to avert them from disappearing forever? If that's the case, then I wonder if...
I couldn't wait. I had to ask.
"If you save memories, then will Mokkun get his memories back?" I asked. Suzu had a gentle yet somber look in her eyes, but she smiled throughout the whole thing.
"Yes. But it's not as easy as you think, Masahiro-sama. In order for Mokkun's memories to return, you must learn to accept what is in front of you, not to cling to the past. True, people need the past to live, but sometimes they cling to the past so much that they end up dying for it. I wanted to make sure you would avert that tragedy. You should be thankful for what you have now, and do not take advantage of it. I've seen much worse. In fact, I've seen people who have committed murderous acts due to their inability to move forward and accept what they lost and what they have. I absolutely will not let that happen to such a beautiful child like you. You and Mokkun both have a reason for living, and that's one of the things that will let me give Mokkun his memories back. But I cannot do it just yet. There is one more thing you have to do before that happens," Suzu told me gently and munificently.
"What do I need to do!?" I yelped.
"I am not at liberty to reveal such a thing. That is something for you to discover. But I assure you, your life will surely blossom beautifully once you learn to accept what you have now and move forward," Suzu told me with such a serene, angelic voice before she suddenly disappeared into thin air. I was confused. What did I have to do to have Mokkun's memories regained?
Nevertheless, I decided to go on with my daily life like I usually would. A few more days passed and as I was walking down the hall at one time, I saw my mother and Akiko giggling and interacting. They were holding yarn threads. They were apparently sewing. My mother, Abe no Tsuyuki, thinks Akiko is a great seamstress, even though she's never done it before until now. But then they caught a glance at me.
"Oh, why hello there Masahiro. How are you today?" My mother asked in her usual polite and soothing voice.
"I-I'm fine," I told her.
"Masahiro? I just remembered that your grandfather wanted me to give you this," My mother told me when she stood up, ambled up toward me, and presented me with a folded white paper with a red star shape on it. I knew this type of paper anywhere.
"Isn't grandfather still at the Imperial Palace with Yukinari-sama?" I asked.
"Yes, he is. But he sent someone to give me this to give to you," My mother told me. I was confused, but I decided to accept.
"Thank you very much, mother," I told her before I left. But as I left, I accidentally heard a conversation that my mother and Akiko were having.
"He can be such a recluse when he's sad, my little Masahiro," My mother whispered quietly.
"How come you never ask him anything, Tsuyuki-sama?" Akiko asked.
"I don't ask because I don't want to pressure him. He has his problems, but I prefer to let him solve them instead of get myself involved. He can tell me anything whenever he's ready," My mother said. My heart pulsated again, but it felt good. I smiled.
'Thank you, mother,' I thought, before I retreated back into my room to open the letter. My grandfather's writing was elegant but a little hard for me to read, like usual. But this time, I managed to make out every word.
I heard about this from your father Yoshimasa. I hear you haven't really been yourself ever since..."that". I can understand why you would not be yourself. It's normal for everyone. It's natural to feel unlively after something like that. But I'm concerned for your health. You have not been eating very much and you haven't been training. I know for a fact that you've been diligent at the Onmyou dorms, which is good. Even some of the shikigami are worried about you. But I should tell you this: Everything has it's season, where one thing falls and another grows in it's place. It may not be the same as it was before, but it's something new and maybe even wonderful. Trust me, I went through it myself many years ago. And I'm sure Guren had too. No two flowers are the same. No two birds, no two people, even no two shikigami. Everyone has a different set of memories, whether the two spirits share the same life, shape, or form or not. You should learn to accept what you have now. I know you'll do just fine. I have faith in you.
Yours truly, Abe no Seimei'
In a way, I recognized the fact that my grandfather was giving me some kind of encouragement. It's true, I haven't really eaten much and have become a bit of a recluse because of "that", but like grandfather says, it's natural. It doesn't just come and go right off the bat. And I do know that not everything in the world has the same memories. I tested this when I saw two violet flowers in the garden one day. I picked out the one on the left and gently put it back down. The flower on the left remembers being picked, while the other one remembers
watching it get picked. It's all about experience. I knew this from the very beginning. I couldn't help but smile. I decided to write my own letter to grandfather. I wrote...
