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Despite the abundance of mentors in stories and prophecies, there is barely any recognition of the heroes having children post prophecy. Whilst it's likely that they aren't documented for respect and the privacy of the Hero's life, it's an interesting phenomenon to note. Especially in comparison to the Villains. 

 

There are numerous cases where the children or lineage of past villains rose up again in the following prophecy(ies) after the Hero won. This act is named promptly after the sole circumstance where the Hero was the child of a past victorious Villain in one prophecy. The sins of the Father. 

 

Yet, that narrative only happened once. In this world, the children of the villains continued to take their parental role of a villain. In contrast, Heroes never sired a future prophetic hero. This is not even related to the fact it's near impossible for the divine tools, Catalyst and Seers, to sire actual biological children. 

 

But still, past heroes did exist in future prophecies. They might not be biologically related to the heroes or roles of the future prophecy. Still, even when they had the role of the mentor on their back, these older figures gained a parental stance, especially if the encounters were young. 

 

...

 

How dangerous it is to be the person they look up to. Children are so impressionable. They can become monsters, saviours, heroes and villains all by how they were raised...

 

Memoir 75-- Children of the Marked by Tsuyuzaki Michiru 

 

~

 

Shiori was dreaming, this much, Shiori knew. It was vague in this world of fog and smoke, silver linings made real with astral light and stardust glitter. In front of her were red eyes— familiar yet dangerous, fearsome and yet kind. The duality of such a sight made her head throb. She has seen those eyes before, blinking with a crimson glow at the outline after the divination ceremony. 

 

Even now, the eyes— plural— a set and only a set, were blinking. Its motions were slow and lethargic, like they were fighting sleep. And just like before, images flashed in Shiori's vision, but this time, it was more advanced than before. Brown hair— dark and long like a mahogany tree. The letter C, crooked and crumbled like a layer being peeled off its skin. Gold gleaming in its most tainted form, glistening despite how the shell of such metal was coloured like mouldy hay. 

 

"Shiori," a voice whispered to her, forgettable in the wonders of this dream world. 

 

Fire existed within this celestial fog, scarlet and burning. It raged on, directionless and stubborn like a flood. It didn't circle Shiori, now that she noticed such a demanding heat. Instead, the fire stayed distant from her, almost as if there was a boundary. Except there was no direct boundary around Shiori. The dying embers and the flickering flames were touched by her hands— and unlike the burning scorching sensation Shiori expected, the flames were warm. It was kind. 

 

"Shiori!" 

 

The wind blared around her, greeting her like an old friend or a faithful companion. It rushed underneath her sleeves, lifted up her hair. It danced around her, energetic and free and controlled. Shiori could sense how it moved from one layer of clothing to the next within a precision she couldn't see before. 

 

Maybe she could control the wind— 

 

"--Shiori, wake up!"

 

Shiori gasped, her chest heaving as light attacked her from all angles. She winced, raising a hand to cover her face as the shadows faded out, bringing shape and colour to the people hovering over her. 

 

"F-fumi?" Shiori blinked. Her eyes widened at Fumi's gentle smile. At once, her heart throbbed once more, hollow and overflowing with an acidic burn. She turned her head left, attempting to avoid the jarring kindness on Fumi's face— only to startle herself, stumbling back onto the pillow. "Claudine?"

 

Claudine frowned, her brows creasing. "Eh, Shiori, what happened to Kuro nee."

 

Befuddlement silenced Shiori's tongue as she stared. "Uh…" 

 

Fumi took notice, for how could she not, and nudged Claudine with an elbow. She winked subtly at Shiori like they were in with some joke before she grinned impishly. "She just woke up, Kuro nee~" She puckered her lips with that, leaning forward only to laugh it away when Claudine pushed her aside. 

 

"Eww don't say it like that," Claudine cringed, "You make me sound old."

 

"You are old by like, three hours."

 

This time it was Claudine's turn to huff and push Fumi away. "Well it's your fault for going late outside of the womb."

 

Shiori sat there, on a bed she can't remember staring with her heart aching and her head throbbing. How beautiful it was to see the sisters she cared about— the sisters she, deep down despite all the pain, could never tear away. To deep down, how painful it was to doubt that any of this was real— that none of this could be real. Not after how badly they failed her on the night of prophecy. 

