Twisted Visions

Rei does a fire reading on a strange boy who has been visiting her shrine. She gets more than she bargained for.

Date: 2016-09-28
Pose Count: 26
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 03:12:25 56058
    It's a mostly clear Fall day at the Hikawa shrine, with only a few clouds in the sky overhead. Crows fill the trees, cawing and calling as the brown leaves fall from their branches. A certain black-haired miko stands in front of the shrine, dressed in white robes and a long red dress, sweeping said leaves out of the path and into the grass.

    She shades her eyes with her hand, and looks up to the trees. "What are you all worked up about now?" she asks, to no one in particular.

    Or maybe she's talking to the crows? It's a little mysterious how they all seemed to stop talking and look at her after she said that.
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 03:28:18 56059
Dressed in the school uniform of Infinity Academy, Seth is at the nearest board, posting a wish-well. At his side, on the ground, is a school satchel, also bearing the emblem of the Academy. Although his face shows serenity as he looks at the wish-well, his eyes betray that, showing sadness and troubled thoughts. And yet, he refuses to let this bring him down, showing a resolve to keep his posture.
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 03:46:26 56060
    The crows start cawing again, and Rei frowns at them. She waves her hand in the air dismissively, "Oh forget you." It isn't long at all before she goes back to her task of sweeping the stone walkway free of fallen Fall leaves. Her broom makes a kind of quiet 'swoosh swoosh' sound with each sweep, but it's hard to hear it over the noise of the crows.

    It's then that Rei notices a boy, dressed like he's from Infinity. Well, that in of itself isn't odd. A lot of people visit the shrine. A lot of them are sad, too, even if they're trying to hide it, and Rei could always tell when someone was trying to hide something like that. Or maybe he's simply trying to push through it?

    It isn't long before the mysterious miko is standing behind the boy, leaning against the broom, asking, "Is there something I can help you with? Prayers? Prayer beads?"
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 04:04:40 56061
Seth Locke kisses the tip of his fingers, then transfers said kiss via finger contact with the wish-well, possibly a personal touch, an embellishment of the message, signifying the importance of a loved one. Finished, he takes a deep breath, wiping away his eyes...

And that's when he finds the miko standing behind him, to whom he quickly turns, mildly surprised. "Oh!" He clears his throat. "Uhm... Greetings." He looks between the board and her. "Caught me a little off-guard, here." He thinks the question over. "Some prayer beads would be most welcome, yes."
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 04:12:59 56062
    Rei narrows her eyes at Seth, weighing him and measuring him silently. Her eyes go to the well-wish, and then back to him. Then she stands up, taking the weight off of her broom and then assuming her previous, professionally friendly expression. "I didn't mean to startle you."

    She takes a step or two towards a booth, where tiny bits of merchandise are sold: Magatamas, talismans, good luck charms and the aforementioned prayer beads. "Prayer beads are this way. Is there a particular type of thing you wanted to pray about? Love? Health?"

    She waits for him before walking in that direction, assuming he follows.
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 04:31:42 56063
And follow he does. "No, the startling is actually on me. I sort of got caught up in the moment, you're not at fault." He takes a moment to present himself, "I'm Seth Katsumoto Locke, by the way." This greet is complete with a bow of his head. He looks at the place, "Been coming here for a few days; it's quite a place you got here. Very welcoming; the spirits must feel welcome here." He looks at the crows, who curiously enough follow the both of them with their eyes. "Nice crows, too", he remarks, curiosity flowing into his eyes.
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 04:41:43 56064
    "You certainly were," says Rei, glancing behind her at the board. "I don't mean to pry, but whatever it was looked important." She keeps walking, going around behind the booth and starts to look over various charms and things until she finds a bin prayer beads. Her hands hover over them, as she carefully considers.

    "I might have seen you around. The spirits..." She glances off in the direction of some shrine, one in particular to Inari, and she spends a moment thinking before responding, "... well, I can't speak for them, but we try to be welcoming."

