It was when I'd finished watching the Let's Play of Okami that I decided I wanted it more than any game I'd ever seen before. The Let's Player, one of my personal favorites, was Chuggaaconroy and the guy had given more than enough education and reasonings to make me fall head over heels for this game. But the huge problem was that I had neither a Wii nor a PS2, the two platforms the game had come out for. Now I know that Okami was given an HD re-release on the PS3 but I didn't have that either since I'd sold every shred of gaming merchandise I could've when I moved out of my parent's house two years ago. So I'd have to buy a console to go with the game. Once again taking Chuggaa's words to heart I decided on the Wii version of the game for two reasons: the first being that the game looked nicer on the Wii, the second being that the Wiimote controls had appeared the be better than the analogue stick on the PS2 controller. Though I was naturally a leftie I had adapted to doing anything physical with my right hand and this probably extended to using a Wiimote. I was in work, and pretty well paid for the job which happened to be at a local game store called Grainger Games in the city I lived near, Darlington in the North East of the United Kingdom. This put me at an advantage because I would be able to ask my boss for a discount on a copy of the game if it ever came into the store. The problem was getting hold of the game itself, but there's always one ancient method to getting old games. Ebay!
I quickly typed in the web address in the search bar and ignored the late November deals, but setting a side note to get my mother and little brother a gift for Christmas, and entered the game's details into the Ebay search bar. Now being a person with a lack of trust for anything out of my comfort zone I was being extremely picky on the results it showed me. I usually hated bidding for items, I was a bad loser, and I almost never bought anything that was used. My eyes slowly scanned through the thousands of deals for the Wii version of Okami, every now and again a PS2 version of the game being thrown in there as the search results had their idiotic moments again. Page after page went by as my irritation began to rise, grabbing an apple from the fruit bowl on my table and crunching down on the slightly sour but extremely ripe fruit. My temper dropped greatly as a username on Ebay made me laugh for several seconds.
"Bootman Bill?" I asked, holding my hand over my mouth to prevent apple flakes being spat onto the screen "Oh Jesus, that's amazing" I continued on with a smile on my face and a calmer attitude before I reached the sixth page of results.
"Ugh, this is getting me nowhere," I sighed, drumming my fingers on the mouse pad of my black laptop "Right, adopt the same principle of looking through a food-less house looking for food: return to starting location of search with lower standards." Following my meme philosophy I clicked onto the first page once more and began to look through the used and biddable items. After another few minutes I found a copy for a decent price: ten quid with free shipping. I figured the shipping was free since it was only in Lichfield which was a few hours down the road from where I lived. I bid on it for a few minutes, using the old strategy of waiting a few minutes until you outlast the other bidders. The price jumped up to seventeen quid and with three seconds left I entered a bid of seventeen and a half quid before slamming my finger down on the enter key. I filled my lungs with air to let loose a cry and victory before I realized something. My shitty half a megabit internet speed hadn't placed the bid before the timer ran out and the last bid was accepted. The name of the user, unlike Bootman Bill, only served to piss me off even more than I already was.
"Ohfa Fookssake!?" I demanded furiously, digging my nails into the green apple "Ohfa Fookssake!?" It was at this point that I hit the roof. I slammed the apple down onto the table and, with much restraint, closing my laptop and standing up out of my chair. After a few deep breaths I look up at the clock on my wall and realizing that it was nearly seven in the morning, my shift starting at half seven. I walked into the living room of my apartment and turned off my internet router before grabbing my black leather jacket from the coatstand in my hallway, taking my black, tinted lens motorcycle helmet from the bucket I kept it in and heading out of the door. I darted down the stairs, the rain pounding down all around me, before leaping over the edge of the banister and dropping the last three feet down to the resident garage where I kept my ride. I walked into the garage and admired my bike, a Suzuki GSX, the R750 model that my folks had bought me as an eighteenth/moving out present. I ran my hand over the matte black paint before swinging my leg over the leather seat and sitting down. I put on the helmet and started the engine, listening to the roaring engine before twisting the accelerator and taking off with a jolt out into the rainy British weather.
I put my helmet and jacket into my employee locker before pulling on my orange Grainger Games shirt and making my way to the counter where I would start my shift. As I unlocked the till and booted up the storage computer my best friend and co-worker Jaden walked into the store with a wide grin on his face. "Ready to rot some brain cells?" he asked me loudly.
