THE SHINIGAMI TEMPLATE
I. Tanjo 誕生
The being we are about to introduce to you is one who has been through a lot of loss. Not more than some, not to extremes that people would imagine, but of time, essence, stability... you shall see.
The being was born in the darkness of night, the frosted ground of winter surrounding his hut. A Super Moon, Blue Moon shining down upon them, something that happens very rarely in the world, and for the birth of a child on such a winters night under the bright moonlight, this is a rather grandiose event for the two parents, finding themselves blessed by the gods above for such an amazing gift.
The child was silent but breathing, it wasn't crying, it didn't need to be attacked, nearly instinctively breathing. Time seemed to stand still, the snow around the hut seemed to be still in the air as the boy was born. Whether the boy was human or not was a curious question on its own, this was no normal child... but then again this was a special lunar day. Staring up at its mother as if wondering what would happen next. The inexperienced mortals accepting the blessing from the gods, shamanism not uncommon within the tribes of ancient Japan.
You would find the settlement of these tribal and, soon to be, Japanese people among the island continent surrounded by volcanoes, coming into civilization slowly from their hunter and gatherer way of life. Far before the dawn of the Shogunate, the family of the newborn had the bright idea of improving their society's productivity, this was the invention of Rice Farming. The production of rice skyrocketed thanks to the family's idea, using the wetlands for irrigation and giving them enough money to purchase land, for both expanding their rice farms as well as being landowners and employers to the clans they had found passing through. The family had started the foundation of the survival and expansion of the Japanese culture.
A few years pass and the boy had grown up to the point of walking and talking, four years into his life his parents had a set of twins, two infants that looked far more normal than their first born child. The boy looked unto the two girls as they cried, his gaze upon them slowly set them to relax as he gave them a loving kiss on each of their heads, one that unbeknownst to them would spark the beginnings of a bond between the three that would go unbroken and last through the ages. The twins slowly began to calm, their eyes slowly shut as they slowed to a steady, relaxed pace. Once again, another sign to the parents that their son is a gift from the gods.
The children grew up rice farming, learning the payoffs of hard work while ending up living a life of luxury for owning the food and rice farms. Their parents were convinced their lives were blessed since the birth of their firstborn, praising him and treating him as one would a demi-god. Despite his surroundings, he had no interest in the praises and treatment he was given, he didn't believe he was one worthy of such praise... not yet. The other villagers were working in toil, he worked the farms when he could find the blind spot of his parents' eyes to do so. His determination to earn his life was what earned him the respect of the villagers rather than their disdain. The beautiful land surrounding was a sight to see at any angle, the boy finding that his favorite spot was the shore just before the entrance to the forest with the fantastic view of the mountain. It's where he felt the most comfortable and decided that the spot he would live would be there until the end.
This looks to be a great start for the soon to be Shinigami, however, this was but the uplifting light that would soon become the heavy hand that shoves this boy down into the darkness of sorrow and depravity that we shall explain soon.
II. Sonshitsu 損失
On a dark night, the still blue lake rippled like a shudder as the ground shook. The boy, eight at the time, had been training his mind and body in attempts to earn the praises from his parents rather than take the praises blindly. He awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of a loud roar, one that almost shook him to his core. The violet snakelike slits that were his eyes sharpened in fear as the pupils dilated from the sudden burst of light attacking his receptors. No one seemed to wake from such a loud beast in the night, as the boy found out from frantically running through his family's manor to make sure everyone was safe. Another loud roar filled the forest, but once again no one awoke, the boy turned to the forest and quickly gripped his father's ceremonial bronze sword and approached the source of the sounds carefully and fearfully.
Upon entering his favorite woodland area, he became confused as there was still no sign of the loud monstrosity. The deeper he went, the more fearful he became that he was being played with already and that he would have made his family wake up the next morning without their son. He gripped the sword rather tightly upon the cloth of the blade, looking for any sign of life... this forest never seemed to be so scary.
