It took a good amount of strength to pet a small, soft animal continuously. However, it seemed that Aiyana had strength and a rhythm that would never cease, and the strokes continued to calm the once battered and bruised and traumatized eastern raccoon dog. Even if her sensitive and typically off-limits ears had been touched a few times, the Bakedanuki had no strength to resist or move or request that they be avoided. Instead, she quietly accepted that this was some sort of heaven as she dozed off into sleep once again, still too weak to talk or take any kind of action, even if it was moving herself or shifting her weight.
Izayuki chortled at the words of Aiyana, an amusing start to a potentially dangerous endeavor. If the Storm King was anything like Zeus, the god slayer had it covered. If they were anything else, however, there could possibly be a problem. Would a storm find darkness-infused ice and frostfire a challenge, or something easy to overcome? Fortunately for the fox and the tanuki, they would have other tricks up their sleeve. At the very least, Izayuki knew that she would, and based on her husband’s past talk, Aiyana would as well. “I sure hope it’s not something too blubbery or gross. I wouldn’t mind if it were fluffy, though~”
Izayuki replied with a lighthearted giggle. If the beast were to be fluffy, they might not even need to fight it. They could pet it and entice it to not hit the principality of Veronica with gentle hands alone. “Let’s fly, shall we?”
Knowing they would have to travel again, Izayuki chose the fun way of moving from one place to another. Teleportation was an option, but for the tanuki, the majority of her movement abilities and spells had the range of a short distance, and using too many at once would only be annoying. As a result of not wanting to take the easy way out, the Bakedanuki picked the next best option. Leaping into the air, the ayakashi gracefully shapeshifted back into the form of a pink-feathered jay, which was a shape used as her preferred form of travel. She had approached the island in the shape of an albatross, but only because the waters over the sea would prove powerful, and tire out her wings without the extra natural strength of the water bird. Now that they were over land, Izayuki could travel around in the quick and loud form of a jay bird, which was closely related to crows, magpies, and ravens.
Izayuki could not remember when she first started using the dazzling colored bird for her travel form. She fondly recalled using it to attend a training spar at one point with another Black Rose member. She had been a new member to the guild, while the one to train her was none other than an Ace. The young Bakedanuki at the time had arrived to the sparring location in the form of a pink jay and had eagerly landed on the head of the Ace of Leaves, wishing to playfully surprise him. In response, however, she had startled their companion, a fiery, feisty human-formed phoenix. As soon as the pink jay landed on the head of the ace, the phoenix launched fire at her. Luckily, the fire had been swiftly dodged, but left the poor ace to take the full brunt of the flamed attack. Nevertheless, it had been a fun scene and a joyful day. Despite losing a hair ribbon the ace in a fury of wind magic, which the ace would later be expected to replace, the spar had ended in a draw. At least on her side, she had learned from it. Hopefully, the ace had done the same. Unfortunately, the memory was far behind her and reliving it did not make much difference in her mood or the present.
Assumably, Aiyana would be flying alongside the pink corvid in an avian form as they sought out their target-- the entire reason they were there on Crescent Island. The rumors certainly were something to behold. The title was enough to shake fear into anyone who was not confident in their abilities. Izayuki did expect something of a challenge-- she knew better than to underestimate any sort of opponent, regardless of their reputation. This one was said to be docile and relatively peaceful, but when it came down to it, who was to judge? The observer, or the one actually dealing with the monster?
Before the flying yokai could think too much about their quarry anymore or engage Aiyana in further conversation, a powerful wind pounded against her once-strong wings from the higher skies. In a twirl of violent wings much stronger than her own body, the pink jay was tossed back down to the ground of the island, miserably flapping to no avail. The wind tore at her tail feathers, which made ruddering and staying in the air impossible, and her wings were useless against the vigorous torrent of wind.
Within seconds, the bird would be close to landing on the ground. Before she could hit it, the mononoke transformed her shape once again, finding herself a small silver-furred tanuki that the nine tailed fox would recognize. After all, Aiyana had discovered her in this form and had saved her from certain death in the cursed lands, specifically, the lands that she had cursed. Izayuki knew that she was much stronger in her true form, and was not about to let gravity break her hollow bird bones and leave her favorite form of travel rather useless and out of service for a good while.
The Storm King was coming.
Skies overhead swirled with furious dark clouds, which drew close to an ominous shape in the distance that only moved closer to the island. Every drop of sunlight had left the skies as far as keen eyes could see, as clouds and eerie mists coated the once fresh and open space around the beautiful, crescent shaped island. The flapping of wings could be heard, slow and methodical, but powerful and daunting the closer the monster flew. Per beat of its mighty wings, thunder rolled itself through the waves of sound in the atmosphere, before it would finally crash on the sensitive ears of the fox and the tanuki.