    She turns back to the beads, before commenting off hand, "The crows are my friends. They come here often." Finally, she plucks one bracelet of light blue shining beads, holding it in her hands before saying, "How about these?"
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 05:08:11 56067
"It was", Seth replies. "It was a prayer to my mother, wishing her well in the afterlife, and that she gives me the strength and guidance to look after my younger sister, the way she looked after the both of us in life." He smiles, perhaps warmly, perhaps sad - hard to tell. "I just wished I could get a reply, to know if she is well."

His gaze shifts once again to the crows, then back to Rei. "Crows have a reputation for being closely tied to both the human and spirit worlds. If you've befriended them, that means something." His answer is replied in a casual fashion, making a polite observation.

He then looks at the beads, then says, "Well, which color would embody more all the wishes I just expressed?" He leaves that up to the mysterious miko.
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 05:30:24 56069
    Rei raises an eyebrow, and then places the prayer beads back in the bin. "Hmm. Well." She looks down at the bin again, thinking out loud. "Pink symbolises universal love, and protection from violence and aggression. Green symbolises healthy relationships. Purple symbolises good judgement. A mix of those might suit you best, if your goal is to look after a loved one."

    She makes a 'tsk' sound, and then realizes that she doesn't have any prayer beads exactly like that, so she reaches under the counter, finding a leather strap and a bin full of beads sorted into colors. She knots one end of the strap and starts sliding beads onto the other end, trying to create a pretty combination of colors.

    "I'm not sure about contacting the dead. I wouldn't say that it was impossible, but it's not something that I often do. However, if you want, I could try to do a reading for you." She pauses from her construction to glance towards the crows. "Some of those crows are special. It might sound strange, but they come around so often I feel like I almost understand them."

    After making such a comment, she goes back to sliding the chosen beads on a strap.

    "My name's Rei Hino, by the way. I'm the maiden of this shrine."
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 05:47:41 56070
"Pleased to meet you, Hino-san", the young man replies. "And a reading would be most welcome", he says with a smile. More of a half-smile, really; he might not want to know what's ahead for him.

He takes his time to look at the beads and their colors. A chuckle, "Yes... I suppose that is a lot to wish for."

He looks in the direction of the crows again, chuckling politely once more, "If you're familiar with English, do you know an old western saying, 'birds of a feather, flock together?'. It sounds just about right, in this case: coming here for a mutual spiritual connection", he concludes.
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 05:58:25 56071
    "It's not much of a wish if it isn't a lot," says Rei, as she finishes putting the last few beads on the strap. Then she twists the strap into a circle and ties one end around the other, before letting it hang off of her finger. She bounces it on her finger a few times, letting the beads clack together, and then she clutches it in her hand. Her purple eyes close, and she prays silently.

    If Seth has any magical or supernatural senses, he might detect her imbuing the beads with... something. A spark of magic, just to help things along.

    A moment later, her eyes are open, and she's placing the beads on the counter. "That will be 300 yen for the prayer beads."

    She glances towards the crows, and then back at Seth. "You seem to know a lot of things about crows. Do you have an interest in them?"

    She takes a lock of her long black hair in hand, twirling it around her finger. "I can do a fire reading. No cost, this time, but in order for me to do an accurate reading I'll need you to provide something that belongs to her or is associated with her. A picture, a lock of hair, a treasured item... just something that I can focus on for the ritual."
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 06:31:21 56072
Seth has no magical senses, so he has no idea if Rei does pour some actual magic onto them. He certainly is not going to mock or berate in any way, though, that's for sure; this is a joint system of beliefs, so why would he?

Paying Rei, he explains, "Well, I did do a research at some point, and that led me to mythology on crows." Shrugging, "It was a long research, and I kinda got side-tracked..."