"Always!" I exclaimed. Though something on my face must've given away my slightly pissy mood to him as he inquired about me seconds later.
"Dude, you don't look so good," Jaden said as he stepped behind the counter with me and started setting up his till "You good?"
"No, a little bit knarked to be honest," I sighed, stuffing my hands in my jean pockets.
"What's the problem?" he asked me, crossing his arms and raising a black-haired eyebrow.
"I got outbid on Ebay by some bellend named Ohfa Fookssake," I growled, knocking my foot against the wooden skirting board of the counter. Jaden looked at me with a straight face for several seconds before he cracked a smile and burst out laughing. I looked at him for several seconds, grinding my teeth irritably as I watched him double over.
"Why is this so bloody funny?!" I demanded in an annoyed tone.
"I-Its just... Ohfa Fookssake!" Jaden said, tears running down is face "You're so pissed about it too aren't you?"
"Yeah, yeah," I growled "Fucking hilarious." Jaden laughed for several more seconds before wiping his eyes and straightening up and looking at me.
"Alright... what did he snatch from you?" he asked with a small smirk, not entirely gone from his face.
"I wanted to buy a copy of Okami online but I lost it and didn't have time to bid for another one," I replied.
"Okami?" Jaden repeated "I've got a copy of that game at home if you want it?" A smile lit up my face as I opened my mouth to accept before my drawbacks caught my words.
"What system is it for?" I asked, fumbling around with my keys in my pocket.
"The Wii of course," Jaden nodded "You want it?"
I nodded my head with a wide grin before offering a price. "How much do you want for it?" I asked, my parents' teachings reminding me to always at least offer money for something that would be given as a gift. Don't ask, I just went with it.
"I'm not getting paid until the end of this month and I'm a tenner short of getting the pre-order of The Phantom Pain," Jaden shrugged "Is a tenner cheap enough?"
"Yeah, that's great man," I said with another smiling nod.
"I'll bring it in tomorrow for you if you want," Jaden said, putting on a stereotypical Italian-American mob boss voice as he continued to speak "And ya betta get me mah money or ahm gonna break ya fuckin' legs."
"Alright Mr Brando, I'll get you your money," I said, both of us laughing at the joke despite how terrible it was. After out morning rounds of setting up the first few customers came in and we began our day of selling games to people. As my shift came to an end and I was told by my boss that my pay was in the bank I quickly asked him about purchasing a Wii from our store. He looked at me and threw the keys to the glass cases of Nintendo products with a small smile.
"Get yourself a new one, take a Wiimote Plus if you want one," he said.
"Really?" I asked in surprise, "No catch?"
"Of course not, what kind of horrible business man do you take me for?" he asked me. I grabbed one of the thicker bags from under the counter and walked over to the Nintendo area of the store. Using the keys to unlock the display case I took a brand new, jet black Wii from the case. Luckily it included the Wiimote Plus in the box, and came with a free copy of Wii Sports Resort. I gently placed them into the bag and locked up the case again.
"Thanks Boss," I said, throwing the keys back to him with a nod.
"Not a problem O'Faolain," he chuckled. I turned to walk out of the door when my boss called out to me.
"Oh, O'Faolain, I'll see you on the graveyard shift tomorrow night," he said with a chuckle.
"I thought you said there was no catch?" I asked quietly.
"I lied," he said jokingly, doing his best impression of the 'I lied' meme face. My boss was only a few years older than I was and because of this we were both quite good friends and I knew that this was just him pulling a friendly joke on me.
"I'll get you back for this you know," I grinned.
"I'll be waiting Irishman," he said, pressing his palms together and tapping the tips of his fingers against each other before laughing evilly.
"You weirdo," I laughed as I walked out of the door, pulling on my motorcycle helmet and zipping up my leather jacket.
I chucked my helmet into the bucket again as I quickly ran into my living room to set up my new Wii. I tore open the packaging and set everything up. I mentally kicked myself for not having picked up a wireless sensor bar as I dicked around with the monumental amounts of grey wiring to connect it into my thirty two inch plasma screen TV. I calibrated the Wiimote with the console and selected the AV channel to display the game's footage and audio. I looked at the Wii's menu before inserting the Wii Sports Resort disk. I had to wait for tomorrow morning before I got Okami and I had to wait until three in the afternoon before I could play the game. So I put the Wii Sports Resort disc into the console and watched it slide in, the blue light glinting off the side of the reflective piece of plastic. I cringed violently as I heard an ear wrenching grinding noise from the Wii as, what I guessed, was the disc being scratched to hell. I popped the disc out and pulled it from the Wii before it was fully pushed out. I anxiously checked the disc for any signs of damage but I soon discovered that there wasn't so much as a fingerprint on the disc let alone a scratch visible to my eyes.