Thanks for the encouragement. I'll do my best to get better. You're right. Not everything has the same set of memories. It's all about experience. There are two flowers, and the one on the left gets picked and put back onto the ground. The flower on the left remembers being the picked while the flower on the right remembers watching it get picked. How does that sound? Yeah, this sounds weird, I know. But I'll interact with Mokkun and take your advice, along with Akiko's. I hope you return soon. I miss you and your corny ramblings about how I'm occassionally decadent with my training.
Yours truly, Abe no Masahiro'
Yeah, the part where I wrote "I miss you and your corny ramblings" even threw me off-guard, but I put it down for a little comic relief. Maybe just to make him laugh a little. I hope he doesn't take it the wrong way. But as I was writing it, I wondered about all of the experiences I went through with Guren. I could barely subsist during the time I was in Kyuuki's secret lair under the lake, and when I was nearly killed by a corrupted Guren. I kept on pondering. But I had to keep my promise to Suzu, no matter what.
I heard the bell sound again, along with the sound of someone...calling my name!?
It was Mokkun.
"Can we take a little walk together?" He asked with his golden eyes, curious and bright. I couldn't help but smile and I nodded in response. But before that, I had to give my letter to a guard who was nearby and who knew about my grandfather's whereabouts.
After that, Mokkun and I decided to walk around through the capital. We watched the leaves of the trees fly effortlessly along the turbulent wind. We watched the little birds chirp and sing their hearts to us innocently and cutely. We watched the citizens of the capital scurry around like frightened squirrels. We watched the carriages with horses go by calmly without much problems. We watched the guards keep watch over various important places we saw along the way. For some strange reason, I felt a very warm feeling inside of me. It's like the music in my frozen heart has finally been released into the open, and that my heart that was encased in the ice was finally beginning to thaw out in response to the bright sun basking it's golden effulgence upon us. The pond in grandfather's garden reflected the sun's light, making the water emit some sort of majestic opalesence to them.
I guess maybe I'll broach about "that" time. Enoki Ryuusai had a daughter named Kazane. Kazane was the one who corrupted Guren's heart forever. I remember seeing that knave look in his face as he maimed my chest with his claws. I was within the world of the dead back then, with some of grandfather's other shikigami. If only I had veered to where Guren was, none of this would have happened. Guren would never have turned out this way now. I remember him staring lustily at me as if I were merely some tool. Unfortunately, I was naive not to see
what had happened. I remember seeing vicious, crimson red blood spewing out of me and onto Guren's brown hand. I did, however, want to repent for my mistake of not staying with Guren when we were both taken to the underworld by Kazane. I still remembered Mokkun as the slightly cavalier, slightly crumbrous, and slightly avaricious mononoke he would be sometimes. But I also still remembered the kindness he showed toward me and how magnanimous he was in my time of need. He was quite a mischievous little thing but I knew that he just liked to do things for fun, much to my chagrin. I often times tried to chastise him for his actions. Of course, I had done things which left me chastised too. Like the time I pulled a prank on those men for speaking in a maligned manner about my grandfather. I just couldn't let them off the hook for that, no matter what. But Kazane was quite choleric at Guren for killing her father, mainly due to the fact that Ryuusai
was the one who manipulated Guren into nearly murdering my grandfather and causing him to be hated by the other shikigami! Kazane was a prosaic person who was quite odious and irate toward Guren and me. In fact, Kazane thought I died long ago. But Kazane did, however, redeem herself when grandfather's shikigami, Rikugou, started to become intimate with her. Unfortunately...they couldn't be together because Kazane was killed by one of her father's monsters. She died in Rikugou's arms, even though her mother, the Miko of the Returning Path, has been awakened from her slumber.
