Yunomi’s Story-Book Two

Part XIII Seeing Things For The First Time

Yunomi and Kane found themselves on the Dark Side, a short distance from Yunomi’s house. “Was that real?” she asked. Already the memory of the Gray Realm was fading.
“Yes, Lady, look at yourself. You are the Storm Child. Never forget that.”
Yunomi nodded. “I’ll remember. Let’s secure the mace at my house, then go to Sandia’s and find out what’s up.” Kane agreed and they walked through the woods to the clearing. Both stopped and stared at the burned ruins. Twisted Dark Side grass and brambles were growing up through the ashes. The house had obviously burned some time ago. “How long have we been gone?” Yunomi whispered.
“Reaper did this.” Kane stated. “Why?”
“A ritual for the dead,” Yunomi replied. “A way of saying goodbye and good riddance. Let’s hide it here anyway, and go to Sandia’s.” They found a secret place, and Yunomi put a hiding spell over it. Then they left for the City.

Sandia was following her regular routine, smoking dope with her headset on, laying on her couch. Kane had been gone almost a year, and Yunomi had been dead for nearly as long. Reaper spent most of his time in the Human Realm, and Sandia avoided him, even though she kept tabs on him for Yunomi’s sake. Suddenly, through her self-induced haze, Sandia heard a familiar voice in her head. “Kane!” she shrieked, and jumped up to open the door. Kane stood there, unmasked and smiling. Sandia leaped on him, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist, smothering him with kisses. She clung to him, crying and laughing.

Then she noticed the tall, red haired woman behind him. Sandia released Kane and stared at the smiling woman. “Yunomi?’ she whispered. Yunomi nodded and opened her arms for a hug. “How?” Sandia asked, hugging her friend.
“It’s a really long story, and I don’t remember most of it. We need to find Reaper. Have you seen him?”
Sandia looked away. “Umm...he’s not around much anymore. He spends all his time in the Human Realm. I see him at el Camino now and again. I’m sorry, Yunomi, I know I promised to stay by him, but after what he did to you I just couldn’t stand being near him.”
“That’s okay, Sandia. I’m sure he hasn’t been much fun. How long have we been gone?”
Sandia stared at her in amazement. “You don’t know? It will be a year next month! What happened to you?”
“I’ll try to explain later, but right now it’s important that we find Reaper. We have business to resolve.”
“Well, el Camino is the place to start,” Sandia said. “Let’s go.”

Reaper walked toward el Camino. He had returned to the Dark Side recently to renew himself, and decided to see what was going on. Just inside the bar, he stopped. Bob had a very strange look on his face, and familiar laughter was coming from the upstairs pool room. Reaper went straight to the stairs, and climbed up.

Sandia and a tall woman were mock fighting, threatening and bumping into each other, then laughing. A huge man with his face half in shadow lounged on the red couch, laughing at the women’s antics. Reaper stared at the man. It was almost like looking in a mirror. Kane!

Sandia had noticed Reaper at the top of the stairs, and nodded in his direction. The tall woman spun around. “Hello, Reaper,” Yunomi said quietly. He took a step back. Kane got up off the couch and stood behind Yunomi. Reaper looked from one to the other, then locked his stare on the woman.
“Yunomi’s dead.” he stated coldly.
“The mace has been recovered,” Kane mindspoke to his brother.
Reaper shifted his stare to Kane. “Bring it to the appointed place at dusk tomorrow,” he sent, then turned on his heel and stalked down the stairs. Yunomi started after him, but Kane stopped her with a hand on her shoulder.
“Give him time, Lady. He’ll come around.”

Yunomi felt tears coming behind her eyes, but hardened her face. She was Lady Yunomi now, Reaper would never again make her cry. Sandia put her arm around Yunomi. “Stay with us, girl. We’ve got room.”
“Thanks, but you two need time together, and I’ve got a lot of thinking to do. Kane, I’ll meet you at my house before dusk tomorrow.” Yunomi left the bar and vanished into the dark.

Kane appeared at the ruins of Yunomi’s house shortly before dusk. Together they retrieved the mace from it’s hiding place. “This is a formal affair,” Kane said, assuming his Fire Lord aspect.
“Well then, get ready for the debut of the Storm Child.” Yunomi transformed herself, and Kane sucked in his breath. She wore a bustier and long skirt of dark violet leather, slit up the sides to her hips. A silver chainmail girdle hung around her hips, and soft black leather boots came almost to her knees. Her hair was loose, with a small braid hanging down the left side, decorated with bone beads and Angel wing feathers. Her black heart tattoo and branded armband were clearly visible. She carried her katana in her hand.
“Lady, you look very fearsome and beautiful!” Kane commented.
Yunomi looked down at herself. “I’ll do. Let’s go burn a mace.”

