The Shinigami: Act 3 "Angel of Death"

3397981711?profile=RESIZE_710xThen it happened. The rogue Samurai drew her katana. Eljar took a step back and repeated himself in his intention to arrest her. She moved forward, sword drawn. He warned her the last time and took another step back, “I will not hesitate to strike you, Shinigami. Drop your weapon”. His heart was pounding wildly now. He was absolutely confident that he wasn't sure he could go on a duel with a vampire slaying Ronin. In one swift motion, she reversed her grip, and impaled the snow, surrendering the katana.

“Are you sure you have the right person, Samurai? You're making a mistake”, she finally spoke, but with a strikingly familiar voice.

Upon hearing the mysterious woman's voice, Eljar recalled the last bed time story he heard when he was a child of six years, ‘Ryuujin and Ryouko No Tensei’. It was the creation myth where the Akaviri Dragonguard faith revolves upon. “The world was created by the dragon god, Ryuujin, at the cost of his soul being broken into many pieces”, a woman's voice spoke in his head. His thoughts took him back while he was lying on his bed, his mother telling him a story for him to sleep, a flashback. It was the last time he saw his mother alive.

“These pieces became the timeless dragons we know today, each one a mere shadow of his former self, each one with a will for creation and destruction”, the voice continued. “However, mortals like us can never comprehend the dragons for their voice is power, and we are powerless. And to them power is truth. When they speak of truth, we become false and cease to be.”

“I'll pretend you didn't lose me there and understood everything, mum”, Young Eljar replied, jesting to imply that he misunderstood the story. His mother laughed, amazed at the wit and maturity of her young son.

“Let's just say you're like men, and I'm the dragon. You just don't have the power to understand me”, she replied while giggling. Eljar frowned as he understood his mother.

“So do ‘us men don't live forever because we can't understand how to’ count, mum?”

Impressed by her six year old son's capacity to comprehend complicated and abstract religious verses, she pressed on with the story with more vigor. “Yes Eljar, men die because we're mortals and they're not. However, when the balance tips off, and destruction prevails, a shard of Ryuujin's soul falls upon a mortal for us to understand the will of the dragon god. He will retrieve the other shards of his soul through the body of a man, until he dies and reunites with himself, thus bringing balance to the world once more. This man is the Tensei, incarnate, the Son, born of the dragon, one who speaks their tongue, and will return once destruction becomes imminent again”, Eljar thought hearing the voice of his mother in his head as he blasted back to reality. How could this person in front of him remind him of his mother? “Could it be? That's impossible”, he thought assuming, and hoping that some twisted magic brought his mother back to life.

However, Eljar thought that this hooded woman in front of him was not his mother. “This one's a little too short, and we buried mum a long time ago. Then why am I, all of a sudden recalling this story”, he thought that upon hearing the mystery person's voice, somehow she was linked to his mother's bedtime story.

And then he glimpsed at the katana in front of him, making sure she doesn't swiftly get it. It was still safely pierced through the snow, standing before them. Yes, it was the same sword he saw resting beside the loot a few weeks back before disappearing in daylight. No doubt about it. This was the Shinigami the Daimyo was after for seventeen years. However, something was odd. He knew he definitely saw this katana before. He saw it right before it disappeared on that day the Shinigami warned them about vampires. But it gave him a feeling that he saw this uniquely designed Akaviri sword somewhere else.

Then Eljar started to hear his mother's voice in his head again. But the memory flashed back to his first history class. “When dragons die, their souls linger until they get absorbed by a more powerful entity. It could be another dragon, or Ryuujin himself if there were no more powerful dragons than the one just killed”, a woman's voice said.

“You see, students, if a dragon breaks, its soul shatters, but it will try to find its missing pieces as time passes”, she continued. “Think of them as a puddle of water on a flat surface that's been stepped on. When the surface moves, just like time, the splattered water puddles reunite with each other. Smaller puddles seemingly join the larger ones until there is one. Larger, more powerful souls tend to act like sponges. They absorb the smaller, weaker ones. That is why the Dragonguard, our ancestors, slew dragons. They did it to hasten the reunification of the dragon's soul, the return of Ryuujin himself, the dragon god, Akatosh, as our Tamrielic brethren call him.

“However, he would arrive in a place during the most unexpected circumstance, inside a mortal's body, the Ryouko No Tensei, born of the dragon, the Dragonborn.

