Last year, I had gone with my friends, Sebastian, Rosalie, and Caleb, to this abandoned manor. The name of it was Aku Yami Manor, an ancient Japanese manor in a deserted mountainous area in Japan. It was in the middle of winter, and it was pouring cats and dogs outside. None of us remembered why we even went inside this creepy building. Maybe it was an interest for creepy things, or was it a temptation to explore? I don’t know.
Aku Yami was a large, I mean LARGE, Japanese style gothic castle-like manor. It was unquestionably beautiful, made of black stone. It had only one window. The window was beaten up, and amazingly still had all the glass panes. The solemn-looking glass was covered in freezing cold water. In the middle, there was a single red piece of circular glass. The frame was metal that seemed to be silver or black, and was really curvy, and turned at sharp angles. That was the thing that grabbed my attention and I wondered why there was only one window.
I grabbed Sebastian’s hand and ran in shouting, “You lazybutts! Get in here!”
Rosalie ran in, leaving Caleb no choice but to follow us in. I found a small piece of paper covered in Japanese Romaji symbols. I’m so glad I took a Japanese class because I translated it for my friends, “Evil… Dark… Manor… was… built… cent-… -uries… ago… The… manor… was once… for a young… teenaged boy… named-“I paused, unable to pronounce the name, “to be… a fine, young… prince to serve the city…” The writing faded and became illegible. I did my best to translate it, so I kept it as a memento. We kept on going, hoping to find more things worthwhile.
Eventually, we reached that window. I found another note. It said the window actually had a name, Kokoro, which meant Heart. We were so tired that we ended up taking a nap. It was so cold we had to sleep together packed like sardines in a can. Not only did I nap, I had a strange dream that the window changed my life. Who knows how long we napped.
All of a sudden, we woke up to a strange sound. Sure, hearing a bell tolling three times is normal, but something about it was unsettling. I remember this line because of the bell, from Meltdown,* my favorite Japanese song in English. The line, it repeated in my head with the sound tolling… “The second hand of the wall clock, and the presenter of a TV show, laughs of invisible people, the voices echo through my mind.” The flashback made me feel sick and dizzy, and I just about collapsed on Sebastian, and passed out.
Minutes later, I woke up in Sebastian’s lap. He told me that he watched the bell before it rang a third time, it didn’t move. Rosalie asked me if I was all right.
“Yea, I’m fine,” I reassured her.
“Leila, you sure?” asked Caleb, still not convinced even though I nodded, “Oh well, let’s go check it out.”
Sebastian mumbled something, but I couldn’t make it out. The rain didn’t help; it was becoming darker, and making it creepier to be at Aku Yami. I scootched closer to Sebastian and stayed close for a while. We were really creeped out but that didn’t stop us from going further in the maze-like manor. Twice, I almost peed myself from weird illuminations seeping through tiny cracks in the walls and strange reflections on mirrors. After a while, we got lost, ending up at Kokoro several times. We decided to follow the rule of a maze; put your left hand up to a wall and walk without lifting it. We ended up in a strange lobby if some sort, and it was huge. There were lots of statues inside the lobby-like room’s walls. Most of them were dragons that had two tails and a lava-looking skin texture. A few of them had broken wings or tails, but most of them were intact. This room by far was the most architecturally detailed besides Kokoro.
Then we saw two eerie red dots at the other end of the long room, and a long strange trail of blood-red emanated from them. The dots stayed still and the trail fell, drooping from them. I focused on them, and they were actually red crescents with a white circle in the middle. I shuddered and a chill went down my back. I looked over slow to my friends, one by one, Rosalie, Sebastian, and Caleb. They saw them too. I could tell they were feeling what I was feeling.
Suddenly, the ominous looking dots disappeared. A moment later, they came back. I saw, that they were actually eyes. I gasped, and the creature turned sharply towards me, the trail following the eyes, still being invisible like a ninja in the shadows. I head hollow footsteps that echoed throughout the room, and the ground vibrated softly. There was just enough light from the open roof to reveal the creature. The rain still fell down hard, fell on the creature’s head and sizzled. Rosalie squeaked and we all saw it was a dragon. There were symbols on the arch above it, saying, “Lava Twin Tail Dragon Lair.” The dragon looked up, and looked back at us, striking a pose full of pride. I guess it heard my heart thumping loudly because it growled and spread its wings and took flight.
