The Child and the Drunkard
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In days long past, I came upon and shared the tale of a bogey and the poet this beast tamed through the act of befriendment (A complex act of courtship which finer factors still evade my consideration), only for their unity to be cut abruptly by the lords of the land. This time, I bring a better closure to this chronicle, albeit only from the perspective of the bugbear, for the poet has vanished without trace, in his attempt to reach aeternity through means uninvolving the depravity and obscenity that many other poeticules have used to reach such vicious unends.

A miniscule amount of time after our first actor, the poet, left the beast (Who we will call the Child from Ibaraki, to differentiate her from the many beasts we’ll meet later, for the land she stems from contains an absurd glut of beasts, both in human form and otherwise) to her own devices, she was confronted by a man whose name is so insignificant to the tales of man, only his title remains unclaimed by it: The Minister of the Right.

This beast in man’s shape was one who cared deeply about the wherewithal of his self and that of the people surrounding him, affluence strongly deprecated by the Child from Ibaraki, whose presence sullied the soil close to her in such a way that all houses near the Minister’s domains had been claimed by bandits and malefactors and unclean people who offered very little to such coterie, only propagating the idea-made-fact that this was the Child’s domain, not his. Enraged by this, he used the coin taken from those under him to hire several of the capital’s wandering samurai who, in the interest of a better understanding, are akin to the landsknecht, carrying longswords similar to the zweihänder we’re more accustomed with.

For a beast like the Child, getting rid of mere mortals was like hunting rabbits; no more than a task. The samurai, however, were trained in the art of combating such aberrations. Through the use of underhand tactics, they managed to repel the beast. The Child was still a monster in her own right however: A fearsome beast, scales akin to metal covering her body, six limbs giving her a kentauroid shape that allowed her to eliminate half the mercenaries before being banished from the gate she called home. Wounded and destitute, she roamed the land, attacking envoys and eating both peasants and their horses for days until finally, she was heard of no more.

That is, of course, from the side of those who remained ignorant in their city of tall effigies and perpetual blooms. In truth, the Child arrived at a mountain covered in greenery and adorned in abandoned shrines to deities long extinct: Oeyama, its name was. She was not driven there by perchance, but by the plotting of another beast, one greater and more horrific than the Child from Ibaraki.

His name was the Drunkard Child (Like with the beast we’ve followed thus far, Child refers not to any sort of developmental stage, but to denote the race of beasts the both pertain to.) and he was considered the king of his kind. Unlike most kings, there was no reasoning behind this royal title other than his own words, and the actions that supported them: Were anyone to counter his command, he would disembowel them like a fish, consuming their flesh like pastries and drinking their blood like rice liquor. (This is where I suspect the ‘Drunkard’ part of his name comes from.)

He managed to amass a large quantity of Child subjects by promising that, under his care, they would have all that they desired; all the food and drink they could ask for, and would raze any village they wanted, and maim and kill and consume anyone they wished for. For creatures as boorish as these Children, this was a paradise, and were happy to help their King. The King in turn also received from the fruits of these attacks, forming thus cooperation that these creatures were unfamiliar to, for they formed not villages or towns, merely hunting without thought like the beasts they were.

When Ibaraki arrived, however, the Drunkard realized that she was a different kind of beast, one that would not be content with the meretricious deal he had offered the rest of his ilk. Ibaraki had been cultivating her ire ever since the poet who she’d been tamed by was ripped away from her hands, not enough time having ticked away for it to mollify. As such, she requested something of the Drunkard that he simply found hysterical; so much that he couldn’t help but agree to the plea, for he finally saw desire in someone else’s heart: Desire not unlike his own.

“I want to storm the Capital, and murder the Minister of the Right, for he’s ruined the simple life I’d managed to acquire.” Were the words the Child from Ibaraki enounced. The Drunkard looked at her, and a rambunctious laugh soon erupted. A simple life, for a foul atrocity such as her? Now that was the greatest jest he’d ever heard in his whole life. Ibaraki was upset, but the Drunkard corrected himself: He was laughing because of pure bewilderment, for he had never seen any other Child claim such a thing before. So impressed he was that he promised that her wish would be granted: By the time the solar aster had emerged to end the night's dark, the Drunkard and his gang had invaded the Capital. (In truthfulness, the Drunkard Child had ulterior motives of his own making, merely utilizing Ibaraki’s determination as excuses — For what reasons? Well, it is not his story we’re following. His side will be narrated on a next occasion.)

Ibaraki was quick to act, and as the other ogres razed and pillaged and killed, she ran towards the habitation the Minister dwelled within, breaking past each lock and mural, spilling rubedo of samurai and maidservant alike. After thrashing and kicking and ruining all she came across, she found the Minister hiding inside a chifforobe, using silk and cotton to hide his presence and that of his sole child, a daughter to be used as leverage to perpetuate his rank as peerage and such other insubstantial tripes which I shall bother you with no further. What matters at this moment is that the Minister bawled and asked for forgiveness for him and his offspring. Ibaraki offered none. So full of bile was she that a decision to make the man suffer the same as her was made: Instead of running her claws through his flesh, Ibaraki sequestered the man’s only child, taking her back to the mountain where the beasts resided.

I will bore you not with the contrivances of bringing a live human into the den of the many beasts, nor of the several days of pity and grievance the men of the Capital drowned in, but instead we’ll move onto the troupe contracted by the Minister to rescue his daughter. Amongst these was a regent of a clan said to be the strongest of all the land, a mortal by the name of Minamoto no Raikō, whose acts against beastdom are so many their mere announcement would derail this narration. He and his fellow mercenaries, like many others, resorted to trickery, donning masks that allowed them to pass as beasts (The depictions I’ve encountered makes this one believe there might be a connection between these vizards and those of our own. While evidence of this is null, it wouldn’t be the first time commodities leave our conurbation in the hands of deceitful mortals.), infiltrating the Drunkard’s den.

Passing as Children, they joined their ravenous feast, offering everyone drinks they had obtained from monks along the way. In truth, this was liquor blessed by numina, able to inebriate beasts such as these Children. (It appears the many numina near the mountain despised the Children living in what they considered sacred ground, and conspired with the mercenaries to get rid of them.) Even the Drunkard Child fell for such an effortless trick because, as his title indicates, he was fond of mindlessly drinking. Let this be a lesson to us all: One mustn’t present their weaknesses so openly as to allow them to become one’s namesake.

After all the beasts were cursed with stupor, the samurai took off their masks, brandished their blades, and decapitated every single beast, ensuring once and for all that the Drunkard Child and his repelling ilk wouldn’t be able to raze any other villa ever again. (This, as one has come to expect, wouldn’t truly be enough to end the Drunkard’s life, his head conjoining his body three hundred years past — Again, that is a story for another occasion.) Once they were satisfied with this act of retribution, they ambled down the below stairs, liberating all the people they had taken as prisoners, the Minister’s daughter included. Thus, our story ends; at least, that’s what everyone was under the belief of.

Not but a day later, the mangled body of the Minister was found, numbles strung as garland around his estate. The committer was never found, albeit alongside the gnarled appendices of the aristocrat, the skin of his only daughter was found, devoid of all flesh and bone. This was evidence, many believed, that the Child from Ibaraki had survived the bloody banquet, using the pelt of the daughter as camouflage to finally get her revenge. Ah, how sweet it must have been for the beast to shed the tegument in front of the one who had ruined her simple life, scarring him for the short period of life he had remaining. Of course, this is mere conjecture, as the Child from Ibaraki was not only unfound at the premises; she was never encountered again. Whether she survived to enact her vengeance is a matter lost to all.

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