BD Side Stories — Reincarnation
She said they should name him Harutora.
But, ‘Haru’ and ‘Tora’, hmm.
In the theory of five phases, ‘Haru’ was of wood phase. Its cardinal direction was ‘east’, and its color ‘blue’. Then following the four deities, shouldn’t it be ‘Ryuu’ from ‘Seiryuu of the East’?
As he said that, she giggled on her bed. She happily said that he was being too book-smart, as usual.
‘Hey, dear, don’t people say tigers would traverse a large distance to return to their cubs? No matter where I go, I will definitely return to his side. This is the wish I want to include in his name.’
She said this with such a soft voice, and he couldn’t immediately reply. And when she saw this, she chuckled again.
‘Look at you, making that kind of troubled face again. But actually I like this face of yours… Eh, why, you ask? Because when you do that, it shows how gentle you are.’
So she said with a smile on her face. Even while lying sick in bed, she gazed at the future positively, beautifully, and straighforwardly.
A gaze much like a sunflower blooming proudly on a summer day.
And thus, their child was named Harutora.
Yasuzumi leaked out a slight sigh towards the figureless voice repeatedly calling for him.
He didn’t stop writing, and said,
“……What is it this time?”
“Harutora-sama is crying. Please come immediately.”
“……What about Mother?”
“She has returned to the Wakasugi house to change.”
Sighing once more, Yasuzumi put his fountain pen on the table.
He stood up and left the room, and said,
“……There’s still time until his meal. His diapers was just changed……”
“But Harutora-sama is crying.”
“I’m thinking about the reason.”
“I do not know. But Harutora-sama is crying.”
The usually expressionless Yasuzumi slightly knitted his brows. Silently adjusting his glasses, he walked through the hallway.
As usual, Yasuzumi was dressed in kimono. While he looked like a fragile intellectual, there was also a sense of nervousness seen from him.
On the other hand, the one talking to Yasuzumi could not be seen. A shikigami. Right now the figure was dematerialized.
Yasuzumi entered a room. In the middle of the tatami floor there was a futon with a baby wrapped in newborn clothes laying on it. It seemed like he just woke up, and was currently crying with a scrunched up face and flailing limbs.
With a complicated expression, Yasuzumi sat in a seiza beside the futon. And just like that, he stared fixedly at the baby.
Yasuzumi reached out his hands to hold the baby. His expression was calm, but his gesture could only be called timid.
Of course, the baby did not stop crying. While he was not bawling, his face was still twisted and drool was leaking out. From Yasuzumi expressionless face, exhaustion could be seen from the eyes hidden behind his glasses.
“Master, Harutora-sama is still crying.”
“Please do something.”
“What should I do?”
“You’re a parent, aren’t you, Master?”
“Then please pacify him without delay.”
Maintaining his position while holding his child, Yasuzumi frowned. There was no helping it, so he checked his diapers. Yet it did not seem to be soiled. Thinking that he might be hungry, he picked up the bottle, only for the boy to end up becoming more restless when it was put near his mouth.
“…When did Mother leave?”
“Around half an hour ago.”
“Then she won’t come back until a while……”
“Master, Harutora-sama keeps on crying. Please do something for him quickly.”
Yasuzumi creased his brows. There was no point in saying anything towards the stubbornly loyal retainer, but he wished the shikigami could be quieter.
“……You can try holding him.”
The shikigami remained dematerialized, but the aura was greatly disturbed hearing his sudden words.
“H-H-How could I! S-S-Such a brazen thing!?”
“Then are you saying we should leave Harutora crying like this?”
The shikigami’s panic was intense.
As Yasuzumi sighed again, he said,
Not a command, but a request. After a while, aura fluctuated beside Yasuzumi.
A young woman appeared. Moreover, she was a woman of peerless beauty whom everyone would admire. However she was clad in the old Japanese military uniform. Perhaps due to that, contrary to her charming appearance, there was a chilling sharpness to her looks, much like a young warrior.
Above all, there were a pair of animalistic ears sprouting from atop her head, and under her cloak there was a leaf-shaped tail.
