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A stitched up soul

Chapter Text

"I'm sorry who are you?" I ask the leopard.

" Clouded Leopard. Rukai. In," is the reply.

"I'm sorry?" I ask.

"In," he replies as he gestures to me room.

Oh. He must want to enter. "Come in I guess," I say. i didn't know what else to say. I can't leave him out in the cold. That was just rude.

"Who is it Liao?" Tiger asks.

"Han God," The leopard says.

"Aborigine," Tiger replies spitefully.

"Um what now?" I ask.

"I am a Han god. worshiped by the majority of the populace. He is an aborigine god, worshiped by the aborigines in Wutai. But due to dwindling followers he may as well be a nature spirit," Tiger says haughtily.

"Han god insult?" The leopard growls.

"Ok. Both of you knock it off," I sigh. this was not a good day. I was exhausted and my head was killing me. "So Mister Leopard, why are you here?"

"Liao come with me. to Wutai," Leopard says.

"You do not get to come in here and demand my boy leave with you without so much as an explanation. How rude," Tiger scoffs.

"Why should i come with you?" I ask, ignoring Tigers outburst.

"You see," Leopard says as he points at my eyes with long black claws. "I help you see,"

Oh. so he must've awakened my spirit powers.

"Need Oracle. Warn people. That why i awaken third eye," Leopard says.

"Why do you need an oracle?" I ask.

"So you were the one who awaken his third eye. Why him?" Tiger asks..

"He has spirit power. I awaken it." Leopard says.

"How did you find me?" I ask.

"I saw at dance. I need Oracle to warn people," leopard says.

The words he says are very crude but I feel the emotion behind it. He desperately wants to help someone.

"No. You are not welcome. Please leave," Tiger says as he stands between me and the leopard.

"I am not evil," The leopard says.

"Oh. But how do i know you're not some demon in disguise. Because to me there is almost no difference between your kind and demons." Tiger says with a grin.

"Not your business," Leopard snarl as he gets closer.

"No. It is my business and not yours," Tiger snarls back and cracks his knuckles.

crap. this is bad. "No! No fighting in my room," I shout as i get between them,"

Just as i think everything is about to explode, my phone rings. Who the hell is calling me right now? The two cats look at me while i pull out my phone. It's Shu-Chi Senpai from dance club.

"H-hey Senpai. What's up?" I answer.

"Hey Liao. Just checking in. You looked ready to drop after the performance and we wanted to make sure you were okay. So i am bringing by some food so we can eat dinner together." Senpai answers.

Crap this is not the time for this. If he comes over would he see the two fighting cats? Probably not. But i would have to pretend i can't see them and if manga has taught me anything it is that this will not end well. But it would be rude to refuse. It sounds like he already bought the food.

"Fine. Are you alone senpai? " I ask

"Yeah. Why?" He replies.

"Are you on your way?" I sigh. Some food would be good right about now..

"About that. . .... I'm already downstairs." Senpai says as he hangs up .

"Senpai?" I say. Crap. He's here.

I grab Leopard and put him next to tiger. "Ok. Here's the deal my senpai is coming over. Both of you behave. No fighting. Got it?" I say as they both nod obediently.

"Liao! I brought Lou Mei!" A cheery voice says as I whirl to see........a cat?

"Senpai?" I ask.

"Yeah Liao?" The cat responds. "What's with the weird look?"

"Why are you a cat?" I ask. I was pretty sure senpai was not a beast-man. That would be catastrophic.

"What are talking about Liao? Do you have a fever?" Senpai asks in concern before a strange look crosses his features. "Wait. Can you see me? Like "see" see me?"

"If you mean "see" as in you look like a cat wearing dance gear then yes," I say incredulously.

"What are you doing here kitten?" Tiger says as he walks up to us.

"Don't call me kitten," Senpai snarls.

"What are you exactly?" I ask, trying to deescalate the situation.

"I'm a leopard cat," Senpai says.

"See. You're a kitten," Tiger says with a shit eating grin.

"I. Am. Not. A. Kitten. Don't compare me to house cats. It's patronizing." Senpai snarls back.

" Anyway. How long have you been a leopard cat?" I ask.

"I've been possessing Shu-Chi for only about a few months. But now that you can see me i have something i wanna ask you Liao," Senpai says.

"What is it?" I ask. I have a bad feeling about this.

"I want you to come restore my temple. I'm something of a guardian tiger in my temple. But it is being abandoned. If i don't do anything my fudegong will.......disappear," Senpai tears up.

"That sounds doubtful," Tiger says. "Even if the temple is abandoned your fudegong will just become a nature spirit. But your chi is....unusual. You do have some divine chi,"

"Please Liao. I really need your help. You're the only one who can," Senpai says in tears.

"I said no. I am liao's guardian. I have guarded his family since he was a child. I guess you could call us.....childhood sweethearts," tiger says with a big smile.

More like creepy stalker.

"In any case. He will return home as is proper of his lineage." Tiger finishes.

Hold the phone. No. I'm not going back.

"No. Liao come to Wutai," Leopard says

"Ok no. All of you stop. I'm not going anywhere. I came to Taiwan to go to college and get a city job. I'm not going to be a priest and I'm not going home! I'm not my family!" I shout and the trio fall silent.

"Well you heard him that's enough for today. You may leave." Tiger sighs after awhile.

"I stay," leopard says, meeting tiger's eye with a steely glare.

"If you two are staying then I will too. Its not fair you guys get to be around Liao. You might convince him," senpai pouts.

I sigh. Looks like I'm having guests. "Theres not enough space here. You guys are huge," i say.

"It won't be an issue Liao. Spirits dont take up space. They jist float around since they dont have bodies. I'm the only one here who has one.....so it looks like we have to share the bed." Senpai winks.

"As if kitten." Tiger say as he picks up by the collar. "You can sleep on the floor. I've been sleeping with Liao since I arrived in Taiwan with him,"

Wait what! I've been sleeping with a massive buff tiger since I got to college? I can already tell my face burning up.

"Liao wants to sleep with me. Right liao?" Senpai says.

Leopard just stares very intently at the bed. Then at me. Damn . Was there no way to please all of them?

"Well.....if you all want to sleep with me then why dont we all sleep together on the floor?" I suggest quietly. I could already feel my face heating up. This was both heaven and hell for me.

"Won't the be uncomfortable for you?" Tiger asks.

"Eh. It's not the worst thing. We can figure this out tomorrow. Right now I dont want to deal with you all arguing," I say tiredly.

"You should shower Liao. You smell like a locker room," Senpai says as he grab some quilts from the closet.

"Do I have to?" I groan

The response is Leopard pushing me towards the bathroom.

"Fine. Fine. I'll shower. Let me get some clothes," i sigh as I pick up a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

I enter the bathroom and lock the door. Would that do anything against spirits? He hoped they wouldn't come in. I turn on the hot water and sit under the steaming stream. My aching body finally stopped throbbing and my headache seemed to diminish. This was definitely up there in term of worst day of my life. I mean sure I had three muscular beast-men in my room who wanted to sleep in bed with me. But why did they also want a life promise as well? What was I even supposed to do about that? I couldn't just up and leave. It seemed that even as far away from home as I was. My family's life as priests still followed me.

I sigh and shut off the water. The hot shower made me even more exhausted. I dry off and put on my pajamas. I open the door to find the feline trio sitting on a nest of quilts that covered the remaining floor of my apartment.

"Liao! Come eat. I still have more Lou Mei.," Senpai says through a mouthful of tofu.

"Yeah. Sure." I put my dirty clothes in the hamper but I then notice tiger and leopard aren't eating. "Hey tiger aren't you going to eat?"

"spirit and gods dont eat in the traditional sense. We eat the chi of food offered in our shrine," tiger says as he gestures to the take-out. '" so be a good boy and give me an offering,"

"Oh. Um, ok," I say as i grab one of the take-out boxes and place it before Tiger. "I humbly ask that you accept my sacrifice, " I say like we did back home

"Thank you Liao. You're a good boy," tiger says as he picks up a piece of meat from the dish. Strangely enough no meat was actually taken from the bowl.

"Liao give me food?" Leopard asks.

"Oh. Yeah sorry. One moment," I say as I grab another bowl. Thankfully Senpai brought a lot of food. "I ask that you accept my offering,"

Leopard smiles and digs right in. It was kind of nice not being alone. But I realized that if no actual food was being eaten then I would have to eat all the food that was left. Crap. Well that was a problem for tomorrow that can be dealt with tomorrow.

I put away the left over food and after I convince senpai to clean up before bed we get ready for the tricky part. SLEEPING.

"Let me sleep with Liao!" Senpai says as hugs me from behind.

"As if kitten," tiger says as he untangles me from Senpai but then proceeds to sit me next to him

Leopard just stares at me. He really needed to use his words. Regardless if they were mandarin or not

"Ok is there any way you guys can compromise? Perhaps turns?" I ask, praying they'll say yes.

"No," was the unanimous reply.

Okay. Fine. "Okay. Here's my plan. I want to sleep so I'm not going to argue. If you all want to sleep with me. Then fine. Tiger and Leopard can sleep next to me and senpai can sleep near my head. Is that acceptable or will I have to kick someone out " I say. I was starting to get annoyed.

"It is.....acceptable," tiger grumbles with crossed arms.

Leopard just nods.

"Fiiiiine. But wouldn't you rather cuddle with just me?" Senpai says.

"Would you rather I kick you out?" I lash back. I felt kind of bad but I was so freaking tired.

"Fiiiine. You're so mean Liao," senpai says with a smile.

They all take their instructed places and it seems like a good arrangement everyone got what they wanted, mostly. Granted, because of space Tiger was wrapped around my waist, Leopard was nuzzling my throat and senpai was playing with my hair. They all seemed happy enough

"Good night guys," I say as i shut off the lights. It feel strange the sound of the three beast men breathing. It's something I never realized I wanted. I realized I missed having someone with me. I realized that for the first time since leaving home, I was lonely.

I mulled on these thoughts for a while until Tiger leaned in to me ear. "Sleep Liao." His rough voice tickled my ear.

I laughed and snuggled deeper into the nest of quilts. This was nice. It really was.

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I woke to the feeling of being suffocated, and crushed, and being ripped apart.

I struggle around to see my head on Senpai's body, Tiger is wrapped around my front like an octopus and Leopard is sticking to my back like a leech. The combined pushing from both sides is stifling. It warm and not uncomfortable but i like being able to breathe.

Tiger......Leopard.......Back off.....I can't........breathe," I gasp as i jostle the two.

Tiger finally opens his eyes and upon realizing i am suffocating in his pectorals, he backs off. "I apologize Liao i did not realize i was smothering you. I normally sleep like that but it seems it is different now that you can discern us,"

"its fine. As long as I'm still alive," I say as I glance at my phone. "Fuck. I'm late for class!" I shake off Leopard and get dresses as fast as possible.

"What's the hurry Liao?" Senpai asks sleepily.

"We're late for class!" I say.

"Just skip. That's what I do," Senpai says as he returns to sleep.

"So that's why I never see you. In any case I need to study I have midterms soon," I say as I struggle with a shirt. Once I'm relatively not dead looking. "Okay guys I'm headed out. Dont trash my place, "

"I'm going with you," tiger says.

"Why?" I wonder. I dont need gods looking over my shoulder in math class.

"I am your guardian tiger. I have to protect you," he replies like its obvious.

"But I though you said you can be far from your statue?" I ask.

"That's true but as long as I'm near a worshiper then I can move within proximity to them. And you are my worshiper," tiger says as he moves to my side.

"No fair. I'm coming too," Senpai says as he struggle to his feet.

"I come too," Leopard says sleepily.

I sigh. This is not gonna be a good day.

When we finally get to to class i take the spot towards the back so i can keep an eye out for everyone. Senpai went to his own class soo it was just Tiger and Leopard. I managed to ignore Leopard and Tiger trying to one-up each other in whatever the hell they were doing. I tried to understand the basics of Calculus but i just couldn't. Why was math so hard? To make things worse the teacher was being drowned out by Tiger and Leopard's argument. Eventually it just get to be too much.

"Can you all please stop? I can barely pay attention as it is and i really need to pass this class?" I moan. I look up and realize everyone, including the teacher, is staring at me. I must have said it out loud. I could feel my cheeks flare, this was so embarrassing.

"Are you okay Mister Lin?" The teacher asks. his expression is confused with a touch of concern. "Are you feeling ill?"

"No sir. Just a bit stressed," I say with my head down and i turn up the hood on my jacket.

I sit quietly until class finishes then i make my way out as quick as possible. I sit in a corner in the cafeteria to try to avoid meeting any classmates. Thankfully it was friday so i didn't have to see anyone until monday.

"I'm sorry we embarrassed you in class Liao," Tiger says after a couple minutes of silence.

