Walk in the Obake

Walking through the jigsaw streets of the Obake, crossing from tarmac, to cobbles, to cavern floor and back, Hito sighed deeply. The rope sandals were digging in between his toes again, a chafing that seemed to manage to irritate him even through the perpetual gloom of the Underworld and the inexorable advance of the Titanspawn forces. For a decent pair of loafers he would happily have waded out once more into the fordes of shadowspawn, battling his way to the very feet of their smouldering general. But no, it would not be 'proper' for one of the divine blood of Amaterasu to be seen enjoying such modern conveniences in the ancient halls of Yomi.


Even as he walked, Hito was careful to watch out of the corner of his eye and ensure that his pace was neither too swift nor too slow. Walk too quickly and the respectful souls lining the streets around him would have to scurry to get out of his way, like the 'noodle' vendor who had ended up tipping the contents of his stall over the road in his hurry to wheel it out of the way of the great and terrible warrior of the Gods. Even now, Hito winced at the memory of the old man - ghost really - begging for permission to disembowel himself to alleviate his shame at having sloshed cheap noodles over the feet of one their divine saviours. His excuciatingly polite pleading had been almost as unnerving as having to watch him gather up his guts after the disembowelling and stuff them back into his ghostly frame. Dwelling on that, though, risked bringing up memories of too many others who had been left out on the twilight fields of the battles against the shadow-tainted, with true wounds that no ghostly form would ever recover from.

As if that wasn't bad enough, walking too slowly was almost as troublesome. When he did the crowds around him would often begin to grow nervous at his continued presence, fearing that he was searching for more of the tainted amongst them, or lingering in anticipation of some new break-through by the Legions. If their fear was absent, then their reverence would come instead, with bowed heads seeking meaningless words of blessing or seeking hollow assurances of victory and safety. Glancing up, he saw a pair of elderly mandarins by the side of the road studiously examining their game of Go, and the tea-house attendant serving them all but flinching away from him. Sighing inwardly, he struggled to compose his face into a mask of appropriate calm and dutiful determination. The irony of being considered 'hotheaded' and 'overly emotional' was not lost on him, after all the years he'd had of being thought of as a cold fish on the job with the Bureau. Even the flat-faced gargoyles at the DMV were positive gushing compared the the bureaucrats slowly rotting away in their Ministries in Yomi.

As if to speak of the devil, Hito rounded the corner and saw the sagging facade of the Justly Prudent Ministry of Humble Martial Provisions. That one of the Obake's main armouries was still run as paperwork-laden, administrator-heavy urban installation still scarped on his nerves. The Gardens of the Celestial Son were of course too sacred to hosue something as prosaic as vital ammunition and weapons stoicks, despite their superior defensibility. No, instead the building was left as one of the Ten Thousand Palaces of War on a technicality, although a less palatial or warlike building than the slowly crumbling ancient building was hard to imagine. As Hito swept slowly past, he caught the glint of an infra-red targeter flickering in the synthetic eye of one of the birds perched on one of the lopsided eaves. He at least had the consolation that Groucho was keeping an eye out for any shadowspan advances against their vital supply base. With Raiden's gift, they would have little chance of slipping past his watchful eye.

Continuing down the winding street that he ahd made his way onto, Hito ducked under a flickering neon sign advertising some Pachinko parlour now serving as emergency housing for displaced spirits huddling away from the onslaught of the Titanspawn. Next to it was the wooden frame of the old housing block still swaying gently in the memory of the hurricane winds that had flattened it over a century ago. Ducking into an even smaller alley beyond that, Hito was almost at his destination when the shadow warriors began to swell up around him and brandish their short blades. Against some unfortunate ghostly denizen of the neighbourhood they would likely have too swiftly and silently for anyone to even know they had been there. Instead, before they could even realize what they faced and begin to fade back into the shadows Hito's fists and feet lashed out in a blur of motion. Their already phantasmal forms were quickly ripped into rapidly dispersing fragments of shadow. Before the last of them could disperse entirely, the ice-cold blade on their attackers back flashed free and pinned that last shreds of its substance to the ground. While the fading shadow-creature squirmed its death agonies, trying to pull free, Hito slipped the pale mask of the departed Shinigame out from under his robe and held it up to peer through the narrow eye-slits. Sure enough, the spirit of the shadow-creature was fading away as fast as its semi-material form. It was much as he expected, but he had learned to take nothing for granted when it came to the minions of Erebus.

With that chore taken care of, Hito moved up to the rusted door set in the alleyway next to him. It seemed innocuous enough, but he paused long enough to extends the spark of ihs godly senses out arond him, searching for any hint of divine or titanic attention to the place. After a minute or so of patient, unmoving observation he had to concede that any interlopers or obervers were beyond his ability to detect. having done so he rapped three times on the rusting surface of the door. After a moment an answering pair of knocks came from within, and Hito repeated his own sequence. With a scrape, the door pulled back and he slipped into the shadowy recess beyond. The pudgy figure of the doorman waited inside, skin peeling away from his rotting flesh, nodding Hito a familiar welcome. Pressing past the thick black veils of the entrance-way the god-child made his way into the main room. This refuge, at least, was still his.

"I'll have a Bud Lite please, Frank, and let me see the song book. I think I might go for something Country and Western when the mike frees up".