The Call of Moonlight (Ikiko Hisakata)

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The Call of Moonlight (Ikiko Hisakata)
Date of Cutscene: 01 July 2015
Location: Uminari City - Juuban Avenue - North
Synopsis: Ikiko is having a wonderful dream -- dancing in moonlight, talking with stray dogs, and leaping across the nighttime city as if it was nothing! How magical!

There's just one little detail...

Cast of Characters: Ikiko Hisakata

The moonlight called to her.

Ikiko Hisakata gazes out the open window towards the nighttime cityscape, lit by the light of the full moon. "What a lovely dream," she murmurs. After all, she had just drifted to sleep; she knows she's in her comfortable bed. And such a vivid dream it is!

Ikiko, cleaning the family storeroom during the afternoon. It's a standing rule: if she finds anything in an unsealed box that she likes, she can keep it. She's found interesting things before -- books of stories, a yukata in her size that an aunt used to wear decades ago, cute toys.

But a dream this must be: Ikiko feels like she could easily jump over her house! She walks to the window of her room, then leaps out, landing gently on the ground -- two stories below! The cool air invigorates her, and she gracefully bounds over the houses of her extended family, landing on a wall and darting off into the night.

In one of the boxes, filled with things several decades old, Ikiko finds a small box tied shut with ribbon. The symbols on the ribbon don't quite look familiar, and the ribbon itself is loose... but something about the box calls to her.

As Ikiko runs along the wall, she spots a couple of the local stray dogs she knows. Ever since she could remember, she's had an intuitive sense regarding dogs, being able to understand them almost as well as if they were talking. "Hi!" she waves, hopping down off of the wall to move closer.

"Hi, Ikiko-friend!" the dogs bark in reply.

Ikiko blinks. Actual, understandable Japanese? This must be a dream!

She runs with the stray dogs, smiling and laughing in the moonlight. On an instinctual level, it feels good to have a pack, a group of friends. Her ears are hearing things more clearly, and she feels happy enough that she'd wag her tail, if she had one! (Was there some sort of movement of her shadow? Eh, must be just a quirk of the dream.)

It's easy enough for Ikiko to move the ribbons aside enough to open the small, flat box. Inside is a locket on a necklace of fine chain. The locket is made of layered metal, forming seemingly random patterns upon its otherwise smooth surface, and seems to be sealed shut, either by age or by design.

As Ikiko and the strays approach one of the side streets, the dogs start hanging back and whining. "What's wrong?" Ikiko asks, concern in her voice.

"Something wrong," one of the strays replies. "Not natural darkness."

Indeed, there's a dark presence down that street; Ikiko can feel it, feels drawn to it. But not in the sense of like calling like; she feels that (albeit weakly) from the strays.

No, this calls to something she didn't realize she had: the instincts of a hunter.

On a whim, Ikiko places the locket around her neck. It feels... right. Like it was meant to be there. She finds a mirror and looks at her reflection; the locket looks good, even though it doesn't draw attention to itself. In fact, it seems easy to miss...

The source of the dark presence is a youma, standing near a house. A humanoid figure of darkness, it's sending shadowy energy into a window of the house, and a sense of fear comes from within that room. The youma grins; the nightmares he's been causing the kid within the house over the past couple of days have yielded excellent fear energy. Why, if this keeps up, he might even be able to rally others to cause more nightmares!

He laughs quietly -- a laugh that quickly stops when he hears a threatening growl behind him. The dark figure turns around and spots the source of the sound: Ikiko, standing on a nearby roof, backlit by the moon, her eyes glowing menacingly. Some quieter growls come from ground level; the strays chorus the threat, their eyes glowing dimly.

The youma gulps, a sense of unease starting to grasp it. The hunter has become the hunted -- and he is not prepared.

Ikiko, still wearing the locket, takes the box that the locket was in (and the ribbons it was closed with) back to her room and places it in a drawer in her desk. Her family doesn't comment on the locket, even though she hasn't taken it off; in fact, they don't seem to even notice it.

Ikiko leaps at the youma, snapping her teeth at the dark figure. For a moment it feels like she has fangs; this dream is certainly vivid! The youma flinches out of the way, taking a few steps back from the determined girl.

Meanwhile, the stray dogs spread out, circling the two combatants at a safe distance. They call their encouragement to "Ikiko-friend" and snarl at the youma, but otherwise stay out of the fight.

Ikiko and the youma trade blows for a couple of minutes, each one dodging out of the way of the other, neither one landing a solid hit. Finally, in frustration, the youma unleashes a wave of nightmare-causing energy at Ikiko.

Ikiko grits her teeth as fears try to overtake her. "No! I am having too much fun in this dream; I refuse the let it become a nightmare!" she growls. Taking a deep breath, she howls at the youma, her voice conveying a wordless song of the happiness of dreams, the triumph over nightmares, and the beauty of the night. The sound of the howl bring happy grins to the faces of the nearby strays...

...and its resonance, harsh upon those steeped in darkness, tears the youma into rapidly-fading wisps of shadow.

No matter what Ikiko does, the locket never gets in the way. Even in the usual routine of a bath before bed, it seems just fine being worn, and when she lays down in her bed it feels secure and safe, not threatening to tangle during the night.