"it's fine. I just.......Nevermind," I say. I wanted to say life was hard enough with just being a student and i didn't need gods only i could see constantly arguing. That wasn't fair to them though. Tiger looked properly sorry and Leopard, i guess, only understood he did something wrong. I couldn't really be mad at them. I felt bad for being selfish but at the same time i had a say in my own life.

"Hey Liao wanna sit with me for lunch?" A voice asks.

I look up and see Senpai looking at me. "Oh. Yeah sure." I get up and look at the food served to see what i feel like. I'm not super hungry so i settle for steamed buns while Senpai goes for a burger. While we are sitting and eating i see Tiger looking longingly at Senpai's burger. "Hey Tiger. You want something?" I ask.

Tiger looks at me then looks away. "No it's fine. I was just....wondering what a burger tastes like. Back at the temple people normally offered us fried chicken."

I smile slightly. It was kind of a like a child looking at a new food. I realize Leopard is looking at the same thing. I go and order two burgers and set them on the table. "Consider this an offering," I say low enough to not catch attention. Thankfully Senpai and i had a booth so it had space for all of us while making it appear as though i was talking to Senpai.

"Thank you Liao. You're a good boy," Tiger says as he looks at the burger with a strange twinkle in his eye.

Leopard simply nodded at me before looking at the burger. He watched Tiger mimic Senpai and did the same. It was strange but amusing. Then i realized i have to eat 2 burgers.

"Senpai can you eat one of the burgers? I don't think i can finish both," I ask.

"No way! Eating food that another god ate the chi from is like eating food someone else licked. Its disgusting," Senpai turned his nose up.

"Oh Okay," I say. So that was how gods felt about that. I sigh and get a take out container for the burger. Looks like I'm getting another burger for dinner. I talk with Senpai about his classes for awhile before my last class of the day rolls around. Tiger and Leopard are more well behaved this time, they contritely behind me, not making a sound.

"Hey Liao!" A voice calls after class ends.

I turn and see Jia-Hao. He looks concerned.

"Oh hey Jia-Hao. What's up?" I ask as Jia-Hao gets closer to me. I can feel Tiger tense behind me.

"I heard about what happened in class earlier. Are you doing okay? You know you can ask me for help right?" He whispers to me.

"Thanks Jia-Hao but I'm fine. I just had some.......family problems. Plus the stress of school, you know how it is," I say gratefully, it was nice to know he cared.

He laughs. "Yes. It is pretty bad especially with Mid-terms. Let me know if you need a study partner or tutoring," Jia-Hao says.

"Thanks man. Have a good weekend," I say as i wave goodbye.

"Who that?" Leopard asks.

I look to see if there is anyone around who might hear me.

"He's a friend of mine," I say quietly.

"He is Rukai," Leopard says.

"Yeah i think. He said his grandmother is Aboriginal." I say as i draw the lines in my head.

"Bring him. To Wutai," Leopard says.

Of course that was what he wanted. "Look I'm still not ready to have that conversation yet." I say as i cut off the conversation then and there. I felt bad, i was wasting everyone's time, but i still needed to think. "Is there any way around me going? Could i send Jia-Hao instead?" I murmur to myself..

We walk back to my apartment in silence. I drop my bag on the floor and plop on my bed, I let out a huge sigh. Today was awful. I just wanted it to end and for the weekend to get here.

"Liao! I'm back!" Senpai announces when he enters.

"How did you even get in here?" I wonder.

"You left the door open," Senpai laughs..

"Whatever. Anyway i want to sleep so i would greatly appreciate it if we didn't have an argument tonight," I say sleepily.

"You need to eat first Liao," Tiger says.

"Senpai can you pass me the leftover burger?" I grumble.

"Here you go," Senpai says as he hands me the take out bag.

"Thanks,"I say as i force myself to eat. I was still full from lunch.

After i finish eating and showering Senpai laid out the same blanket nest as last night. "You okay Liao?" Senpai asks.

"I'm fine. I just had a bad day," I sigh as i lie back. Senpai's face is upside down in my vision as he plays with my hair.

"Let's do something fun tomorrow," Senpai says.

I start to say no but then i hesitate. "You know what? Sure," I say as senpai lights up.

"Yay!" Senpai exclaims as he turns of the lights and curls around my head. Tiger wrapped around me from behind and Leopard curled to my chest. This feels nice. I have a feeling tomorrow would be a good day.

Chapter Text

I stumble through the darkness. Where are my keys? I stumble up the stairs to my apartment. I'm so tired. I struggle up one step, then another, the another until i finally reach my door, I lean heavily on the door as i struggle for my keys. I search my jeans. Where are they? Maybe my backpack? This pocket? Maybe this one? There it is!

I finally get my key and try to slide it into the keyhole. To my surprise it fits in without scratching anything. I was so tired since the dance show, i don't know why. I felt bad i had to leave everyone behind while they were celebrating. They were happy we had pulled off such a great show. I lean hard on the door. I was so tired. I close my eyes for a moment and lean on the door but the door falls away.

"Crap!" I shout as i hit the floor. Hard.

I sigh and just stay there for a moment. Even my hard floor feels wonderful with how tired i am. I manage to start getting up when i notice a dark silhouette in my room.

"Who's there?" I ask as i flick on my lights.

For some reason there's a tiger-man sitting on my bed and reading one of my books. I rub my eyes hoping it was a hallucination. But no, There was still a massive, muscular tiger wearing traditional clothing on my bed. My backpack slips from my hands onto the floor.

"Who.....What......How are you?" I stammer.

The tiger looks up. "Liao? Is something wrong?" He asks, then notices me staring. "Wait? Can you see me?"

"Wha/.......What are you?" I ask.

"How rude! I am the guardian tiger of your family after all." The tiger says. "Hmmmm......Though it appears you don't recognize me."

Guardian tiger? I remember that my family did have a guardian tiger or rather guardian tigers. It made sense considering my family is a family that serves the Goddess Mazu.

"I'm sorry, I don't recognize you," I say as i feel my face flush. Guardian tigers were basically dieties right? why did they look like this?

"True. You could never see me before. How can you so suddenly see me now? Your spiritual power isn't high enough to discern us," Tiger says.

"I don't know either," I say. But something Tiger said concerned me. He said see him now. Which means he was here before today. Now that i think about it i did bring a tiger statuette when i came here. Is that where he came from?

"Say, Liao. At your dance recital did anything strange occur?" Tiger asks.

"No...I don't think so. I'm just really tired," I say.

"It doesn't matter. This is a good thing. You can see and hear me. There is no need to worry about this any further," Tiger says with a smile.

That's it?! "Hey Tiger. If you're a guardian tiger then does that mean you came from the statue i brought with me?" I ask.

"Yes," Tiger says.

"So does that mean you've been staying in my room this whole time?" I ask, panic starting to rise. I'm a single guy in a small apartment. I do the things that a single guys does in an apartment. Does that mean he saw all of it?

"Yes. I cannot stray far from my statue," Tiger says as he points at the tiger statuette on my bookshelf.

"So does that mean you've seen all the stuff i do?" I ask. I'm embarrassed to even say the words.

"Oh, you mean jacking off? DDon't worry i've seen worse. I have followed you since you were a child," Tiger says.

Oh no. Oh fucking no. This was bad. So very very bad. Wait.......Guardian Tigers were minor deities. Does that mean I've been doing lewd thing in a temple?! Oh god I'm a terrible person.

"In any case you should be fine. As long as no caused this there should be no trouble," Tiger says as someone knocks on my door.

"Who could that be?" I wonder. I look at Tiger and he gestures for me to do the honors.

I get up and open the door and see no one. "Hello?" I call and someone steps out from the shadows. I squint and see......a clouded leopard man wearing shorts and an open hoodie. Fuck. This really was the worst day of my life.

Chapter Text

"Liaaaaaaao!" I hear a playful voice in my ear.

I open my eyes to see senpai looking over me.

"Senpai?" I ask.

"Come on Liao. It's Saturday. Let's go out shopping," Senpai says cheerily.

"Liao. Go out with me. I want to see a department store and see if they have any books," Tiger moans sleepily.

Leopard just growls behind me. I suppose he wanted to do something too. I sigh, what should I do.

"Okay. Senpai. I don't have a lot of money at the moment so I would rather not go window shopping right now. I can, however, do that next week when I get my stipend." I say while Senpai pouts. "Leopard, what do you want to do?"

"Go out." Leopard says.

"I got that," I sigh. "But what exactly do you have in mind. We can't just go out and do nothing."

"Go out," Leopard repeats.

"Okay. That's also out of the question. Looks like we're going out Tiger," I say. Tiger grunts in response but I see him give that grin to the other two.

"Go out Liao," Leopard says for the third time.

"Leopard. We can't just go out and do nothing. If you want to do something tomorrow you can look through a book and tell me. Ok?" I say as I hand him a book of places in Taiwan.

"Ok, Leopard says as he takes the book and flips through it. "I.....can't read,"

Oh, Right. That never crossed mind that he couldn't read Mandarin.

"I'll help him out Liao," Senpai says as he sits next to Leopard. "Though I do expect a reward," he says with a grin.

"Thanks," I say as I feel a slight shudder at his words.

"Looks like it's just you and me," Tiger says with a smile.

"Yeah, let me shower and we can head out," I say as head to the bathroom.

After I shower Tiger and I head out to the department store by my apartment. Tiger is like a child in a candy shop. He was so fascinated by everything. It was kind of cute. He had questions about everything, from phone and laptops, to rice cookers.

"Liao can I get this?" Tiger asks as I look at him.

"What is it?" I ask as he looks away bashfully.

"It's a book on computers. I wish to learn more about your world," Tiger says.

I look at the price and gasp. It wasn't cheap. But the way Tiger was looking crumbled my resolve. "Look it isn't cheap so we will have to save money in other places," I say sternly.

"Thank you, Liao," Tiger breaks into a huge grin and ruffles my hair. It's funny, for someone that supposedly had no physical body Tiger felt very real.

We finished shopping with my wallet being lighter than I would have hoped. Oh well, it wasn't the worst thing ever. Tiger had also gotten snacks he wanted to try, It looks like I was going to gain weight at some point. Thankfully when we got home it was a peaceful evening. Leopard and Senpai got along while we were gone and Tiger was content. We ate an uneventful dinner and we went to sleep the same way we usually did. As evidenced by lack of complaints, I think my plan of getting them all to sleep together worked out. I wonder what Leopard will have in store for me tomorrow?

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"Liao. Wake up," I hear through my sleepy thoughts.

"Wha?" I look up and see Leopard's gold eyes staring at me. "Oh Leopard. What's up?"

"Go out." Leopard says.

Right. "Okay did you decide on a place to go?" I ask.

"Here." Leopard points to a picture in the book. It was the mirror wall where I practiced dancing with the class."We dance."

"So you want to dance with me?" I clarify.

"No. I teach you," Leopard says.

Oh. He wanted to teach me to dance.

"I'd rather stay inside today Liao," tiger moans as he wraps tighter around me. "I want to read,"

"Well I did tell Leopard I would go with him if he picked a place. I can't only take you places. If you want to read then stay home. Leopard and Senpai can go with me," I say.

"Out of the question. I am your guardian tiger. I must always be with you," Tiger says sternly. " I don't trust you alone with them. I'll come with you,"

"Okay. But no fighting. Understood?" I ask.

"Yes Liao," Tiger says as he pats my head.

"Let me get dressed and we can go," I say before nudging Senpai. "Get up Senpai. We are going dancing,"

"Do I have to?" Senpai mumbles.

"Yes. I need a dancing partner who has a body," I say.

"Fine. I expect a great shopping trip," senpai sighs as he gets up.

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Dancing with Leopard was fun and it really helped me get better as a dancer. We had a bit of a hiccup when leopard used his spirit power to help me do a hard technique. Tiger got mad but I managed to defuse that situation. All in all a good weekend.

After another uneventful week in school which had dubious moral dilemmas with Leopard helping me cheat, which I had to decline. No matter how much I was tempted. I couldn't abuse his innocence like that. Finally, the weekend and my paycheck rolled around and the four us went shopping. It was fun even though every shop Senpai dragged me to was far too expensive but I did buy him a hat he was eyeing. Senpai looked like he enjoyed the present.

I was glad everyone was happy. It felt......good.

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Several weeks later of hanging out with the three gods in my room we had gotten a good hang of the thing. I had begun seeing more gods and spirits around the campus. I had learned a lot from them but I also learned that I disrespected Tiger for not giving him a name. He said it was fine but I wanted to give him a name. I felt like I owed him. I realized I had only been wasting everyone's time. I still hadn't decided who I would help. I was mulling this over when Senpai came bursting in.

"Liao! I got you a present," Senpai shouts.

"What's up Senpai?" I ask.

"Look what I got," senpai says as he shoves tickets and a pamphlet in my face.