 

"Can you guys be quiet," Shiori gasped, barely able to get the words out of the twisting and complex emotions and cries in her throat. "Please?"

 

"Oh right," Fumi winced, "You just woke up." She shuffled further at the end of the bed, for once actually listening to Shiori and making some space. To say it was jarring would be a complete understatement. 

 

"Sorry Shiori," Claudine equally said in an apologetic voice— another bizarre amendment that shook Shiori to her core. When was the last time Claudine ever admitted she was in the wrong?

 

"Mum—"

 

"--WHO!?" 

 

"--Made your favourite tea by the way so get it whilst it's hot." Not noticing the horror on her younger sister's face, Claudine nudged Fumi on the shoulder with her usual competitive smirk. "Come on Fumi, I want to play knights and dragons."

 

Fumi grinned, also oblivious to Shiori's blatant outburst. Instead, she raced towards the door, her laughter echoing down the hallway. "Last one to the forest is a stinky dragon."

 

"Hey no fair," Claudine yelled back, chasing after her twin, "You cheated!"

 

The name of such a nostalgic game was enough to shake Shiori out of her thoughts surrounding the fate of her mothers. Her sisters played Knights and Dragons when they were kids, and their mothers were alive. 

 

Shiori's eyes widened with a sudden epiphany. She scrambled out of bed, gasping at the mirror nearby before the shock forced her back on the floor. The rose clip, no longer around her neck, was on her hair. Ignoring how pale and sickly her skin was, already bruising from her sickness, that was the biggest indicator of her youth. She really was a child— which ultimately meant none of this was real. 

 

Yet that didn't stop Shiori's eyes from watering when she heard footsteps and her late mother appearing in the reflection of the mirror. 

 

"Shiori?" Her late mother, Reo, a compassionate and cautious person, walked into her room. The golden hair, full of curls and softness, swayed as she crouched down to Shiori's level. "Shiori my dear are you alright?" 

 

Shiori's bottom lip wobbled. The agony of her sisters. The crushing relief and exhaustion that none of this was real disappeared at the sight of her mother. How much she missed her. Ignoring all of her inherited caution, Shiori stumbled to her feet and ran into Reo's arm, gripping her waist in a tight hug. "Ma…" 

 

"Oh my sweet baby," Reo cooed, kissing the crown on her head. The tenderness made her crumble, almost forgetting that all of this was an illusion. Illusion or not, Shiori missed her mothers dearly, even when she could barely remember them. "Did you have a bad dream?"

 

"Yeah," Shiori broke, gasping for breath with a watery smile. "My sisters were kind to me and listened after 10 years and one of my mothers returned from the dead." She looked up, a heavy weight on her lower jaw as she sniffled. "I'm hugging a ghost, that's kinda scary isn't it Ma?" 

 

The smile on Reo's face faltered, only solidifying the weight in Shiori's chest into a heavy piece of lead. "I'm sorry my darling…." 

 

"Why is this a thing…." Shiori raged, grasping onto the shirt of her mother, her voice simmering low like a heavy breeze seconds away from developing into a hurricane. "WHAT'S THE POINT!? IS THIS ANOTHER HERO THING TOO!?"

 

"Hey," Reo said, patting Shiori's cheek to make Shiori look at her. "Shiori ,look at me." Reo grabbed the bottom of her chin, guiding her daughter to see her head on. "Just because this isn't real, doesn't mean I'm not real."

 

"Huh?" 

 

"You need help," Reo smiled. She cupped Shiori's cheeks, thumb against the skin in gentle circles. "You were calling for me in your sleep… and so I came. Not all divine intervention is a bad thing you know. Besides, I know those villains won't help you will they?"

 

Something churned in the pit of Shiori's stomach. As much as Rui had been rough and how manipulative Michiru had been, they were helpful to some degree. They gave Shiori her privacy, and they attempted to teach her how to control her powers. They failed in doing that assignment, but they tried, compared to her sisters over the years— it was better than nothing. "I…"

 

"You plant flowers for me," Reo continued her grin widening. "Outside of the walls because I never got a proper burial thanks to the plague. Right near our house that Mahiru stole."