“RUN!!!” Sebastian exploded into a sprint. We all ran. The dragon fell to the ground, making the ground shake, throwing us off balance. It roared to the full moon and charged. I heard one of the guys cuss at it, but that seemed to anger it. The Twin Tail opened its massive maw and hot lava bubbled from it. I thought, “Jeez this thing can shoot lava at us?!” I hoped not, but I was really wrong.
It shot a glob of lava at us but it missed and melted a wall. We all split up, only to crash into each other at the window again. Rosalie ran and Sebastian grabbed my arm because I got lost in my thoughts again. We reached a courtyard and hid in a tiny room.
“Hey, where’d Caleb go?!” Rosalie asked frantically.
“Oh no, he’s going to get killed!” Sebastian moaned. One last roar was echoed into a fade. I was shaking so bad I had to sit down. I was afraid it ate Caleb. Rosalie and Sebastian thought the same thing. Tears slid down Sebastian’s face.
“I lost my best friend… I-I can’t…” he faltered, burying his face in his hands.
“I never thought this would happen,” I choked. Rosalie broke down. She was always the one who was emotionally weak. Sebastian had been Caleb’s friend since they were 3 and I was 2. Rosalie didn’t meet them until we were in 2nd grade. I knew how Sebastian felt, I had lost my uncle to a heart attack and I nearly lost my best friend to cancer. Almost losing a friend is already hard enough at young age.
We heard a thump outside in the manor. Still shaking hard, we got up and tried to find our way out. We heard a scream and a crash. “CALEB?!” Rosalie shrieked, thinking that the mix breed dragon didn’t eat him. We all shot off like rockets running towards the sound. Once again, we came to Kokoro. The dragon was sitting like a little curious but obedient puppy, only it was about 20 times larger. Caleb was on the ground holding a ruby about the size of a small fruit. It was glowing but it faded. The color went from red to a beautiful color of a glowing ember, emanating red and orange and black lights. Caleb told us what happened and he gave me a piece of paper with more Romaji on it. I took a while to translate it and told everyone. The statue of the dragon, it was called Kyuubi. The statue was sculpted in honor of the prince when he died. The sculptor believed that the statue would hold the prince’s spirit by placing a Lava Twin Tail Dragon’s lava-made ruby. He also believed that the prince’s spirit would protect Aku Yami. Over the centuries, the spirit eventually became lonely. The last human to be there was the first to see Kyuubi attacking a traveller rather than make sure he got out safely and watch over the manor.
The note said the traveller came in 1768. He never showed a sign he made it out safely. Kyuubi seemed to read the Japanese on the paper. It was as if he could read it. He used the floor to inscribe some Romaji. It read, “My soul got corrupted in 1697, and when the man came, I accidentally killed him and ate him. I regret it, and my heritage could resurrect him, but I cannot.” I was surprised and impressed by the dragon’s abilities and vast memories. I found some charcoal and another piece of paper and copied Kyuubi’s words. I had collected 4 pieces of paper.
The dragon looked at us again, thinking what to do. Kyuubi’s eyes seemed normal now. He couldn’t talk but he used his wings to gesture us to follow him. Pondering, while walking, I was so relieved that Caleb is safe. Remembering the bell, the line from Meltdown reverberated through my mind again. I watched how Kyuubi’s glowing scales changed colors and folded and unfolded while walking slowly.
Kyuubi stopped underneath the huge arch leading into the yard. He looked at us and blinked one and spread his massive wings. He took a few steps into the rain and stopped. Kyuubi’s skin instantly hardened but still warm inside the lava flesh. It seemed as if he was offering a small umbrella for us so we could leave. We walked underneath the wings. We all walked for a few miles down the mountain until it became impassable. Kyuubi gestured again, showing he can fly us down. He sat down and opened his claws for us to climb into. Sebastian followed me into one and Caleb and Rosalie went in the other. Kyuubi growled softly to us, as if he was saying, “Hold tight,” and he took flight to the raining starless skies.
His stone-crusted wings cracked and boiling lava exploded into place, sending shards of rock and globlets of lava flying. It was a good 20 minutes before we reached the foothills. Caleb gave him the ruby back as a thanks and Kyuubi swallowed it. I guess he didn’t want to be corrupted again. I waved good-bye to the majestic dragon of Aku Yami Manor, and holding Sebastian’s hand, I walked home alongside my three best friends.
*Meltdown is a popular All-Japanese song sung by Vocaloid character Kagamine Rin 02, one of the Kagamine twins. Meltdown is about Rin dreaming of being killed by her closest friends and she counts down to committing suicide in a nuclear reactor. Also available in English and several other versions.
© Copyright 2016 Yono. All rights reserved.