"What?" I asked quietly. After wondering what made the noise I put it down to the fact that it must've been the cooling fan inside the Wii getting used to turning, dust or something inside the gears, I didn't know. So I pushed the disc back into the Wii and allowed it to play, this time the normal whirring of the spinning disc coming from the console. I got the jingle from the start menu, watching the small cutscene that played on the Wii's start menu before selecting the start button and jumping into the game. It was when I came to the naming section of the game that I found something odd. The name that was already typed in was 'Naga no Orochi'. I pursed my lips for a second, thinking about where I'd heard that name before.
"Naga No Orochi?" I asked aloud before the name clicked with me. "Orochi is the monster from Okami... it's part of Japanese mythology." This was confusing as all hell to me. I left the Wii on before I grabbed my mobile phone from my pocket and dialled in my boss's number, listening to the short dial tone before I heard his voice on the other end of the call.
"Seamus, what's up man?" he asked casually.
"Were any of the Wii's in that case pre-owned by any chance?" I asked him, staring at the screen with a scrutinous expression.
"No, they were all brand new from the factory," he replied "Why, is there someone else's stuff on the one you picked?" I looked at the floor for a brief second, rubbing my suddenly tired eyes. I had a sudden urge to forgo telling him about the strange naming on the game, a feeling out of the blue to become secretive about this strange occurrence. With another second of silence I brushed the sudden feeling away and nodded as I spoke.
"There's another name on here for one of the games, not sure if it was programmed in but I'll just check the hard drive for any other memory crap," I answered.
"Right," he said with a muffled yawn, sounding tired despite it only being the early afternoon "Is that all you were calling about?"
"Yeah, that's it man," I answered, "Thanks." With that I hung up and exited out of the game, moving the Wiimote over to the saved data section of the menu and selecting it with a quick jab of the A button. As I waited for a brief second for the saved files to load up I adjusted my grip on the Wiimote, a sudden feeling of anxiety in my chest.
"What the hell is wrong with me all of a sudden?" I asked myself, taking a deep breath to try and relax a little. The save blocks loaded quickly and I noticed that there was nothing there. It suddenly occurred to me that that I was allowed to start Wii Sports Resort without being asked to select a created Mii, not even a default one. I checked through the Mii area for anything out of the ordinary before shrugging my shoulders. I picked up the box the game had come in before realizing it was outlined in gold coloring. There was a shiny golden sticker on the front which read One in a million game, extra items unlocked and special DLC Wii content inside!
"Well that explains it," I said to myself. The name in the game must've come from the bonus content that the game had given me. But that still didn't explain why it didn't ask me to make or use a Mii... I decided against worrying about it anymore and just got back into the game, having some time to burn before I would be able to go to bed and sleep. Despite the fact I didn't play with a Mii, the game presented me with a generic looking Mii with ruffled brown hair, black pants and a red shirt, you know, the default kid Mii. I played several of the game modes, burning away three hours before I ragequit the game. As I brought up the menu to quit the game I heard a voice ask me if I was sure about wanting to quit. I was sure it normally asked the player if they wanted to quit but the thing that struck me as odd was that the voice didn't sound like a human's or a Mii's usual squeaky voice. It was deep, rough and snarling. Several seconds passed as I listened to the voice speak, longer than the sentence should've let it mind you, before I realized that I recognized the tone of the voice. It was the same sound byte that was used in Okami whenever the eight headed dragon Orochi spoke.
"Ok... what in the fuck is up with this game?" I asked, setting the Wiimote down and walking over to the screen, placing my ears closer to the sound bar beneath the TV. Now that I was closer to the speakers I could hear that the voice had stopped reciting what was on the screen but was instead speaking in what I could only guess was Japanese. My suspicions were confirmed when a loud buzzing noise caused me to recoil in shock from the sound bar as Japanese text appeared above a timer that began to count down from ten. Since I had no knowledge of how to read what I guessed were the Kanji symbols I just assumed that the Wii had glitched out and switched the language of the system to Japanese. That this was now the time out countdown to something, closing the game automatically, I guessed? I turned the TV and the Wii off at the wall and looked at the clock on my wall. It was just now half six in the evening but it was still too early to go to bed.