 

Shiori blinked, the churning in her stomach intensifying. "Mahiru stole that?" She shook her head violently, stepping back and throwing her mother's hands away. "No—" Shiori declared, her eyes holding a stern gaze as her brain racked itself for the memories. 

 

"You… you gave that to her." That's right, Mahiru mentioned it once when they were gardening in the backyard. That was why Shiori was allowed to plant her flowers there. Mahiru was a family friend despite how little time she had known them. What failing memories she had of her mothers growing up, Mahiru was there to fill in the gaps as best she could. "That was our future house, yeah— I planted your flowers there, with Mama's too. Right opposite Mahiru's flowerbeds for her wife." 

 

"Right…" Reo said, unsure, faltering before she shook her head, smiling like before. Yet now, with the unsettling feeling in Shiori's stomach, the smile looked more predatory than it was kind. "Sorry, it's— it's been a while. I forget what I did."

 

Shiori paused. "If you're my mother," she said slowly. "Tell me what flowers appeared on your flowerbed."

 

"Shiori!?" Reo gasped, hand on her chest at the sheer accusation. 

 

"I'm your daughter, Mother," Shiori spat that last word out like a curse, raising her hands up as the thin layer of cold breeze hovered in the cuffs of her sleeves. "Mahiru said I was cautious, something I inherited from you, remember?"

 

Reo paused. A beat passed, and she stood up properly, her eyes dull. Shiori shifted minutely, somehow finding comfort that her mother was a liar. "Roses…" Wind erupted from Shiori's sleeves, bursting through and slamming the fake into the wall. 

 

"HOW DARE YOU PRETEND TO BE MY MOTHER!" Shiori roared, her heart beating fast. Tears bleed from her eyes, angry hot tears. How insulting it was to treat her like a child, to believe she was someone so easy to manipulate and control. 

 

"You're right," The fake laughed as she stood to her feet, her kind smile vicious as the hair flickered from curls to a mess. Her kind eyes flashed crimson, and Shiori gasped.

 

"Michiru san?"

 

"Don't you remember me Shiori?" Michiru grinned. Her mother's curls shaped itself to a thorn bush of knots and edges. Michiru spread her arms out like a performer, ready to give a bow. "I remembered you with great detail."

 

"What—" Shiori looked around. The unfamiliar setting of the bedroom warped itself into a childhood home. A place Michiru never should've known. She knew that Michiru knew of them, but she never thought it would be this extent. 

 

"How…" Michiru didn't answer. She stepped closer inside, careful; and daunting. "You met us before?" Shiori asked, grasping for straws. "Is that how you knew my sister's name?"

 

"And your mothers," Michiru said with a nod, "Aina, Reona though she liked to go as Reo." Michiru stopped right in front of Shiori. Even though Shiori was taller, she couldn't help but freeze when Michiru grabbed her stick and tilted her head down to face her. "You remind them an awful lot about them, your wit… your eyes."

 

"I…" Shiori took a deep breath, swallowing all of her mixed emotions as she glared down at Michiru. "I thought the prophecy told you."

 

"Does the Villain need to stay truthful to it's Hero?" Michiru sneered, swinging the stick back. Shiori's eyes widened, and she raised her hand, blowing Michiru back a few steps— her blood pumping adrenaline around her system. "I'm a master of lies after all—" Michiru chuckled, unfazed as she grinned at Shiori.

 

"In this face—" Her features warped once more, and Shiori saw red, filling out her vision the second she saw Reo's face again. 

 

"DON'T USE HER FACE LIKE THAT!" 

 

She lunged towards Michiru, but Michiru poked her hard on the stomach with the long reach of her staff. Shiori stumbled knee on the ground, her hand clutching the new purple hue on her stomach.  

 

"And the next," Michiru taunted, her face shifting to Shiori's second mother, Aina.

 

"I'll— I'll kill you," Shiori hissed, hatred spewing from her gritted teeth. Michiru placed her staff underneath Shiori's throat, jabbing it lightly enough for Shiori to stutter. "You bastard."