"What?" I exclaim as I look over it. Its tickets to hot springs. "Oh hot springs, those are cool. But aren't they expensive? "

"Yes but my family is paying for it. Though I do have to go see them soon. " senpai says with a sad smile. "But don't worry about it. Let's just have fun,"

"Hot springs do sound nice." Tiger says as he looks over my shoulder.

"Well looks like we are having a hot springs trip," I say happily.

The hot springs trip went along quite well. I got to see Tiger and Leopard naked. Which was definitely worth it. I did make a fool out of myself and excuse myself after seeing it but it was so worth it. After the springs we went for a hike to see the flowers bloom. Leopard had used his power to save some for me back home and senpai used his power to make the blossoms bloom ahead of schedule. I met another god named Ragoo who stole the food I made. He seemed nice even though he insulted my cooking. It only made me more aware of the fact that I was abusing my relationship with the three gods. The other spirits were gossiping about me and my three "suitors". My time was running out. I needed help.

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"Have you seen Senpai? Or Likulau? " I ask Tiger. I hadn't seen them for the whole week. We were on break for new years so I had expected more than usual demands for my attention.

Senpai had gone missing earlier this month. He had gone to visit family and that didn't sit well with him. He did say that since time was running out for his god that he may drop out of school to spend his last moments with him. I felt bad but I hoped he would at least say goodbye. Likulau had been disappearing occasionally but it happened more frequently after he told me his name.

"I don't know. Maybe we are better off without them," Tiger says nonchalantly.

"But I haven't seen Senpai around campus. What if something happened to them?" I ask.

"If you're concerned then I can ask around the temples," Tiger says after a moment.

I thought about this. I didn't want tiger to bother other gods. People were already talking about me. I didn't want to demean Tiger more. "No, it's fine. I'm sure you're right. They are probably just busy, " I say

"I know you care about them Liao but if you really want to we can go look for him," Tiger says as he sits next to me.

"Thanks tiger. I really appreciate it. " I say as tiger and I search around town.

When we went past the mirror wall I saw Leopard staring at his reflection.

"Likulau!" I call when we get close.

"Liao," Likulau says solemnly. "You must come. Now. Bad things."

"I. I cant. I don't know." I say. I hated feeling so useless.

Likulau simply nods. "It ok. I can do without you. I take your power," he raises a claw towards me and I feel something bad.

"LIAO!" Tiger shouts as he yanks me back from a blast of lightning that came from the leopard.

"What are you doing?" I ask in horror. likulau tried to kill me!

"I take Liao power. Then I can warn people," Likulau says vehemently

"You can't just take his power. The soul doesn't work like that," tiger snarls.

"I have way," likulau says as he launches another blast of lightning.

I cover my face with my arm to protect myself. When the dust clears. Tiger is on the floor in front of me. "Tiger!" I shout.

Tiger can only groan as he struggles to stand. He looks injured. His clothes are ripped and he's bleeding ."I won't let you harm Liao,"

"Tiger stop! You'll die!" I shout. What had happened?

Before Likulau can attack again a shadow passes over us. "Well well. Why exactly are two gods fighting in broad daylight? Are you trying to harm this young man?" The voice asks. The shadow reveals its self to be a fox man in a robe and bandana. "I am hynos of the city god twelve. I must ask you to refrain from attacking,"

"Need Liao's power," Likulau growls.

"I see. Unfortunately, I cannot allow you to harm a human," hynos says.

"Then I defeat you, " Likulau says as he attacks Hynos.

"We must run," Tiger says as he grabs my shoulder.

I nod and grab Tigers shoulder and he leans on me as we run back to my apartment.

"Will he be able to defeat Hynos?" I ask as we duck into a shortcut.

"Yes. Only the twelve together could defeat him but he will buy us some time," tiger groans.

"What do we do?" I ask as we finally return to my apartment. "You're really hurt tiger. It's all my fault. I should have just made a decision, "

"No Liao. It's not your fault. He had no right to ask those things of you. But for now, I can only think of one thing. The leopard will almost definitely pursue you. The only option left is for me to possess you. My power will protect you from his attacks and I'll be able to defeat him in the physical world. But there is a slight issue," Tiger averts his eyes .

"Okay. Sounds like a plan but what's the issue," I ask. If a tiger can defeat likulau without killing him then maybe I could get through to him.

"In order for me to possess you. We need to be comfortable with each other and you need to trust me," Tiger says as his face burns red.

"I trust your tiger. You know that" I say, confused.

"Not like that. For possession, it's less your mind letting me in and more your body trusting me." Tiger says.

"Okay. How do I do that?" I ask desperately

"I didn't want to do this unless as a last resort but it appears we have no choice. It is normally forbidden but this isn't exactly normal standards," Tiger says.

"What is it, Tiger?!" I cry.

"We have to......make love," tiger mumbles.

Okay. I was not expecting that. "Come again?" I ask.

"The easiest way for your body to trust me is for us to make love. This is why I didn't want to tell you. Though I'm assuming based on your taste for beast-men this won't be an issue." Tiger says.

He was right of course but I still felt bad. I felt like I was taking advantage of him.

"Liao. Gods don't have genders or attraction. So any impure thoughts you're thinking I have are purely your own," Tiger says.

Ouch. That stung me a bit. But he was right. Gods couldn't love and even they could they couldn't love me. I was a no one. I knew he cares about my wellbeing and feeling. But considering what he said I might have just been imagining it. I may as well enjoy the ride while I had the opportunity.

"Do what has to be done," I say with my head down.

"Are you ready?" Tiger asks as he gets closer to me.

"Yes," I say as I look up at tiger.

He slowly pulls me into his arms and embraces me.

"Is this okay?" Tiger asks.

"Yeah. We do this all the time," I mumble into his chest.

"Then shall I make the next move?" He asks I nod. "Ok,"

Tiger pulls me back from him slightly to look at my face. He licks my nose and laughs at the face I make.

"Tiger?" I ask before he leans forward and presses his lips to mine. It's an interesting sensation but I could get used to it. I hum into the kiss and tiger responds by teasing my lips with his tongue. I open my mouth to let him in and his tongue is rough and a bit painful but I love it anyway.

Tiger then picks me up and pulls me close to his chest. He then brings me over to the bed and presses me into the mattress. "Liao. Would you like me to continue?" Tiger asks he pulls back.

"Please," I whisper.

"You're so adorable when you beg," Tiger says with a predatory smile and he begins to take my clothes off.

"But you still have yours on," I say..

"That can be arranged," Tiger says as his clothes vanish.

I stare at Tiger's perfect body. He's so muscular and amazing. I feel my eyes drift down to see what magnificence lies in his crotch.

"Do you like?" Tiger asks coyly.

"Uh. Yeah," I say in wonder.

"Let's continue. Don't worry, I'll be gentle. That is what I'm supposed to say right? " tiger says as puts my legs over his shoulder and he nuzzles my crotch and starts to move downward.

This was weird. There was a god between my legs! I shudder a little as I feel his tongue slide across my backside.

"AAAAAAH," I moan as tiger slides a furred paw over my belly. This was hot.

Tiger then finished then slides up to face me. He runs a finger over his tongue and rubs my hole before pushing a single finger in. It feels.....different but not unpleasant.

"It appears I cannot hurt you with my spirit body but better safe than sorry," Tiger muses before slipping another finger in and stretching me out. "I hope whoever you take in the future is as gentle as I am. But for now, let's make your first time memorable."

"Do you have to mention that?" I say as I look away. Why did he have to look at me with those eyes? He just had to charm me, even more, when it was clear how he felt. Why did have to say these things.

"I think that should do it. May I proceed? Let me know if it hurts." Tiger asks.

"Yeah," I say as I feel his dick push against my hole. After a bit more pressure he slides in. Like before his spirit body doesn't push enough to hurt. All I feel is him sliding. He kept pushing and still no pain. This feeling of him filling me up......it feels good.

"Liao do you want me to start moving? I'll be gentle. there's no point in this if I can't make you happy." Tiger whispers.

"Yeah," I say. Though what's the point of this? He's only doing it to possess me. after this, he won't ever look at me like this again.

I try to look away, I can't look at his eyes but Tiger caresses my face and makes me look at his eyes. He's looking at me almost.....lovingly.

"I'm going to start moving now. It may be intense, I apologize," Tiger says.

I gasped slightly as tiger pulled all the way out and then plunged back in. His body couldn't hurt me but the feeling of his dick filling me up was incredible. As Tiger picked up the pace he reached forward and was kneading my dick between his fingers. It was heavenly. When I started getting close to release he stopped kneading and suddenly held me very tight to his body so that I couldn't move. The friction of his belly fur against my dick was better than the kneading.

"Liao.......I'm close....." tiger moaned as he thrusts faster and harder.

I moan as I feel tiger push one last time and my insides fill with his warm cum. I push myself against him with each thrust until I cum as well on his fur.

"Liao," I hear tiger say and as I turn to look at him I see him staring at me intensely. "I love you.....my good boy," he says as plants a deep kiss on my lips.

This peace does not last long, however. While I was enjoying the sudden confession from Tiger a knock came from the door.

"Its time Liao," Tiger says seriously. His clothes from before magically appearing on his body.

I nervously put on my shirt and pants and pray to Lady Guanyin that this goes well. I open the door and see Leopard's downcast head.

"Likulau?" I say

"I'm sorry Liao. Are you angry?" Likulau looks at me with heartbroken eyes.

"No. I'm not angry. I want to know why you attacked me?" I ask gently. This was good. He didn't attack me on sight.

" I need Liao's power to warn people. I don't need you to come with me. You can stay," likulau says.

"And did you not hear me? You cant take his spirit power from his soul. The soul wasn't meant to be fractured. That would kill him at best and obliterate his soul from existence at worst." Tiger snarls.

"I have way. Shu-chi told me a ritual to take Liao's power. He would sleep for few days after but he would be fine," likulau says bit it sounds doubtful, even to him.

Tiger laughs almost hysterically. "And you believed him? That demon had you wrapped around his finger. He would have you murder Liao and leave. You would think he would perfectly fine and you would be ignorant of his fate. You're a foolish god,"

"No matter. I must take. Now," likulau says as his claws glow blue.

I back up against tiger and he holds out a paw. It's now or never. I reach out to him and it's like being struck by lightning. My body coursed with energy, both gentle and fierce. When my vision clears Tiger is gone but I feel something different. My senses are clearer and my body pulses with energy.

"Leave now aborigine god. Now that I have possessed Liao you cannot harm him," Tiger says in my voice.

Likulau says nothing as unleashes an attack that I jump gracefully over. I dodge the consequent attack and land a blow of Likulau.

"Enough," likulau growls as vines erupt at my feet and ensnare us.

"Its okay Liao. They aren't real they're only spiritual." Tiger says

"Then why can't we get out?" I ask.

Tiger is silent. Maybe he isn't strong enough. What could I do? I think back to a conversation I had with a spirit at school. He had said that worshippers gave gods names and that increased their power. I have to give Tiger a name. I think about what I could call him. I wanted it to be meaningful. A name presents itself.

"Tiger. As your worshipper, I give you a name. You are my guardian and the guardian of my family. I name thee, Lin Hu." I say in desperation

My words make the light around us grow stronger and Lin hu breaks free.

"Now that my worshipper has named me. I will not lose," lin hu roars as he unleashes his own attack that sends Likulau flying into the wall. He looks like a cornered animal. He sends one more glance at me before running out the door.

"We did it." I sigh as I feel Lin hu leaves me.

"Yes we did," lin hu says. "Thank you for naming me."

"Do you like it? The name I mean," I ask quietly.

"Lin hu or lin's tiger. It's a most fitting name. I do like it," he says with a smile.

"I'm glad. But I wanted to ask you something," I say.

"What is it?" Lin hu asks.

"What you said before. Did you mean it?" I ask. That question gnawed at me like a wild dog.

"What do you mean?" Lin hunter looks away. He knew what I meant.

"The things you said. Did you mean them?" I repeat.

"Don't think too much on it. I shouldn't have done that with you." Lin hu mumble.

"Do you regret it?" I ask.

"No. It's just you shouldn't think about it. " lin hu says.

"That was not my question! Did you mean it when you said you loved me?!" I shout as tears start to well in my eyes.

"I love you. You are a son of the lin family. " lin hu skirts.

"So you only like me as a son of the lin family?" I ask quietly

"It's not like that," lin hu says.

"So you only wanted me so you could possess me?" I ask in pain. "That's cruel. I...I love you. I wanted you to be my boyfriend, "

"Liao. You can't love me. I'm a god. We live in two different worlds. I can't help you if you get sick. I can't work if you run out of money. You can't be with me. That's too special," lin hu says gently.

"But that's why I wanted you, " I whisper. "You are a god. Can you not bless me against poverty and sickness?"