"Ugh... I guess I can go out for a while," I sighed, going to the front door and grabbing my helmet after deciding to ride my motorcycle for a few hours.
It was the next day that I went into work Jaden had brought in his copy of Okami, trading it off when I handed him the ten pound note.
"Thanks mate," Jaden said, clapping me on the back.
"Ditto," I said, placing the game into my locker and pulling on my work shirt "Can't wait to get home and play it."
"You're gonna love it," Jaden promised me with a grin "Just make sure you read the manual before starting."
"I already know how to play the game Jaden," I said, giving him a very bemused look.
"Come on, just check it for a few minutes, there's some helpful stuff in it," he said, holding back a chuckle. After a suspicious look from me Jaden merely waved ambiguosly and ducked out of the employee locker room. I chuckled for a second before following after him and getting set up for the day. Despite the fact I was waiting all day to play the game it shot over really fast and before I knew it I was speeding down the M1 trying to get home as fast as possible without getting pulled over by a Bobby, or Roberta if it was a girl in the patrol car. I slammed my door key into the lock and twisted so fast it almost snapped off. I bolted into my living room, slinging my helmet onto the couch. I slid across the thick carpet on my knees, stopping just short of the TV, reaching behind the set of wooden drawers the TV sat on and flipping the plugs into the ON position. The TV flared to life and the Wii beeped as I turned it on. I opened the white Okami case and took out the disc.
After closely examining it to find it in not only mint condition but it had also been cleaned thoroughly. But one thing that ruined the mint condition of the game and case was the manual. I understood now why Jaden had asked me to read it, because he wanted me to look at his immature doodles on the picture of Amaterasu, the white wolf on the front cover of the box and the manual. He had given her a large pair of black ink, crossed googley eyes with a badly drawn tongue sticking out of her mouth. On her head sat a pirate hat with a wolf skull and crossbones on the flat face that looked extremely derpy. I had to admit, it did make me chuckle, appeasing my inner seven year old who still laughed whenever somebody said the word 'bum' in the playground in primary school. I put the manual back into the case and removed the Wii Sports Resort disc from the console. My eyes glanced down to the disc and I noticed something strange again. There was a small symbol, probably another Kanji symbol where the E rating should've been on the disc.
"Was that... there before?" I asked slowly, scratching the back of my head. I cast my mind back to looking at the disc for the first time but even my good memory couldn't picture it perfectly.
"Damn Aspergers," I said, cursing my 'gift' momentarily. I shrugged it off, pinning it down to a chance that the symbol replaced the rating because it was part of the one in a million prize thing. Even though my mind realistically knew it was something like that I still had a nervous feeling in the back of my mind, my childhood fear of the unknown kicking in again. I slowly pushed the Okami disc into the Wii and listened to it spin again. Suddenly, once again the loud grinding noise blared from inside the Wii. In a panicked fumble I ejected the disc and checked it for damage as I did with the Wii Sports Resorts disc, and just like the other disc there was no sign of visible damage to the reflective side of the disc. I gently tapped the Wii on each one of its sides before applying pressure in a pinch grip to the sides of it to make sure the sound wasn't caused by something being pressed against the fan or the motor-powered head that spun the disc inside the console. After I was satisfied it wasn't caused by pressure I reinserted the disc and picked up my Wiimote, taking a seat on the couch. I got to the game's title screen and I pressed the start button. I expected the game to jump straight into the opening cutscene where Susano draws the sword Tsukiyomi from the Moon Shrine but instead the game gave me an option to select a difficulty mode. This confused me as the version Chuggaa played didn't have a difficulty selection screen but it was set to a default level and never gave the player and option to change. The two modes were normal and accept failure.
"Accept failure?" I asked myself "That sounds like something out of Dark Souls..." I had always been a bitch when it came to games, preferring to breeze through them and play only for the story and entertainment rather than a challenge, so I naturally went to select the normal mode. My cursor hovered over the normal mode option but an involuntary muscle twitch in my right hand made the cursor jump down to the second difficulty just as my thumb hit the A button. As the option was selected an extremely loud roar from what I guessed was Orochi. The sudden jump from near inaudible background sounds to the deafening roar from the maxed out soundbar made me flinch slightly though not violently. My heart pounded as I settled down back down to play the game, the opening cutscene playing out as usual. That was, until it came to the scene where Susano drew the sword from the Moon Shine, releasing Orochi. The darkened figure was supposed to run away from Orochi but instead he jumped down off the garden-like area on the back of the serpent. He turned around slowly and dropped onto one knee, placing a thick forearm onto his knee and inclining his head. Then one of Orochi's heads turned to face the shadow man with its glowing red eyes, its dagger-like teeth a stained but glowing grey color as if stripped of all enamel from years of gnawing on bones.
