I felt nothing but soreness rack through my aching body as consciousness returned to my exhausted and faltering mind. My stomach made me feel like I would vomit any minute, and my head sensed a stabbing pain, like it was being used for a cutting board. My entire body in general was throbbing in severe pain. Just opening my eyes felt like a massive challenge, and when I finally did pry them open with great difficulty, they burned in the dazzling light, begging for me to close my eyelids and shelter them in darkness. However, I fought the tempting urge and instead began to open and close my eyes, attempting to dull the pain that remained and allow my eyes to gradually recover and become immune to the bright light.
When my eyesight had fully returned, the burning sensation vanished, I found that I was in my large room, surrounded by bright white wood moulded walls and open windows that allowed the sun’s gorgeous rays to bathe the room in gold light. It was very humid in the room, most likely from the ajar windows that let the outside temperature seep in and saturate the building. The sweet smell of inflorescence was also evident in the room, and whether it was from burning incense or the miniature bonsai plants I was currently blossoming in my room, I was unsure. Either way, it shrouded me in heavenly blanket of comfort, and helped my body relax.
There were plenty of servants entering and exiting the room, some of carrying large soaked towels over their arm or certain flowers I have seen used to treat a victim in shock. All of them had either a worried or frightening expression painting their features, and the majority of them seemed to be in a immense rush. My senses began to slowly flood back to my mind and I realized their anxiety must have surfaced from me becoming unconscious upon making contact with that beautiful rose. Taking a short glimpse from one of the colossal windows on the other side of my bedroom that had remained open, I could see that the crimson sun was slowing fading behind the gigantic mountains to the west of the Celestial Plain. That meant that I had been out cold the entire day, and it gave all of the servants a huge reason to worry too.
I wanted to kick myself, knock myself out senseless and just sit in a corner in complete shame for the entire night. I should have listened to my instincts from the very beginning of that encounter! I shouldn’t have fallen for Yomi’s remarks that had drawn me in like a fishing hook and just fled when I had the chance. Instead, I decided to be an idiot and place my life in deliberate danger. I was ever most grateful that Izanagi managed to get me to aid in time, but even if they managed to destroy any traces of toxic in my body, the guilt and shame would remain. My body released a quiet sigh, and I leaned back on the fluffy pillows that were supporting my back and neck, simply pondering about the whole ordeal and what I could have done to prevent it. I let out a soft sneeze as soft of my long golden hair tickled my nose, prompting one of the healers to turn her head around in surprise, perhaps not aware I was conscious once again.
She stood up from a stool she was previously perched on and walked over to where some medical supplies had been laid out alongside some fragile china glasses. From the angle I was laying down at, I was unable to see what she was grabbing, but eventually she made her way towards me and I could see she was holding a pristine crimson washcloth that looked as though it had been freshly soaked with water. Very carefully, she brought her pale hand towards my head, fingers looped as though they were about to grab something. Her fingers wove around something on my forehead, and I looked up to see a silver washcloth already residing on my skin being lifted up and removed. I stayed completely still as she applied the fresh and damp cloth she was originally holding. I must have had a fever, because it felt even colder than it should have been and I would see no other reason for them to be placing wet cloths on my forehead. I murmured a thanks, and she bowed in response, making a scowl form on my face. I had simply thanked her for a kind act done, but she replied with a bow of respect? That had made literally no sense whatsoever.
I sent her away, making sure all of her fellow servants and aid were excused with her as well. Bound to the law of my word, they departed from my chamber in an instant, the remaining one reminding me to simply call out if I needed any of their services. I dismissed her, stating that I wouldn’t need anything, and how I wouldn’t die if left unattended for an hour. Her face was skeptical, but I knew she would never go against an order that I put out. She muttered something under her breath that I couldn’t catch before closing the chestnut screen door and leaving me in the thick silence of the four walls.
My head hit the massive stuffed pillows as I placed my head back down to prevent any strain from holding it high without support. I was beginning to feel the stuffy atmosphere in the room caused by the endless amounts of heat leaking inside and I was itching to run freely outside and get some fresh air into my lungs. The blankets were made completely out of cotton and fleece, and it was trapping all of the heat my body was radiating under the covers, making it almost unbearable to withstand as well as itchy. Maybe I could take a walk outside before dinner began and I was called downstairs. It wouldn’t hurt to get some exercise and stretch my legs, right? It was probably a lot cooler outside than here, and just sitting in bed wouldn’t help my condition improve.