“The moral of the story here is that we need to be prepared at all times. Live your lives as honorably as possible for we will never know when our one true god returns to our world. At least, that's what our ancestors believed in”, then she ended the lecture singing the song of the Dragonborn. She started humming the tone of the song as an intro. “Our hero, our hero, with a warrior's heart.. I tell you, I tell you the Dragonborn comes..”, she had an angelic voice, Eljar thought while the voice of her mother gradually changed to Lady Risa's, as he stared on the tsuba of the katana impaled through the snow. There were two bats on either side. The blade was black gold.

She unveiled her hood, and stroked her ebony black hair aside revealing a very familiar and beautiful face, then spoke once again, “arrest me for what, Samurai? For helping my people? I dare you to present your warrant”. Shocked and completely lost in thought with hysterical confusion, Eljar just simply blabbered the words, “Huwoahhh… Makenzo-Sensei! It's dangerous out here. You should be indoors”.

“I should be telling you the same. You're not on duty. What's that on your other hand? You're supposed to hold the hilt with two hands when on the defensive”, Lady Risa replied as if lecturing her student once again.

Momentarily forgetting that the Shinigami was indeed the Daimyo, Eljar realized that he was fucked. He was holding a very illegal skooma vaporizer with his offhand, and was probably very high and drunk. It was also partly the reason why he was still denying the reality in front of him.

He needed to change the tone of the conversation quickly. Fortunately, he was good with that. “This? This was my wakizashi, Daimyo-Sama. Blade fell off. Low grade smithing. Tsk”, then he immediately added. “Your arm. You are wounded, milady. You need to be tended quickly”. But she was fine. The effects of the potion regenerated her health fast, all thanks to Eljar's alchemy lessons.

“I am a Samurai descended from the Shugosha Ryuujin. I should be fine”, she said. She had a good point. She might be a petite looking girl, but she was tougher than she looked. She had been through worse. “Eljar, no one knows about this”, she said implying to keep her identity a secret, while walking away into the woods.

“Which one? The part that you're the Shinigami, or that you got wounded by bloody milk drinkers? A bit confused, you know”, Eljar jested even though he knew vampires weren't milk drinkers at all. Lady Risa just simply smiled. Eljar had an extremely defiant nature, but his wits always brought good humor that made her smirk every time. “Sensei, you know the rumors were right about the angel of death”, he added.

“Really? What's that”, she asked while still walking away, grinning.

“The Shinigami is indeed an angel”. Risa flushed. She continued walking though, not revealing the inappropriate flattery. Then she replied after a moment and smiled, “You do not use Daisho with one opponent, Eljar. Lay off the Skooma, and drink responsibly. It makes you say things.”

The night passed without so much of a happening save for the winds that continued to howl through sunrise. Eljar went to work the next morning with a massive headache. He was hung over, again. The events that happened the previous night seemed like a dream. Otherwise, he would have to carry the burden of keeping the Daimyo's secret. It really did seem like a dream. Everything was going normally, and smoothly within the now walled village. That was until he entered the headquarters to report to Captain Halfdan.

Seven black soul gems, a few pieces of moth wings, and a cup of vampire dust were on the table. “Maybe that part was not yet a dream”, Eljar thought still denying the moment the Shinigami revealed herself could be real. “It's either the Shinigami wiped an entire coven of vampires out, or there could be more of them out there”, Halfdan said.

“I do not mean to be the ‘anti-hero' here, Taichou, but the latter is the more inconveniently, convincing truth”, Eljar replied, half joking. “We're going to make more flame based enchanted weapons”, he grimly added. He kept trying to insert a little bit of humor about everything even if it was out of place. That was his way of denying reality. He might be able to turn everything into a jest by some supernatural ability to invoke the law of attraction so that reality would turn coat, he thought. Not only that he wanted the gargantuan vampire menace to be unreal, but the confirmed truth that Risa Makenzo was in fact, the Shinigami.

It actually was an awesome idea, Eljar thought. Lady Risa was her own anti thesis that she created herself. She diverted her own secret identity by continuously denouncing it publicly. No one would ever thought she and the Shinigami were one. Two personas, both in the same interest to alleviate her people's hardships. “But why battle the undead? The bandit catching was already a good touch, Ri-Chan”, Eljar asked Lady Risa one day in her office.

“Ri-Chan? Suddenly respect is diminishing here, Samurai”, Risa responded sensing the sudden shift of endearment from Eljar, but secretly liked it. She flushed, but didn't look at him and continued writing on her scroll. They had been becoming closer recently since they talk more often nowadays due to her big secret.