"You have done well my disciple" a textbox said as it appeared, Orochi's voice sound byte playing out as it usually did. But instead of sounding computer generated and cartoony as it usually did, the voice was much more draconic, sounding like the low growl a lizard would make before roaring loudly enough to shatter glass.
"Wait... what the hell?" I asked the TV, my eyes locked onto the screen intently.
"Now, perform the blood sacrifice and free your Master from our bindings and allow us to finally destroy the Mother God!" Orochi bellowed, animated flecks of spit flying from the cavernous mouth of the head as it spoke. The shadowed man stood up and walked over to one of the eight pools that surrounded Orochi. He dropped to his knees in the empty pools, each of them later in the game were to be filled up with sake provided by Kushi, a female character in the story. But from the moment Orochi had spoken I knew what the man was going to do. He raised one wrist to his chest and gripped the hilt of Tsukiyomi, placing the ancient blade under his wrist and lashing it back with a vicious howl of agony. The blood that began to gush from his wrist kept to the cartoony style of the swirling water patterns in the game.
I had always believed that Okami's art style was beautiful no matter what was on screen but this... this was just wrong. The shadowed man's scream continued on for long moments as his cartoony, swirling blood began to fill up the shallow pool he stood in. The head above the pool the man stood in lifted its muzzle to the white moon and began to exhale a rusty colored orange smoke, once again keeping the cartoony style of swirls and bright colors. The man continued to wail in agony as he bled more than a single human body could contain, the small paths built into each pool allowed the seemingly infinite blood trail to flow through to the other pools. As the other seven pools began to fill themselves the remaining heads repeated the same action the first did, exhaling the rusty smoke for several long moments before the man suddenly fell silent with a pained gasp. He dropped into his own pool of blood before the heads snapped their jaws shut. There was a completely silent thirty seconds before the necks retracted several inches only to lash forward and roar furiously, almost loud enough to blow out the speakers of the sound bar under my TV. I sat there completely bewildered as the game played out this way. A part of me wanted to get a camera and record this whole thing but a sudden feeling told me not to, told me to remain sitting completely still and watch the rest of the cutscene. The feeling easily won over my stunned mind and I relaxed my body but kept the cursor on the screen, my arm fully extended as my joints locked into place. Orochi lowered one of its heads before looking at the direction where the sun would rise normally, its lips curling up into a powerful and furious snarl.
"Amaterasu!" the head screamed, the game giving emphasis to the scream by distorting the air around the head's mouth and having the ground around it shake. Before the cutscene faded to black Orochi's huge body began to shake, tearing itself away from the ground with four powerful, draconic legs with three inch long talons that were as black as obsidian, tipped with purple. The screen then returned to the starting village of the game, Kamiki Village, but it was being swarmed by many different typed of enemies such as every type of Imp as well as a few of the game's bosses, the Crimson Helm being the most noticeable of them all. But the character model looked different. It had been changed from its crimson armor to a mixture of black and purple. I knew from my little amount of knowledge of Japanese culture that the color purple was associated with death and in fact, the other bosses were also more violent looking and had the same color scheme as the Crimson Helm. As they walked forward the guardian spirit of Kamiki, Sakuya, hurried up to the small shrine where Amaterasu's stone form was kept. Sakuya normally gave a short speech to Amaterasu about needing her help before giving her her first Divine Instrument: Divine Retribution. But instead Sakuya screamed in terror before slamming down what appeared to be the last Divine Instrument obstainable in the game, the strongest weapon, which was Solar Flare.