Then again, I probably shouldn’t be leaving this room, or going anywhere for that matter though. My body was probably still recovering from whatever illness Yomi had inflicted on me when he gave me that rose, and to be completely fair, it was wandering off alone that got me in this situation in the first place. I was torn between both decisions, because both seemed reasonably good in their own way. My body was craving to prance through the forest and walk in the stream, but here was the safer option, and my mind was screaming to take the easy route and simply rest here.
I finally decided to sneak outside when I realized staying here meant just siting here, being bored, which was something I refused to be. I swear my judgement couldn’t be worse at times, but sitting still for hours was an option I wished not to take. I guess I would have to suffer the consequences of my actions later on, not like I cared because while it was very possible for me to get punished, my discipline trials were never severe or difficult to push through.
Since the washcloth on my forehead had already outlived its use, the liquid already evaporated and providing no more relief, I picked it up and placed it on the creamy white bedsheets to the right of me. It wasn’t like it was dripping anymore, so it wouldn’t soak through the sheets, and at worse it would be a little bit damp. My hands sunk under the covers, before throwing them over my head so I could move my legs out of that prison of fabric. The unbearable heat disappeared and I could finally free my legs that were being held hostage under the sheets. My feet were numb from lack of movement at first, but it wasn’t anything devastating, and after a minute or two of fidgeting, they were as good as new.
I swung them over the side of the bed and stood up, feeling my legs tremble at the sudden added weight. They were still recovering, just the the rest of me, and were unbelievably sore. It made me wonder what poison that flower contained to put me on an edge like this and have my body be as faulty as a rusty sword. Well, I hoped it was the flower, at least. I saw nothing else he had brought that made contact with me while we conversed, and the issues only began after he has braided the rose into my hair. I shuddered violently, wondering what fate that could have awaited me if Izanagi had not been looking for me at that very moment and managed to stumble onto the both of us. For once, I was glad he was so overprotective of me.
My hand hooked the wooden edges of my door, carefully sliding it open so I could exit my room to go outside. The entrance creaks with age everytime, but I have long gotten used to it. The hallways seem empty, not a sentient being in sight, which is good. I feel like I’m going on a stealth mission like the guards sometimes do, because if I get caught, it’s back to the room I go, stuffed under the blankets and servants until morning. Of course there’s always the option of exiting by the window, but I’m forced to remind myself that my room is several levels off the ground, and unless I find a way to carefully lower myself down, jumping was suicide, even for a god. Since I’m not willing to take such a chance, and too stubborn to stay back in bed, this is the only other way, so I best be careful.
I let my feet slide cautiously over the wooden floor, checking for any weak spots that would creak upon having my weight on top of them. I highly doubt a creak in the already worn out floor would attract attention or anyone to the scene, but I needed to be careful just in case anyone was around the corner. My word only went so far in commanding servants on what to do, and I know my father would have told them to bring me back to my chambers if I was caught sneaking around or trying to escape, which was enough for them to use against me. Izanagi’s word was law, so it no longer mattered what I wanted because his rank surpassed mine.
Successfully, I found myself beginning to get to the end of the hallway and farther away from my bedroom. I already had a route planned out in which I could take, one that was rarely used by staff that would be scouting the area. I chuckled to myself, wondering how the same areas I was always caught sneaking out by had still not been breached with security yet.
Unfortunately for me, right after I had let out the stream of chuckles as soft footsteps sounded farther back in the building towards my direction. Eyes widening, I turned back the way I came and started to backtrack to my room. I’m sure it didn’t matter anymore if I made noise, but I still found myself on the edge of my toes, hopping like an idiot from place to place to avoid creaking noises to escape. I could hear the footsteps gradually increase in noise, meaning they were definitely making their way up the stairs to this floor, and the thought of it made me anxious that I might get caught.
My fingers wove around the door handle securely as they desperately pulled to the right to open the door before I was seen. The entrance creaked for a minute, likely failing to function properly due to age, before opening and allowing access to my chambers. Without missing a beat, I scampered inside and closed the door behind me, careful to not slam it against the wall as I sealed my room the way it had been before. It was probably just a servant walking by to deliver a parcel or clean some of the rooms on this floor, but I would rather not risk getting caught.
Hearing the door shake and twist from the other side made me jump back in fear because of the sudden noise. I hadn’t even heard the footsteps this close already! I took a few steps backwards away from the door, mind seemingly blank on what to do currently. When the door shuttered again, I finally was able to process one thought, hide. Without focusing on anything else but the door and my bed to my right, I flung myself onto my mattress and hid my entire body under the cotton covers to prevent seeing my open eyes and twitching movements. I tried slowing my breathing in an attempt to look like I was sleeping, but the adrenaline from the scare was making that quite difficult. I had no time left to try and make my sleep attempt look believable because I heard the door slide open, signifying the person was indeed in my presence. I strived my absolute hardest to not move a muscle, not wanting to give the pre tense that I was still awake, and it seemed to be succeeding, as I heard no sounds of movement from the other.