"Don't mistake gods as omnipotent Liao. I can bless you but that doesn't mean it won't happen. That's not how the world works." Lin hu sighs. "I think it best we don't see each other for a while. I will return to my statue. I'll keep an eye out for the leopard in case he returns. " lin hu says.

"Wait!" I say as lin hu vanishes. My legs give out and I crash to the floor.

I look around at my empty room. When did I lose it all? When did I become alone again? Tear roll down my face and I cry. What do I do? I need help.

Maybe a god could help? There was a temple of the jade emperor in the city maybe he could help? No, it was new years eve tomorrow, the temple would be full even this late. Maybe the city god could help. A local temple may not be as crowded.

I dragged myself off the ground and grabbed a bento from my fridge, in hu and I had made it earlier. It was definitely better than my first try. Hopefully, it was a good offering.

I grab my coat and head out the door. For some reason, distance makes the pain more bearable. I sprint through the empty streets to the temple of the city god. As I approach however I see a figure sitting by the well.

"Excuse me? Is this the temple of the city god?" I ask.

"Are you speaking to me?" The figure turns and I recognize him as the god from before. " you're the young man from before?"

"Yes. I'm Liao Lin. Lord Hynos," I bow. "I wanted to say thank you for saving me earlier."

"It was my pleasure. It is the duty of the city gods to protect those within their domain." Hynos smiles. "Though I must ask why you are here this late? It is dangerous for someone like yourself who is blessed with yin-yang eyes,"

"I'm looking for the city god. I...I need help. And I don't know who else to turn to." I say desperately.

"I see. Come inside child. The rest of the twelve are out looking for a certain spirit who is a killer but I can escort you to the city god." Hynos says warmly.

I thank him and follow him into the dark temple. The priests must have retired for the night. As I follow hynos my vision blurs slightly. The lamps glow with pale fire and the air shimmers..

"Watch your step here young Jitong. To be in the presence of a god is a special thing. You must be both a spirit and a body. Both and neither. Here nor there," hynos warns.

I don't understand what he means but I eventually see a large room where the altar usually is. In front of the altar sits a beautiful woman in a long dress.

"My lady. I bring a supplicant to you," hynos bows.

"My name is Tian-Liao lin. I bring an offering to the god of this city," I say as I place my bento before her.

"Thank you for the offering, priest of the heavenly mother. It has been a long time since someone offered me a homemade bento," the woman laughs musically. "Ask me, child. What is it you seek?"

"I...I don't know what to do. Three gods came to me for help but each one wanted my future. I...I couldn't decide who. One left. One attacked me and the other........something happened to him. it was because I was selfish and couldn't see past my own desires. I just.....I just want them all to be happy. I don't want to disappoint any of them. What should I do? " I ask.

'I see. So you're the one the spirits have been gossiping about. I must say that you're not exactly what I expected from the rumors. Unfortunately, I cannot help you. My power is limited to the confines of the city." She says as I look down. "However. The heavenly grandfather will be in the temple tomorrow for the zodiac feast. I can arrange for an audience for you. Your sacrifice is worth that at least. He can most certainly help you with your request."

"Thank you, my Lady. You are most generous," I say gratefully.

"It is most fortuitous that you came during new years. This is a most auspicious time," she says as she takes a bite of my food and smiles sadly. "This food.......it tastes like.....love for another," she muses.

"My lady?" Hynos asks.

"Hynos. Please escort Mister Lin back to his home safely. And take him to the temple of the jade emperor before sunset tomorrow evening. I shall send a letter promptly." She says

"As you wish my lady," Hynos bows..

"And Liao?" The goddess says

"Yes my lady?" I look up at her.

"May you be happy," she says as she kisses my forehead and my vision blurs again. When it clears I'm laying on the floor in a dark temple with hynos standing over me.

"Are you alright mister lin?" He offers me a hand..

"Yes thank you," I say as I take the offered hand.

"If I may ask. Why did the leopard try to kill you?" Hynos asks as we walk back to my apartment.

"He wanted me to be his Oracle in Wutai. When I didn't answer. He tried to take my spirit power from me, " I say sadly.

"That would kill you," hynos states.

'Yeah that's what Lin Hu said," I chuckle darkly.

"Yes. Where is your guardian tiger? He should be with you," hynos asks.

"He was.....injured. he's in his statue for a couple of days. I don't know. " I say.

"You shouldn't be alone right now. If he is unavailable then I will guard you. The goddess ordered me to deliver you safely to the temple of the heavenly grandfather tomorrow and I will ensure it. " hynos says.

"That's not necessary. I don't want to be a bother," I say.

"Nonsense. It is the duty of the city God to protect the inhabitants, " hynos says as we make it back to my apartment. "One last question: where is the third god? The rumors say three gods pursued you. "

"Oh . Senpai. He has a half spirit half deity who possessed the body of my senpai. He disappeared. " I say..

I hear hynos mumble something about that but I don't care anymore I open the door and enter. "Would you like to come in?"

 

"Thank you for the hospitality," hynos says as he enters and looks around the room which showed some carnage from the earlier fight.

"Sorry about the mess. I didn't get a chance to clean up after the fight," I say sheepishly.

"He came here?" Hynos asks.

"Yes?" I reply.

"Then you cannot stay here. Get your things. I will take you somewhere safer for the night," hynos says.

I decide not to argue with the god. I grab some clothes and toiletries and follow hynos. He takes me a smaller temple near the city.

"This is a shack made for those like you," hynos says as he gestures to a shack behind the temple. But something is off. The perimeter is covered in talismans and seals.

"Like me?" I ask.

"Those who can see spirits. The shack is invisible to those who cannot see. And was meant to be a sort of haven in case of emergencies. You can stay here for the night," hynos says.

"Thank you. Really. Though I have to ask. Why are you going through the trouble?" I ask

" you're important. You have gained the attention of many beings. Such things don't happen often. The goddess of the city doesn't often freely grant the wishes of supplicants. You are something special," hynos says kindly. Like he knows exactly what I need to hear.

"Thank you, " I say.

"Go rest now," hynos says.

I enter the shack and find it clean and warm. It has a simple bathroom and shower attached to a sleeping room. I roll out a mat and cover myself with a blanket, today sucked. I close my eyes and tried to dream a good dream.

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Hynos entered after he began to hear light sleep breathing. He saw the boy curled on himself as if in pain. He face was screwed in a pained expression. It hurt hynos' heart to see someone as young as him hurting like this. When he entered the boy's apartment he immediately noticed the tiger statue. His guardian tiger had abandoned him. Not completely but he was avoiding Liao. He didn't deserve this.

Hynos padded over to Liao, laid next to him and petted his hair while murmuring peaceful things to him to ease the pain.

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The next morning when I awoke I found myself facing Hynos. His eyes were closed and he seemed almost asleep. This was beyond strange, why was he sleeping next to me?

My phone buzzed and I saw a new years text from my family. I smile and text back. I consider telling them I might visit for the break. That would definitely cheer them up. But I decided to send it tomorrow, for a bigger surprise.

"Good morning Mister Lin," I hear. I turn and see Hynos is awake..

"Good morning Lord Hynos." I stammer.

"It is the day of new year's eve. There are some things we need to do before your audience tonight with the Jade Emperor." Hynos says.

"Oh right. " I say. Last night seemed like a dream. "What needs to be done?"

"Ordinarily you would do all the rituals you would do on new years but since these circumstances aren't exactly normal you need to do the ritual bath and wear new clothing as well as preparing an offering for the heavenly Grandfather," Hynos says.

"What sort of offering should I make?" I ask.

"You don't need to make anything special. Just make something meaningful. Since you are already granted an audience this is just a formality but it is always good to make a good impression," Hynos says.

"Ok. I can do that." I say. I can probably make dumplings. Those were easy to make.

"I can assist you with anything you require," Hynos says.

"Thank You for the offer," I say. "I'm going to go get some ingredients and some clothes for tonight,"

"I will follow." Hynos says.

I was about to argue and say it was just the market but the way hynos looks crushed that argument. Why me?

I walk to the market and look around for cabbage and pork. Thankfully hynos doesn't speak so I don't have to worry about talking to myself. Once I have the dumpling ingredients I go to a store and found a great deal for new year's clothing. It was a simple, loose pair of red pants and shirt. It didn't hurt my wallet too much. I have enough to go buy a portable burner and pan.

Its early afternoon when I finish and I have about 3 hours before sunset. I begin preparing the dumpling. I take into account Lin hu's advice and in cooking and try not to fuck it up. Once the first batch is done I offer one to hynos.

"What do you think? I'm not that great at cooking," I ask.

Hynos takes the dumpling. "The filling is a bit bland, add some salt. The wrappers are acceptable, " Hynos says politely.

"Thanks." I say as I adjust the recipe. Thankfully it wasn't that bad. "What about now?" I hand him the next round..

"Better. But add some oil. The dumplings are sticky," hynos says with a smile.

It took some trial and error but I eventually made acceptable dumplings. After they're done I put them in a box and go to take a bath.

"There is a purifying spring in the back," hynos says as he hands me some bottles. "These are oils and perfumes,"

"Oh. Thank you," I say as he pushes me out the door. This was weird on so many levels.

I find the pool in the back. A bubbly stream fills and drains it. Its clear water makes it look like glass. I look quickly before stripping and sliding into the water. I perform the ritual bath as I learned when I was young. When I finish the sun almost touches the horizon. It was time.

I climb out of the pool and dry off. I put on the clothes and perfume.

"It is time Mister Lin." I hear hynos say.

I look and see him standing under a tree near the pool. He's holding my box of dumplings.

"I'm ready. But how am I supposed to have an audience with the Jade Emperor tonight? Isn't the temple going to be filled with people?" I ask.

"Indeed," Hynos says as he gestures for me to follow. "But due to the fact that another god requested the audience and you are a Jitong that will change the way things work. When we were in the temple last night you weren't there physically. You were taken to a middle ground of sorts where you can interact with God without being interrupted In the physical world. The same principle applies. No one will notice anything out of the ordinary. "

 

"I see." I think about this. It appears I can finally have an answer. "Let's go."

Hynos grunts and we through the crowded streets to the temple of the Jade Emperor. The amount of people in the temple is astounding. But hynos takes my hand and guides me through the crowd. My vision blurs as it did before and by the time we reach the steps of the temple there is no crowd around me, only faint outlines, like a mirage.

We climb the stairs to the main room where the altar sits. Hynos hand me the box and I steel myself to move forward. "Thank you Hynos. For everything," I say sincerely as I move towards the altar.

I kneel before the altar and say the prayer of new years. "Oh, heavenly grandfather. The Jade Emperor. On this new years day, I make an offering to you," I say as I place the offering on the altar.

"Greetings, child of the house of Mazu," a deep voice says..

I look up and see an old man in vibrant robes standing before me. He glows with an indescribable radiance.

"Lord Jade Emperor, " I hear Hynos say.

I quickly bow when my brain catches up.

The jade emperor chuckles. "Stand child. You are my guest today. The city god told me of your plight. I may be able to help you but I will need you to explain everything. But before you do there is one thing I require from you, "

"Yes my lord?" I ask. My heart quickened from what he said. He could help me. I could fix this.

"It has been many years since I have had the time to spend time with humans. Especially one who could see me. Tell me, do you know the zodiac legend?" He asks.

"Yes. " I wonder what this has to do with what he wants.

"Tonight is the zodiac feast. Where those same animals meet to have a banquet with me every year. Lifetime after lifetime. It is part of my promise to them. It is our bond. "The jade emperor says. "It has been many years since the first banquet. I would like you to join this banquet. It has been too long since I have had a guest. Come to my banquet and enjoy yourself. When my other guests arrive, you will tell us your wish. Do you accept?"

Well this was also weird. I was not expecting this but if I did then he could help me. "I accept. You are most gracious." I bow.

The jade emperor laughs again. "Come along. You as well Hynos. Enjoy your time off,"

"Y-yes my lord," hynos stammers as he follows alongside me.

We follow the Jade Emperor until we reach a grand pair of doors. He opens the door to reveal a large room. Inside this large room is a circle of mats. There were twelve in total with three in the middle.

This must be the seat of the zodiac. At the head of the room, there were three more seats. The jade emperor sat in the middle. I wonder who the other two were for?

"Please. Sit." The emperor gesture to the middle of the circle.

"Thank you for this honor, " Hynos says and I echo the thanks as we take a seat.

"Where do you think the zodiac are?" I whisper to Hynos.

"The arrive in order starting at sunset. That must be why the city god asked me to bring you here now. They should be arriving at any moment." Hynos replies.

No sooner than Hynos replied did the first guest appear. It was a cat. It had glowing silver fur. It brushed up against my leg before taking the third seat in the inner circle.

"Hello. I didn't know we had guests this year. Or any year, Welcome, " the cat says.