I knew that chastening Guren of the corrupting darkness was not going to be easy, but I learned that it was going to be much more heartbreaking. I talked to Takaokami no Kami in Kifune Mountain before my final battle. I was desperate to learn how I could be able to save Guren from the darkness. But the options were not pretty. If I were to successfully kill him, Guren would be reborn, but all of his memories of me would disappear forever. If I had just let Guren go about his evil ways, the world would be destroyed. I ruefully knew the revelations now. Guren would no longer be with me. I would lose the only friend I ever had from infancy. Forever. His memories of me will never come back. But I made a promise that I would become a great Onmyouji, and that he would be the one to watch me. I reluctantly accepted the decision to kill him...and I did. I've always wondered: does absence make the heart grow fonder? I've been through that many times before. And I still am right now. Normally I'm the presumptuous but friendly person who always rambled about trying to be better than my grandfather some day. But now it didn't seem that way. I didn't rant anymore since that fateful day. I didn't even snap when
Mokkun and I finally stopped walking and we were back in grandfather's backyard. We were both looking up at the blue sky with the same voluminous amount of stars like usual. The moon shed a familiar opalesence into the lucid pond. The little flowers swayed back in forth in response to the turbulent wind. For some strange reason, I found this situation rather oppressive. But I had to. There was something I needed to do. I finally gathered the mettle to start up a conversation.
"Mokkun? You're aware that you're one of grandfather's shikigami, right?" I asked.
"Yes. I am aware of that," Mokkun replied. Soon, our conversation became long and livid.
"The sky's beautiful tonight, isn't it?"
"Yep, it sure is. This would be good for reading the stars."
"But you know I'm horrid at reading the stars. As usual."
"Hmph! Reading the stars is basic onmyouji knowledge! You should've been aware of that by now, from what Seimei has told me."
"You've been with my grandfather?"
"Yes. Why wouldn't I?"
"I don't know. I guess it's because we're both total strangers, you and me."
"Really? It doesn't feel that way to me."
"Huh? You think so?"
"I do feel like I'm missing something, though."
"Missing something? Like a memory?"
"I guess you could put it that way."
"But...if someone just randomly told you that you shared many memories with them and you don't remember, wouldn't you get all confused?"
"I guess I would at first. Anyone would be. But if the person was telling the truth, I would think about it real deeply, then decide to believe them."
"And if they're lying?"
"I'm not sure."
"Um...if I told you that you used to be my best friend from infancy and that we shared so many good and bad times together, what would you do?"
All of a sudden, I was speaking my mind! What was I doing? I shouldn't be asking this stuff! Akiko told me not to pester him about it! Ack! I'm really being stupid right now! What's Mokkun going to say? I really shouldn't be doing this! I'll bet he must really think I'm a crazy person now!
"I would...believe you."
Huh? What did he just say? He says that he would...believe me?
"Why is that?"
"Because I do believe you."
"Why?" I asked.
"I can see it in your eyes. You're not lying. I can tell. I know this seems weird, but you do have kind, lucid eyes," Mokkun told me calmly. I was surprised. He was actually looking at me right in the eyes and telling me his opinions. But it seems out of character that he would say my eyes are pretty. Then again, it's probably this new Mokkun telling me, not the old Mokkun.
"Seimei's told me a lot about you. How you defeated demons from overseas, how you always help others when they're in trouble, how you're doing your very best at your training, and pretty much everything else."
"I'm not that good. Sometimes grandfather likes to push my buttons and it makes me rant about what an old raccoon he is."
Yeah. This is true. Sometimes when I'm very very angry due to grandfather's lectures about how my onmyouji training is decadent, I tend to rant and scream about how much of an old raccoon and geezer he is (Like in episode 5). Many say expressing my anger is better than keeping it all bottled up. If I did that, then I would pretty must explode and they would have to hose me off the walls.
"I remember him telling me something about that earlier. You're pretty easy to anger, aren't you?"
"Yeah, I am. Unfortunately."
"But it's okay. Everyone needs to get a little mad sometimes."
"Everyone also needs to be happy or sad or whatever they want to feel until they're done feeling it."
"Yeah, you're right."
This new Mokkun was right. I still haven't gotten over it yet, but I guess the music in my frozen heart is finally awakening after all this time. I guess I wasn't done being sad yet.
"But I know for a fact that your grandfather loves you."
"I know. I understand why."
"Your father, your mother, and even the Minister of the Left's daughter love you too."
What Mokkun just said is true. Akiko is Fujiwara no Michinaga's daughter, who is the Minister of the Left. The old Mokkun knew this. I wonder how the new Mokkun knew?
"Yes. And I'm very thankful to have them."
"Yeah! And you should learn to appreciate them a bit more...Seimei's grandson!"