They arrived at the place of destruction, a circle of standing stones on a blasted, forbidding plain. In the center was a flat stone with a carved shallow depression. Cracks ran through the bottom of the depression into the stone itself. Reaper was already there, in his Lord of Darkness aspect. He met them outside the circle. Kane took the mace out of it’s shroud and held it out to Reaper. Yunomi stood at Kane’s side, but Reaper had not even glanced at her, his full attention held by the mace. He ran his hands over it, touching the jewel on it’s crown, then stepped back.
“It is the true mace,” he intoned.

Kane and Reaper carried the mace into the circle side by side, with Yunomi a step behind. They laid the mace on the altar stone, then retreated. Kane raised both fists in the air, then brought them together in front of his chest, arms extended. A stream of flame shot from his fists into the depression that held the mace. He kept the flame on the mace for several minutes, then stopped. Reaper stepped to the altar. A pool of molten bronze was seeping into the cracks of the stone. The jewel lay in the center of the pool, unharmed.
“It is done,” Reaper said. “Your quest is complete. I will no longer interfere with you. Go in peace.”

Kane had been swaying on his feet, and now staggered. He had used all of his strength to destroy the mace. Yunomi caught him, and helped him out of the circle. They were about to return to Sandia’s when Reaper called out. “Yunomi!” She turned to him. “I would speak with you,” he said.

Yunomi glanced at Kane. He was very weak. “Later,” she replied. “At your house.” She and Kane disappeared. Reaper stood staring after them, then shrugged and turned to the altar stone. All of the bronze had seeped into the stone, leaving the jewel cool enough to touch. Reaper picked it up and examined it, then vanished into the dusk.

A short while later, Yunomi approached Reaper’s house. She had changed into tight jeans and a Rob Zombie tee-shirt with the sleeves and hem cut off. Her hair was loose, and framed her face. She was barefoot, a habit she’d picked up somewhere recently, she couldn’t remember. Reaper sat on the top step of the porch, watching her walk up. Yunomi stopped a few feet in front of him. They stayed like that, staring at each other, neither speaking.
Yunomi gave up. “You asked to speak to me,” she reminded him.
“I wanted to see if it was really you. You’ve changed a lot, Yunomi.”
“You haven’t.”
Reaper laughed darkly. “Oh, but I will, someday... and probably not for the better.” Yunomi waited for him to continue.
“You no longer call me ‘Lord’.”
“My obligations to you ended with my death.”
“And your obligations to Kane?”
“Ended this evening. I’m a free soul.”
“What will you do now?”
“That depends."
“On...?” Reaper prompted.
“You. Whether you are willing to accept me as I am now. My feelings for you haven’t changed. You are my cold stream. But if you don’t want me, I can’t stay in Dark Side.”
“You would come back to me?” He seemed surprised.
“If you can accept me as I am. I am Lady Yunomi now, not your acolyte, not your whore, but a free soul, owing no one.”
“Well, I don’t really know how you are now, do I? Let me sleep on it.” Reaper stood up and a slow smile crossed his face. “Care to join me?” He extended a hand to Yunomi.

She sighed, knowing she might never get a straight answer out of him. But he knew she couldn’t resist him, either. She took his hand, and they went inside.

Reaper stretched out on his bed, watching Yunomi undress. She was indeed very different. He noted her jewelry, and the three long scars across her stomach. She moved with an elegance and grace that seemed familiar. Yunomi came over and began to kiss him teasingly. Reaper grabbed her and pulled her onto the bed.

But she was bigger, faster and stronger than he remembered, and soon they were engaged in a savage round of sex. Reaper finally had Yunomi pinned and was leaning into her hard when she yelped in pain. He stopped, and released her. They had always played rough, but he had never hurt her unintentionally.
“It’s okay. I just need to stretch my leg out,” she said.

Curious, Reaper passed his hand over her thigh and hip until he found the injury. He rested his hand on it, concentrating. “Whoever healed this did all that can be done. It will cause you pain for a long time. What happened?”
Yunomi looked away. “It doesn’t matter. Don’t worry about it.”

