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The Shamisen Player and the Three Strings

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Loneliness.

That’s all he knows now, ever since the curse was placed on him—ever since he was forced into the form of a man-beetle hybrid. Ever since his memories were stolen, forced into the back of his mind until he couldn’t even recall his name—and he was forced to literally call himself “Beetle” because his memories were so vague, that he briefly remembered the name of his master’s clan: The Beetle Clan.

He’s lived in a cave ever since he woke up, without a trace of any memories of his family and his own self… aside from what he once was, along with the lingering feeling that he was once a part of something much greater—but what, he wonders. What could it be?

The only name he remembers is the name of his master, Hanzo, but… Hanzo’s gone. If not dead, he’s gone in the sense of disappearance—no trace of him left behind, unless he has a family of some sort. Even then, though, that family’s probably far, far out of Beetle’s reach. What is a samurai to do without his master? Much less, a samurai that’s now stuck as a bug?

“Am I to spend the rest of my days, alone in this cave?” Beetle questions. “Collecting pieces of robes, which are my only key to the past—my memories?”

He’s met with no answer, which he expects. Still, without a response, he’s reminded of how lonely he is, compared to all the other creatures in the world.

“If only I wasn’t cursed,” Beetle mutters, “I would leave this cave for a village, somewhere out there. I’d search far and wide, for my master’s family, if he has one. I’d do it, to remember anyone—I would do it, without a second thought! If I were not stuck in this form, I’d do anything! Just to remember!

There’s a determined look on his face, but then it falters. “But I can’t. I’ll scare away the only chances at help I can get,” he whispers, frowning.

Then, he hears something—footsteps, from afar. Then, he starts to feel something—he feels… hopeful.

He leaves the cave, and looks around. He soon spots a small moth child—no older than nine, perhaps—wandering around. “It’s a child… a child?

Curiosity getting a hold of him, he decides to approach the child. “Excuse me,” he says, causing the child to turn to him. “Are you lost, by any chance?”

“Kind of,” the moth child replies. “I don’t—I don’t remember where my old home or my old family is… I’ve been wandering around for nights, because of this curse.”

Beetle’s face soon has a look on sympathy on it. A young child, cursed to wander the same lands as him—the idea that someone would do something so cruel to an innocent being… it sickened him. But his anger was pushed aside, for the child’s well-being mattered more now. “Would you like to stay in my cave with me?” he offers. “Only if you want to, of course.”

The child pauses for a moment, before they smile. “Yes,” they answer. “Thank you, uh…”

“Beetle.”

“Gako.”

“Well, Gako, let’s get some sleep,” Beetle says, making his leave for the cave.

The little moth nods, before they follow him.

 

What the two don’t know is that they soon will be a part of something much bigger—something greater than they could ever imagine.