I tried to convince myself that this had to be a glitch in the game, my evidence being that all of the animations for the boss monsters and the imps seemed to have been taken from already programmed cutscenes in the game. Maybe this was just a melting problem in the disc's inner layers, maybe the cleaning solution Jaden used on it caused lines of code to overlap inside the game as the burn layers may have crossed over. But then I realized that the beginning of the cutscene with Orochi and the shadowed man were never put into the game, not in a million years. Another urge to grab the camera I kept in my drawer shot through me but it was shot down by a new urge to unplug the Wii and burn it then and there. I wasn't going to burn it but I was going to turn this damn game off, I wasn't going to sit there and watch this anymore. I stood up and strode over to the Wii, my hand reaching down to jam in the power button when an acrid smell struck my nose and a painful flash scored through my head, making every nerve in my body jolt with pain. As my hand lashed out I knocked a stack of old gaming manuals I had kept from my childhood, that I kept under the TV, over onto the Wii, completely covering it. I tripped over the back of my foot and dropped heavily to the floor, slamming my head on the back of my couch. The initial impact didn't hurt but my brain suddenly lost focus as my eyes stung painfully.
"What... what the fuck?" I asked dreamily, my own voice sounding patchy and far away. I remained completely still for several long moments, my vision flashing brightly with nothing coming into focus. As the dizzy spell faded away I stood up and shook my head. I groaned in pain, the back of my head stinging slightly from where I had hit the wooden frame of the couch that was underneath the leather padding. I looked back at the game to see that the cutscene had frozen completely with the same Japanese symbol that was on the Wii Sports Resorts disc repeated several hundred times in a single text box. I shook my head and swiped the stack of papers off the Wii. I could no longer hear cooling fan whirring which meant that it had room to breathe now. After all, I didn't want the console overheating and burning my house down. I looked up at the clock and saw that it was almost time for me to start my graveyard shift at work.
"Eh, I've got time for a shower," I shrugged. After the weird crap I'd just seen I think I needed a glass of whiskey more than I needed a shower. And I had never wanted a drop of alcohol before in my life. I took a quick shower and got dressed into a black Jack Daniels T-Shirt, ironic I know, and a pair of dark blue turn up jeans with dark purple insides. I pulled on my leather jacket and got my helmet from off the couch, quickly getting down to my bike and driving to work.
I was handed the keys to the till by my boss who questioned me quickly about the Wii he let me have. I quickly explained to him that the Wii worked fine but the game Jaden sold me was glitched all to hell.
"Huh, that's kinda sucky," he said with a shrug. "Well you can just give him a kick in the balls next time you see him right?"
"Huh, yeah, I guess I can," I said with a nervous chuckle. My boss looked at me with a concerned expression, asking a quick question.
"You feeling alright Seamus?" he asked me. I looked down at the floor for a short second, debating whether to tell him about the cutscene with Orochi and the weird head rush I'd had after walking over to the Wii. But there was that feeling in the back of my head again, urging me not to tell him. Which I didn't, god knows why.
"No, I'm alright dude," I answered, "Just a little hungry, that's all." He looked at me for another second before shrugging, patting me on the back.
"Well just hold out for the next six hours until you're finished here before you get some food," he said with a grin "Or you can just eat your Convserse"
"Like hell," I said, genuinely laughing at the joke, "I paid sixty quid for these things dude."
"Then try not to pass out from a burning hunger," he chuckled before walking out of the store. As I saw him walk around the corner I sat down on the wooden stool behind the counter and waited for some customers to come into our twenty-four hour store. The first fifteen minutes that went by were nothing special but there was something eating away at me in the back of my mind. I was briefly distracted from my thoughts when I got a thick whiff of smoke in my nostrils.
"Ugh," I growled, trying not to breath in through my nose to avoid inhaling the smell "Is there somebody smoking on the roof or something?" I stood up and walked over to where the air vents were positioned and looked up at them, seeing small trails of cigarette smoke waft into the room. I squinted at the vent in disbelief for several seconds. There was actually somebody smoking up there! I walked out to the back of the store and stormed up the fire escape to get to the roof. I saw someone sitting down on top of the air vent with a white cigarette pinched between two, long nailed fingers. "Buddy, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to ask you to get off the roof," I said, trying to be as polite as I could. The figure didn't turn to me, instead he only flicked a piece of ash off his cigarette and into the air vents.
"Come on man, don't make me move you," I said, starting to grow irritated. It was when the figure threw the cigarette off the side of the roof and turned towards me that I realized I knew him. The cuff of his black sleeve was pulled up slightly, revealing a long, wire-thin scratch across the width of his wrist. His eyes were a dark orange with bright green pupils and he had a long knife in his hand, the blade jolting forward as it twitched in his grip.