 

"As if you have the guts," Michiru sneered, towering off the fallen Hero as Michiru rotated her staff around, the other end sweeping Shiori to the floor, on her back. "You can't even get through my personal bodyguard."

 

"Your…" Shiori sat up, heaving when Michiru pressed her foot on her stomach. "Bodyguard?"

 

"I raised her, you see, the brown haired one." Michiru mused, her pride in such a cruel act showing its true colour amongst the red glow of her eyes. "They start them small, a phrase used for children and wild animals alike."

 

"You…" Shiori growled, barely able to speak as Michiru pressed her shoe more into Shioir's already bruised stomach. "You're just like the Kirin Temple. Did you steal her from a broken family too?"

 

Michiru chuckled, the sound low and dark— nothing at all like Michiru's laughter Shiori heard before, but it was familiar in some ways. "Well," she drawled, satisfaction oozing from her lips. "I won't say we're not affiliated in one way or another."

 

Shiori barred her teeth, throwing her hands up to push Michiru back. Only to then cry from her lungs when Michiru slammed her staff on her arms. One— Two, beat after beat, and her arms limped out to the side. 

 

"Like I said," Michiru chuckled, pushing the end of her staff once again up to Shiori's face, gloating the fact that no matter what she could do— Shiori couldn't touch her. "You can't even kill me— not with your little book could aid you now." 

 

"My little book," Shiori murmured. A moment passed before her eyes widened in a gasp. "Mahiru's recipes!" 

 

"Ah yes," Michiru rolled her eyes, tutting at the name. "That book. It bested me before when I made that plague—"

 

Shiori's heart stopped, frozen in a second of shock. Then all of the anger narrowed into this pinpoint raw hatred.  "-- you what."

 

"But I won't let it best me again," Michiru continued, ignoring the hurricane of anger, hatred and every destructive nature underneath her. "Even the death potion won't stop me."

 

"But you can try all you want," Michiru swept her staff away from Shiori's figure and hopped off her stomach. Shiori groaned as her body instinctively curled to protect herself. "Say hi to your mothers for me." She waved Shiori goodbye, taunting her with innocent giggles as she did.

 

Shiori screamed, hand against the wooden floor as she lunged herself on instinct, powered by the sudden burst of wind from her fingertips. In time for the collision, Michiru turned around, her eyes wide and flickered from red to emerald green. 

 

The sudden colour change would've made Shiori fixated on the anomaly had not the world disappeared entirely. Instead, the scene shifted, and Shiori was once more in a forest— but in Mahiru's forest, a 10-minute walk behind the house. 

 

Someone was crying. 

 

And Shiori's legs moved on her own. She walked, stumbling over logs, the sound getting louder and louder, more remorseful and full of sorrow. There was a person crumbled in a clearing full of death and decay. Her hair was ragged and ruined, a blonde mess that barely made sense above the neckline. Her body was shuddering. 

 

Shiori, on instinct, reached out her hand. The fingers were small, and the sound she made was smaller. Yet it was enough, and the stranger stopped, stifling the cries they looked up. There were eyes full of blood, but all that trickled down her cheeks were tears.

 

In Shiori's hand, there was a purple hyacinth. The same flower that always bloomed on both of her mother's flowerbeds— It meant that they were sorry. 

 


 

Shiori woke up, this time— the wince in her motions of shuffling around indicated that it was reality instead of a dream. She clutched her head; the searing pain forced a hiss to escape her lip. Her throat held a heavy ache, and when Shiori felt around it, she could sense the lining of a bruise. 

 

She didn't get hit in the throat when she fought Rui. Did that mean the dream was a reality? But if it was a reality, what did that mean? And thirdly, why did she have to deal with this stupid bullshit? Was it because she was the Hero? 

 

The thought made Shiori laugh, the palm of her hand resting on her forehead. To think, both of her sisters wanted to be the Hero, to be the star of this madness. Shiori pushed her palm upwards, running her hand through the messy curls as her laughter turned to cackles. Then it crumbled, breaking down into the hollow ache in her chest, the loneliness and confusion shifting her pitch to sobs. 