Yasuzumi somewhat mischievously offered the baby to Hishamaru who went rigid with nervousness. The furs on her ears and tails bristled, and with an overly reverent manner that actually made her seem suspicious, she received the baby.
Her clear blue gaze concentrated on the baby in her arms.
And just like that, the restless baby stopped crying. Her twitching ears revealed how nervous Hishamaru was.
Immediately, the small, maple leaf-like palm stretched upwards.
It seemed like he was reaching out to Hishamaru’s ears. Whenever the nervous Hishamaru twitched her ears, the small palm moved to follow them, and finally he laughed in delight.
Suddenly, Hishamaru’s ears, tails, even her eyes drooped down, and her blue eyes moistened.
“H-Harutora-sama…… How adorable……!”
The baby was cheerfully reaching out his hands while being held by Hishamaru who sighed in a trance. Slightly shocked, Yasuzumi relaxed his shoulders.
—Even if the times has changed, the master and retainer’s bond is still going strong, huh……
The onmyouji who during the era of the Pacific War had revitalized and ruined the Tsuchimikado family, Tsuchimikado Yakou. He had reorganized and established a new system of Japanese magic, but in the end had failed in a large scale magic ceremony and lost his life. His failure plunged Tokyo into spiritual calamity which had left its scars until the present.
Yet Yakou did not merely die, as with his excellent magic he was reborn in the future. As Yasuzumi’s only son, Harutora.
And Hishamaru was Yakou’s shikigami. Hailed as Yakou’s arms together with Kakugyouki, she was a powerful retainer who always stayed by his master’s side.
—Though she really doesn’t seem like one……
Holding Harutora in her arms, Hishamaru was smiling carelessly without minding her surroundings. Her tails was wagging just like a dog’s. Her beauty and fame were wasted.
According to the story passed down only in the Tsuchimikado family, Hishamaru had been a member of the Tsuchimikado branch family who served the main family. Furthermore, she was a fox-possessed atavist who had been avoided even by her relatives.
It was clear from her appearance. Tsuchimikado family was descended from Abe no Seimei, the great onmyouji of Heian era. According to the legend, Abe no Seimei was the child of a fox spirit called Kuzunoha. That had showed its effect on Hishamaru’s appearance.
However, Hishamaru, who had been isolated, had been found by Yakou and then placed by his side. In other words their bond might not only be a relationship between a master and his retainer. In reality, even after Yakou’s death, Hishamaru felt she ought to serve his reincarnation and had went as far as throwing away her flesh and waited for decades for him. And when Harutora had been born, she had appeared suddenly in front of Yasuzumi.
—To be by my master’s side.
She had decisively answered Yasuzumi’s question about her intention, with a strong and unyielding will in her voice.
Reminiscing about that time, Yasuzumi’s expression darkened.
Hishamaru’s loyalty was admirable.
Yet for Yasuzumi now, he could only feel his son’s ‘destiny’ from her deep passion.
Hishamaru was still alright. She was his son’s ally. However, people who called on ‘Yakou’ were not just limited to allies. In this era when spiritual disasters happened repeatedly, ‘Tsuchimikado Yakou’ could even be called a taboo in the magic community.
Furthermore, ‘Yakou’s allies’ might not be ‘Harutora’s allies’. ‘Yakou’s allies’ might even serve as Harutora’s greatest enemies.
Yasuzumi was an excellent diviner. This power could unravel people’s fate—their future—and was nothing less than a miracle.
And Yasuzumi could easily read that a dark cloud existed in his son’s future.
That a violent storm would eventually come.
Hishamaru had requested to serve Harutora, and Yasuzumi had set some conditions. And that was to seal her memory and ability before Harutora awoke as Yakou. This was meant to let Harutora grow wholesomely without being chained by Yakou’s fetters. Hishamaru had disapproved but after listening to Yasuzumi’s thoughts, she understood. They were currently preparing for the sealing ceremony.
In addition, to keep Harutora away from magic, he was thinking to seal his spiritual sight away, so that he could grow up as ‘Harutora’, and not ‘Yakou’s reincarnation’.
But he knew that was not enough to distance Harutora away from Yakou’s influence. If Harutora was Yakou’s reincarnation, their fates would undoubtedly overlap with each other. No matter how much they planned, if he tried to learn magic, there was nothing they could do.
