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What if tanukis resurrected Oda Nobunaga?
Hiroki dashed through the woods, trees rushing by him in a blur. As he leaped over the boulders that blocked his path; he could hear them behind him, still chasing.
“What the fuck?! Why is this happening?! None of it makes any sense!” he cried out.
He immediately regretted that outburst as it wasted precious breath and helped his pursuers narrow down his location.
Noticing a crevice in the roots of a giant tree, Hiroki jumped down and hid in the darkness it offered. Doing his best to calm his pounding heart, he held his breath and waited. He knew little of their sense of smell, but hopefully, this would be enough to throw them off his trail.
Please don’t let them find me. Please don’t let them find me.
Not even 10 seconds later, three small shadows darted past at high speed.
Damn, they would have caught me in no time!
His blood froze as one of the shadows stopped. He could see the silhouette of its head turn back in his direction. The leaves crunched underneath it as it moved closer. After eyeing the crevice for what seemed to be an eternity, it sprinted away to rejoin its comrades.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Hiroki climbed out of his hiding place and stealthily began to work his way back to the main road. He knew that if he were to try running again, they would probably be able to hear him.
I’ve got to warn everyone before it’s too late. Even if they say I’m insane, all will be lost if something isn’t done!
An hour later, he came upon the mountain road he had left from early that morning. Up in the northern area of Honshu, he knew there wouldn’t be many people driving around this backroad, and with his bike abandoned back in the woods, he would just have to walk until someone finally came. His phone was of no help either as he couldn’t get any service in this area.
As he turned to walk down the road, he heard something coming down from the opposite direction. He jumped back into the cover of the woods and peaked out. Coming down the road were three cyclists in a line, their black and brown racing clothes almost seeming to blend in with the road and the trees.
What luck! Hopefully, they’ll be able to help me out!
Stepping out from the tree line, he called out “Hey! Over here! I need help!”
The rider in front raised up his hand, motioning for the two behind him to stop. They pulled up next to him, and the head rider lifted up his glasses, looking Hiroki up and down incredulously.
“What’s the problem?”
“You’ve got to help me! I’m being chased, and I have to get out of here quickly! If they find me I’m —”
“Whoa whoa whoa, slow down a moment! Who is chasing you?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Please, I just need to get out of here!”
The riders eyes narrowed, their suspicions clearly showing.
“Unless you tell me what’s going on,” the head rider said, “I don’t know if I can trust you. How do I know that you’re not some psychopath that’s going to murder us all?”
Hiroki just shook his head. “You wouldn’t believe me even if I told you…”
“Fine.” Hiroki sighed. “As I was hiking earlier, I stumbled onto something I shouldn’t have, and now, I think the things are trying to kill me.”
The rider raised his eyebrow, “And what would that something be?”
Fidgeting, Hiroki looked at them nervously, turned his head down and muttered, “A group of tanuki performing a ritual to revive what seemed to be Oda Nobunaga.” Still looking down, he didn’t hear anything from them, just silence. I knew they wouldn’t believe me! I should have just made something up instead of telling the truth! Finally, he worked the courage to look up.
The rider was still looking at him, judging him with those uncaring eyes.
“I knew you wouldn’t believe me,” said Hiroki. “I’ll just start walking then.”
Before he could turn to go, the head rider said, “Oh no, we believe you.”
He whipped back around, glaring at the group.
“I don’t need your mockery! I-” Wait… Where’s the third rider?
A sharp pain coursed through him as something hit the back of his head. As his vision began to fade, shadows engulf the riders, and small shapes come forth from them.
The pain from the blow brought him to, causing him to groan as he tried to lift his hand to rub it. He realized his hands and legs were bound behind him, and he could not move. As his vision cleared, he saw it was night now, and he was in a clearing in the woods.
Surrounding him were what seemed to be hundreds of small dark shadows. Inside them, he could barely make out two golden eyes, shining with malice. Above all of them was a throne of animal skulls. The edges were lined with deer skulls, the antlers decorated in what appeared to be the entrails of newer victims. At the front of each arm rested a giant bear skull, jaw hanging open to reveal a collection of smaller skulls belonging to squirrels and rabbits. Making up the main body though were dozens of wolf skulls, all as fierce in death as they were in life.
On this gruesome throne sat a lone man. His presence dwarfed that of his chair as an aura of hatred and bloodlust emanated from him. He wore blood red armor and had his long black hair tied into a ponytail. Even surrounded by the night and the shadows of the tanuki mystics, the darkness that came from him seemed to swallow all of it.
In front of this monster, fear gripped Hiroki’s soul. What have they done?!
Looking at the shadow closest to Hiroki, the man motioned towards the captive. The golden eyes seemed to nod in affirmation then changed to a fiery red.
“No! Get away from me! I swear I won’t tell anybody! Please!”
His pleas went unheeded as the darkness reached out and pierced his heart. Consciousness draining along with his blood, Hiroki murmured, “Why? Why would you do this?”
As his body slumped, the shadow moved up and wrapped around his head. With a sickening sound, his skull was ripped from his body, pure white like those on the throne. Holding it beneath the gaping hole in his chest, the tanuki filled it with Hiroki’s lifeblood.
Taking it from his executioner, Nobunaga let out a deep chuckle.
“Why? Why have I done anything? To conquer the world through fear. Rejoice, for you shall help me offer a toast to my new reign.”