While he hunted, a loud crash was heard nearby as a tree fell against another, looking like it had been torn from the middle by some unfathomable beast. The boy stared at the splintered insides of the tree with both awe and terror. He didn't see anything do that, it just happened, and there was no way that was a bear or any sort of animal... that had to be an angry spirit. Shamanism or Nature Worship was not something scoffed at by the people of this time, and it was actually highly regarded, hence his parent's finding him as a blessing of the gods... so this thought process wasn't beyond comprehension... even though the truth was different than his people believed.
The boy had never felt this heart-wrenching fear he now felt surging through his body, he couldn't help but quiver in fear as his eight-year-old body stood in the middle of the forest he loved so dearly... in what may be the angry spirit's hunting grounds. There was nothing like this feeling before, not even when the other children were beating him up, because at least then he knew he would survive. In moments as that tree crashed into another, two further away fell against their neighbors, the dark green sea of trees lost more and more of its population as the monster seemed to be moving away. Upon this, despite his best-laid thought processes, the boy did not cower away in fear but pursued to make sure that his family was not going to be harmed... even if he had no idea how to defend them from this beast, much less himself. Thump, thump, thump, thump
His heartbeat was loud and heavy against his chest as he rushed toward his home. He stopped outside of the edge of the village to witness a great beast before him. The pitch black body with a white face was large, almost titan-like to this child. His body was frozen, his mind screamed in fear of loss, not fear for himself, but the others in his village. He watched as the beast walked onward down the road of the village, it seemed to be hunting.
He slowly moved the blade in front of him, his palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. He was facing the rear of the beast but the fear had encumbered him to a near standstill. He wasn't even noticed by the massive being before him, ignored and afraid, he ran for his home. He rushed to his parents, got onto his knees and plead them to be safe, he was a sobbing mess. His parents woke up to see their blessing of an eldest child begging them for their own sanctuary. They did not and could not understand why.
He told them about the large beast, told them about how he rushed off to find the source, he even told them what he saw in the village. They had heard nothing, they could see nothing in the village. They assumed he had a nightmare and planned to get him to a Shinshoku in the morning. He knew it was real, he knew this was no nightmare, he was in a cold sweat with tears streaking down his face. They didn't believe him, how could they, but he was a child filled with fear at the moment, so their disbelief hurt quite a bit.
His father headed out of the house to satisfy his child's fear. After dressing in his robes, he clacked his way outdoors... Not a scream, nor shout, not a cry. A strong wind like force tore through the man who could not see the beast nor its attack. Next, his mother headed out to join him, feeling her son's fear was quite concerning. She stepped out to see a pool of blood and organs spilled onto the ground before her. Her husband being crushed while hovering in the sky. Her shrieks lasted mere seconds before her body was carved into pieces by the beasts claws.
The boy ran out to follow after his mother, terrified of losing them. Upon reaching outside, he saw his mother in four pieces scattered across the dirt, his father being chewed by the monster... and he cried. His parents had been killed and there wasn't anything he could do to prevent it. His fear and worry had driven him to wake them up only for them to walk to their deaths. He was angry, at himself and the monster.
The boy ran up to the beast and beat on it with all his might, barely doing enough damage to be considered a mosquito bite. He bawled as he beat on the beast's foot, the monster content with simply chewing his victims. Dravocn was coated in tears, snot, and blood. His beating on the beast causing his fists and feet to bleed from abuse, he didn't care. Hate, anger, and unquenchable rage coated his being in that moment.
The villagers had woken to the sound of the mother's scream, only to find the boy they had thought was a blessing, beating an invisible beast and his father's lifeless body hovering and being crushed with loud bone snapping sounds following each motion. The villagers see the separated pieces of of his mother and the mass of blood that almost created a river in the road from the home.
There were thuds of movement as the corpse hovering in the air dissapeared and the corpse of the mother was lifted and swallowed by the invisible beast. Villagers watched in horror as what they could only imagine was an oni having eaten the parents. Further thuds of movement, as the beast was wandering away, leaving the child and the villagers in shock. The boy was crying, angry, and losing his voice from the harsh outcries of misery.
One woman had come up to the boy to hold him and comfort him, kneeling in the blood pool to hold the boy and ease his pain. The pain had not been sated, in fact the woman's embrace had only aggravated the already immense trauma, knowing that neither of his parents would ever be able to hold him again. The other villagers stared at him, some wondering what sort of invisible monstrosity they had witnessed, some thought it had been summoned, some thought the boy was now cursed.... It was a new moon that night.
