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1 War and Wildflowers. on Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:13 pm

Takao

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A calm, serene night had overtaken the Fire Country. Cool, gentle breezes swept the empty streets, urging the late-nighters into their homes. Autumn was in full swing and the vivid foliage that decorated the village in technicolour. The Hidden Leaf village was, in a word, peaceful.

Yet the same could not be said of her residents; one in particular tossed and turned restlessly in their bed. Sweat bound the sheets to his skin as he shifted uncontrollably, his brows tensely furrowed as he endured the nightmare plaguing his slumber.

A line of flames stood before him, barely a meter away, and left him frozen in place. His eyes were locked on them and dared not falter, lest they move closer or act unpredictably in ways that fire did.

“Just walk through the fucking fire, Takao!” His father yelled, his voice piercing through the roar of flames that separated the two and the thunderous rain that poured above. All he had to do was take two steps forward, just walk through the flames he knew wouldn’t hurt him, and it would be over. He could go inside and dry off and be left alone at last.

But he was frozen in place. He couldn’t step forward, and he didn’t want to. The way the flames danced in front of him was hypnotizing, and the heat they gave off helped warm his rain-soaked body. They would hurt him and burn him and he would die, it was as simple as that. Visibly shaking, his hands came together at his chest, anxiously intertwining his digits and fidgeting.

His black eyes reflected the flames as his father stepped through them effortlessly, without a tinge of fear in his body. Takao watched as his hand rose high and swung down, striking him hard across the side of the face, twisting Takao’s head to the side as he recoiled from the strike.

“A Kimura that can’t even walk through his own fire is worthless,” He said.

“Worthless! You hear me?! What’s wrong with you?! Your sister could do this at half your age!” He spat, his guttural words making Takao flinch as his hands continued their anxious twitching movements, shaking violently once more.

“This is pathetic. I’ll show you that your fears are pointless.” The man said as he moved behind Takao, who whipped his head around toward his father. His eyes widened and his jaw began to quiver as panic set in on his visage.

“No-- no, wait, please!” Takao cried out as he felt the firm hands of his father on the back of his head and his back. He pushed against them but his eight-year-old form could do little and he struggled in vain. Even as he thrashed, his eyes never left the violently dancing flames that drew ever closer. The corners of his eyes swelled as tears born of fear formed the more his face was pushed.

“Dad-- stop! Please!”

“You have to learn, Takao!”

Beg as he might, it did nothing to dissuade his father from his actions. His breathing grew rapid and ragged as the flames were mere inches from his face, his father’s hand pushing his face closer and closer toward the mud and fire. His eyes widened and a primal, pathetic scream of terror left his throat.

Takao awoke with a start, the scream of his dream carrying over into his conscious state as he shot up. He slammed his back against the headboard and cast a jittery gaze over his surroundings, trying to catch his bearings. His scream caught in his throat and he settled, if only slightly, upon realizing that he was in his room. Gradually his rapid, ragged breathing calmed.

It was unusual that he was startled so thoroughly by a nightmare that had plagued his dreams in perpetuity, but as his gaze wandered to the other empty side of the bed, it became apparent that his nights alone were beginning to take their toll. His head fell into his hands and his eyes closed as the faint throb of a headache steadily built, and the chorus of voices that ensured that not so much as a modicum of silence could be enjoyed soon joined the migraine.

C̶̲̔Ò̴̤U̴̟̐L̶̟̃D̷̰͊ ̵̢̾D̶͈͑O̵̟̕ ̷͜͠Í̵͚T̸̞̽ ̵͙̏A̵̭̕T̵̝̚ ̷̋͜H̴͈͋Ạ̶̍L̷̦͝F̴̹̆ ̴͈͒Y̵̻͋O̷̥̎U̸̢͑R̵͔̔ ̶̨͋A̸͓͂G̶̺̔E̸͚̿

S̸̨̖̓͜ͅH̵̞̗̹͛̀Ȩ̵̈́̽ ̷̡̨̤͂͒͑͒͜W̷̺̅̏Ã̵̞͓̲͛̕Ṡ̸̤̯͕ ̸̛̭̺̑́̕Ả̸͙̯̹͆͠L̶͖͔̤̿W̸̲̪͙̅A̵̹̺͍͒̃͝Ȳ̵̭̪̖̈́͛̓Ŝ̷̢̟̗̜͝ ̵͈̘̆B̸̞͇̐Ȩ̴̯͓̫̋̍̈́͠T̷̘͉̩͆̀͊́͜T̵̮̦̠̈́̐̿̿Ẻ̸͓͖̘͒R̶̳̲̘̀͊

Ḧ̶̪͚̯̝̖́̎̈́̄͛͘͝E̴̡̢̳̦̰̣̟̒͋ ̵͙̻̺̖͛̽̐͌͠W̸̮̱̝͈̊͑A̵̰͗̄͝S̸͉͆̅ ̶̭̮̈́́̐̒͌̅͝R̵̖͖͕͓̫͓͓̈́͌͒́̾I̴̧͓͒̾͗͂̄͒G̷̨̨̣̻̖͈̝̬̉H̷̨̏̍̊̊̍͘͠͠Ṯ̶̣̺̗̫̕͘

