Kaya hated Emishi Village.
She hated the vicinal huts nearly as much as she did the citizens, their nonchalant expressions and occasional glimpses of concern evoking a sense of barbarity from the gauche yet valiant façade of her being whenever they walked by her; increasing her desire to sprint to the nearest dirt furrow between two adjacent buildings and kick their walls or maul at her forearm until bruises were revealed the more she stripped herself when getting home.
Kaya hated the Gods that resided amongst the batch of complicit trees surrounding such a poor, forsaken villageーinfuriated at the former to not have had torn the human dwellers apart limb by limb and coating their dermas with fresh blood after finally reclaiming what had once been theirs.
Thus, as any mindful yet perennially distrusting spirit could discern, Kaya’s efficaciously potent rage for Emishi became perceptible through the exhorting, seemingly idle way she maneuvered her blade in the direction of the Boar God; attempting to induce any sort of attack from the latter as the corner of her mouth lifted in appetency, ignoring the soft whimpers of the fallen girl beside her.
The events following such an apparent predicament seemed to have completely hampered the villagers’ endeavors to thoroughly process what had happened that day. Kaya was no exceptionーthe girl was distantly aware that yes, she should have been disappointed by the unforeseen arrival of her betrothed, mounting the back of a scampering Yakul as he decimated the afflicted Boar with such palpable indignance that it stunned even herself. Despite the young man’s continuous pleas for the latter to exhibit mercy upon his tribe, Kaya understood that neither the Boar God nor her leman would ultimately be granted a benevolent fate, and absently shared that comprehension with the other villagers she despised so much.
Nothing could have saved Nago from his imminent suffering; the indiscernible gaze of a beast directed to that of his slayer was abruptly betrayed by a more-or-less horrifying, remunerating promise just moments before his death, and Kaya couldn’t refrain from the droplets of gratitude that beaded the corners of her eyes. The Boar had transmogrified into a malignant demon and her prayers had been heard, his threatening final words eventually reverberating themselves past Kaya’s ear drums and eventually prompting her to stagger through the entry of her home from pure besiege.
She collapsed onto the wooden floor debilitantly, her intestines and adjacent organs from the abdomen-up falling onto the pavement beneath her in a moist clutter. The girl felt her palms and knees being negligibly scraped by the splinters abutting them before slowly reclining herself onto her ankles and grasping the secretors in an attempt to place them back where they came.
Kaya managed to adjust the usurpations of her body and strip herself of the dampened violet kimono before donning a clean one, attenuating any source of evidence from her recent plight until her leman’s arrival back from the meeting with their tribe’s dignitaries.
She practically sprinted towards the Prince once descrying the massive antlers of his elk from the aperture of her shieling, exuding his name out in a screech as if she were a gallinule mourning the body of her mate from a canal. “Ashitaka!”
Emishi traditions be damned; if Kaya didn’t say farewell to the only person in the wretched village that doesn’t evoke an affronted scowl from her by mere sight, then no amount of nail-prying or disjointed bones could relieve her of the interminable rage and despondency that would follow. As if the cycle hadn’t already repeated itself since birth.
Ashitaka bestowed her with a befuddled yet gratified expression, changing Yakul’s sense of direction with a sharp tug of his rein. “Kaya, what are you doing here? You know it’s forbidden.” The edge of his leman’s mouth hefted up into a volitional smirk. “Do you think I care about that?”
The Prince’s eyes widened in revelation at what Kaya then displayed to him, the distorted panes of a glistening knife riveting his gaze as pretty, scarlet thread contradicted the tinted skin of the palms bearing it. The beaming mien Kaya presented across her features was practically tangible in its complacency, even though Ashitaka couldn’t find it in himself to avert his behold away from the dagger she carried.
“I came to give you this so you won’t forget your little sister,” she disclosed, inwardly yearning for some sort of reciprocation of affection from the last few words being emitted. “Your crystal dagger,” her betrothed cognized aloud, likely unaware of his uttering. After a moment of fathoming over the sudden offer, the Prince split open such taciturnity with the perk of his head. “Kaya, I can’t take this.”
“Please, keep it with you brother; to protect you.” Ashitaka bestowed her with somewhat of a lingering, solicitous expression before grasping the threaded loop affixed to the dagger’s hilt in reluctance, eliciting his leman’s grin to spread wider before reassuring him. “You must take it with you. Please, I want you to have it, so you won’t-” Kaya furrowed her brows in a countenance the Prince couldn’t quite discern and twisted her face away, emitting a brief sigh hitherto finishing her sentence. “...Forget.”
Ashitaka’s perturbed mien was now replaced with that of consolation, features softening as he released the grip on the side of Yakul’s rein to cradle his leman’s face, cheek to palm. The latter leaned into the contact and drooped her eyes closed, allowing her body to go slack with repose and assurance. “Kaya, you know I could never forget you.”
The Prince’s affirmation marked the end of their adieus, granting one another with a shared, earnest smile after Kaya gently detached his hand from the side of her faceーwatching as Ashitaka darted off towards the egress of Emishi Village with the cracked whip of his elk’s rein after leaving a cloud of dust to evanesce into the cool, night air.
A dewy, begrimed worm suddenly wiggled itself from the canal of Kaya’s left ear, causing her to wince out of instinctive disgust and repellence before tossing it to the ground with the pinch of her thumb and forefinger. She stared as the invertebrate dragged its slick frame across rocky pavement and was suddenly taken aback by the precipitated quiver of her lips, feeling her eyes start to irrigate under furrowed brows before emitting a sniffle.
“They didn't deserve him,” she opined aloud, intonation audibly shaky in the empty thoroughfare. Yet the remark wasn’t even the truth of things, reallyーand now there wasn’t even anyone around to hear her lie.
The spirit then turned and sauntered back to her hut, wiping off the evinced lamentation from her face before entering, and closed the door behind her.