 

Her sisters hated her. Her teacher chased her away. Her parents are dead, and she's surrounded by people who want to kill her. All because she was the Hero. She didn't even want this! She was content being forgotten, alone, misunderstood and isolated because she didn't want to be like everyone else— she was used to that! 

 

But now… did she even have a chance to run away? Michiru said she would never force her, but she was the villain— who knows if what she said about Gods was real? Sure she couldn't leave them, not when every time she would attempt, she would stay still, unable to cross an invisible barrier. 

Honestly, all of this would be more tolerant or accepting if Shiori had one person on her side. Just one person to rely on and doesn't want her to die. 

 

"I refuse to listen!" 

 

Shiori perked her head up, the sobs filtering out in the sudden quietness. The voice sounded distant, and yet it was all too clear for Shiori to pick up. In fact, it was so clear that Shiori thought it was— 

 

"Refuse to listen to what, Rui?" Michiru's faint voice replied back, confirming Shiori's previous assumption. "My explanations, my decisions?" Shiori got out of her makeshift bed, shuffling her way to the cave entrance only to see nothing but an empty clearing. Air rushed to her face, and the breeze gave Shiori all the clarity she needed— the wind was carrying their voices over.

 

Shiori closed her eyes, breathing in the cold, inhaling the lingering taste of nature into her lungs. Her eyes opened, and a flash of green light sparked in her eyes, illuminating the iris and within the next few seconds, Shiori could not only hear the two people but see them too. 

 

"I know how maddening this all seems Rui," Michiru stressed— her hands holding onto Rui's arm as her staff laid to rest on the floor. The same staff that hit her in Shiori's dream. They were at the side of the river, the same site, in fact, when Shiori fought against Rui. "But believe me this had to be done."  

 

Rui's face contorted into malice and frustration. She bared her teeth, yanking her sleeve away from Michiru's grip. "I refuse to listen to all of it!" 

 

"All of these words and delusions—" Rui continued, howling out her words so loud that the birds shook and flew away from the charred trees. "You say to be kind and yet now—" The fangs that Shiori knew were unnatural, elongated in length, and there, Shiori realised that it wasn't unnatural as she thought. It was only something Rui did in the heat of anger.  

 

"NOW YOU WANT ME TO KILL SHIORI!"

 

"I know," Michiru said, not denying the statement as she stood her ground. Surrounding the dirty layer at the ends of her coat, a wall of fungi started to emerge from the mud. "It's maddening like I said but—" 

 

"But what!?" Rui raised her hands up, disbelief expressing through the tired sigh, the way her arms fell to the side— the plea in her eyes for any sense of logic. "For the last few days you've been talking about this, making potions and muttering to yourself—." The disbelief faltered, peeling away to concern and confusion and a stronger case of plea to the point it almost looked like begging. 

 

"Had I known any better I would deem you—" Rui paused, tearing her head away from the elder in front of her. Then quiet underneath her breath but loud enough still for Shiori to hear, Rui spoke. "This isn't you Michiru." 

 

Michiru sighed. She stepped forward, slow and cautious— almost hesitant. "I know…" She admitted, shaking her head in the act of sympathy. "It's cruel of me to push this onto you Rui but I don't have a choice." 

 

Rui's eyes hardened, her fist clenched into fists as she stepped back from Michiru's range. She looked at Michiru with an angry, heated gaze. "So you give me this difficult illusion of choice?" She snarled, "You can't hide this from me like you always did Michiru— I have the right to know."

 

"I—" Michiru spoke before her head whipped around to the air, her red eyes glowing an intense red. "Someone's listening—" She hissed before a sudden weight tackled Shiori, out of the air, out of the sky, and she fell back to the empty floor. She hacked air back into her lungs, her throat aching in agony she had never felt before. 

 

After 5 minutes, the pain faded away, leaving Shiori alone on the floor with her head spinning. Not just from the pain but the sudden influx of information. Shiori wasn't alone— Rui was forced to do all of these cruel things, set by Michiru. Michiru was the villain, and Rui was here by force. 

 

And as cruel as that reality seemed, Shiori was glad. It meant she had someone on her side, after all.