Reaper shrugged and continued less roughly. Much later, he was watching Yunomi sleep. He reached out and traced her branded armband, feeling the raised scars and knowing who had given it to her. Yunomi growled in her sleep and pulled away from him, turning over out of reach. Reaper stared at her back for a while. She had never before pulled away from him, and he was angry. Finally, he turned his back on her and went to sleep himself.

When Reaper awoke, Yunomi was not there. He sleepily wondered if he had imagined her return as he went downstairs. She was in the kitchen, leaning on the back door frame, drinking coffee and staring out at the Badlands. She was dressed in her old familiar drawstring pants and tank top. Gazing out over the landscape, she serenely sipped from her cup.
“You turned away from me last night,” Reaper said accusingly.
“I’m sorry, I was really tired,” she replied without turning around.
“Don’t do it again.” Reaper ordered.

Yunomi made no comment. She finished her coffee, then rinsed her cup out in the sink and left it on the drain board. “I have some business to take care of,” she said, picking up her pack and sword. “See you later.” She stepped out the back door and was gone before Reaper could say anything. His gaze landed on the hole in the kitchen wall where he had once thrown a beer bottle after her for doing the same thing. Damn it, why does she have to be that way? he thought for the first time in a long time. Then it struck him with crystal clarity. Because she is Yunomi. That’s the way she is. And he wanted her in spite of it, or maybe because of it. She’ll come back to me, he thought. Eventually.

Yunomi came in to Casino el Camino looking for Laura. “Hey, Yunomi! How are things?” her friend asked. Bob pretended that he didn’t see Yunomi. She made him uneasy now. Yunomi thought it was interesting that her female friends had no problem with her changed appearance, but her male friends could not accept her.

Except Kane, of course.

“It’s all good, Laura, but I need a favor. I’m looking for a place to live here in the City.”
“Aw, man, things didn’t work out, eh?” Laura was sympathetic.
“No, no, it’s okay. I just need my own space. Any ideas?”
“As a matter of fact, there’s a space in the next block I think would be perfect for you. Come on, let’s go look at it.”

Bob frowned as Laura and Yunomi left by the back door and headed down the alley. In the middle of the next block, Laura led Yunomi up an outside steel staircase to the second floor of an old brick building.
“The lower floor is haunted, but the second floor has been vacant for years,” Laura said. “Some folks used to live up here, but they moved away.” She opened the door and they went in. It was fairly clean for having been vacant so long. A small kitchen was along one wall, separated from the main space by a brick wall. A shower room was in the corner between the kitchen and the door. The rest of the area was open. High ceilings and hardwood floors distinguished the place. Three large windows looked out over the street below. Yunomi fell in love with it immediately.
“Laura, it’s perfect! Who do I talk to about it?”
“Just move in, nobody claims it. You might introduce yourself to the Ghosts downstairs, and you’ll have to change the spell locks.”
“All right, it’s done. Laura, you’re the first to see my new home.”
“Great! It’ll be good to have you as a neighbor. I’ve got to get back to work, see you.”

Yunomi set about changing the locks and cleaning the place up. Over the next few days the empty loft became her home and dojo. The back third of the space by the alley door was her living area, and the front two thirds was turned into her dojo and workout space. Her furnishings were spare and simple-a futon, two low tables and a huge, grotesquely carved armoire in the sleeping area; a large marble topped pine table with six mismatched chairs; and a screen made of three ornate church doors hinged together that separated the sleeping area from the dojo. She had scrounged most of her furniture from the Human Realm, as well as her dishes and utensils. The place was coming together well.

In the dojo she had her sword altar under the middle window, free weights, a speed bag and a heavy bag. Yunomi put spells on the windows so she could stand at them unseen and watch the street. An extra futon was folded into a couch along the brick wall separating the kitchen.

One day there was a knock at the door, and Laura entered quickly, looking nervous. “Reaper’s looking for you,” she said. “He’s at the bar now.”
“That’s okay, Laura. Tell him where I am.”
“Are you sure? He’s not happy.”
“So when is he ever happy?” Yunomi laughed. “I’m not hiding from him, send him over.”