Changing the subject, Seth raises his eyebrows is mild surprise, "Nobody ever did a fire reading for me." He produces a picture from the still open wallet, a picture of his mother - a beautiful, Japanese woman, full of life and happiness, tightly hugging a young Seth, who is all smiles; and, on her free arm, a baby in blankets, sound asleep.

It shows in Seth's face now that those were much happier days...
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 06:50:20 56073
    Rei accepts the money and puts it into a register sitting on the counter, and then leaves the booth. "Crows and mythology come together a lot. Associated with death, they often serve as messengers between this world and the next. Other cultures see them as tricksters. Some even used them as a form of divination, though I'm not an expert on Augury."

    Rei looks at the picture, takes it in hand, nods at it and then says, "That will do. Come inside. Fire readings are my speciality. I don't know too many people who can do them, but my readings are often scarily accurate."

    She almost smiles when she says the word 'scarily'.

    The miko leads him into the building of the shrine proper. Along the way they pass a bald old man who peers at them both suspiciously, and looks down the hall to see where they're going, which just so happens to be a mostly empty room with wooden floors and a blazing fire pit in the middle.

    She places the picture on the ground next to the firepit, safe from the flames but close enough that Rei can look at it.

    Then she's sitting on her knees. Her hands are moving, making strange gestures and patterns. She chants something in a low voice, each syllable spoken harshly.
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 07:22:39 56074
Seth holds no comment on the matter regarding Rei's visions being scarily accurate; he just follows, looking around quietly. Sitting down on his knees as well, he's awaiting for Rei's vision.

Minutes pass, and it all seems silent...

But then... Whispers... Someone crying...? A woman...?

A wailing voice, 'W... What have... I done...?' Hands... Fingernails, long - no, /claws/!

A shriek! No, a ROAR! A thumping sound, repeatedly... A crack and split! On one of the hands, a heart - twisted!

Hands close tightly, a splat streaks across what is merely just the fire in Rei's vision.

But it's not over. The wailing continues...
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 07:31:42 56075
    Rei's eyes snap wide open, and stay there. She's looking into the fire, intently, and she's seeing visions. Violent, scary ones.

    She isn't sure what to say at first. Scaring Seth would probably not leave a very good impression, but what she's seeing might be something he knows of, or needs to know.

    Her eyes close again. She decides to at least recount some of what she sees, while she's still seeing it. "I hear crying, and roaring. I see claws, and a twisted heart." She hesitates before saying, "Something horrible must have happened to her."

    "I think there's more."
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 08:03:31 56077
Yes, there is more!

It seems impossible, but from the flames, smoke, or shadows - no, /darkness/ - pour out, travelling through the ground, across the ceiling... And in Seth's direction!

These, once they reach him, three people can be seen: one is a girl, certainly within the same age range as Rei, and she wraps her arms tightly around him; the other two people are irrecognizable, for for their faces are covered in masks; they seem to have tools on their hands. Behind still, as if in the distant background, is the silhouette of a dark man, leaning and holding tightly to a tube, where inside is a girl softly glowing in the dark, with wings made of the purest white.

All these figures fade, however, as the darkness tears away at Seth, lifting him off the ground, tearing him apart, leaving only his heart, which in turn becomes twisted from the darkness pouring in...

And the vision ends; Seth is right there, unharmed, but somewhat shaken up by what Rei's been saying - looks like her visions really touched a soft spot.
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 08:08:57 56078
    Of all the visions that Rei has had, this one seems especially potent. Yet she keeps watching the strange images that flicker past her mind's eye.

    She looks up as darkness rises from the flames, almost mistaking it for smoke at first, but then it reaches around her and reaches for... Seth?! Her wide open eyes track the shadows all the way around as they reach out for her querent. "Two men with masks?" she mutters out loud. "... and a girl with her arms around you... and another in a tube, with wings?"

    What she sees next mortifies her. "Your own heart... dark? Twisted?" ... that wasn't the impression she had gotten from him before, yet here it is.

    When the vision ends, Rei blinks a couple of times, shaking her head, as if trying to get something out of her eyes, and then she notices that Seth is there... and nothing is wrong with him.

