Chapter 3 - Silence Ensued
Hallways are usually packed with people. Especially the ones in school or public places. But in this case, the hallway Kiyoshi and Sachiko were walking on seems to be completely deserted. Normally, the onmyo dorms would have a considerable amount of people walking about during the daytime, people who were busy with their own work. An empty hallway is a rarity.
" Sachiko, can't onmyojis see you or something?", Kiyoshi asked out of curiosity.
" Not everyone can see me, Yoshi. And that even includes onmyojis."
" So it's ok if you walk around like this?"
" Yes, it's perfectly safe. Unless there IS someone here who could also see me, which is less likely to happen."
Kiyoshi walked out of the classroom and back to the hallway. As he walked past the forbidden room, he suddenly stopped and set his eyes on the door.
" Is something wrong, Yoshi?", Sachiko asked.
" Someone's inside.", Kiyoshi said. " The door is not properly closed and the lock looks like it's been opened."
" What if it's just people who ARE allowed inside?" Sachiko walked towards the door and took a peek inside as Kiyoshi looked around to see if there was anybody around. Strangely, there weren't as much people as he expected.
" Oi, Yoshi! Come over here and see this!" Sachiko called and went inside the room.
" Sachiko! That room is forbidden---", he pushed the door open and revealed a wide library. Scrolls and books were everywhere, as well as old dusty things which look like they were neglected for years. Everything was in its place---- except the white haired girl who wore a shocked look on her face.
Kiyoshi stared at the girl with widened eyes while she stared at Sachiko with wide eyes who was staring at Kiyoshi and trying to predict what he's about to react next. Yes, it all looked like they were having a staring contest for a moment there.
" N-Ne---", the white haired girl, whom Kiyoshi identified as Shino, tried to make out her words clearly. " N-n-neko---- NEKOMA----!!!!" Kiyoshi quickly covered her mouth with his hand in an instant.
" Oh, ohhh. This is going to be very interesting." Sachiko smiled mischievously. " It looks like she can see me."
Shino tried to pull Kiyoshi's hand away from her mouth. " What are you doing here?", Kiyoshi asked the struggling girl.
" I can't answer if your hand is covering my mouth! And there's a Nekomata in here!"
" What are you trying to do? Isn't this room forbidden?" Kiyoshi persisted in asking and Shino stopped struggling.
" I'm looking for something." she merely said with a serious look on her face. " Please don't disturb me." She went back to searching, with her arms shaking which is probably because of Sachiko's presence.
" Ohh. Is it really that important that you had to break in here?", Sachiko moved closer to the girl and rubbed one of her tails on her cheek, making her shudder and paralized with fear.
" I-I need to find out something... to save my sister."
Those last words made memories of Nyatsu come into Kiyoshi's mind at that instant. He remembered how he took forgranted his sister, acting as if she wasn't even part of his life. Now that she's lost somewhere in the Heian period, there is a big possibility of losing her forever.
Sachiko noticed the boy's face, staring blankly into a bookshelf. " Kiyoshi? Is something wrong? Did you find something interesting among these shelves?", she asked. " Hey! Answer me!!"
" Oh, nothing.", Kiyoshi pushed away his thoughts and made way for reality. " I'm fine, thank you."
" Anyway, please don't tell anyone I was here." Shino said with a shakey voice. " Please."
" Sure.", Kiyoshi said. "---"
" Haaah?! You're gonna accept just like that?! What happened to the ' Under one condition...' ??", Sachiko complained and faced him.
" I was just getting to that part but you interrupted me."
" Oh.. sorry. Go on..."
" Anyway, under one condition..."
" Name it."
Kiyoshi flashed a grin. " Would you mind teaching me how to cook?"
" COOK???!!!!" Sachiko and Shino said in unison with their mouths dropped.
" Of all the things you could have asked for..." Sachiko shook her head in dismay.
" What???? It's all Yasunori-sama's fault! He's the one who wanted me to cook food for him in the first place! And besides, I would have asked something else if it wasn't for that request of his."
" Which is...?"
" I'll think of it someday."
" I accept." Shino smiled.
" That was a late reply..." Sachiko commented.
" Woah, she smiled."
" IS THAT ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY?!" they said in unison again.