S̸̤̽͑͠H̶̩͓͙̙̺̟̘̾̂͆Ò̷̮͍̩̺͓̖̉̚U̸̡̻̥̣̗͇͍͐̎͑̅̊̚L̷̢͎̭̭̹̑͊̀̀̎ͅḐ̴̣̰͉͍͈͔́͂́͌̊̐ ̷̹̰̤̠͇̲͇̉̑͒͌̈̓̓ͅH̸̛̻̞̫̙̮̗̫͕̾̔͛͑͑̄̍A̸͉̫̮̼̪̘̅̀̑̉̄̓̚V̴͕̇̒͋͐͒̆͠ͅĘ̴͚̳̝͍̦̗̖̆̀̾͑̊ ̷̘̻̿́͐͝͝D̸͉̥̤̖͕͔̀̌̌̎͌͊Į̵̧̦̜̣̮͇̓͝È̵̢̢̳̟̮̱̅͜͠͠͠ͅD̴̙̓̌̕͝

Y̵̧̡̟̐̚Ò̷͎͇̼͜U̶̢̻̣̫͈̥̐́̈́͂̀͒͠ ̷̢̅̈H̴͔̯̗̦̮͚͍͗̀̐̉̒͂A̶̹͇̻͔̞̹̔̓͂̓̚͝V̸͙̀̒̂͒̈̋͝E̴̢̧̡͉̮̳̠͌̏̚͘ ̵̡̢̪̞̭͐̀̀̑Ṱ̸̫̗͌̈́̍̽̽͝Ơ̴̡̱̗̯̲͝ ̶̧̝̪̰̲̹̄̍̾͆̉̏̚Ĺ̷̛͖̌͘Ę̸̅̎̅̈́́Á̶̧͙͎̭̂̀̃̀̋͠R̷͓̝͚̱̲̐̈́͌̽͠N̵͇͛́

I̸̩̒T̸̫͚̾ ̷̥̭͘W̵͖͓̔Ä̶̭́̎S̷̭̙͑̚ ̸̙̌͘Ẏ̷̡Ǫ̴̮̂̅Ȗ̵̱̽͜R̴̨̗̎̐ ̶̂̋ͅF̷͚̝̑A̷̺͗Ų̵̛͇L̸̙̔T̸͖͍̊

C̷̛̮̜Ô̴̮̯͒U̴̦͘Ĺ̸̥D̷͕̈́N̵̳̝͑'̶͚̤̎͒T̴͈̆̅ͅ ̵̳͗̌P̶̠͝R̴̗̊̕O̶͇͍̒̍T̴̤̍͝E̴̹̊Ç̸̱̊̐Ṱ̷̛̈́ ̴̫͋H̵̘͑̿E̵͎̜͐̑R̷̨͈̔̄

Y̸̩̎͑O̸̡͒́Ŭ̶͓ ̸̻̐S̴͙͓̓H̷͓͙̀O̵͓̓̑U̴̖͗̈́L̷̯͖͌͌D̸̝̰͑ ̶̹̜̂Ḧ̴̛͔́A̶͍͂V̷̩͑E̷̢̙͒ ̷̖̳͆̚L̸̲͝I̸̬̤̐̀S̵͉̓T̶̠̓E̷̢̙̓̓N̶͔͋̕E̵͉̱͘D̴͍̉ͅ

B̶̬̰̂͛͝ͅȔ̴̙̥͇̻Ŗ̵̘̝͕̻͓͌̈́̋͝N̵̥̟̹̱̾͒̂͒̀͊ ̵̱̘̋͝Ị̴̩͔̙͗̐͝ͅT̴̢̞̩̾ ̴̰̤̀͆̃̒͑̈́A̵̹̮̿̎̚L̴̻̹̥͌̍́L̴̙̪̾̾͠͠


Slowly, his digits curled around his head, squeezing harder and harder as they grew louder and louder. He tried to shove them back into the depths of his psyche, yet try as he might, they would not be done away with so easily. A low growl built in the back of his throat as the noise in his head and the pain that accompanied it made him angrier and angrier, frustrated that they seemed to be unending and silence was little more than a fantasy.

His legs swung over the edge of the bed and he reluctantly pushed to a stand, lumbering tiredly into the bathroom. He recoiled at the light when his hand slid over the switch and shambled to the sink. His hands gripped the edge of the vanity as he stared into his reflection, the throb of his headache growing worse with each second that came to pass. His eyes shut tight and his jaw tensed in an attempt to endure. The pain felt inescapable and as it grew and grew, his grip tightened around the vanity until it gave under his strength and cracked.

Then, with perfect timing, a knock echoed throughout his home. His eyes opened and he glanced toward the threshold of his bedroom, unsure if he had heard correctly, and slowly stood from the vanity. Takao walked from his bathroom through his bedroom to the staircase and descended them into the foyer, down to the genkan, noting the time to be quite early along the way.

“Takao--!” A voice called out the instant he pulled the door open by only the slightest of margins. It swung open the rest of the way, slamming into the stopped next to the wall, and he was greeted by the sight of a family friend whose appearance bore striking familial resemblance to himself.

“Uh--” Takao managed to barely begin speaking before the woman interrupted him and continued speaking.

“It’s Ojiisan! He’s… it’s…” She stuttered as tears welled in her eyes.

“Just… just come!”

TOTAL WC

1,192

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