Did my ears deceive me? Or did I actually just hear Mokkun call me Seimei's Grandson!? My heart pulsated repeatedly. This time the beats were faster and more fierce. Was...were Mokkun and Guren actually coming back to me!? What in the world!? Or...did I finally do what Suzu needed me to do? I felt an immediate surge of happiness swell up in my heart. Has the ice finally thawed out? Has the familiar sound finally come back to me? Has it not been replaced? I simply couldn't wait to know! I really wanted to hug Mokkun so tight that it could suffocate him. But I couldn't. Instead, I decided to take a classical approach. The little string snaps with just one stimulus. I decided to go for the classic response to that.
"Don't call me grandson!!" I screamed with a choleric face, which seemed to intimidate Mokkun a little. But as my angry face stopped, my eyes suddenly became blurry. I didn't know why. All of a sudden, I felt something warm on my face. They were tears. Pure, lucid, pristine,
crystalized, gigantic, pearl-sized tears. Was I crying? If I am, why am I crying? This isn't like me! This isn't like me to cry whenever someone called me Seimei's grandson! I even saw that Mokkun was shocked.
"Why are you crying?" He asked. I simply couldn't take it. I fell apart. I fell to my knees and started bawling. I know this was strange and out of character of me, but I guess my desire to let everything out was just so great that I couldn't control it. All of a sudden, I was babbling literally everything that happened.
"Mo-Mokkun!! Y-You remembered! I-I-I didn't want to kill you!! B-But it was the only way to save you from the darkness! Y-You were always my best friend! You were always there for me! And I really liked it! I missed your occassional teasing and your mischievous antics! I missed you calling me Seimei's Grandson and me rebuking you for it!!"
Right when I snapped at Mokkun for calling me Seimei's Grandson, I literally fell apart. I exploded in a fit of tears, which is very unlike me. I know. I know I wasn't supposed to tell Mokkun everything we experienced before he lost his memory right off the bat, but I felt like I really wanted to get it off my chest. I mean, he believes me, right? He knows I'm telling the truth, right? I cried out loud and I told him everything. Mokkun closed his eyes, deep in thought as he listened. I was wistful after that day. I was extremely dejected now. I finally abdicated keeping everything from Mokkun and keeping all my abject feelings bottled up inside of me. I was done being dubious about how Mokkun would react to all of this. I wanted to atone for everything. I was terribly somber the whole time. I wanted Mokkun and Guren back. The same old Mokkun and Guren who loved me very much and liked to playfully tease me whenever I had the chance. After a few minutes, I was finally done feeling sad and crying. After all of that, I finally smiled again after all this time. Mokkun opened his eyes and looked at me.
"Masahiro...all of these things you say. I...I don't remember any of them," Mokkun told me. Although I was smiling, I knew I was abject on the inside. I knew Mokkun wouldn't get his memories back, even if Suzu promised me. I had broken my promise to Akiko and Suzu. But it didn't matter. I let everything out, and I promised to accept this new Mokkun as is.
"But...you speak the truth. If I really was your friend from infancy, then...can we still be friends?" Mokkun asked me. Some more lucid, crystalized tears streamed down my face, but I ignored them and continued to smile.
"Yes! Yes we can! Let's start over from the beginning!" I edicted with a smile. Mokkun smiled back at me.
"Aren't you Abe no Seimei's grandson?" Mokkun asked me. This was what he said to me when we first met. I decided to give him the classic response.
"Don't call me grandson!! I am Masahiro! Abe no Masahiro! I am my own man and don't you forget it(5)!" I edicted loudly and sharply. All of
a sudden, Mokkun and I both suddenly burst out laughing.
"I think I might like you a whole lot, Masahiro," Mokkun told me. I smiled.
"Me too, Mokkun," I told him. A classic response came from him.
"Hey, no fair! Stop calling me Mokkun!" He snapped. I knew that response anywhere. But we both laughed again. Then...
The ringing bell made it's sound again. The little girl appeared again. But this time, she was crying. Tears were streaming down her face. I could clearly see them.