Suddenly the darkness vanished as the fleecy bed covers were ripped from my body, exposing me to the person above me. I didn’t bother closing my golden eyes because they were already aware I was awake, so alternatively, I titled my head back and looked directly at the other deity.
I found myself staring into the irritated dark aqua eyes of my brother, Tsukuyomi. His expression was very harsh, and it made me wonder if Susanoo had perhaps put rose thorns in his bed sheets again.
“H-Hello Tsukuyomi. Um- good morning? I was ju-“ Tsukuyomi stared at me as though he were uninterested in what I had to say, and I knew he had already called my bluff. He wasn’t born yesterday, so I knew he was aware that I was awake from the minute he opened the door.
“Please don’t play idiot with me Amaterasu,” He interrupted, sighing. He flicked his right hand a bit as he said this, which was a bad habit of his when he was worried, frightened, or simply stressed out. Such action made me curious, because he seemed annoyed, not fearful.
“I’m surprised you’re already awake; the medical staff had said you would be asleep the rest of the day after treating you with Jewelweed and Hawthorn, and you already looked out of it when Izanagi brought you back in the morning. Didn’t we already warn you about going off alone?” I opened my mouth to make a retort back, but he continued without hesitation.
“You made the entire empire go worried sick! People have been running around all day, and I have barely been able to get a wink of sleep!” He scoffed, but I could still see some anxiety flicker in his eyes for a few seconds, washing away any sort of intimidating appearance he was trying to show off. I knew that his worry for my safety was overshadowing his anger, and I couldn’t help but smirk.
“Oh I see, were you worried about me? How cute of you! So I guess you do kinda care about me,” Tsukuyomi rolled his eyes, but I wasn’t fooled, “don’t be silly though, I would never die over something as stupid as a rose.” I giggled as he threw the sheets he had previously torn off of the bed at me, trying to get me to close my mouth. He was always kind of overprotective of me, no matter how angry we were at one another, so any kind of, ‘I don’t care,’ act he put on was obviously a fake attitude he was trying to play out so he didn’t give off the image of actually liking me. He could be a little annoyed, yes, but his brotherly instincts always came out the strongest.
Since these kinds of conversations often lead to a halt after I said something, I didn’t bother waiting for him to just stare at me. I kicked the thick wool blankets off and stood up, pushing my shoulders back and stretching, hearing a few joints crack back into place. I gave a small yawn and arched my back as a light shudder passed through my body, making small goosebumps become evident on my pale skin.
“Izanagi sent me up here to check on you to see if you had needed anything. Did you take some Jewelweed when you woke up?” Oh, I suppose I must have over exaggerated how much he loves me because he actually didn’t come up of his own accord. Oh well, at least he was sweet enough to come up in the first place and not ignore the orders. I shook my head from side to side in response to his question. I didn’t remember seeing any raw medicine around my room, and even if I did, I probably wouldn’t take it. Jewelweed is extremely bitter when it grows on the Celestial Plain, and there is no sensation my tastebuds hate more than bitterness, so my first reaction would be to ignore it on sight.
“Nope. There wasn’t anything, just servants and such. This may be sudden, but can you do a favour for me Tsuki? You’re my brother and all and you need to keep me safe, so I think I can trust you.” He didn’t even turn his head in my direction, which irritated me to no end. I grabbed the damp crimson cloth off of the white sheets where I had left it from before, scrunched it up into a smaller mass, and chucked it at his head. It was a weak throw, and the cloth barely did anything in terms of injury, however, it did catch his attention, and he turned to face me.
“Okay, okay! I’m listening. What the heck do you want?” I smiled.
“It is really humid in here, and I have been in bed almost all day. I want to go outside and take a little walk before I’m called to dinner, but, if I leave so suddenly and no one finds me here, they’re going to freak out, so-“
“Yeah, I get it. You want me to take you outside so you don’t get in trouble.” He butt in, not bothering to let me finish my sentence.
“Wha- No! I want you to lie and say I’m asleep. Psh- why would I want you to come with me? You’re such a stick in the mud!”
“Well, whether you like it or not, I’m coming with you. Knowing you, you’re gonna make the same mistake again, and this time Izanagi won’t be here to rescue you because he has visitors. You need to bring some common sense along with you for once.” I let out a gasp and put my hand across my chest in mock hurt, but the comment really didn’t affect me. I was used to my brothers throwing insults at me everyday, so overtime, I grew a resistance against negative comments, and taught myself different ways to counter to whatever they may say to me.