"Hello. Thank you for your hospitality." I say. A talking cat? That was new. And this was a regular cat, not a god or beast-man. "Forgive me if I am being rude but I thought the cat wasn't part of the zodiac."

"Not at all," the cat laughs. "I am not part of the zodiac. I am the reason it exists. Contrary to the story you humans tell the original story is different. I was originally the first companion of God. When he became lonely I told him to hold a banquet for the animals. That was how the zodiac came to be. When we die, our bonds will always bring us back together,"

"Oh," this was interesting. It seemed not all legends were true.

Before I can ask another question. I hear a squeaking noise. I see a starry furred rat pattering across the floor to take a seat.

"Hello,' the rat says in a manly voice.

Before I can reply I heard loud thumps. I see a white ox entering the room. It was followed by the tiger, the rat, the dragon and so on until the pig took its place .

"Welcome my friends. Once again on the new year, we gather to celebrate. Let us celebrate and rejoice. This year is a special year," the emperor announces. "We have guests. We have Hynos, of this city God's twelve, and Tian-Liao Lin, who is the line of the priests of Mazu. Please enjoy yourselves."

After his announcement the room is illuminated with beautiful lanterns. Music plays from nowhere and delicious smells grace the air. As I look on in wonder I feel a bump on my leg. I look down and see the tiger.

"Come Liao. Sit with us." The tiger says in a delicate feminine voice.

I follow the tiger where she sits with the snake and the dragon. I sit with them while Hynos is whisked away by the dog and rooster.

The dragon is telling a story of how he had brought rain to a village and the children were dancing in the rain. But when they were told to stop by their parents. The grandparent came out and joined them.

"Humans are quite interesting, " the snake hisses before telling us his own story.

The night was full of laughter and jokes and good company. I was really having fun. Sometime later I was cornered by the monkey.

"Join us, Liao. We are beginning the dance," the monkey says with a flip.

"Dance?" I ask.

"Yes. We always have a dance we do to usher in a new year," the monkey explains.

' I don't know how," I say.

"You don't have to. Just have fun," the monkey says as he grabs my hand and pulls me to where the others are.

Suddenly the music changes and it reminds me of a dance recital for traditional dancing. Maybe I could do the same dance I learned back then.

Each of the animals does their own dance that fits well with the music. I have no idea if my dancing is fine but no one complained yet. In the end, we are all laughing and having a great time. Then the emperor speaks up..

"More honored guests are arriving. An important decision will be made. Please take your seats," he says.

As we take our seat the doors open and two radiant women enter. Their robes look like gemstones and they radiate divinity.

"Lady Mazu. Lady Guanyin. Welcome," the jade emperor says.

We all prostrate before the two women. But the names strike me. The goddess of mercy and the goddess of my temple? Why did they need to be here?

They take the seats on either side of the emperor.

"Liao. Please come forward and explain yourself." The jade emperor says.

I nervously walk forward. This was beyond terrifying. Not an audience with one god but THREE?

I nervously explain myself and the situation that occurred.

"I see. I can indeed help you with your plight but you must do so correctly." The emperor says..

"What must I do?" I ask.

"Make a wish," Lady Mazu says. "Ask us what you desire and we shall answer,"

"Your heart is pure and you ask selflessly. We grant you this wish freely," Lady Guanyin says..

"Tell us Liao. What do you wish?" The emperor says.

"I wish......I wish for my friends to be happy. I want all of them to be happy. I want to make their wishes come true," I say with all the desire I can muster.

The animals around me gasped. Did I do something wrong?

"The gods have heard you. We shall indeed grant your wish. But...there is a price you must pay," the emperor says sadly.

"What is it? I'll pay any price," I say desperately.

"In order to make the three gods who sought your help happy. You must pledge a whole lifetime to them. We can make such a thing happen but it would cost you your own existence, " Guanyin says

"Liao. Every human I made is reincarnated. But it is rare that they have the same face. Each human has four lives where the face is the same. These lives are important because they dictate your karma. The first life is the life of a seed. Your search for a place to spread your roots. You are in your first life. The second life is the life of sowing. Your deeds dictate in this life dictate the deeds of the future. The third is the life of watering. Your deeds in this life dictate how your life will prosper. The fourth is the life of reaping. This is where you pay the price of your previous lives and whether it not you go to heaven or hell," the emperor says.

"What we can do is we can "cheat death" in a way and have these four lives exist at the same time. But they are only bodies. They need a soul. We would need to place a fragment of your soul in each body in order for them to live and have the power to see spirits." Mazu says sadly

"But the god of the underworld will be displeased. There is a natural cycle and this interrupts it. Assuming your soul doesn't cease to be from when you shatter when your last life dies you will be sent straight to the afterlife for judgment. No reincarnation and no second chances. The lifespan of your other selves will be determined by your soul. When the soul shard burns out, so will the body," Guanyin says. "Do you still wish to proceed? "

"Yes," I say with no hesitation. I was selfish in my entire life. Even if I die I could still make them happy. Lin Hu, my family, likulau, senpai. They would all love me.

"There is another thing. If we do this you must bear a certain "role". You will be a wanderer, stripped of family and friends and cursed to wander forever. You cannot be seen with another life, it would afflict you with the oracles misfortune." The emperor warns. 'On the positive side. Your life would be your own to do what you want for the remainder of your lifespan. Finally, you may never return. Names are powerful things if the three gods speak your name to you. It would obliterate your soul. You would cease to be. Your name is the essence of the soul. If your name is spoken to your broken soul, it crushes it. Do you accept this risk? "

"Will you make sure they're happy? And they have everything they desire?" I ask. I know I sound rude but I had to know.

"Yes. We will hold this promise to you, my child. It will be our bond," Mazu says

"Then I accept." I say .

"Drink my child and I shall grant your wish," the emperor says as he holds out a cup to me.

"Thank you. Thank you so much," I say with a smile.

I take the cup and look back at Hynos. "Thank you for everything, " I say as I drink from the god's cup.

My vision starts to blacken as the cup drop from my hands. I stumble and fall. The last thing I feel is my head hitting the floor.

Chapter Text

"Mister Lin. It is time to wake up," I hear a voice say.

I struggle to open my eyes, they're so heavy. I want to sleep, I'm so tired. Eventually, I force myself to open my eyes. I see Lord Hynos kneeling over me. I feel fur under my head and not the floor. I look to my left and the backside of a sheep. This must be the ram of the zodiac.

"Lord Hynos. What happened?" I ask.

"A promise. A solemn bond was forged between you and the Jade Emperor," Hynos says seriously. "Do you remember the stipulations?"

"Yes. I must give up my remaining lives, I must wander until the end and if they ever find me, then I lose it all," I say. So it finally happened. I had an answer to my prayers.

"Good. Then comes the next step. The ritual must be conducted soon, before daybreak." Hynos continues.

"What time is it?" I ask. I feel like I slept for hours.

"Shortly after midnight. You've been asleep for approximately 3 hours. That was enough time for the preparations," hynos says

"What preparations? Do you need help?" I ask. I'm so grateful for everyone.

"This ritual requires many participants. The Jade Emperor and the zodiac. The two goddesses. Myself. It has taken some time to explain our parts to play but it is all settled. The preparations are done," Hynos says. "Now if you are able, please follow me,"

"Oh. Ok," I say as I slowly sit up. "Thanks for the pillow Ram,"

"I'm glad my coat was to your liking," he bleats before trotting ahead of us.

"Liao I want to ask you something," Hynos before we enter the main chamber.

"What is it Lord Hynos?" I wonder what he wants.

"Is this all worth it? Dying for three gods?" He blurts out. "You're human not an immortal. They live forever and have the power to achieve their desires. Everything about you is limited. Lifespan. Wisdom. Power. You should make the most of what you have, not dying before your life is even half over."

I think about this. It is a legitimate argument. "Yes. It is. Because for my whole life I've been a selfish coward. I ran from my duties, my family, my so-called friends. Then I found them. Those three were the first people who I wanted to be friends with. For once in my life, I wanted their attention. But I was selfish, I only thought about myself. I used them," I say sadly. "So if even for a moment I can give them what they want. If for a moment I can make it worth it that they met me. Then that's okay,"

"That doesn't make sense. Do you not understand the consequences? If you make a mistake. You get erased! This isn't like dying. You cease to be. That is the greatest punishment of the heavens. Only the greatest crimes are punished like that," Hynos snarls. "Even then it's only been done a few times. What makes them worth that much!"

"You really want to know?" I ask, rhetorically. "Its because I love them. Lin Hu. Shu-chi. Likulau. Shu-chi is fun. Likulau is adorable. And Lin Hu.......before he left. We did some things and words were said. And unfortunately, it made what I'm about to do all the much easier. So that's why. I know you can't understand it since gods cannot fall in love, but that's why."

Hynos raises his eyebrows at my statement but makes no remark. After a moment he whispers. "They don't deserve you." He turns away and opens the door.

"Liao," the jade emperor greets. He is flanked by the goddesses, Guanyin and Mazu.

"Lord God, Lady Mazu, Lady Guanyin," I bow in greeting. Before the deities are the zodiac.

"It is time. Is there anything you wish to do before we begin?." Jade Emperor says.

"No. I am ready," I say as I steel myself.

"Before we begin I must say something," Lady Mazu says as she approaches. "I am so sorry Liao. When you were born I blessed you with the yin-yang eyes to bring peace and prosperity to the people. I did not mean for you to die this soon. I bless you in the time ahead as well as the Part of you that will become my priest. He will always be under my protection and I will ensure you remain happy in that life. If anyone hurts you and that includes my tigers then they shall receive a fitting punishment. " she smiles and returns

"I bless you as well Liao. Your burden shall be eased. I give you the mercy of the heavens," Guanyin says. "Please, stand in the center of the zodiac.

"I give you a promise. I invited you to my banquet and it will stand forever. I'll hold another banquet. And another. I'll throw banquet after banquet. An eternal series of gatherings, forever and unchanging. Remember, even if you're lonely now, you must never despair. Even if everyone dies and leave you alone, even if you die and your body rots away. Because everyone is waiting for you, " the emperor says with a smile and the zodiac begins the chant. While the zodiac chant, I feel a burning on my arm.

The ground at my feet begins to glow. The light makes a circle with 12 sides. One for each member of the zodiac. In each slice are the symbol for the animal, their hexagram and other symbols for their elements. The same symbol burns itself into my forearm.

"When you awaken you won't remember this. I will give you a fresh start. Free from the calamities that befell you," the emperor says as ropes of light spring from the zodiac and weave above me like a net.

I look in wonder before my body hurts like never before. It feels like someone is hacking away at me. Cutting away my fingers and toes. My arms and legs. My ears and nose. My tongue and eyes. In the end, there's nothing left.

---------------------------------------------------------

The attending gods watch as Liao falls to the floor. Around him, three phantom images appear. Identical in all ways: memories, personality, and goals. They would all live the way they intended to. To please the three feline deities.

As the gods chanted the phantom bodies became more solid as Liao slowly became paler. Once they were solid the Jade Emperor went to each one and made them drink from the cup the original Liao drank from. Their eyes flashed open and they took a deep breath.

"My final thing to take is your heart. Without a heart, you cannot love but with a partial heart, you can remember how but your emotions will not be true. Only a memory of emotion," the Jade Emperor apologizes to the true Liao as he places his palm on his chest. He pulls three red threads from his heart and tethers them to the others. "It is complete. Reflections of Liao. Go, complete your duties. Grant your wish,"

At the lord gods command the three mirror images rise. First Liao returns to Liao's room for Lin Hu. The second stood before God.

"I must go to the leopard god. But I know not where he is." Second Liao says stiffly.

"Follow the bonds of our promise. It will guide you to him. He lives in the forest," the jade emperor says. "The leopard god will be the protector of this life,"

The second Liao bows and take his leave. The third Liao then approaches.

"I know not where the leopard cat spirit is," he says.

"Hynos will guide you. He knows where the cat will be," the Jade Emperor says.

"Come," hynos says to third Liao and they depart as well.

When the three gods are alone with true Liao. Their expression change to one of great sadness.

"Liao?" the jade emperor gently taps Liao's forehead.

Liao grunts groggily.

"Good. You're still alive." The Jade Emperor sighs on relief. "You have a journey to go on. Are you ready?"

True Liao can't even reply. He is barely conscious.

The jade emperor snaps his finger and the dragon approaches. He gently takes Liao on his back and carries him outside.

"Tian-Liao lin. As per our promise I send you away forevermore." The jade emperor intones as a pillar of light descends before them.

"What is that?" The dragon asks as Liao's body is pulled away from him by the sheer gravity of the light and is dragged towards it.

"It is a gate. It leads to the Nexus world. Where all the worlds collide. I've seen it and I think he will be quite happy there." The jade emperor says. "He will be alright,"

"Goodbye child," Mazu says as she watches Liaos body dissolve into shards of light and be absorbed by the gate.