"I...I'm so sorry. I lied to you. I am not a youkai who brings back memories. I am simply just a plain little girl with no hope for the future. I-I do have a confession to make. I-I've always watched you. In fact, I'm a big fan of yours. I watched you exorcise monsters and heard the rumors about you meeting the Takaokami no Kami in Kifune and how you defeated Kyuuki. I've always liked you very much. You're my role model. Your existence helped me survive ever since my mother died. Yes, my family was once noble and high class until a cruel man took our nobility away. My family and I are now staying in an old house. My father was killed by a guard, and my mother died because she was sick and we didn't have the money to help her. I felt I had no more reason to live...but I saw you defeat the monsters valiantly. I never did get the courage to talk to you until now. When I heard that your best friend was gone and saw you cry, I was heartbroken. I simply wanted to do something to make you happy again. This bell I hold in my hand...it's a very special bell that my mother gave me before she died. She says it repels demons if you wear it on your wrist. It's also worth a lot of money, but I could never sell it, no matter what or how much money they offered me. It's very precious to me. I know lying is wrong, but I wanted to give you some hope. My mother always said that in order to move forward, you must let go of the past and be thankful for what you have now. Please...don't be angry. I was not trying to hurt you."
Suzu's confession was enthralling. Here before my eyes is this innocent little girl who's been through so much trauma and only subsisted by herself with that ringing bell in her hands. Not to mention she has a huge penchant for me and lied to me to make me happy. But I was not angry at her. Her intentions were good and only that was enough. In fact, she gave me hope and she helped me let go of my sadness. I stood up, kneeled down to her level, looked into her gentle blue eyes and wrapped my arms around her.
"I understand why you did. But it's alright. I'm not mad. In fact, I'm happy. You gave me hope. Plus you helped me stop being a recluse. I really like that someone like you idolizes me. I don't get that very often, and it makes me happy. You really are a kind girl, despite the hardships you went through. But I want to tell you something. You should keep on living. You say you have no hope for the future, but I happen to see a future right in front of me. Suzu-san...keep on living and follow the path that leads to the light. Thank you very much for releasing the music in my frozen heart. You're a good girl, Suzu."
I told her my honest feelings. Both of us smiled at each other with such silly grins. I invited her to come play with me and Mokkun. I also invited her into the house and gave her a bite to eat. She looked like she hadn't eaten anything in a long while. To be honest, I was a little ticked about being lied to about being able to get Guren's memories back, but at the same time I understood why she did it. She wanted to teach me to let go of the past and accept the present. And I'm grateful for it. She helped me and Mokkun connect and form a new friendship. I was determined to make her happy. Then, in my room, she did something unexpected.
"Masahiro-sama. I want you to have this," Suzu told me as she gently gave her tiny silver bell to me. I was confused.
"Why? This is a precious memento of your mother!" I told her. I was surprised that she would give it to me.
"Yes, but I don't need it anymore. Besides, I want you to have it. You need it more than I do," Suzu told me with her angelic, gentle voice. I smiled and patted her on the head with my hand.
"Thanks, Suzu. I'll take good care of it," I told her. Her face turned red as she blushed at me along with flashing a gentle smile. I was happy to see her smile. She also grew very fond of Mokkun and was hugging him. The three of us made some mischief in the house, but nobody minded. I was happy that the old times were back and I was finally ready to face the future with my usual disposition.
But I didn't know that this was the last time I was ever going to see Suzu. Ever.
The next morning, Suzu...died.
She left the house very early, before anyone even woke up. But as she was crossing the street, a bull carriage ran her over. The conceited member of the Fujiwara branch clan was in the carriage and he failed to notice her. She was trampled by the bull. Suzu died from her injuries. I fell apart. Even so I've known her for a short time, I felt like I lost someone I had known for a very long time. But then I remembered the kind things she did for me despite lying about being a youkai. I made a grave for her and gave her flowers. But I also left the silver bell she gave me on her grave. It was her mother's memento, and I didn't want to break that. My heart broke to see an innocent, fragile, and gentle girl dead before my eyes. Yes, I did witness her death before my velvet nut brown eyes. I did not want her death to be in vain. I thanked her for giving me hope and giving Mokkun and Guren back to me in a way. I decided to make an oath before her very grave. I swear that whatever Mokkun or Guren turns out to be, I will always accept him no matter what.
That summer, Mokkun, Akiko, and I went to see the fireflies. They were beautiful.
1. This is a reference to episode 6.
2. Guren means "crimson lotus"
3. Seiza means "proper sitting posture" with one's shins folded under while sitting on tatami mats. To the Japanese, this is considered the
most efficient, beautiful, and proper sitting posture (pun?) while engaged in a formal activity.
4. This line is from episode 5.
5. This line is from the English version of episode 1.