" You idiots, not so loud." Kiyoshi held up a finger. " We could get caught sneaking in here."
" By the way, what ARE you doing here?" Shino asked.
" It's all Sachiko's fault."
" Hey! You're not supposed to blame others."
" You're the one who went in here in the first place!!"
" So? You're at fault, too!! For noticing the broken lock!!"
As the argument continued, Shino started laughing.
" S-she's laughing..." Sachiko said as both their eyes grew wide.
" Amazing isn't it?" Kiyoshi said.
" Oh sorry... I couldn't help it." Shino controlled her laughter. " I'm Fujiwara no Shino."
" Eh?? This girl is a Fujiwara?!" Sachiko commented.
" Kamo no Kiyoshi. Nice to meet you."
" Ah, so you're a relative of Yasunori-sama?" Shino smiled and reached for her bag. She rummaged it and finally pulled out a book which she handed to Kiyoshi. " I can tell that you're new here. This book will help you learn basic exorcising techniques."
" Thanks a lot." Kiyoshi said as he received it. " We'd better get going now, bye!"
-- Later --
" NO!! Not like that you idiot!!" Sachiko jumped off the giant rock she was standing on and corrected the boy's movements.
" Are you sure it's ok to practice here?" Kiyoshi asked and looked around the garden they were standing on. There were a few sakura trees surrounding the area along with some other species of flowering plants. One of the best features of the garden were the ponds and bridges. Sachiko liked standing on the smooth rocks lying around the ponds.
" It's ok, Yoshi-chi." Sachiko assured him. " NOW STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE PLACE AND CONTINUE TRAINING!!!!!"
" Were you an onmyoji before, Sachiko?"
" What are you crazy? There's no way a nekomata can become an onmyoji." Sachiko showed a distant look. " But there was one man I knew who was a great onmyoji. I learned many exorcising techniques from him, even though I can't use them myself."
" Are you gonna start telling me some long boring story?", Kiyoshi pretended to yawn.
" Hey! Stop slacking off and continue!!!"
After a few hours of training, Kiyoshi suddenly stopped what he was doing and looked at the gate. " Yasunori-sama seems to be taking long.", he then observed the building and the silence. " Isn't it weird that Shino was the only person we found after Yasunori-sama left?"
" Hmm. You have a point there, Yoshi.", Sachiko said and ran to the building. " I'm going to look around. Just continue practicing. This will be really quick."
The places Sachiko looked were all deserted. Even the places they passed a few hours ago which were packed with people were also empty. The last place Sachiko checked was the forbidden room where she found Shino continuing her search.
" This is really weird." she said to herself and turned around.
" What's really weird, Sachiko-san?" Kiyoshi suddenly popped out of nowhere, making Sachiko's hair stand for a moment.
" BAKA!" she hit Kiyoshi's head with her paws. " Don't just go popping out like that!!! Didn't I tell you to keep practicing??"
" Ouch. You didn't have to hit me so hard." Kiyoshi rubbed the sore area of his head. " What's going on anyway?"
" I don't have a clue. We need to ask someone where everyone went. I have a feeling something bad is going to happen.", she looked around and saw someone guarding the gate. " Now go ask that guy over there." She pointed.
Kiyoshi did as he was told and asked. " Excuse me, do you happen to know where everyone went?"
The man, who looked like he was bored, answered, " I remember they were headed towards the inn. It's just near this place. You can go take a short cut through the garden if you're in a hurry."
Kiyoshi thanked the man and ran to Sachiko. " Sachiko! They're in the inn!!", he shouted, making the man wonder who he was talking to since he was unable to see the nekomata standing there.
" Yosh! Let's go!", Sachiko headed for the gate but was grabbed by Kiyoshi who was headed for the shortcut through the garden. " Oi!! Where are you going?! And put me down!!! Hey!! Yoshi-temme!!!"
" There's a shortcut through here."
" Yes, well, PUT ME DOWN!!!!" Sachiko hissed.
" Man, you need some temper management."
" Shut up!! You piss me off sometimes!!"
" Me?! You piss me off too!!"
" Aaaah!! Can we pospone this argument later? We need to get to the inn!"