“Alright, Makenzo-kun..”

“Stop it.”

“This is not a conversation between a master and a student anymore. It's just casual.”

“I don't want you to get used to it.”

“I already am, Shinigami-Sensei.”

“Silence! I am still your Daimyo, soldier”. Risa ends the conversation with a somewhat fake angry tone. She had been longing for this kind of pointless conversations since the death of her husband. But she needed to remind Eljar his place. Unfortunately for her, it may have not worked on his deviant and jesting personality.

“Alright ‘Daimyo-Sama’. But on a bit more serious note, why the undead? You haven't answered it”, he asked again.

She said that the most compelling reason was she was trying fulfill her role as a Blade since they were in hiding. The ancient Dragonguard killed dragons, but dragons were difficult to come by so she resorted in hunting what was left of the dragons, their foul necromantic magic in the barrows. But that was not the only reason. “Remember, the story of Ryuujin and Tensei”, she said with her tone shifting back as if she was still his Sensei.

“How could I forget? That's my favorite bedtime story”, he replied. She continued on saying that the foul magic gifted upon by the dragons to men worked similarly. An Overlord of a Nordic barrow in life, would break his soul into many pieces to give to his servants. These now individual souls would grow in power in them as time passed. Eventually, the servants would be killed to join him in the burial chamber when he died. Then they would rise as undead Draugr to tend him and recycle his soul.

“The knowledge of withstanding the test of time through the breaking of souls was the dragons gift to high ranking members of the Dragon Cult. These overlords were kings, priests, lords, or military leaders sympathetic to the said Cult in life”, she said getting to her point.

“However, Ryuujin had the purest of souls so when his soul was broken, his ‘diminished selves’ turned into powerful dragons. Men don't have souls like him. The diminished self of a once proud Nord hero would become nothing, but a corrupted soul of a Lich. This is known to be the foulest form of Necromancy. The one that even the great mystic, Galerion had to stop and cost him his life”. She added, and also stressed the point why she took the mantle of the Shinigami. She wanted to free their souls from the curse of their Overlords by trapping them in soul gems to make sure they didn't rise again as undead. And then fully releasing the curse by breaking the gems in an Arcane Enchanter.

“And the vampires”, Eljar said asking about the problem at hand.

“Works the same, in essence. Turning another one to be a vampire is a form of one's transference of his or her soul”, she replied.

“Only that they're still somewhat ‘alive’.”

“Still a form of undeath. Necromancy manipulated by the demons or Daedra so they retain their sentience. Not a shadow of their former self, but more demonicly powerful. However, still dead.”

“Which makes them more dangerous.”

“Unfortunately, yes.”

Eljar went home that night baffled with the conversation he had with Lady Risa about Necromancy. He was at the same time impressed with her knowledge about the undead, and felt against her actions about trapping vampiric souls. Only black gems can hold them. And when black gems get used up, their souls go to the Soul Cairn, a hellish plane of Oblivion.

They were still sentient beings. They can be cured of the curse. He did not like the thought of sending souls to a place like that. They were cursed by Daedra, they weren't necessarily evil.

“So the dragons taught men and Daedra this”, he thought staring at an empty black gem on his table. Yes, he thought about it. He wanted to help the Shinigami straight on by trapping a vampire's soul himself, and face the menace head on. “But it's wrong. They're alive. I would be playing with a mortal's soul”, he still hesitated.

For as long as man can remember, he venerated the dragon god. He tried to be like the great beast, but failed. A mortal's soul was never really destined to be eternal. The Daedra did the same, and still ended up creating the undead vampiric curse. It has always been death if a mortal's soul was broken. It was such a grim lesson given by Ryuujin. There was always a fine line between a blessing and a curse. Only one's strength of individuality could determine the difference.

“God. Ryuujin is god. He was, is, and will always be the only one who could withstand the test of time. Break him and he still remains him, incorruptible, and undying, a dragon”, Eljar thought. He then realized that vampires don't possess a mortal's soul anymore, but a Daedric curse. “No. They're already dead. Their souls have long gone. Nothing but a curse inside a shell of what used to be something. Time to hunt some bloody milk drinkers”, then one night he set off to hunt down his first vampire.

Author's note: the Akaviri creation myth mentioned above is not elder scrolls canon, and was created purely for the backstory's interests by the author. 

Also, the image above does not belong to the author, but to the Bleach Manga series created by Tite Kubo, and published by Shonen Jump. The author would love to draw images of his own, but struggles at it, and that would be a story for another day.

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