When the gate closes the three gods watch solemnly.

" I must return to my temple. I must begin preparing for Liaos arrival, " Mazu says as she turns away to leave. "Thank you, lord god, for granting his final wish."

"I will watch over the second Liao. His fate will need my mercy," Guanyin says as she too leaves.

The Jade Emperor was left alone in the clearing with only the zodiac remaining. The zodiac watched on in silence.

"My lord. What is the matter?" Cat asks.

"Nothing. I'm just wondering I did the right thing by granting his wish." He muses. "It is unlikely that the three gods will ever find out what happens but I can't help but feel as if Liao will still be haunted by them,"

"Well you did erase his memory. So that shouldn't be a problem," the dragon says.

"Erased isn't the correct word. Sealed would be more appropriate," the jade emperor says. "As long as they don't find him the memories shouldn't wake,"

"If you say so Lord god.," the cat says. "We should return. It is still new years,"

"Yes it is indeed." The Jade Emperor says as he gazes at the rising sun. "A new year is upon us,"

---------------------------------------------------------

I'm alone. I'm all alone. Someone. Anyone. Please, can anyone hear me.?

I open my eyes to an abyss of white. Everything is blank. There is nothing.

"Hello?" I call. "Is anyone there?"

There is no reply. I can only drift in the abyss. But I notice something, there is a strange cluster of a different light. The only thing differentiating them from the background is their pale color.

"Hello?" I reach out to touch the light but before I can thoughts enter my mind.

"Hello? Are you......alive?" The voice asks.

"Um yeah. I mean, I think so," I say. What kind of question was that?

"Who are you?" Another voice asks.

"I don't know. I can't remember," I say. Strange, why can't I remember. "Who are you?"

"We are the wanderers. Those who were shirked by the world. We were thrown away by our loved ones and cursed to fade away after death." The voices say. "We sense you are like us. A wanderer. But you are still alive. You aren't fading just yet. You must live,"

So I was like these souls. It hurt my heart to see those who were thrown away by their loved ones. But something still didn't make sense.

"Wait, you said I'm not fading YET," I repeat. "What do you mean?"

"Your soul is torn apart. You will fade soon," yet another voice says.

"Can I do something about it?" I ask. My soul was torn?

"We don't know. We are the same way. All wanderers have torn souls," the voices say.

This was a problem. Maybe I could find a way but it wasn't fair that these souls, who were just like me, were fading away.

"What if you stayed inside my body? Would that stop the fading? If we all have torn souls then maybe if we came together we could give each other what they lack?" I wonder.

The voice is silent. "We suppose it could work. This has never happened where one of us still has a living body. But we need your consent,"

"I consent," I say immediately.

The light seems to get a little brighter. "Thank you," the strongest voice says and a pale mirage comes into view. It's an angel with 12 fiery wings coming from his back. "I am Shaytan. The falling star. I am the strongest of us. I swear to you, we shall stand behind you and give you our power if need be. All we ask is you let us dwell within you,"

"I consent," I repeat again and the angel smiles. The mirage disappears into a sphere of multicolored lights. The light comes closer and fades into my chest and it feels warm. So very warm.

The warm starts to turn into a burning. Especially in my head.

"What's happening?" I groan

"Your mind can't handle the 23 of us all at once. It will kill you," shaytan says. "This won't work,"

"But you will fade away if you don't stay inside a body." I cry. "Isn't there another way,"

"We can all go to sleep. Our souls will lay dormant within you. Our powers will be yours. But you will not be able to remember either. One day, when your mind is strong enough we can awaken but for now we must sleep," a strong female voice says.

"Yes. That's a perfect solution," shaytan says as one by one the voices go silent. "Farewell, for now, the new wanderer."

Until the only voice is mine and even then, that is fading too. The white abyss begins to fade into blackness and I close my eyes. I hope I can open them again.

I open my eyes to the sun setting in a shady forest. I sit up and see a massive pillar of light cutting through the clouds. What the hell?

I try to get my bearings my mind draws a blank. I look down and see my phone. I know it's mine because of how it fits in my hand. I look for anything that helps and it says my name on the top. My name is Matatabi Nido. That's something at least. I try to find a map or something to tell me where I am. I see a sign for Shinjuku park in Tokyo but before I can investigate I hear a strange voice call me.

---------------------------------------------------------

(First Liao)

Being split was strange. I felt the same way I did before but now I felt.......dulled. it was like I was looking at myself through my reflection. I'm not quite in control but I am in control. Like a third-person view video game.

Another thing that was different is that the pain of yesterday was barely there. I wasn't really sad or angry. Just a dull ache, a memory of emotion. It was like looking back on it from many years later.

As I walked back to my apartment I ran through several plans on what to do. I'll call my parents later to tell them the news. I could also ask the school to make my degree online. I would also have to quit dance club. I could probably pack all my stuff up and be out in a week.

I also could probably get rid of most of the stuff I had too. All my books and doujins could go to the trash. All I needed was my school stuff and that was it. I don't need anything else anymore. I existed to grant the wishes of Lin Hu and my family. That was my purpose. But I was so tired. I need to crash. I'll send an email to the school when I get back and I can send a text to my parents now.

I text my brother to tell him the news and he was shocked. He was happy I was coming back but he was disappointed I didn't keep pursuing my dream. I told him I had an epiphany and that this was that path I was meant to take. He told me my parents were over the moon and were so happy to know I was coming back. Though the insisted I finish the semester and return in the summer.

I feel my lips slightly pull up In a smile. It felt weird to not have emotion but it made life much easier. Especially now.

Once I return to my room I open the door and I don't feel the emotional pain anymore. I forgot about the mess however and I face plant on a loose board.

"Ow." I groan as I pick myself up. I could fix this later.

I drag myself to the closet, change and set up my quilt nest. I curl in the middle. It feels nice to be surrounded in the memories of warmth. Even if it wasn't real anymore.

I knew Lin Hu wasn't going to be around anymore, for a while at least. So I could surprise him with the decision to go home.

Hopefully everything would be okay, in the end. I would live the remainder of my life making everyone happy and hopefully, they would just let me go. I close my eyes as the sun starts to illuminate the room.

---------------------------------------------------------

(Second Liao)

I followed the invisible thread that bound me to Likulau. It felt like a red thread that tugs at my heart. I follow it to the woods near the edge of the city. I start seeing puddles of blood on the ground but I try to touch it the blood doesn't seem to stain. This is definitely from a spirit.

"Likulau?" I call. "Are you there?"

I don't know why I thought that would work when silence was the answer.

I sigh and keep following the thread. Eventually, I'm led to the base of a large overhang. I can start to make out quiet sobbing.
I squint and with the dull sunlight, I see him sitting in the dark, crying.

I slowly approach him. "Likulau," I say gently.

He looks up at me with glistening gold eyes. His fur was caked with blood and tears.

"Liao mad? Liao want to hurt me?" He mumbles while he averts his gaze.

"No. I'm not mad. I understand why you did what you did. I was being selfish," I say as wrap my arms around him. He stiffens for a moment before he presses his face into my neck and fresh tears fall from his eyes. "It ok. It's okay. You don't need to worry anymore. Let's go to Wutai together okay? "

"Liao come with me?" Likulau asks happily before sounding unsure. "What about Tiger?"

"I made a decision and he respected that. I sent his statue home so he won't be alone." I lie.

"Liao not need guardian tiger. I guard Liao now," Likulau says as he licks my nose.

"Stop that. That tickles," I say with a pout. "We can leave tomorrow. I need to find a way to get to Wutai and I really need to nap."

Likulau nods. "Liao can sleep here," he says as gestures for me to lean on him.

"Okay. Wake me up In the afternoon,' I say as I lean on Likulau's furry chest. This feels nice. But I know that it isn't real. I'm just a reflection of someone else.

I hear Likulau purr and I let this lull me to sleep. I stroke his tattoo as it snakes down his chest and stomach. He reaches on paw over my hand and I fall asleep like that.

---------------------------------------------------------

(Third Liao)

I followed hynos through the empty city until we were near Senpai's apartment. Thankful it was near the opposite end of campus so I shouldn't have a run-in with my other-selves.

"Hey, Lord Hynos?" I ask. "Can I ask you something ?"

"Yes mister Lin?" Hynos replies.

"Why are you tracking Senpai?" I wonder.

"There have been rumors of a spirit who had been killing and eating human souls. So I've kept track of all spirits who may fit the criteria. This particular spirit changes location often and has a strange spirit power." Hynos says. 'There is a good chance he targeted you for your power,"

"What if it is him? What happens to the souls?" I ask as I think of senpai.

"Then I would have to eliminate him," hynos says. "Souls which are eaten are absorbed by the spirit until they are indistinguishable. If we get there soon enough the soul may be able to be salvaged,"

"If he is the culprit. What do you think I should do with this life?" I wonder. That would be a waste. I couldn't very well remain here. Not with my other selves here.

"I don't know. You could live life the way you want here," hynos says.

"How? I would have to leave Taiwan, I can't stay here with my other selves so close." I shrug. "Maybe I should end this life,"

"No," Hynos grabs my hand. "All life is precious. You must live fully,"

"Am I even alive?" I ask. "Who I am is shattered. I can't even feel anything anymore. I feel like I'm a lie. A false imitation of Liao."

"You are still Liao. Through and through." Hynos says. "You have the same soul. Same heart. You are the same,"

"Yeah. The same tattered soul and shattered heart," I say wistfully.

"You are still Liao. The same Liao who was granted an audience with the Jade Emperor. The same Liao who managed to gain the attention of the three gods." Hynos says. "You are special,"

"Thanks Lord Hynos," I say.

"Anytime. In any case, we are here," Hynos says as we stand before an apartment.

"Let's see."I knock on the door and it opens slightly.

"Be careful," Hynos says as he stands in front of me.

We walk in and in the darkness, I see a body on the floor.

"Well well you finally found me, fox god," a voice says.

"So you are the killer," Hynos says as small light glows in his palm.

The light illuminates senpai. But now senpai looks more.......evil. he is wearing black armor and he eyes glint hungrily.

"Senpai?" I call.

"Oh Liao. It appears you've finally found out my dirty secret." He says with false sympathy.

"What have you done with shu-chi? The real shu-chi," I ask.

"I devoured him," he says. "From the day I possessed him,"

"So why did you want me?" I ask..

"Is it not obvious? I want to devour you. Your spiritual power would have made me even stronger. This is the only way I can." senpai says.

"What do you want me to do?" Hynos asks. "I can save your classmate or I can destroy him,"

"How long does it take for a soul to be absorbed?" I ask.

"About a month," was the reply.

"can you save him?" I ask. There was no point in keeping him around if I couldn't save senpai.

"I can try," Hynos says as he leaps at senpai. They exchange some blows and it is over in a flash. Senpai was outclassed.

"Let go of me your filthy god," senpai growls.

"Once I take the soul you devoured. I may not be able to return him to life but I can at least give him rest." Hynos snarls as he plunges his claws into senpai's chest.

Senpai is writhing painfully under Hynos. Hynos is still as marble for a moment before pulling back. "Thankfully his soul is still there. He's barely holding on. He is saved,"

I sigh. I'm so glad he's okay. "Senpai. Why are you a killer?" I ask.

"Why do you think? We spirits are constantly under the yoke of the gods. We are treated like vermin. This world is killed or be killed. My master taught me that. Once I devour enough souls I won't ever have to fear for my life," senpai screams.

"So you didn't because you were scared?" I wonder.

"No. I do this so I won't have to be," senpai says before looking at hynos. "So will you kill me now?"

"What do you want mister lin?" Hynos looks at me.

"Oh. Are you Liao's pet as well?" Senpai says sarcastically.

I ignore the comment. "I should kill him. But.....I feel bad. He did what he did because he had to. No one should have to live in fear," I say.

"Then I think I have a solution." Hynos says. "Leopard Cat spirit. By order of the Jade Emperor, your punishment will be dealt with. You will serve Tian-Liao Lin for the remainder of his life. When his life ends so shall yours. I shall enforce this. You will no longer devour souls, if you do then you will die on the spot,"

"What?! That's asking a predator not to hunt." Senpai screams.

"The other option is I kill you right now," Hynos turns to me. "Is this acceptable?"

"Yes," I say .

"You are both cruel," senpai pouts .

"You know nothing about cruelty," I say. "Now you and I are going to be together. Forever."

Senpai sighs. "Fine. It's better than dying I guess, "

"Thank Hynos. I owe ya one," I say gratefully. I felt better now that senpai was safe. "But now Senpai. Since you killed Shu-Chi you need to make it up to his family.

"I don't need to. My master watches over the Yan family. He is not a god. He is a spirit," senpai says

"What do you mean by that?" Hynos asks.

"The Yan family has been watched by powerful spirits for centuries. The guardian god of the Yan family abandoned them, so my master guards them out of pity." Senpai says. "He is powerful enough that lower gods don't bother them."

