Sakuramori was a place far too familiar with the young mage, and returning here never gave him a pleasant taste. Despite its beautiful surroundigs of cherry blossoms and clear rushing water, despite the ethereal smell of lily blossoms and cooking rice in small, simple huts down the riversides. Despite the freedoms of the beasts roaming the countryside and the bustle and smell of shrimp crackers and rice wine in the cities, Sakuramori was a bitter memory for the young Toppa.
Returning her was not technically by choice, though he supposed, if there was a reason, it was to face his past. But he certainly did not expect there to be several coincidences to have occurred at the same time when he had returned. Nessa had only determined that Toppa should investigate the disturbance of magic in the mountains of Sakuramori, but he did not anticipate that the location at which was being disturbed was also the disintegrated ruins of his former household.
"It's here sir." Spoke Hirozuki, Toppa's former servant and loyal retainer. While he never travelled with him in front of the guild, nor with any of his romantic interests.... or in fact, ever, outside of his own private affairs, Hirozuki was a loyal follower. Even after the destruction of his house and having returned back into his normal life, he still instinctively lept to assist Toppa the moment he required it. For much of his early formative years, Hirozuki had worked with Toppa without pay or contract, simply to help the young master start up his business.
It turned out lucrative for him in the end, for he was rewarded with a pension that would forever establish his well being and that of his family for generations to come.
Toppa stood before the gates of his former household, a massive mansion built into the side of a mountain and a deep rushing lake. Formed in massive jade and wood, with lacrima cryustals embedded into its very foundations, the doors would not open to anything save for the bloodline of a Tengen, which would also explain why no one was able to get rid of the disturbance outside of him.
"Thank you Hirozuki." TOppa spoke, smiling towards the wizened old man, a gentle hand placed itself on the man's shoulder before he walked forwards, approaching the gate. "Are you sure you'll be alright, my lord?" Apprehension was clear in Hirozuki's voice, but there was no way around it. Toppa returned to Hirozuki's eyes, "I've learned much in my time in Magnolia, I'm no longer a boy, Hiro, I'll be able to take care of myself." WIth that being said, he gently returned to face the door.
Extending his hand forwards, TOppa slowly focused his mana, the ethernano particles gently guidinded by his fingertips. This was a spell known to all members of the Tengen residence, more blood related than actually focused. It was a right of kings, a seal formed into the very arteries of the person upon birth, etched into the memories, a protective charm cast by the most ancient of his household members to provide safety to those who needed it. He spoke the words, and touched the door: "Hassou Kaiten."
The flicker of ethernano travelled from his hands into the gate, and almost immediately the doors flung into life, activating from its deep, dormant slumber. Lacrima crystals flows with energy, glowing in response to the particles flooding into the door, as if almost drinking hungrily from the meager source, before the sound of ancient rust and grit parted, its doors cracking open bit by bit, showing the mansion to its master.
Melancholy, and still, anger rolled through Toppa's nervous system, as the must of the old, cool air swept his nose, as did the smell of dust.
He could sense it now. Toppa, the feeling of disturbance in the place, like an old, ugly wound festering, infecting the pulse of the mana in the area. Whatever it was, it was a very, very agitated specimen. A magic so old he could not determine if it were a spirit, a beast, or just an artifact of great power. Nevertheless, he had to continue, as was determined by his guild.
The shadows of his home haunted him. His former living room a sprawling hallway decked with sofas and trees, with tapestries of cloth-of-gold and intricate paintings were now barren and ruined. Its furniture stripped, its fountains no longer running with rich water or rice wine. The gardens with which he played in, the treehouse his mother and father had built for him by hand with their own magic, torn asunder, its tree burned to a crisp. Stains of neglect formed every corridor, marked by dust as where once was a piece of furniture. But even still... this was home, and he could not help but feel the heat rush from his eyes.
The last place he ever felt safe, the last place he ever saw the sun rise and the night set and in its entirety he could simply just exist and be content. THese halls were mother and father, they were old Roku and Hirozuki, they were his cousins before they started political warfare, they were plays and dances and maidens of old that fawned over his every action. And soon he felt the trickle of heat run down his face. Weakness, impotence
THe source of magic spun deeper into the mansion, having gone into the basement where he was not allowed. The cold air and lines of books that flooded the cavernous libraries stood stilent, no longer enjoyed by servants, politicians, nobles or scholars. He would not be able to read his favorites, Hegel, Shakespurn, Platus while cushioned against the warmth of his childhood.
As he approached the old study, a flicker of indignity ran through his magic.
Opening the door to his father's private room, already ransacked and taken by their former political enemies. There was nothing in it, save for the inconsolable feeling, like a subtle tick, so impervious that most without his mana would be unable to perceive it. Toppa closed his eyes, and followed it, reaching out unconsciously with his hand... just like the door. Guide the particles.
Just like the door... the room itself was a puzzle, reacting only to the blood of the Tengen. Toppa felt his mana coalesce like am aze around him, surrounded by an invisible, intangible, yet utterly present limitation. Follow it
his intinct told him, as he gently released his mana into a form of purest ether, a ball of light, traversing in the midst of the room. Toppa followed his intincts, threading the ball of light in a very specific pattern in the air, until suddenly the feeling faded, and he opened his eyes.
The kanji floated in the air like a brilliant flaming red before dispersing.
And suddenly, the room was no longer a study.
It was old, and ancient, and vast, wreathed in gold with the deities of old Sakuramori lining its halls. Flanked on either side by flowing water, with nothing by the brightness of flowing lacrima empowered by his own particles dimly lighting the room. It was jade marble and gold, untouched by the hands of those who would offend him.
And in the center, a single chest of deep bronze and green lacquer. Toppa approached it, incredulous.
Attached to the chest, a note, written hastily in the handwriting of his father.
"My son, a day will come where you will find this chest. It is the bloodline of your ancestors calling you home. Within this, lies the greatest source of our power, a lacrima passed down to each heir. The 'illness' you feel is the incompleteness of your magic without this lacrima. Once you touch it, the curse will no longer affect you, and you will be free from the physical pain that has plagued you since your teenage years.
While our house no longer has its dignity, while we may no longer be with you. Never forget who you are, or what defines you.
Not your blood, nor your family. It is your talent, and brilliance, like the glow of this lacrima encased within. The world may never know our name again, but it doesn't need to, for you, my son, are our greatest achievement.
Live well, live long.
Toppa slowly opened the chest.
Nestled in soft velvet, a crystal, glowing on one side with brilliant white light, on the other, a flow of ebbing darkness, producing a paradoxical illumination. His last gift.
"Thank you father." Toppa whispered, before touching its surface. It was warm, yet cool to the touch. But soon after contact, the magic disintegrated, its particles flowing deep into TOppa's nervous system, and for once in his life, a liberating ecstacy ran through his body, synergising with his very soul.
It was a small, and subtle thing. There was no great explosion or release behind such a fusion. But it was the mark that just one person in the world, became that much greater.
[Total WC: 1511]