    "i... don't think that was the answer you were searching for."
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 08:23:18 56079
If he was somewhat shaken up, now he's completely shaken up; paler than a ghost. He tries to process this in his mind now, but there's just too much he doesn't know to put the pieces together. "W-what...", he struggles to have the words come out, given how he had forgotten to breathe, "What do you think it means?"
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 08:27:42 56080
    "What do I think it means?"

    Rei repeats the question. Her eyes are focused on Seth.

    "I think it means..."

    Suddenly the Miko is in motion. A slip of white paper with black kanji, her ofuda, is between her index and middle finger. She's shouting, "Evil spirits, BEGONE!"

    So saying, she tries to slap the paper onto Seth's forehead, with an exercising power that purifies weaker forms of darkness and stuns stronger ones.

    Of course, if Seth is perfectly normal, then the ofuda will fall off of him as if it were nothing.

    Either way it's probably not good for his nerves.
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 08:42:00 56081
Seth Locke gasps as the miko jumps at him, not really having the time to react. He winces when she places the ofuda on his forehead...

Which falls off his head, revealing a set of very unamused eyes. He sighs, still observing Rei. He clears his throat, still observing her. He looks at the fallen ofuda, then back to her. He says nothing during that long moment.

"O-kay...", he finally breaks it, and gets up.
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 08:48:57 56082
    Rei frowns, and looks down at the fallen ofuda. With a heavy sigh, she turns away from him. Her voice is suddenly a lot more terse.

    "Well. You don't seem like an evil spirit to me. I don't know what your story is, but it's pretty clear something bad either has happened or will happen. If I were you, I'd stay away from corrupting influences. Especially if they toy with your feelings, or with the core of your being."

    She walks over to the fire pit, retrieves the picture, and hands it back to him.

    "I'm sorry I couldn't find what you were looking for, but I don't think your biggest problems lie in your past." After a moment's pause, she adds, "I don't suppose you know anyone whose heart was torn out of them?"
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 09:02:18 56083
"Hearts torn out...? No." Seth's voice is disappointment. "But, you said you heard crying, and roaring. I heard it too, over ten years ago." Beat. "The day my mother died." Another beat. "Killed herself, actually."
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 09:09:44 56084
    "I did hear crying and roaring. Wailing, too," confirms Rei, recounting what she heard as she returns to kneel by her firepit. "A woman was crying, and I heard a voice, I don't know if it was hers or not, whispering something like... 'What have I done?'. There was a thumping sound, and then something cracking."

    She pauses for a moment, then says, "Well... if it was suicide, the heart might not be literal. It might simply mean that she was suffering... but... The twisted heart I saw in that..."

    Rei turns around, looking at Seth, "... I also saw a twisted heart beating in your chest. You were torn apart and that was all that was left of you. Whatever happened to her, you should be careful that it doesn't also happen to you."
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 09:23:20 56085
Seth Locke listens to this - no, in fact, he absorbs this knowledge like a sponge soaks up water. He searches for the answers, rummaging through everything he knows. "I wonder if it hasn't already...", escapes his lips, at which point he reaches his chest.
Rei Hino 2016-09-28 09:26:53 56086
    Rei glances down to Seth's chest, where he reaches, and then back up at his eyes. "I can't answer that for you. I'd be wary of men wearing masks, however. I have no idea what the girl with wings in a tube means."

    Rei watches him as he considers her words. "I don't suppose you'd have any idea what that was about?"
Seth Locke 2016-09-28 09:43:34 56087
A repeated headshake comes from the american boy, as his hand remains laid over his chest. "None at all..."

And that's when his phone rings. Must be the message ringtone, because he opens it, and reads. "I need to go, my sister is sending me a message, and I was supposed to meet her." He offers a bow in thanks, "Thank you for your effort, Hino-san. I'll try to follow your advice." He proceeds towards the exit, "Until next time."