He rose up, thanked the woman for trying to comfort him, then ran off toward the beast. He could see it, he was the only one who could follow it. Blood soaked clothes, running in the darkness of night under a new moon, he gave chase to the thing he knew very well that he could not kill, beat, nor even hurt. Upon finally finding the beast he screamed at it, only for it to turn around and its mask smiling at him with the largest shit-eating-grin. Before it was slain, sliced in two down the middle. The boy stared in shock and awe as while the beast dissipated, a man stood behind it.
The boy stared at him, unable to process the sheer power that the man must have possessed to kill the beast. Then, just as quickly, the boy became angry again, he knew he wasn't able to kill the beast but then then the beast was slain in front of him. The man had killed his only chance, non-existent as it was, at revenge. The man should have shown up earlier, before the destruction of his life, before his parents were killed in front of him. The man should have been a protector, not an afterthought.
The man had walked away, the beast was slain, and as far as the man was concerned, the boy couldn't see him. But the boy did see him, he saw the monster, he watched as the man had walked through a gateway that appeared out of nowhere and vanished. The boy stared at the darkness that was left behind. He looked to the blade still clutched in his hands, his hands and feet bleeding from the earlier abuse. The blood had dried, his hand hurt from how hard he had clenched onto the blade, it hurt even more trying to open his hands and let go of the blade. He stared into the metal, his reflection... it was ugly...
He had only his sisters now, they lived, and he was to be alone with them. Adoption wasn't exactly a thing that existed back then, it was more or less the village being a disciplinary committee and the parents being the enforcers. Regardless, he had to work harder simply to support himself and the two sisters. The farms could barely feed the farmers themselves, due to the fact that they had to trade off or share the majority of their crops. Stores weren't exactly a thing, so there wasn't much one could do besides own land, farm, or educate... and even then children weren't exactly built or equipped for that. The only choice he had was to visit the shrine.
III. Henka suru 変化する
A few months have passed since the young boy had witnessed the otherwise traumatizing and harrowing scene of his parents demise. Life with the Miko was to be expected, cleaning the floors and caring for plants and animals were basic chores and privileges, the providing of assistance to villagers, assisting the Miko with ceremony and ritual preparations, and very rarely providing exorcisms. For all intents and purposes, Dravocn and his sisters were priests and priestesses in training. Considering Dravocn wasn't a fan of undeserved treatment good or bad, he was relatively happy to help the shrine in any way he could.
One night, while the boy was in his bed, holding his sisters close in his sleep, he had a nightmare. A strong vivid remembrance of that visceral night. He was trapped in his own dream, unable to wake, sweating and fearful, crying. A woman had appeared beside him, she was calm, dressed in ragged clothes and watched the two die in front of him in his dream. She looked to him and smiled softly, she told him that they are with her now, that he need not worry. Izanami stood before the boy and remained in the darkness so as to hide her face, the child still crying but calmer after hearing the woman's voice.
The dream had come to a halt, time had stopped. The woman smiled to him and nodded calmly, a gentle chill filled the boy, a relaxing coldness and a warmth of kindness. He looked to the mangled corpses of his parents again, and Izanami smiled, she knew he was trying to obey Izanagi's promise to her for himself. The child was not wise, intelligent, but lacked experience. A trauma of the heart and mind does not make a mature man be, due to his age it may as well have made him stagnant and unable to grow further.
Due to the strength of belief in ancient times and how often people turned to religion rather than logic, it was quite impactful simply to believe Izanami was visiting him to comfort him. Rather than the monstrous image assumed by death itself, she seemed beautiful, she felt beautiful, she sounded... well... beautiful. Death was something to be accepted just as she eventually accepts everyone, the inevitability of sitting down with her for dinner is nothing to fear nor despise. One should not look for her, she will come to you in time. She is a release of pain, of sadness, of anger... but also a release of happiness. The boy smiled softly through his tears.
There was nothing for a moment, and time continued inside the dream. Izanami followed him to the death of the monster that ate the boy's parents. She tilted her head at the man revealed in the dream and time halted again. She pointed to him and told the boy to follow him, that he was going west, to a land untouched by her and her brother. She could feel the coming void of death, of lasting life for thousands, her brother would take physical form there... she knew it.