As they neared their destination, they saw a crowd of people gathered outside. They were chatting noisily about what was going on inside. From the view of things, they knew something bad had happened. Just like what Sachiko's intuition told her.
Kiyoshi made his way through the crowd to get a quick glance of what was going on inside.
" T-there's a onryo in there. We have to stay away." one said.
" An onryo? You mean a vengeful ghost? How did it get in there?!" another said.
" Oy! Kiyoshi! You better not take one step inside there, got it? Or you'll get killed." Sachiko called from the distance.
" Excuse me." a random person said and accidentally pushed Kiyoshi inside the inn.
" Ouch." Kiyoshi said and found himself in a colorful room with walls which were adorned with classic paintings of people and sceneries. There were three onmyojis in the room and among them was Yasunori. There was also a boy about Kiyoshi's age who looked like he just collapsed but he was still conscious since his eyes were still open.
" Kiyoshi-san! What are you doing in here?! Get out of here now! You won't be protected by the barrier in here!!", Yasunori shouted.
"Kiyoshi obeyed his orders and ran straight for the exit but was blocked by the onryo.
Yasunori chanted a spell and succesfully launched his attack on the onryo. " Run Kiyoshi!" Kiyoshi ran again, this time, he tried increasing his speed as he noticed that the onryo was stretching itself towards him. It was directly aiming for his feet.
It attempted to hit him twice but failed as Kiyoshi dodged both attacks. But just like they say, " Third time's the charm". The onryo received a direct hit at one of his feet, almost making him lose his balance.
" Kiyoshi!" Sachiko shouted and entered the battlefield as soon as she saw the onryo wrap a part of itself around Kiyoshi's leg and pull him down on the ground. Sachiko pounced on the long, thin arm of the onryo but was easily pushed away with force, causing damage to both her and the wall.
Slowly, Kiyoshi was being dragged towards the onryo's mouth. He was just like a prey being dragged into the mouth of its predator. He looked to his left and saw a bunch of frightened individuals. Then to his right were Yasunori and the two other onmyojis.
He was just a few meters away from the onryo's mouth when a random spell he learned a few hours ago popped into his head. He quickly pulled out an ofuda ( paper charm) from his pocket and chanted the spell.
" Paralysis!" both he and Yasunori casted the exact same spell at the exact same time. They were both suprised reguarding their timing.
" Someone finish it off!" Yasunori shouted as he tried to keep the onryo paralized just like what Kiyoshi was doing. The two other onmyojis looked frightened and tried to make out a spell.
" Oy! Kiyoshi! How long do you think you can hold?" Sachiko asked as she got herself together.
" This is my first time doing this. And I'm not sure how long I can still hold."
The other onmyojis casted their spells on the onryo but it didn't seem to work. The paralysis spell started to loosen quickly until the onryo broke free, stretching itself to where Kiyoshi was standing.
" Kiyoshi! Dodge!" Sachiko immediately shouted as soon as she noticed that he was being targeted by the onryo.
" What?" Kiyoshi was now standing right beside an open window.
" Dodge you idiot!!!" Sachiko ran and kicked his head down on the floor just in time. If she missed by just a few seconds, Kiyoshi would have lost his head along with his life. The onryo, on the other hand, was able to escape through the window.
" It escaped!! After it!!" one of the two onmyojis said.
" Kiyoshi, are you ok?" Yasunori held out his hand to help Kiyoshi up. " How in the world did you learn that spell?"
" Call me Sachiko Sensei." Sachiko said and grinned.
" Shino gave me a book." Kiyoshi ignored what Sachiko said.
" Well, I corrected him!!!"
Yasunori laughed then his face went back to serious mode. " Anyway, from the direction the onryo was headed, it's heading towards the onmyo dorms." Yasunori addressed to everyone. " We need to get there before we lose it."
" That place is empty now, right? Everyone left a few hours ago to see what was going on.", someone from the crowd said.
Suddenly, Kiyoshi remembered Shino who was still in the forbidden room searching. " The onmyo dorms isn't empty! There's still one last person!" Kiyoshi said and ran as quickly as he could to the onmyo dorms with Sachiko riding on his shoulder. Leaving the remaining people wonder who he was talking about.
" Well, Yoshi. Let's hope we make it there in time."