Laura looked dubious, but left for the bar. A few minutes later, there was a heavy knock on her door. Yunomi opened it to a frowning Reaper. “Hey, come on in,” she offered.
“So why didn’t you tell me you were moving?” he growled.
“Well, you know, my house burned down. I had to live somewhere.”
“Oh, yeah, that.” Reaper remembered. “You could have lived with me.”
“I don’t remember being invited to live with you. Besides, I think we both know how well that would work.”
Reaper looked around. “It’s nice, Yunomi. It reflects you well.” He flopped on the futon. “Got beer?”
Yunomi smiled wryly. “Make yourself at home. Is Pale Rider okay?”
“You know it is.”

She opened two beers and handed Reaper one, then sat on the futon next to him. “So, you were looking for me. Why?”
“I haven’t heard from you in a week. I wondered what happened to you.”
“No other reason?” she asked slyly.
Reaper took a long drink from his beer. “I’ve reached a decision. I want you to be my Lady, assuming we don’t kill each other first.”
Yunomi was dumbstruck. She had not expected this.
“Well, you are the Lady Yunomi now, and a Lady needs a Lord,” he continued.

Not necessarily, she thought, but kept it to herself. She still had said nothing, but she regarded Reaper carefully. He was serious. “You’re willing to accept the changes in me?”
“You’ve changed in ways you don’t yet realize. Yes, I accept that, in fact I’m quite pleased about it. I’ve known you are the Storm Child for some time, I was waiting for you to figure it out.”
“Well then, let’s try not to kill each other.” She sat on his lap astride him, facing him, and wound her fingers through his hair.
“Wait, I want to do something first. I want to re-establish our mind link,” he said.
Yunomi pulled back a bit. “Umm, are you sure? There’s stuff in there you may not want to see.”
“It will help me understand what you went through...”
Yunomi looked at him seriously. “I went through Hell for you. I died for you. Are you certain you want to see that?”
“No,” he replied honestly. “But it’s necessary to re-establish the link, and I want that very much.” He put a hand on either side of Yunomi’s head, and pressed his forehead to hers. She sighed, and opened her mind to him.

Jumbled images rushed at Reaper. He stood his ground, trying to sort them out. He saw the journey trough Carnivean’s tunnels, the battle in the Light Realm and the descent into Hell. He watched the horrific climb to the Temple of the Mace, and the final battle on the cliffs of the Styx. He saw Yunomi’s body lying broken on the rocks. Then it got really weird. Reaper didn’t see so much as feel-confusion, pain, fear. He felt abandonment, bitterness, betrayal, and a growing sense of power. He felt the elation of discovering new strengths and skills, then restlessness, anger, and Surprise!, stubbornness. Yunomi had apparently stood up to some mysterious power and caused it to back down. It was all very unclear. More confused than enlightened, Reaper restored the link, then backed out of Yunomi’s mind. He leaned back on the futon, a strange expression on his face.
“Be careful what you wish for.” Yunomi whispered.
Reaper shook his head to clear it, then his eyes lit on Yunomi’s armband. He reached out and touched the scars softly. “Kane was there for you at every turn.”
“We were there for each other.”
“It should have been me,” Reaper muttered.
“But it wasn’t. Can you deal with that?”
“Why did you come back, Yunomi? After all that’s happened, why return?”
“Because I swore that I would, because I love you, and because I finally understand what we are.”
Reaper pulled her tight against him. “You are my Storm Child, the one I was meant to be with. If you will be my Lady, there is one final thing we must do to seal our fate together. It’s dangerous, and you must be completely sure of your acceptance of me, as I must be of mine for you. Will you do this with me?”

Yunomi was silent. Her love for him was undiminished, but her awareness of the cost of that love made her hesitate.
“The danger is great, but the rewards are also great. We will be united, Yunomi. We will be as one.”
“I want to be with you,” Yunomi finally said. “I want to understand you and accept you as you are. If this thing you ask will make that possible, then I’ll do it.”
Reaper smiled. “You are ready. Come to my house at sunset. We’ll go from there.” He left without another word.

At sunset, Yunomi arrived at Reaper’s house. He greeted her solemnly and led her upstairs. Pulling an old key from his pocket, he opened the door to the only other room upstairs, the one Yunomi had never been in. He lit a candle that was just inside the door, and they entered. The room was empty except for a strange stone altar and a mystic circle drawn on the floor. Reaper went to the altar and lit the candles on it with his, then stepped into the circle. He held his hands out to Yunomi, and she stepped in to grasp them. His eyes glowed white, and he started an arcane chant in a language Yunomi didn’t know. She felt herself moving through space and time, more intense than Dark Side travel.