"This was a fun dream," Ikiko smiles to herself as she heads back to her home. It's a silly thing, but she's starting to feel tired in her dream; can you imagine that? She says goodbye to the strays as she nears her house, then bounds over the walls, across the yard, and back up into her room. As she heads for her bed, she happens to glance at her mirror...

A wolfgirl, complete with ears and tail, stares back at her.

She yelps, taking a step backwards and tripping over the leg of the bed, landing hard on her rear. "Ow, that hurt," she winces, then freezes in realization: you don't feel pain in a dream.

Which means...

As Ikiko is falling asleep, a thought comes to mind: what if this locket is the same artifact that her great-grandfather Yuuki used when he fought the werewolf many decades ago? She's heard of the story of it, of course; it's a family legend, after all.

But she laughs quietly. "Nah, it couldn't be," she yawns, almost asleep. She rubs the locket as her eyes close. "There's... no way... this could be... the Lycan Locket..."

As she falls asleep, there's a glow of silver--

--and everything of her so-called 'dream' comes back to her at once. She looks at the clothes she's wearing, then she looks in the mirror. Wolf ears, wolf tail, fanglies in her mouth... short strawberry-blond hair, cyan eyes...

Even the locket -- the Lycan Locket -- looks different. Instead of the locket being on a simple fine chain, it's now on a collar... and instead of a nondescript piece of metal with irregular patterns of layers, there's a pawprint of a wolf, with a waning crescent moon in the middle of the main pad.

She stares at her reflection in shock, barely. Her hands touch her wolf ears, then where her human ears are -- er, were -- and then touch her wolf ears again, a sense of panic rising within her. Stories of her great-grandfather Yuuki's fight against the werewolf come to mind, of how the locket he crafted made his soul as strong as ten or twenty men, of how the werewolf's bite made him slightly wolf-like, and how the power of the locket meant that the wolf spirit that infested him from the bite was outnumbered by his human soul.

Stories of how the curse of lycanthropy, diluted as it was, was only apparent when the locket was worn. Of how Yuuki sealed the power of the locket so it was inert, preventing the lycanthropy from showing itself. Of how the Lycan Locket, tied to the Hisakata family from how it was crafted, was effectively cursed, and should not be used ever again, in case the darkness of the original werewolf tried to take over.

And Ikiko had reawakened its powers.

She scrambles to take it off, a glow of silver reverting her (and the locket) back to normal as she removes it from her neck. Terrified of what her parents would do if they found out, she hides the locket under her pillow, then tries to fall asleep again.

.


.

The next day, Ikiko sits in class at Seishou Public School during a break. She took the Lycan Locket and its box with her to school, trying to keep her family from accidentally finding it in her room. Some of her friends had noted that she wasn't as happy as she usually was, but she waved it off, saying that she hadn't slept well last night -- which was true.

She sighs. Her initial idea had been to return the Lycan Locket to the box where she had found it, but that box had been emptied out during cleaning, and was no longer available. She couldn't just dump it somewhere; her Curse Hunter training made it clear that carelessly getting rid of magical items, especially curse-related items, is a fast way of causing more trouble. So what can she do?

"I'm telling you, I heard a wolf!"

Ikiko looks up, startled by the overheard conversation. Some of her classmates are nearby, talking about something. "You're kidding, right?" one of the others chuckles. "Are you sure it wasn't one of your nightmares?"

Ah, that's right -- one of her classmates had been having nightmares for the past several nights. "I was having a nightmare, but it stopped when I heard the howl!" the first kid insisted. "And it wasn't even a scary howl -- it reminded me of how much fun dreams can be, and that nightmares aren't forever!"

Ikiko sits there, stunned. She knows the neighborhood that student lives in; it's the same one she fought the youma last night. Possibly even the same house, if the story lines up. "I did... good?" she whispers to herself. Maybe... maybe the Lycan Locket isn't as cursed as she thought it was.

.


.

That night, right after she went to bed, Ikiko stands in front of her mirror, Lycan Locket in hand. She puts it around her neck, and a sense of longing that she hadn't even known was there dissipates.

Taking a deep breath, she touches the locket, then says "Lycan Locket!" A silvery glow covers her, composed of wolf-like shapes swarming around her. As the glow fades away, she stands there, a wolfgirl once more.

She knows what she's going to do: help keep her neighborhood safe from youma, like the one she fought last night. But what should she call herself? Her talk with the strays (it felt so weird being able to have an actual conversation with them!) made it clear that they didn't think of wolfgirl!her as the same person as human!her; besides, a magical girl needs a magical name, right?

"'Wolf'," she murmurs to herself. "Definitely 'Wolf'." She looks at herself, then twirls around and grins at her reflection. "'Cute Wolf', even," she nods. Can't hurt to use the truth there!

But what about an actual name? 'Cute Wolf' is a nice title, but it's not an actual name.

Looking out the window, she can feel the moonlight calling to her. Moonlight... the moon...

A smile crosses her face. "Daughter of the moon... 'Tsukiko'," the newly-named Cute Wolf Tsukiko says with a nod. Satisfied with the name of her choosing, Tsukiko steps up the open window, then bounds out to patrol the night.

As she leaps from ground to roof top lamppost, she whispers "Playing in the moonlight, hunting in the starlight, Cute Wolf Tsukiko is here to protect the night!"