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Passages From Within The Eastern Barrier [Part 2]

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Kaguya realised that Yuyuko could never be reborn again.

She watched the woman converse with a few wayward spirits that had found themselves near the Saigyou Ayakashi so she directed them back to where they should be with nothing short of impeccable mannerisms. The spirits danced around happily, engaging with Yuyuko despite the lack of a physical form and the princess easily conversed with them.

Kaguya found herself enthralled, conduced by Yuyuko's mere presence.

She wasn't fully aware of Yuyuko's background, only hearing vague snippets from Yukari whom avoided the conversation like a human would a virus. There wasn't enough certitude from Eirin's knowledge on Yuyuko either which perplexed Kaguya further. She found that detail, how both Yukari and Eirin seemed to avert the subject, anomalous to begin with and as much as she wanted to press it, the way the two sages bristled made her refrain from doing so.

Yukari couldn't look her in the eyes.

But what the lunarian was aware of made her reassess her immortality.

Her lover had experienced death, a horrific one.

A death that Yuyuko couldn't return from, unlike herself.

It was a denouement to years of suffering. 

Her heart ached as Yuyuko made her way back to her and the scene itself was haunting. Even if the lifeless tree no longer bloomed according to Yuyuko, there was something in its foreboding nature that made Kaguya's skin crawl. Just its mere presence, hanging around like an odious stench marred the otherwise pristine location. 

She wanted to urge Yuyuko to pick up the pace, to get away from the vicinity of that tree, to deracinate her from her past. 

Its vein like branches swept with the breeze, reaching out in Yuyuko's direction like they were trying to claw her back into the hell it was created from. Each branch resembled a skeletal hand, a multitude of them connected to the emaciated body of the tree.

Kaguya balled her fist tightly and inched forward as Yuyuko was finally at a safer distance and the minute she approached her, Kaguya quickly closed the space. The lunarian flung her arms behind the other princess's neck, her hold possessive, protective as her brown eyes remained on the demonic tree behind her.

Yuyuko was startled, her arms enclosing over Kaguya's waist, "Kaguya? Is everything alright?".

It was unusual to witness such an expression on the lunarian's face but Yuyuko had long realised that whomever she brought with her to visit the Saigyou Ayakashi also belied such a forlorn look

Even Yukari. 

Yuyuko had yet to understand why

Her fingers ran through the dark hair as Kaguya exhaled, her chin resting just below Yuyuko's shoulder.

"I'm okay" came the woman's unusually timid reply, "Can we go back home?".

Yuyuko pulled back slightly and lifted one hand away from her lover's waist to place it on her cheek, "Of course. Kaguya.." she said gently, "Are you scared?".

The princess opened her mouth to answer in a blithe manner but found that she couldn't, her eyes darting back to the obtruding figure of the tree. Her hands tightened behind Yuyuko's neck as she moved up closer to the woman, almost like she was attempting to shield them away from its gaze. 

"It's cold here. I suppose it makes sense you cannot tell".

"I hear that a lot" Yuyuko chuckled and pressed a kiss to Kaguya's forehead after brushing her fringe away.

"Do you not feel it at all, Yuyuko?".

The inquisitive brown eyes peered up at her, a flicker of uncertainty glazing over.

Yuyuko had wondered that often.

"I think it is a part of me".

A cryptic answer from an even more mysterious woman.

Kaguya found it all befitting, even though her question hadn't necessarily been answered.

Another frigid chill swept around them which led to Kaguya seeking refuge in the crook of her lover's neck, eyes closed, not wanting to see the mirage of a girl loitering behind the back of the tree.

Her wrists and neck were bloodied, a throng of internecine black butterflies hovering around her. 

What made Kaguya's skin crawl further was the resemblance the girl had to Yuyuko. Her eyes widened as she pulled the woman closer to her, trying to ignore the girl covered with the skeletal branches. 

"Shall we return back to the manor?".

Yuyuko smiled, "Of course".

She led her away, hand in hand as Kaguya attempted to keep her face forward even though there was something calling out to her, pleading with her to look back.

The voice was soft, haunting, familiar

This place plays tricks, Yuyuko had once told her.

Kaguya wondered just how many of those said tricks were a reality that Yuyuko had once lived, endured.