Jordyn Reese, Grade 11, Lilydale High School -
The realm that is hidden within the folds of our world; among the crevices and the blankets of this earth –that is where they are said to live. Their realm is one only known in storybooks, myths that through time have become distorted, broken, and have strayed from the truth –turning away from fact and more to fiction.
Ayakashi are usually seen as being among a red sea, logs of bodies floating among it with a suffocating aura of fear, but what if they had a gentler touch. What if that dark shadow lurking near the corners of your eyes was not a hunter, but a friend? A question that could only be posed by a young girl who could push past the stigma and who could see the good among the sea of hate.
Laboured, haggard breath and legs that felt that like metal sludge was pumping through them. A monster, big, smoky, and black ripping through the forest as he advanced –ever looming but strangely not advancing.
She launched over small logs and ducked under twisted roots, weaving like water through them. The beasts slashed and ripped at the ground from behind her as she tripped and stumbled out of the roots and to a rocky area. It was cold against her skin which just made it more painful to run on the jagged stones, sufficiently slowing her down, unshed tears warping the world as she ran.
Pushing ahead she reached a clearing, a towering wall, the monster behind her roaring in almost mock laughter as it watched her scramble into a small crack to hide. Its red eyes gleamed with glee as it slowly loomed closer, deciding to put their game to an end.
Screams deafen the forest as a lone fox hopped through the trees, pausing briefly as his ears twitched at the noise. A dark fog slowly descended, a heavy sense of foreboding following the fog –a sweet rotting smell accompanying it.
“Best to get out of the miasma before it gets too thick friend.”
Perking its head up, he spied a man perched on one of the branches atop the trees, gazing not at him but somewhere far off. He gave him a cocky smile before leaping off into another tree, flute tightly gripped in hand. The fox could tell he was following the trail of death, he was one to get himself into trouble, and he was the one who saved him from it.
‘That damn Tsukumogami!’
Bounding through the fog –which sent him shivers, he caught up to him. A sweet melody was playing in the air and he his body started to ache, as he hurriedly covered his ears, the sweet tones bringing the pain of death. The fox watching as a hulky black mass roared, crumbled and withered at the sound, before disappearing, but that was not what surprised him but a young girl clutching her ears, softly glowing yellow, in the place where the monster once stood.