The boy did not understand, but took the words to heart. He would not disobey a goddess, especially one he came to quite like. She smiled at him and gently, ever so lightly, touched both of his shoulders and kissed the boy's forehead in a motherly sweetness. In that moment, the boy woke suddenly and abruptly, clutching his young four year old sisters in his arms, awaking them.
They looked up to him confused and hugged him, thinking he had jolted from a nightmare, trying to comfort him. In his truth, he had a divine mission... The very next morning, after doing his chores for the day he had profusely and repeatedly thanked the Miko for their kindnesses before telling them that he must take his leave. The Miko nodded and gave them some rice and water for their trip as he took his sisters with him to his unknown destination.
Of course, there wasn't exactly a traveling system set up nor even domesticated horses or boats, so the three of them walked westward toward the sun. The goddess Amaterasu being their guiding light. Aimi and Kimiko were unsure why their brother was so insistent in going so far away from the village, but they didn't want to leave him alone... especially after last night. They were a caring duo, knowing that he was all they had even though they were still so young. They didn't know where their parents were, but they wanted to all be together when their parents came back.
It was a long walk to the edge of the island country, taking several rests from the strain on their little legs. The rice ran out and they had to go out to forage for edible plants, making pit stops at any nearby villages so they may gather water for their trip. About a month or so of walking and they finally reached the edge of the island. Aimi and Kimiko looked up to their brother who was staring out at the sea... He didn't understand, how was he supposed to obey the goddess if there was no path?
Aimi smiled up at her brother and held his hand with a light squeeze, hugging his arm close with Kimiko following suit with his other arm. He looked to the two girls and smiled in thanks for their support and affection, though he still didn't know how he was to cross, and he certainly wasn't going to leave his sisters. He stared at the sea and sat down, if the goddess wanted him to cross something so vast, then she must have a plan.
Faith can do a great many things. Sometimes it makes you stronger, sometimes it can get you hurt, sometimes it creates miracles. The boy and his sisters had walked for over a month, children on their own on foot. These children at minimum had faith in each other. This was a boy who saw 'demons' in a time where seeing spirits was more than simply a rarity. The boy looked to the two girls as they slept, he was glad they followed him for as long as they did, but perhaps the dream was simply all it was, a dream.
Upon midnight, the light of the full moon fell upon the trio, and the ocean itself seemed to shrink. Dravocn tilted his head curiously and surprised, inexperienced in low tide or high tide or anything ocean wise other than what the tales of Shinto say of the gods. Although what came next was nothing short of divine intervention because as the moonlight passed over them and then over the ocean, a pathway of ice was created slowly. Dravocn was flabbergasted and rushed to awaken the girls so as to get moving before the ice melts. The girls stared in wonder at the ice as they crossed the pathway, watching as the ice melted behind them.
Izanami must have made a request to Tsukiyomi… or perhaps Tsukiyomi is rewarding their faith, Dravocn didn't know, but he was grateful. He looked to the girls and told them to hold hands so as not to lose anyone off of the pathway. They walked all throughout the night and what seemed impossible was that they had somehow managed to make it to the other side in that night... Tsukiyomi was a god and was creating a pathway, but he could only help them overnight, so perhaps he had shortened the space between the lands because he didn't want his gift to go to waste? Again, Dravocn did not claim to understand the wills of the kami.
They rested for a majority of that day, having walked so far for the past while, it was a bit much to ask of small children, especially four year olds. After their well deserved rest, they awoke to the beach behind them. Aimi was hugging her brother rather tightly from the amazing thing they had just done and witnessed last night. All three of them, at worst had a new level of faith within them and an uncommon gratefulness for their gods looking over them. A few steps over the hill of grass just beyond the beach and they stop to see a bustling existence.
One hundred years into the Zhou dynasty. China has been around for so long, they have had countless of monarchs in their hundreds of thousands of years of existence even in the time that these children had arrived. While the country isn't twenty-first century advanced, they are vastly more developed than the still infant country of Japan. So you can imagine the huge culture shock to see so many people and such well developed people.