"I see. If you are amenable mister Lin. Will you help me investigate? " hynos asks.

"I'd be happy to," I say. I suppose this would be the purpose of this life.

---------------------------------------------------------

(True Liao)

"Master? Please let me out," the voice says

"Who's there?" I look to see where the voice is coming from. "Please master unlock your phone and let me out, " the voice says.

I open my phone and in a brilliant flash of light a satyr creature appears.

"Hello master. I'm Salomon, you're level 3 butler familiar." It says.

"Familiar?" I say back in confusion.

"I'm appalled master! How could you forget little ol' me?" Salomon says

After a strange exchange, he explains summoning and what it means to me. And my purpose in the world, someone had called me to aid them.

"So will you teach me how to summon?" I ask.

"Yes. So here's how......."Salomon says before what feels like a wall hits me.

I look up and see a chubby boy with red hair. He's kinda cute. "I'm so sorry. I didn't see you. I was cutting through here even though class rep told me not to," the boy rushes.

"Why?" I ask. What was wrong with this place?

My answer, however, is a rumbling roar. I turn and see a red, hulking ogre following us.

"Hungry. Flesh. Human!" It roars.

"We have to run," the boy says before grabbing my hand

"Fuck," I say as we run from the ogre.

Why were there monsters in Tokyo?

Chapter Text

(Matatabi)

"What is the thing!" I shout as me and the red-haired boy run through the woods.

"I think its an oni." He shouts back.

"How do we beat it?" I ask as I notice the monster gaining some distance on us.

"We don't. You can only beat a transient of you are one or you're a summoner," he says to my dismay.

Well fuck. We're doomed then.

We duck behind a boulder. "Ok here's the plan. We split up. I'll draw its attention and you get help." I propose. I'm definitely the better runner and can buy more time than he can.

"But you get caught, " he says.

"I'm fast enough. as long as you can get help then I can manage. " I push him away in the opposite direction as the one finds us again. "Over here!" I throw a rock at the oni's head.

"Grrrrrr. Let me eat you!" It roars as it pursues me.

As I'm running a hexagram flash and Salomon appears.

"Well master it seems you're in quite the pickle," Salomon says.

"If you're not being useful then don't bother me," I retort. I don't have time to get distracted.

"You could easily defeat it if you summon something," Salomon says.

"Then tell me how!" I demand. My lungs are burning, I'm almost out of steam.

"That would take time so just escape and I'll tell you later," Salomon says as he disappears.

"Fucking goat man," I curse as I rest behind a large tree. There should be enough distance

This was bad. I couldn't keep running forever and I had no idea where I am.

"Got you," a voice says and I'm yanked up by my leg.

I see the upside-down red oni and unfortunately, I'm greeted by his large teeth.

"You tasty," it growls before lifting me higher.

This was bad. This was very, very bad.

"Hey you big lug! Let him go!" I hear a voice say. I twist and see the boy from before with a rock in his hand.

"I eat fat one first," the one says as I fall, chest first.

Needless to say, the wind was knocked out of me. I groan and in flash, Salomon is back.

"Master! Are you okay? Can you walk? " he asks in horror.

"I.....dont know," I groan as I hear the boy scream. I see the one had caught him and had raised him to his mouth. "No,"

"Well that's a shame master but on the bright side this gives you time to escape." Salomon says nonchalantly.

"No. I cant.. ....leave him. He.....came back," I say. I refuse to let him die. He's the only person I know. The only one.

Salomon is speechless for a moment before sighing. "Well, I am a level 3 butler. Butlers support their masters." Suddenly the oni and everything freezes. Including me. "Ok, then master. Time for your first summoning lesson. I've increased your temporal perception, stopped time so to say. I'll explain, in order to summon you need to say the appropriate chant and the voice feature on the app will handle the rest. All I need to do is find a match for you. ......and voila. I'm going to unfreeze time now. When things start moving you need to repeat after me,"

Suddenly the world is moving again and the boy is screaming.

"What do I say!" I shout.

"Role of the wanderer! Rule of Rending!" Salomon says.

"Role of the wanderer! Rule of Rending!" I repeat. These words make no sense. What are "roles" and "rules"

"Forged Reification! Thou who art nameless in this world and powerless to claim this world…
Deceive the world, hinder the world, and by thy false name, manifest in this closed domain!
Avatar of the Serpent’s tail, severed by the Wanderer!
Bare thy Rule of Rending and cleave all power and authority!
Engrave mine name unto thee and come forth!
Boundless Tail!” Salomon says at once.

"Forged.....reification," I say but there were too many words.

"Don't say all of it just the words that stand out to you. The app can figure out the rest," Salomon says.

"Engrave my name, Matatabi Nido, unto thee and come forth! Boundless Tail!" I shout and a beautiful light shines from my phone.

The world is covered in white light. From the light comes a sword hilt.

"Draw me. I will protect you. I will give you power," it whispers.

I hesitate for a moment. There's no time to be weak. I reach forward and draw the sword.

When the light clears the oni and the boy look at me in shock. I look down and see a sword in my hand. For some reason it's comforting. Like the sword is meant for me and me alone.

"Ok. Let's try this again. Let him go," I say as I point the sword at the oni. I have no idea where my confidence is coming from but it's better than pissing myself.

"You're a summoner!" The boy whoops.

"You.. summoner? You unleashed me from the temple," the oni growls as he drops the boy and charges at me.

I dodge the charge and take a swipe at the oni's side.

Unfortunately the oni just swipe back and I have to put distance between us. We exchange a few blows like this. I don't do any real damage, and I know that if he hits me even once then its game over.

"Keep fighting master! " Salomon cheers.

"Any idea where I should hit? I'm not doing any real damage," I say. I am grateful for his support but right now I need advice on how to beat this thing.

As soon as the words leave my mouth, something strange happens. A gold thread appears it ties the oni to the ground itself. My sword pulses and I feel the desire to sever that thread.

I duck under the oni's punch and swing the blade at that thread. The gold thread breaks and the oni falls to its knees. The battle was over.

"I.....dododon't want to......disappear." the oni grunts as his body starts to dissolve.

I felt kind of bad. Yeah he tried to eat me but he didn't deserve to disappear.

"I want to serve master.....that why I was called here," the one continues.

"What's happening?" I ask salomon

"It looks like you've severed his connection to this land. Stray transients need something to tie them to the land they're in, otherwise, they'll fade away like him." Salomon says.

"I.... .dont want .. ..to disappear," the oni says. "Dont .....want to.....be alone."

Those words pierce my heart. He was lonely like I was. He had no one, and he was fading away.

"Then serve me. Be my companion," I say as I cautiously approach and hold out my hand. "Be my friend,"

The oni regards me for a moment before holding out his own hand and placing it on mine. "I shall serve you, my new master, call me and I shall do your bidding,"

At his words a new mark burned me. It looked like flames wrapping from around my thumb and looping the wrist of my right hand. It flares brightly before disappearing.

"Farewell, for now, my new master," the oni smiles before disappearing into shards of light.

"You made a contract with the one? Already?" Salomon says in shock. "You shouldn't make contracts with everyone. Not when you've got me"

I ignore the last comment and walk over to the boy. "You ok?" I offer a hand.

"Yeah. I'm fine." The boy takes my hand. "That was amazing you beat the oni like it was nothing! Oh, I never introduced myself. I'm Ryota Yakushimaru."

"Nice to meet you. I'm Matatabi Nido,' I say to Ryota.

"Let's go get some food. I'm starved." Ryota says as he tugs me somewhere.

We nearly died and all he can think about was food? Well If those were his priorities who was I to judge.

We had thankfully made it out of the park without anymore oni attacking. Ryota was babbling on about the different foods they could try. It was kind of nice watching him be passionate about food. But suddenly he stops and has a horrified look on his face.

"What's wrong?" I ask

He points and I see two men walking towards us. One has glasses on with a perfect school uniform on, the other is wearing a white shirt and martial art pants. They look like they're arguing.

They notice Ryota pointing and come towards us. "Ryota. It's almost curfew time what are you doing out? You're filthy. What happened?" The man with glasses asks.

"Class rep," Ryota says nervously. "I was running late and ran into some trouble in the park,"

"Where the gate is? Do you know you're not supposed to go there?! That's incredibly unsafe. What if you got hurt?" The class rep reprimands

"I'm fine. Matatabi made sure nothing happened." Ryota pouts as he points to me.

The boy with glasses turns to me and stares for second before stumbling over his words. "I....I'm Shiro. I'm Ryota's class rep. Thank you very much for protecting him,"

"No problem. I'm Matatabi Nido," I greet.

"You protected Ryota huh? That must mean you can fight. You want to do it?" The other man asks. "I'm Kengo,"

"Not really into public stuff," I say. The man is pretty hot but I really didn't want to fight. I'm super tired.

"You can't pick fights with people you just met Kengo," Shiro knocks Kengo's head. "As for you Ryota we need to get to campus, "

"Ok Shiro," Ryota pouts.

"You should go home to Matatabi," Shiro says. "Your parents must be worried,"

That dropped the mood. I suddenly realized I have no memory of a home or parents or anyone.

Shiro must have picked up on it because he immediately took it back. "You don't have to answer if you don't......"

"What? You run away from home?" Kengo asks.

"No." I say slowly. "I don't have parents. Or a home. I can't remember anything,"

"Anything at all?" Shiro asks and I shake my head.

"Nothing. All I remember is waking up in the park and then Ryota ran into me." I say.

"That won't do. We can't leave you wandering alone. You can spend the night at the school I can ask the teacher to give you a place. For now at least, " Shiro says thoughtfully.

"Thanks. ..but...why are you being so nice," I ask. This sounds a bit too perfect. But then again, who am I to judge.

"Well you did save Ryota so we do owe you something. And we can't leave a human alone on the streets of Tokyo. You'd hardly last a week," Shiro says.

"Fair enough," I say as I glance at a massive wolf dressed in leather talking to a dog therian. I wouldn't last too long alone.

"Come on Matatabi! We aren't that far." Ryota says as he pulls me along.

Along the way we decided to exchange contact information. I didn't know my number but Ryota said that they all had the SUMMONS app like I did, which also had a built-in the messaging system. So we all exchanged IDs.

Eventually we are standing before a huge school but a teacher guards the door. He is a huge man with a bushy beard and mustache. He's clad in a simple loincloth and he smells like burning incense.

"Shiro! Kengo! Ryota!" He shouts. "Its well past curfew,"

"Sorry Mister Jinn. We had a bit of a run-in," Shiro says. 'I take full responsibility,"

"Hehe you're not too late so I'll let it slide for now." Jinn laughs before turning to me. " who's this?"

"This is Matatabi Nido, he's a......"Shiro starts to explain before another man shows up. This man is wearing a speedo and a coach's jacket. I see find poking out from his arms.

"This must be the transfer student," he says. "We were expecting you. You are Mister Nido right?"

"Um yes?" I reply. Transfer student?

"This is the transfer student Triton? I'll take him to Mister Mononobe," Jinn says with a huge smile.

"No I will be escorting Mister Nido. I am the more responsible teacher," Triton says sternly.

The four of us look between the squabbling teachers and in the end, they both put a hand on one of my shoulders and push me into the building

Eventually we reach a room that has the word 'principal' on it. The teachers knock before entering.

"Hey Mononobe I brought the transfer student," Jinn cheers.

"No you didn't smoke-head. I did it," Triton says.

"Ah Mister Matatabi Nido. Welcome to our school," Mononobe says. He's a big man with graying hair tied into a low ponytail.

"Nice to meet you. I'm sorry if I'm bothering you but I don't exactly know what's going on here," I say.

"You transferred here. This is your signature is it not?" Mononobe asks in confusion. He holds a paper out to me with my signature on the bottom line. The signature is familiar to me.

"Yeah it is. Sorry, my head is a bit fuzzy right now, " I said bashfully.

"Ah I see. In any case, you're safe here and we will be taking care of you. You'll be staying at the apartment complex for students but it is still going to take a few days for all your stuff to clear up. I've also been placed as your guardian. So, for now, you'll be staying with me," Mononobe says kindly. "Your clothes have already been moved in,"

Clothes? Apartment? When did I have these things? "Thank you very much," I say.

"You're very polite. That'll serve you well on your first day tomorrow," Mononobe says as he dismisses the Jinn, Triton, Ryota, Shiro, and Kengo. "Follow me Mister Nido.'

He leads me to an apartment across from the school grounds. It's a small one-room apartment.

"Please make yourself at home. I apologize for the mess but I wasn't expecting guests," Mononobe says as he pushes a stack of paper behind a shelf.

"Thank you for taking me in....." I say as I think back to earlier. What a day this was.

-----------------------------------------

(Elsewhere)

A white-haired lion therian dressed in a butler's uniform awakens a red-haired man with a golden wreath in his hair.