I knew he would come along no matter what, and when he made a decision, he stuck to it like sap syrup, so there was no way out. If I tried to leave without him, he would tell everybody and I would be in so much trouble. Either way was a loss, but I was desperate to get out of the enclosed space, so it couldn’t hurt to just go out with him for a bit. I guess we could go lower the sun too while we were outside, since the sky’s rosy colour was certainly a cue that the day was coming to an end. Maybe I could even manage to ‘lose’ him when we were outside if he was being too annoying. I nodded to show I understood, and gave a loud yawn again, trying to shake off the sleep that still clung to me.
My pale hands dusted off the white robes that were draping me to relieve them of dust I must have picked up from before. One spot in particular was a small smudge of earthy brown, most likely from mud or dirt when I was climbing the cliff, that had been bothering me the minute I spotted it. On the Celestial Plain, being clean is the moral code, as to speak. If you walk around covered in dirt, or looked like you just rolled out of bed in the morning, people would avoid you like the plague. I didn’t look too bad right now, but I certainly didn’t resemble a regal goddess in any form either. I didn’t wish to bother with combing through my hair or changing into a kimono fitting for exiting the palace, so I reckon I’ll have to just go out as I am. Heck, if it drives away hoards of deities, I would actually be grateful!
Ignoring whatever Tsukuyomi just said while I was lost in thought, I headed to the wooden door and slung it to the side, careful to make sure it didn’t collide with the wall by accident and create noise in the air that we needed to avoid. I glanced back at my brother, that was just leaning against the wall close to me, his expression still completely bored. I stuck my tongue out at him and he crinkled his nose at my action to show his distaste for my choice of action.
Peering down the long and winding hall, it seemed just as empty and quiet as before. The servants must have gone to aid in preparations for dinner when I had excused them before. Good, it seems we won’t have to slink around the walls to avoid being seen by their watching eyes. I still wanted to make sure there wasn’t anyone else occupying this area that I couldn’t see, so I turned to Tsukuyomi.
“Was anyone else in the hallway when you came up here?” Tsukuyomi looked up from where he was standing and shook his head, his warm brown hair scattering in different directions when he finished.
“Not that I remember. Did you dismiss all your servants though? Because a bunch of them simply headed down to the kitchen with no explanation when I was walking upstairs.” Ah, just as I suspected. Izanagi and Izanami apparently had visitors, according to Tsukuyomi, and the rest of the staff were busy with work that should have them staring down at vegetation or a boiling pot. Usually with everything going on at this time the palace would be empty, but you never know who could be patrolling around. Tsukuyomi furrowed his eyebrows, and for a second I was confused on why he wasn’t saying anything and simply staring at me as though I had a spiderweb tangled in my golden locks of hair. Then I remembered he asked me a question that I hadn’t answered yet.
“Oh- Yep! Chased them off as soon as I was conscious enough to talk. Not sure about you, but I can’t stand how they swarm like bees around you when you’re looking for peace and quiet.” He gave nothing more than a small nod as a response, his usual quiet behaviour settling in once more.
We both exited my bedroom and into the silent hall so we could begin to make our way downstairs to where the main entrance and exit to the palace was. Unfortunately, there was no set of high stairs for the uppermost floors, meaning that if you ever wanted to descent outside, you had to climb down every single staircase in the palace just to reach a door that connected to the exterior of the Celestial Plain. It was tedious, I know, and I have forgotten how many times I suggested to Izanagi that we should fix the error to provide a quicker means of which I could travel to my chambers.
The halls smelled of burned incense and many different types of flora as usual, which was pleasant combination to breath in. Alongside the gorgeous sunset which was visible through the pristine windows, the flowers created such a serene scene before my eyes that I couldn’t help but smile at. There were certain moments in my time that I have spent on the Celestial Plain where I would take a mental image of certain events or scenery because it made me smile, and those imaginary pictures would be the memories I would think about when I was sad or lonely. This was one of those times where I would take those special pictures. This sunset was unlike any other I had seen before, with the colours seemingly glowing and the flare of light shining in through the glass of the large window.
I found myself picking different types of flowers from assorted vases along the walls as we walked. Every vase contained a different flower, and soon my hands were holding a rainbow collection of beautiful petals. The scent emitting from the flora was alluring just as the sunset had been, and I couldn’t help but turn to Tsukuyomi so that I could offer him a piece of my happiness too.
“Hey, want a flower? They smell even nicer than usual, goes great with the sunset too.” Narrowing his ocean blue eyes, he gave a sigh to my question, pushing the flower I was offering away with his right hand.