When she became aware of where they were, Yunomi smiled. She and Reaper stood in an old Victorian cemetery. She thought back to her wild, early years with Reaper, when they haunted the cemeteries of the Human Realm, harassing occultists, or just enjoying the solitude. The graves here were ornate, with much statuary and heavily carved stones.

Yunomi then realized she was dressed only in her jewelry and a long violet cloak with a silver clasp at the throat. Reaper was dressed the same, except his cloak was black. Around his neck was a silver chain that Yunomi had often seen him wear, and greatly admired. The links were small, beautifully made silver skulls.

Reaper took her by the hand and led her toward the center of the graveyard. As they went along, the graves became older, as if they were walking back through time. Ancient, crumbling stones lined the path. They came to a circle of huge, bare trees surrounding another circle of standing stones. Reaper stopped, and gestured at the circles. “This is where I come from. These are my people.”

Yunomi realized that each standing stone marked a grave. She did not recognize the symbols or the writing on the stones, but she was absorbed by the power of the place, and the importance of Reaper’s sharing it with her.
“I’ve waited a long time to bring you here,” Reaper continued. “At times it seemed that I never would. But the changes that have come to you have made it possible. I never wanted unconditional love, I needed unconditional acceptance. I believe you are ready to give me that, as I am to you.”
“I am ready.” Yunomi knew what she had to do here. Reaper whispered something she didn’t understand, then led her to the center of the circle of stones. A large, flat stone lay flush with the ground, its surface covered with carved writing and symbols.

Yunomi and Reaper stood at the foot of the flat stone, facing each other. They reached out and undid the silver clasps at each other’s throats. The cloaks fell away and they stood naked in the moonless dark. Yunomi lay on her back on the stone, and Reaper knelt beside her. He ran his hands slowly over her body. Electricity flowed through his fingers, and his eyes glowed unnaturally. He parted her legs and knelt between them. Yunomi reached out and caressed him, seeing that lightning flowed from her fingers also. Within seconds they were both ready. Reaper leaned forward and kissed her deeply, then entered her. As he did, the wind arose, thrashing the bare tree limbs with howling force.

Yunomi was transported. Once again she was the trembling acolyte, lying with her Lord for the first time. He was not gentle, and she felt again the pain and ecstasy of that night. Then she rushed forward, feeling the pain and ecstasy of her entire relationship with him. She felt every betrayal, every abuse he had ever given her. And all the while, voices swirled around her. “Are you sure, Yunomi? Are you sure? Are you sure?” The voices of the dead, she knew. His dead. “Are you sure?” She saw him with the Demi-Demons, f*cking them so hard that they fled from him. She saw his myriad Human lovers, some of whom had tried to take out their jealousy on her. “Are you sure?” She saw him burn and imprison his brother. She saw him terrify Sandia. “Are you sure?” Still she clung to him. “Yes!” she screamed. “I’m sure!”

Reaper was going through the same torment. He felt Yunomi’s love for him, and every betrayal he had ever heaped on her. He saw her becoming stronger, more independent, needing him less. He understood that she would never be able to trust him, and that her love was the only thing that bound her to him. Then he saw Kane and Yunomi together, making sweet, gentle love, the kind of love he couldn’t give her. “Are you sure, Dark Lord? Are you sure?”
“She doesn’t love him that way!” his mind screamed.

A cold, dark voice sounded in his mind, calling him by his long-lost Human name. “She will be your brother’s lover also. She is fated to love you both. Can you accept that? If not, it will destroy you all.”
“Yes, Father, I can accept it. I’m sure.” Reaper clung to Yunomi as tightly as she did to him. Together they were screaming “Yes! I’m sure!” as they reached their ecstasy. The voices died away with the wind. Reaper and Yunomi dissolved, melted into each other, knew each other completely. They melded, became one, with nothing lost between them, then flowed back into their bodies and lay exhausted on the stone.

At last they rose, and knelt facing each other. Reaper unclasped the skull chain from his neck, and placed it around Yunomi’s. He laid the palm of his hand against her cheek. “My Lady,” he said simply.

Yunomi placed her hand on his cheek. “Beloved,” she answered. He knew she would never call him ‘Lord’ again, but it didn’t matter. They were one now, they shared the same dark heart. They were in Union.

End of Book II

Yunomi Book Two, first page.
Yunomi Book Two, second page.
Yunomi Book Two, third page.
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