There were two people from the branch family whom Yasuzumi could rely on. Tsuchimikado Takahiro and Chizuru. And now Hishamaru had rushed to his side. They were all Harutora’s reassuring allies.
Divination was not all-powerful. It didn’t mean that he could predict everything in the future. On the contrary, he couldn’t even be sure of the meaning of the stars that he read. It was just a vague feeling that it was still no good now.
—But then, how……
He didn’t know. Yasuzumi silently bit his lip.
At least…… at least, until Harutora could choose his destiny out of his own will. If only there were a way to protect Harutora until then…
Beside Hishamaru who was holding the baby, Yasuzumi silently brooded.
It was at that time. The mansion’s phone rang.
His mother-in-law from the Wakasugi family called.
The baby was crying loudly.
The old branch family of the Tsuchimikado, the Wakasugi family. They were now in their mansion. It was also the house where Harutora’s mother, Yuuko, had been born in.
In front of the troubled Yasuzumi, his mother-in-law was cuddling a baby with a calm face.
It was a girl, and her strong spiritual power could clearly be felt. Perhaps that was the reason. She was apparently left in front of the Wakasugi mansion. When the Wakasugi grandmother found her, she came to Yasuzumi for advice.
Before the regulation of practitioners by the Onmyou Agency was complete, children with strong spiritual powers had been deemed ominous, and thus had been entrusted to ‘families of those lineage’. But that practice was unusual now, and the baby was practically just born. The parents didn’t even know if the child had any spirit sight.
Confusedly, Yasuzumi said that they should inform the police first. But she shook her head.
They didn’t know if the parents could be found, and they should have their own circumstances which compelled them to throw the child away in the end. If she was returned, she would end up being thrown away again.
And when he said they should entrust her to some institutions, as expected his mother-in-law didn’t agree.
She was a child with such a strong spiritual power. If she was put into any common institution, she wouldn’t have a good future. She had a point.
Then…… What should they do?
She held the child persistently. A certain kind of resolve could be seen from her face. Yet, she was old. And Yasuzumi had his hands full with Harutora. It would be impossible to add another child to the equation.
“……Yasuzumi-san. You know, I can’t think of this child as a stranger. I even ended up thinking about Yuuko when she was still a baby……”
When he heard that.
—“No matter where I go, I will definitely return to his side.”
His eyes widened as his deceased wife’s words surfaced in his mind. He absently looked at the child’s face again.
Looking at Yasuzumi who was at a lost for words, she continued on apologetically.
“Yasuzumi-san. It’s very rude of me to say this, but could we perhaps entrust her to Takahiro-san and Chizuru-san?”
“……Entrust this child, to the two of them?
The branch family couple weren’t blessed with a child. However as parents, they were far more capable than he could ever be. Actually, in order to care for Harutora, he had troubled them to no end.
But even so, it might be going too far to even have them adopt this child. In the first place, from this point onwards Yasuzumi and the others had to prepare for Harutora’s future—for the eventual storm. If they accepted this child, even she would be embroiled in—
When he thought that.
He didn’t know if the inspiration came from divination.
However Yasuzumi had indeed, at that point in time, read the babies’ future—or a part of it.
It was a heartless choice which should never be done by any parents.
If only there were a way to protect Harutora until then.
Yasuzumi trembled at the sin he would be doing, but he made his decision. And he prayed. Knowing full well that it was a selfish prayer, he prayed that the children could walk hand-in-hand, and win against each and every fate.
He remembered her smile. Also, her gaze as she was looking at her child. It was a gaze looking at the future positively, beautifully, and straighforwardly.
A gaze much like a sunflower blooming proudly on a summer day.
And so, the child was named Natsume.
1春 (haru) and虎 (tora), meaning spring and tiger respectively.
2 Seiryuu means Azure Dragon, see Four symbols
3 a Japanese proverb
4 Master of the house
5 義母 (gibo), referring to his Mother-in-law
6 Someone who shows a reversion to their ancestral characteristics
7 夏(natsu) means summer, 目 (me) means eye