“No thanks, it’s pointless to own. Amaterasu, if you keep picking them, there will be no flowers left to grow anymore.” Turning sharply to my brother, I couldn’t help but let a harsh reply slip past my slips.
“Hey, I know you’re stubborn to not change your oh so pretty perfect lifestyle, but can you stop being a boring know-it-all for once? If not, I’m sure there’s plenty of poisonous flowers left near the cliff I can stuff down your throat to shut you up with. I hope you realized that being around you always ruins my only moments of happiness.” As soon as the comment was put out into the open air, I instantly felt guilty. Tsukuyomi had raised his hazel eyebrows in pure surprise, perhaps not prepared for me to say something like that out of the blue in response to his answer. Not hesitating, I muttered a soft apology in his direction and increased the pace of how fast I was walking, eager to stay away from him in case I had hurt his feelings and he wished to be alone for the time being. I wouldn’t blame him, because if he had said that to me, I personally would be crushed.
“Y-you know there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be perfect Tsuki. J-Just ignore what I said there.” I put out, trying to help the situation heal itself. My brother raised his head, completely silent, just staring at me with those deep eyes. It made me uncomfortable to just be staring at each other, so I turned away to resume walking without paying attention to him.
Having made sure my path downstairs was not routes deities would normally take around the palace, we soon navigated down to the first floor where there were doors to escape to the garden around the back, which was where I planned to go. There was a slight draft in the air, allowing the wafting scents of cooked food to dance around in the air just to tease me. Oh how I wished we were sneaking nearby the kitchen so we could steal a pastry or two on our way out! Sadly, the kitchen was on the opposite side of the palace entrance, so there was no possible way we could travel there if we didn’t want to waste time. I felt hungry enough to eat practically you put on a plate for me, with the exception of the obvious.
Quickly opening the glass doors to allow us to exit into the gigantic garden behind the palace before anyone could spot us, my eyesight was met with a large mass of verdant colours on the other side. The outrageous amount of green told us immediately that we were finally outdoors, and were entering the oversized garden. If I had to use one word to explain the garden, it would be delightful. Hundreds of flowers and vegetation simply laid out in front of your eyes, creating the illusion of acres of rainbow colour. Any type of flower you could imagine was planted and studied here. It also served as a location for the healers to grow herbs they needed for treating victims. As a result, this garden was huge, and it constantly needed attention, which could be a problem is there wasn’t enough staff.
This luscious garden was like a second home for me. The scents and sight always reassured me whenever I was in doubt or stressed, and the serenity and lack of people was a relief from the usual crowds I was crammed into. It was also the sole location where my friend Ame-no-Uzume, could be found on a regular basis. Uzume was probably the greatest friend you could possibly have, and also the Amaterasu everyone wished I actually was. Beautiful, very intelligent, well spoken, and not afraid to walk amongst those who ranked higher than her. But don’t let the whole perfect act fool you, because when she is around me, she’s a whole new person. We do so many things together that we really shouldn’t be doing, breaking rules left and right and causing a lot of damage to the reputation of Shinto Gods when the Celestial Plain has visitors. Izanagi even calls us, ‘the destructive duo’ and relates us to Susanoo, which is astonishing because I didn’t even know it was possible to be that catastrophic!
Knowing her schedule, she probably has retired to her house for the night as she only works in garden during the afternoon when I am usually away doing things for my reputation. Since she wasn’t blood-related to royalty, she didn’t live in the massive palace, and she also didn’t need to attend to royal affairs, as I am forced to do. I have lost count of how many times I have told her I was jealous of her position and asked her to switch bodies.
I could tell Tsukuyomi was still behind me immediately because of the sudden crunching sound from the ground to the rear of me. It was surprising that he would still follow me after that little comment I made, that was starting to seem harsher by each passing second I thought about it. He must have better things to do than follow his older sister around, right? I know he cares about my well-being, but he should stop being so overprotective and figure out that nothing ‘bad’ was going to ever happen to me, especially considering the security around the Celestial Plain was at its maximum after the incident this morning. But whatever, I could care less what he does as long as he doesn’t berate me every second of the way.
I began walking past some of the plants that bordered the path, brushing by some of the flowers that had sprouted taller than the rest as I passed. I could feel my sleeve damp from the dew collecting on the leaves. My guess is that they had just been watered because the sun should have dried up the remaining moisture by now.
