The latter was only superseded by the sheer absurdity of everything she’d borne witness to earlier that night, and numbness had spread to both mind and body as a result, weighing down her vitality until each step she took felt like a unique effort of their own.
Koyuki perked up, and, with temporarily renewed vigor incited by that voice alone, put on a burst of speed until she could wordlessly crash into her mother’s open arms and sink into the easement of her embrace.
Koyuki, in all her distractions and immature incomprehensions of her mother’s concerns, could not be bothered to decipher the melodrama of it all.
That concoction of apprehension and uncertainty still crackled in the pit of her stomach the way it did when she first looked upon that orochi in the flesh.
summoning flagrant, unwanted images in her mind of shining evergreen scales and curved talons like crescent moons, fully capable of slicing through skin and bone.
and worse yet, they were touting that massive, atrocious dragon as if it were some captivating petting zoo sideshow!
Koyuki's brain was still reeling on its dragon-induced tailspin, and even when okan held her at arm’s length to inspect her daughter’s face, Koyuki could only stare past her shoulder into the abyss of the night, where an imaginary orochi prowled, waiting to strike in a flash of vicious teeth and claws
Koyuki mumbled her undue response into her chest,
A soft-spoken fire flickered in the pit, noncommittal, bathing the nearest surroundings in warm tones and chasing shadows into deep corners. The silence, the dark, the calm, it should have been soothing. But to Koyuki, home didn’t feel like home anymore. Home felt like a transitional space, a place waiting for something to happen, a roofless, wall-less, stakeless shelter concealing unseen enemies within its very own boundaries.
Okan reached out and caressed Koyuki’s hair with graceful affection only a truly loving mother could give, gently assuaging her daughter into sitting closer her, curled up within the nook of her arm.
Koyuki wasn’t to be won over so easily. Nothing could convince her to want to leave her home, or even so much as buckle under a reluctant tolerance for the supposed necessity of doing so. Not even if she would be the talk of the town when she one day returned… impressing all of her friends with grand overtures of the outside world, the way oton’s stories did to her…
Its golden flames licked between blackened wood and crumbling, steaming coal, glowing with embers from underneath.
It seemed secrecy and skepticism was commonplace in this household now.
Okan sighed, a deep, drawn-out sigh, reflecting a lifetime’s worth of fatigue.
Koyuki strove to prompt her.
And then, for some reason, something elusive made her stir. She cracked open her eyes for just a brief second, then fluttered them shut again.
Then, in her rouse, she could identify it when it came again. It was a sly tremor passing through the floor, sending a short vibration through her body. Pause. Vibration. Pause.
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