"Apologies Master but I have received some information that is of the utmost importance," the lion says.

"Continue. I know you wouldn't awaken me without probable cause," the man speaks.

"A battle was observed in Shinjuku between and a stray oni and what appears to be a human. He matches no description in our database. The human appears to possess the rule of Rending, " the lion says.

The man is wide-eyed. "I see. So the long-awaited rare has appeared. What attribute is his artifact? Maybe it's the shears of the three sisters or perhaps the scythe of the time elder,"

"It appears to be neither holy not dark. It is ALL of the attributes. It is Fire and water and wood.....as well as holy and dark." The lion says

"I see. This is an interesting development. Please meet him and give him a proper Ikebukuro greeting," the man says thoughtfully.

"As you wish. But if we discovered this then surely the Roppongi and Aoyama have also found out," the lion warns

"No matter. The strong will always win. Let us hope the new summoner is also strong or he will be another corpse on the streets." The man dismisses.

"As you say. I shall prepare the welcoming of this new summoner," the lion says as he departs.

-------------------------------------------

(First Liao)

Three days had passed since I was shattered. I had all of my affairs in order for the future. I had already arranged for my return home. I had permission to be an online student and I had begun to finish the semester as strong as I could. Unfortunately, someone had given me a cold and that was definitely not a great thing. I was pretty much out of commission.

I had managed to clean up Likulau's mess with minor injuries. The downside of wood floors was a lot of splinters. It was that morning that Lin Hu had finally decided to come back. He didn't say anything, he was just there. I decided not to be the first one to speak, I had done enough. I would live as I did before, I pretended I couldn't see him. Unfortunately, no matter how many hot showers I took, my body trembled with chills.

Eventually I sneezed a bit too hard and a cup I was holding splashed all over the floor. "Fuck," I mean as I slowly reach for the fallen cup. I hear a low growl and for the first time I look up at Lin Hu

"Why are you doing this to yourself? You were gone for two days. You come back sick. You barely clean or eat. You're torturing yourself! Did I not tell you my blessing won't stop this from happening?" Lin Hu snarls.

"Barely. I'm just a bit sick is all, I just partied a bit too hard. I'll be fine in a few days and everything will be back to normal. I'll clean the house and I'll eat more. I'm fine," I say as I avert my eyes again and look back at my book. "You can go,"

Lin Hu only growls at my tone. "Where were you? You never leave for that long," he asks.

I assume he means new years. "I was out with friends. We went to the temple and I stayed over at a friend's place. It's fine," I say. I'm in no mood to argue with him right now. I feel something akin to anger flare in my broken heart. Is this what the real me would have felt?

"Its not fine! The Leopard is still out there and I'm your guardian tiger. I should have known, " Lin Hu snarls.

"Well it was your decision to stay in your statue and I'm not going to carry you around! In any case, Leopard was dealt with, and anyway, why do you care?" I snarl back. The heat in my chest only burns more.

"I am YOUR guardian tiger. That's why," Lin Hu shouts.

"Right. Because I'm a Lin." I say bitterly. But before he can interject I continue. "It doesn't matter anyway. I've decided. ......I'm going home. That's what you wanted right?"

Lin Hu looks surprised. "Well......yes but I didn't want it to be......"

"What? So sudden?" I retort. I could appreciate his gobsmacked face. "Well, I guess I finally had to make the choice. In any case, I told my parents. We move back when the semester's over. Maybe sooner if I can finish the course work. I've already told the school I'll be online for the rest of my degree,"

"What about dancing? You can find a smaller school back home," lin Hu says.

"I quit. It doesn't matter as much. I'm just going to get the degree like mom and dad wanted and I'll learn how to be a priest, " I say.

"But what about your dream?" Lin Hu says sadly.

Why is he sad? Isn't this what he wanted?

"It was just that. A dream. A childish fantasy. The one thing this has taught me is that I will never be normal again. Now that I can see spirits I'll never be left alone. It's for the best that I go home," I say dismissively. "I'll be the son they always wanted."

Lin Hu is silent for a moment. "I'm sorry," it was almost to quiet to hear.

"Don't be. You're a god. Gods can't do wrong. It's my fault. I should have been better. Besides, you deserve a better worshiper than me," I sneeze loudly. That ruined the mood.

"Liao......" Lin Hu reaches out to me but I flinch back. Even him saying my first name stung a bit. What would I feel if he said my full name?

"I'm fine.....I just need more tea," I grumble as I stagger to the cupboard to grab some herbal tea. I'm trying to boil water but the pressure in my sinuses makes my vision hurt.

"No. You need rest and warmth, I'll help," Lin Hu says as he wraps his arms around me from behind.

"Let go....please......please let go," I whisper. The pain in my chest sharpens.

"No. I will never let you go. Or leave you alone," he says firmly as he picks me up and takes me to bed. His arms are wrapped around me and I'm glad he can't see my face because tears start to fall. The pain was too much. Like a knife carving out what's left of my heart. I wonder what I would have felt if my heart was whole. If it hurts now what would I have felt if I was real?

This was going to be an awful life.

---------------------------------------------------------------

(Second Liao)

When I woke up it was almost sunset. The forest illuminated in crimson light

"Liao awake?" Likulau grumbles and him saying my name stings my heart.

"Yeah I'm up," I say. "Now I need to plan how to get us to Wutai," I knew it was in the south but it was really far.

"Aidridringane help," likulau says

"Excuse me?" I ask.

"Follow," Likulau gestures for me to follow him.

He leads me to a clearing when he sits on the ground and digs through the dirt.

"What are you looking for?" I ask as he held a snake in his paw.

The snake looks at me and then him. It hisses slightly and Likulau hisses back. Suddenly the hissing gets louder and louder until I realize the snake is a hundred pacer snake. The leaves and trees begin to hiss until it became unbearably loud. I cover my ears and close my eyes.

"Liao look," I hear likulau say.

I look up and see myself in a completely different forest. I see nothing but the shade of tall trees.

"Where are we?"I ask.

"Home," Likulau says as he pulls me along.

We walk through the forest with me tripping behind Likulau. Eventually, we come to the alone building. The villagers there barely batted an eye at me.

"This my temple," Likulau says

Ah that makes sense. I follow him in and inside the temple is a massive coiled serpent.

"Welcome," it hisses. "Are you the Oracle my leopard speaks of?"

Well fuck. This was going to be a fun life.

-------------------------------------------------

(True Liao)

"Wake up Matatabi. It's time for class," I hear a voice say.

I open my eyes and see mister Mononobe standing over me.

"Oh good morning," I yawn.

"Come on. You're going to be late on your first day," he laughs.

I sit up so fast my vision blurs. "What!" I quickly get up and run to the shower.

I quickly shower and follow Mister Mononobe to school. He's also my homeroom teacher, so that's new.

"So just a heads up for all of you. Class is going to be out for a couple of days," Mononobe says.

"Yeaaaaaaaaah," the class roars.

"Settle down. There's a police investigation going on. They found a body.....or part of one. So, for now, the school is on lockdown." Mononoba says. "And there will be homework during the break, "

"Awwwwwwwww!" The class groans.

"To be young," mononobe sighs. "Please wrap things up class rep,"

"Class attention! "Shiro say. "Class bow!"

We finish class and Ryota, Kengo and Shiro follow me out.

"You're so lucky. The first day and you already get a day off." Ryota says.

"I guess. Is school really that bad?" I ask. I have no memory of what school is like.

"Completely, " Kengo cheers before shiro elbows him.

But before Shiro can reply a dog therian walks up holding a wrapped sword and wearing a different uniform.

"Good morning Kengo. Since we have free time now let us spar 100 times," he says before noticing me. "Oh, you must be the transfer student. I'm Moritaka Inuzuka, a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"Matatabi Nido. Are you in the kendo club?" I gesture to the wrapped sword.

"I am. Kengo and I train every day, " he says happily

"Come on Moritaka! We're burning daylight," kengo shouts.

I say my goodbyes to Moritaka before he's dragged away by Kengo.

"Seems like those two get along well," I say.

"Birds of a feather flock together," Ryota sighs. 'Let's go get some food. There's this curry place that I've been meaning to try, "

"Sounds good. Wanna come too, Shiro?" I ask.

Shiro looks like someone killed his cat. He was breathing fast and shallow. "No. It wasn't me," he mumbles

"Shiro? Are you okay? Take a couple of breaths," I say. He looked even worse.

Shiro does respond and takes a few breaths. "Sorry I made you guys worry. I'm fine...I just have some stuff on my mind," he says before his phone rings and he turns even paler.

"Shiro?" Ryota asks as Shiro takes off. "Hey we might have to......"

"If we are going after him we better start now," I say before Ryota can finish.

Ryota smiles. "You're a good person you know?" He laughs before we take off after Shiro.

We run as fast as we can but we lose Shiro in Shinjuku station. We both lean over and catch our breath.

"We'll never find him here......its too big. We need to split up," Ryota says between gasps.

"Sounds........like a plan," I say.

"I'll message you on the app if I find anything," Ryota says before going off in another direction.

As soon as Ryota is out of sight. Salomon appears.

"Master! There's another summoner 100 feet from you and closing in." He says urgently.

"Is it Ryota or Shiro?" I ask.

"No. It's a brand new summoner who you have never met. When you're on the app your location is known to anyone else who is also on the app. Effectively every summoner knows where you are at all times," Salomon says proudly.

"Why did you not tell me this earlier?" I sigh. Salomon was cute but he is a complete moron.

"Hey lookie here guys. Fresh noob meat," a voice says.

I turn around and see three guys eyeing me up.

"Excuse me?" I say. Were these the summoners?

"Look here. There's a rule in these parts. Noobs with no guild need to learn their place," one student says.

An invisible wall surrounds us as it did in the forest with the oni.

"Master you've been challenged to an app battle. Unfortunately, you must not forfeit if you do you lose all your abilities as a summoner." Salomon explains. "Which also means you might never get home. So you have to accept every challenge!"

"Why you never tell me these things earlier!" I scream at him before turning back to the three students. I calmly chant the lines from yesterday and Boundless tail appears in my hands. "Look guys I'd rather not fight. I'm just looking for a friend,"

"Well too bad. We need to look for an infernal summoner but we may as well get a few experience points by beating you up," another student says before being swatted by the third.

"Hey man stop saying shit. If oniwaka finds out we will be in major danger." The third student says.

"Enough lip flapping let's waste this dick," the first student says as he pulls out a sword with red wrappings.

I sigh and block the oncoming strike. Thankfully the students weren't great at sword fighting so we were on even terms but I manage to gain an advantage and land a blow on his sword arm.

"You just got lucky!" He moans from the ground.

"Maybe. But you guys just leave me alone?" I plead. I really just want to find Shiro.

"Nah bitch. You may have beat a weapon summoner but I'm a transient summoner. We make contracts with transients to do our bidding! So check this out!" The second student says before chanting.

A flash of light appears and a black amorphous blob shows up and chirps.

"Yeah boy. Check out my summon. You're in trouble now newbie " the student brags.

"That's just a low-level demon. I'm a far better summon than that," Salomon says. "Even the one you contracted Is stronger,"

Right, the red oni. "In the name of our contract. Come forth and destroy in my name," I chant and the red mark on my wrist flares up. A hexagram flares up before me.

"I come to obey," the oni growls as he steps from the light. "You called master?'

"What the hell? He can summon transients too?! How?" The student shouts.

"Oni. Please defeat my opponents summon," I request.

"As you wish," he says before smashing the blob with his club and it vanishes. "Should I crush the summoner?"

"No. Leave them be," I say. "Thank you for your help oni,"

"Thank you, Master," he says before vanishing.

"Now will you guys leave me alone?" I say as the invisible wall vanishes, concluding the battle.

"Hell no! Call in reinforcements," one student calls.

A red wolf therian runs towards us. "Hey what's going on here," he shouts.

"You're in trouble now. Now that are the best bro is here you're finished!" One student says.

"Yeah. He's got bark, bite and a super cute tail," another says.

"I cant be intimidating if you say shit like that," the therian shouts. "What're this noobs attribute? "

"Attribute?" The students say.

The therian sighs and angrily explains the way attribute works. Fire beats wood which beats water which beats fire. Holy and Dark beat each other.

"Bro what attribute is this?" A student asks. "The gray one,"

"It says 'All'. What does 'All' mean?" The therian shouts. "Okay doesn't matter. We gotta beat this guy,"

"But he had a rare sacred artifact," the student says.

"Yeah but we have numbers," the therian says as an invisible wall rises again. Crap.

Unfortunately for them I still managed to beat them with the help of my oni again. It was honestly kind of pathetic.

"Will you all stop attacking me? I don't want to hurt you," I say.

The students argue amongst themselves before turning tail and running.

"Hey wait! I have to ask you something," I shout as I run after them.