The exit to the garden was on a slope bordering the edge of this province. Usually, if you wanted to travel to another province from the palace, you would need to head directly south and then go east or west depending on which direction you were headed. You see, the Celestial Plain is a floating mass in the sky, and some provinces are divided because of certain passages that breach through. Think of shattered glass, and how some cracks separate other pieces from the core, which would be the mirror. Our province is just like that, and the only way you can travel to the mainlands is by crossing a bridge at the west or east border. However, I have discovered other ways.
As we reached the end of the garden’s huge perimeter, I could eventually see the familiar silhouette of the small umber ditch in the distance of the garden’s area. From here, it looked like a rabbit hole or a potential kitsune den, but in reality, it was a huge network of tunnels that had probably been used sometime before I was born to travel to locations quicker during battles. It went underground to a bridge that was connected to the other provinces north of ours and allowed you to take a faster route instead of taking the southern bridges. Luckily, not too many people knew about it, so people weren’t constantly using the tunnels. Me and Uzume had literally ‘stumbled’ upon it one afternoon when we were tending to some sunflowers we were growing. I went home with a sprained ankle, but the tunnels were far worth it, and have saved me countless minutes of time I could have wasted taking the regular bridges.
“Hurry up Tsukuyomi! If we keep going right ahead to the tunnels ahead of us we should be able to-“ I was interrupted immediately from a strong grip on the back of my neck, hosting me up into the air by the delicate skin around my neck. I didn’t even waste a second, and screamed at the top of my lungs, afraid Yomi had come to get revenge for me escaping earlier today. The perpetrator’s long fingernails were digging into my nape, and searing pain was racing through my nervous system, making me struggle more and scream louder. There were some dark mutters from behind me and I was unexpectedly dropped onto the lush grass, directly on my knees. Pain shot through my legs, and I winced at the sudden drop, turning sharply to whoever it was, and giving them the darkest expression I could possibly pull out of my mind.
A familiar face came into view, and I sighed at the sight of Izanami above me. She looked more exasperated than usual, probably due to catching me break the rules once again. Her raven black eyebrows weresuffocationxjay.deviantart.com… deeply furrowed, and there were wrinkles on her forehead, showing how stressed she must have been today, and whether it be from me or not, I am unsure, but I probably had something to do with it. I know she never liked me from the start, but right now she looked like she could kill me from looks alone.
Rubbing my now sore knee, I attempted to stand up and stumbled a bit. Thankfully, Tsukuyomi caught me and held me still until I was able to keep my balance. I shook him off once I could stand up properly once again and lifted my head to meet Izanami’s steel gray eyes which were glaring intensely at me.
“What exactly do you think you are doing out here Amaterasu!? She barked roughly, “You’re supposed to be recovering in your room!” Without letting me answer, she harshly grabbing my arm, attempting to drag me into the palace by force. I let my heels dig into the grass, trying to halt her movements as much as possible. I didn’t see her as a true mother in any way, partly because she didn’t care one bit about my emotions or feelings or simply what I wanted to do. I have seen how Uzume’s mother Orkid cherishes her as her only daughter, believes in her, and supports her, and I cannot emphasize anymore how Izanami does none of that. To her, I am simply a burden, and she could care less what happens to me. So why care? Simple, to please Izanagi, because if he ever found out how much she mistreats me, they would divorce again in a second.
“Why can you never follow the simplest rules?!” I slapped her arm away as hard as I possibly could, but she picked me up and slung me over her shoulder like dead weight to prevent me from running away or resisting. I kicked and thrashed, not wanting to be anywhere near this cruel woman, but her grip was like iron, and it was impossible to escape or even make myself comfortable in her grasp. All I could do was watch as we entered the garden again, Tsukuyomi behind us with his head down. Our eyes connected for a second, and I could see that sweet bitterness in his eyes too. He hated her as well, and it was no mystery as to why. Izanami didn’t treat him any better than she did me or Susanoo. Right this moment she was completely ignoring him, but I can assure you later on he’ll be taking the same blame as I am just for being a good brother. How lovely.
The huge glass doors to the palace swung open and I could feel the hot sticky air begin to disperse off of our bodies as the fanning from the servants in the room increased at the sight of my mother. I sighed, stomach beginning to ache in dull pain because of the bone in her shoulder prodding me with every step we took. I squirmed to try and get comfortable, but Izanami misread the signs of it as an escape attempt and held me down harder to the point of my ribs being in direct pain. I squeaked out in misery and reached my small hand out to Tsukuyomi in hopes that he would help me out of the situation.