Crimson eyes opened slowly, with the tiny obake dazed from her long tumble down from the skies and back to earth. The world spun for a few seconds, and her vision blurred as she tried to stand up on the damp earth. The air had grown slightly colder, and this time, it was not from her glacial magic. Standing on all four paws, the silver-furred raccoon dog gazed up at the skies, her vision sharpening once more and no longer blurry. As she did so, raindrops began to fall, with a light misty sprinkle at first, followed by a few slow raindrops here and there.
After a few more seconds, the small drizzle would evolve to a full downpour, with the clouds bursting open to release their cold and wet contents. Once again, it would be hard to see more than a few good meters in front of one. However, one thing was very apparent-- there was the figure of an enormous beast drawing closer and closer to the island, gaining speed as he drew atmospheric pressure to himself. The monster had the form of a dragon, though judging from the scent and magical presence, it was anything but a mythical reptile. Its body was made of black clouds, constantly being charged with negative and positive static electricity. Periodically, the electricity would jump, with a negative charge jumping to meet and embrace a positive charge from the earth below, with a step leader as the guide. Often times, what the fierce lightning would meet was a tree or narrow, tall rock. At other times, the charge jumped to meet another cloud. If neither would make a suitable match for the charge, it would head straight to the solid ground in one long and dazzling suicide jump-- true cloud to ground lightning.
The beast itself seemed rather unaware of the charges within its body. After all, they were only natural. It as familiar to the beast as one’s own skin or hands or hair would be to them. The one who had written and delivered the mission to the guilds was right in the fact that it seemed relatively peaceful, but due to its nature, only brought destruction with the torrential rain, hurricane level speed, deafening thunder, massive hail storms, deluging floods, and deadly lightning. The creature likely meant no harm, but its very existence sought to harm the innocent landscape it flew over.
On the edges of its wings, wall clouds would circulate in a dizzying downdraft, only for the end result to bring a tornado to the ground as its final product. The tornado was like the finger of god itself, for anything it was torn across would meet ruin and certain death. The spiraling winds were like a shredder, grinding anything and everything in its paths. With two of them ripping through the land, the principality of Veronica would meet certain demise, even without the floods and lightning. The cyclones would start over the ocean as waterspouts, drinking up the salty ocean water before reaching land, where fish, sharks, and various objects and beings of the sea would be dropped.
Upon seeing the Storm King, Izayuki finally had an idea of what they were up against. Peaceful or not, the very presence of this monster was something to strike fear into anyone. Its existence would only bring ruin to all who called earthland their home. It would need to be stopped, and if possible, destroyed before it could unleash its wrath on anyone else. Fortunately, Crescent Island was mostly abandoned, desolate of civilization. It was vacant of all except for the natural wildlife, the flora and fauna that knew nothing other than their peaceful little island. If they could, they would have to stop the Storm King from ruining the quiet, tranquil, and tiny scrap of earth.
Changing her form again to at least be more nimble, and less clumsy, the Bakedanuki assumed her mostly human form, and leaped up from the pit of land she had fallen into up onto a mound of boulders, which was the preferred higher ground. She gazed up with narrowed eyes at the giant figure, fighting for vision through the blinding rain and brilliant flashes of lightning.“Well, it’s not a giant blubbery whale. Come on, Aiyana, let’s--”
her words were cut off as the draconic figured king would part its jaws and release a deafening roar, which sounded like an explosion of thunder. Many had heard lightning strike at close range, and had been figuratively blown away by the booming noise of the thunder to quickly follow. However, the vehement bellow of the Storm King was a sound that few had ever heard, or would ever hear. It was louder than any type of thunder or close range explosion one could hear, almost to the point of being literally deafening.
After enough exposure, Izayuki had outgrown her astraphobia. Her fear of thunder made fighting during a storm, or fighting a lightning or thunder mage, extremely hard. Her sensitive ears did not warrant her to fair well in such circumstances, and for a while, the small tanuki actively avoided training or meeting enemies which used such magic, refused jobs where one would fight mages that used sound or thunder or loud lightning, and would ultimately hide and cry during a thunderstorm at home. Eventually, she had outgrown the fear and instead grew desensitized to the loud noises, to the point where she even dared to accept the one hundred year job of taking on the Storm King. However, with one mighty roar, time would be seemingly reversed, and Izayuki would quickly fall back into her astraphobia once more.
Crouching down, the Bakedanuki would force her hands over her silver-furred tanuki ears, and a low canine whimper would rise from the back of her throat. She had accepted the job because she had gotten over her fear, but never before did she realize there could be such an evil sound of this caliber. Her eyes partially teary and her heart racing, the Bakedanuki wrapped her silver tail around herself, praying to whatever benevolent deities were out there that somehow this was all just a good dream turned to a nightmare. That none of this was reality-- there was no monster the H rank would have to fight and possibly kill. For the moment, she had forgotten that Aiyana was with her, and instead caved into her own fears and weaknesses as the roar of the Storm King concluded, only to be followed by another, which issued a small cry from the scared and quivering tanuki.
If only benevolent deities existed.
Word Count;; 2,169 / 3,743 // 8,050
Storm King Reference