Perhaps he had already forgiven me, or maybe he just was more unpredictable around our ‘mother’ because he sudden reached out his hand and let his fingers weave around mine and clasp together as he pulled backwards towards him, trying to separate the two of us. Izanami whipped around and tried to pry us apart vigorously, but in doing so, her stone-hard grip weakened a minuscule amount and I managed to squirm out, landing on the golden tiles forcefully and hearing an audible ‘crack’ after my body came in contact with the hard surface. I let out a soft scream at the slight pain combined with the utter shock of having my knee hit the tiles so hard.
I laid on the floor for a moment or two, trying to collect my bearings before I scrambled to my feet, suddenly realizing that I wasn’t hurt in the slightest. My knee did have a terrible shade of purple coating the skin, but it was still functioning, although a bit sore. I bent my knee few times to help get the feeling back, hissing at the ache at first, which soon faded out to how it normally felt on a regular basis. I let out a sigh of relief that I was okay, shoulders slumping in content.
Tsukuyomi at some point had come to stand beside me, and he leaned over to inspect my knee further. He stayed in that position for a few moments, using a bony finger to prod my bruise a bit. I winced, but otherwise was pretty still during the little inspection of his. Izanami stood there, not moving a muscle and just staring at us with those cold little eyes. Not worried that I could have broken my knee, not wanting to help me or tell Tsukuyomi to stop poking me, no, the one thing she feels that she needs to do is simply watch us.
I was about to make a remark until I heard loud rushing footsteps sound in our direction, and I looked up to see none other than my saviour Izanagi, eyes wide and a worried expression soaking his pale face. He must have heard my scream echo off the walls and think I was in immense danger.
It’s good to know one of my parents actually knew how to treat a child that had potentially broken their knee. I reached my arms out to my father, and he met me with a tight embrace, his arms clinging onto my tightly and his chin resting gently on my head. Just being in his presence was so calming, the exact opposite of Izanami, who I could tell without having to look was giving off the expression of both jealousy and rage towards me.
I had the last straw with her today.
If she was going to be such an irritation then I would get her in a little well-deserved trouble.
“Ow- OW! Father, o-ow. M-my knee.. it, it hurts!” I complained out of the blue, pulling away from the hug to grab my knee in a fake act of pain. I knew Izanami was rolling her eyes, but it didn’t matter, because Izanagi could blatantly see the bruise, and he was going to want to know what happened. The joke was on her because I was everything to Izanagi, and he wouldn’t hesitate to get angry at her if she ‘threw’ me on the ground. All I had to be cautious about now was what Tsukuyomi said, but I didn’t think I would need to worry too much. He hated her just as equally so I highly doubt he would stand up for her when she had the potential to get in trouble. My father opened his mouth to probably ask what had gone wrong but stopped when he noticed his wife stepping forward to speak.
“Izanagi, darling, she’s fine. I found her and Tsukuyomi attempting to walk out of the palace, despite the fact we gave orders to have Amaterasu stay in her room, so I simply brought them back here.” I dug my short fingernails into my father’s shoulder to try and make it seem as though I was in pain, and turned to my mother with a disgusted look in my gold eyes.
“Yeah, great way to try and cover up the fact that you decided to throw me down on the tiles when you found us! You could have broke my knee!” I tried to brainstorm sad emotions or memories that I experienced so I could shed a tear to look more realistic, but no matter how hard I thought, I couldn’t tear up. I squinted instead and took gasping breaths in order to cover up the lack of crying, hoping Izanagi decided to believe me, and not her.
“Oh, you’re acting like a child! I did no such thing! I found it odd the way you choose to remember things Amaterasu, because you looked fine jus-“
“Papa, Amaterasu is telling the truth, Mama did throw her down. You can see her knee is completely bruised because of the fall.” Izanagi had now let go of me and was gently tracing his fingers over the vibrant bruise, his eyes casting looks of pure disappointment at his wife’s actions. Without saying anything, I felt his arms wrap around my waist and hoist me into the air, bridal style. Tsukuyomi ran over to stand next to us, and I reached down as far as I could to pat his back in thanks for sticking to my story and assuring Izanagi. He looked up to meet my cheerful eyes and gave me one of his rare smiles, which in turn made me smile back to him.
As Izanagi turned around to bring us both upstairs, I was sure to turn to Izanami and stick my tongue out at her to rub in her face how father loved me so much more than her. Eyes narrowed once more, she huffed loudly before turning in the opposite direction and walking away. I did not want to see how she got me back for this, but I may as well not think about it and simply enjoy these precious moments of glory while they lasted. I still could not believe my sweet and loving father would marry a women so cruel as she was. My older brothers told us she was much nicer before she and my father divorced, but I still doubt she ever expressed an emotion such as love in her life! I mean seriously, if I were Izanagi, I would have picked any other person.
I sighed as we climbed the long main stairs to my room. In the end, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time outdoors, which sucks. I was just going to get crammed into that small, bland room again, probably now for much longer because of my ‘hurt’ knee. I envied Tsukuyomi, who was going to get both no punishment and freedom from the wretched palace where I was confined. Well, who knows, I might get him to take me out sometime again, and that time we’ll be so much more careful not to get caught.
“Tsukuyomi, you are excused to dinner.” I flinched at the sudden voice above me, just to realize it was Izanagi. Tsukuyomi, who for some reason was still following us, bowed his head in respect to our father and turned around to head down the same stairs to reach the kitchen. I waved, whispering a quiet farewell which he returned just as softly. Being on his good side felt so much better than fighting with him, and I was happy he forgave me for that remark earlier. I guess having brothers weren’t as bad as it was made out to be. Well, with the exception of Susanoo. That’s one brother I wish for sure I could remove off of the race of the Celestial Plain.
After what seemed like forever, we managed to finally reach my room. I grunted in distaste, trying to think of a way out of the situation, but it seemed hopeless. I guess I would just be stuck here like before until some huge event came up or my bruise went down. I could see that Izanagi was having trouble finding out how to open the door with his arms occupied with carrying me, so I wiggled trying to get out of his grasp so I could help. Since my father could read my emotions like an open book, unlike Izanami, he let me down carefully, and once he made sure my feet were planted on the ground, he opened the door and we walked in.
It was just as hot as it was when I had left it. The covers remained scattered over the bed messily, but otherwise, nothing had been disturbed. I was curious if anyone had walked in to find me missing and reported it to Izanami, or if she had found me by pure chance, but I assumed it was the latter because if they found me gone, the anxiety would have spread like cancer to almost everyone within minutes. I was pretty reluctant, but I knew I should probably head back over to my bed, and I started to make my way over to my flung sheets to sit on the edge of the mattress.
“Amaterasu, I thought you said your knee was hurting.” I turned to my father who appeared to be inspecting me from afar.
“Yeah, it is hurting. Why?” He pointed at my leg, which was partially bent.
“If you had broken or even sprained your knee, it would have been too painful to hold it in a bent position for that duration of time. Are you sure you hurt yourself, our were you lying to me?” I gulped, not wanting to get on his bad side for the day. I had already put him into a dilemma this morning, and this whole situation itself must be stressful to deal with. I tried thinking of what I should say, or at least what I should patch up to make it sound believable.
“Well, um- that was more of an exaggeration. You see, uh,” I paused not knowing how to respond to his question, “Okay fine, I didn’t break my knee, but I did bruise it pretty badly when I fell. I wasn’t lying when I said Izanami was the one who caused it though!”
“Are you sure?” I nodded frantically, trying to assure him. I felt terrible lying to my own father, but this would be my only opportunity to get Izanami in the trouble she deserved. I’m sure if throwing your ‘daughter’ on the ground had no consequences, she would have done it by now.
Izanagi held my gaze for a bit, seemingly pondering, before sitting next to me on the bed. You could see the bed dip considerably under his weight, and the off balance made me slide in his direction a tiny bit. I looked up at him, and saw his face gradually become a smile, and knowing he was content with me made me reach forward and hug him again, my arms barely being able to reach all the way around his back. I buried my head into his shoulder, which was still warm from having the sun’s rays casting on the skin the entire day. Whenever the two of us were together, I always felt so at peace, and I longed for the days when I was much younger and we would spend our afternoons watching clouds or exploring the vast land of the Celestial Plain.
“Papa.” I suddenly peeped.
“Yes Amaterasu?” His calm voice answered, giving me a little squeeze.
“I love you, Papa.” I could feel him smile into my shoulder, and I knew my comments had struck a heart string inside him.
“I love you too Amaterasu, more than you could ever imagine.” He pulled away from our embrace to press a small kiss to my forehead just like he used to when I was little.
“Now, I suppose dinner should be prepared by now. I want you to stay here for the time being and recover from your knee injury, okay? I promise to bring some food up for you later.” I nodded energetically and let him tuck me under the pale fleecy covers.
“Hey Papa,” His golden eyes looked up to meet my own, “Do you think tomorrow we can maybe go out of the province and go exploring like we used to?” He let out a small chuckle and ruffled my ginger hair a tiny bit.
“I don’t see why not, but I’ll still have to check my schedule just to make sure, so no promises, okay?” Despite his answers wavering in allegiance to what I suggested, I was satisfied with the possibility of the two of us having the entire day to ourselves. It made my heart leap, and I reached up to press a kiss to his cheek in affection.
“Thank you, Papa.”