"O'Faolain," he growled furiously "You know where the Mother God is... She'll come if I kill you." I opened my mouth to reason with the man, to say whatever I could to stop him from doing this but before I could utter a word he charged at me with a brutal scream, the same scream the shadowy figure in Okami had made upon slitting his wrist. In my days at school I had been known as a capable fighter and I had often had to defend Jaden from angered men during his drunken nights out at a pub, so I was no stranger to fighting. But I had never fought someone with a lethal weapon before and I had never fought someone who was trying to kill me and not just beat me up to humiliate me. So I was on a roof being attacked by a video game character with a knife, what the fuck was going on here? As the man was three feet away from me he lunged forward, his voice reaching a pitch of a screaming alarm, as his head slammed into my neck and his body weight brought us both to the ground. The wind was knocked out of me as his heavy weight landed on my stomach, my arms dropping to my sides limply. The moonlight caught on the blade of the knife, a black carbon steel Ka-Bar was what I could identify it as now. He brought it down towards my chest with another scream but I bashed his hand aside with the palm of my left hand. The man's knife narrowly missed my shoulder and created hot sparks on the stone roof as it made contact. I balled my right hand into a fist and delivered a powerful punch to the man's jaw, my right hook being a powerful punch that had given a kid a black eye with enough swelling to blind him for a few weeks. The hit was successful as the man was thrown off his balance for several seconds.
I continued my counter attack by locking my left hand around his throat and with a mighty push I was able to use the man's weight to push him to the floor while I was able to lift my chest up. I dragged my legs out from underneath him and pinned him down with my own weight. I balled up my right fist again and repeatedly punched him in several areas on his face. Two to the nose, three to the jaw and two of my most powerful punches to his temple. Within thirty seconds I had broken his nose, popped his jaw out of place and split the skin over his temple, blood coating his head and my fist. When I thought he was done I relaxed my grip around his neck. A big mistake. He rammed his right knee into my groin before head-butting me on the bridge of my nose. Lights popped in front of my eyes as I heard a crackling sound in my eardrums, sounding like bark peeling back off a tree. The man got onto his knees and slashed his knife wildly at me. The man's jaw hung loosely around his face, the skin stretched and cut into a gruesome looking grin, a hysterical laugh echoing from his broken jaw. His first few slashes missed me because of the distance we were from each other but his fourth swing I tried to catch but instead he merely slashed the palm of my hand open, blood catching on the blade and being flung into the night air by the arc of the swing. I swallowed down a scream of pain before swinging another right hook for him.
"You like having a Funny-mouth!?" I demanded furiously, "I'll be sure to write a funny joke on your fucking tombstone!" I know it was not the right time for me to be making one liners, especially when I was about to be stabbed by some inhuman maniac. I dived for him and grabbed hold of his right wrist, the hand he was holding the knife with, before grabbing the joint and wrenching it apart. The joint popped loudly out of place and the knife slipped out of his now useless hand. I had broken bones and hurt people in fights before in my life but I had never considered killing anyone before. But I knew in this fight I would have to put this fucker down before he cut me to ribbons. I grabbed the knife with my left hand, my weaker one sadly. I raised it over my head and brought it down in a stabbing motion but the man, still laughing hysterically brought his right arm up and caught my wrist on his forearm. The move I was thinking off pulling was either going to get me killed or was going to end this fight. I flicked my wrist in a downward angle and let go of the knife, my eyes locking onto it as I watched it flip over once and as soon as the hilt was facing me again I reached out with my right hand, closing my fingers around the wooden decorative designs before plunging the blade all the way into the chest of the laughing man. As the guard on the blade hit his flesh his eyes widened and his laughing dropped down to a fearful wheeze. I felt the blood from the initial stab splash back onto my hand and I fought back the urge to throw up all over the man in front of me.
"You... never... kill..." he said as bile and saliva began to spill out over his broken jaw "Master... Orochi..." With that the man's eyes glazed over and he dropped onto his back with the knife still in his chest. I stared at the blood on my hands, my left covered in my own and my right covered with his. My heart was pounding and I couldn't remember a time in my life where I'd felt more disgusted and disturbed than this. I slowly pushed myself up onto my feet, feeling too hot all over my body as an adrenaline fire burned through my veins. I went to grab my phone from my pocket, call the police or an ambulance or something when I heard a strange voice in my head.
"Sheimasu... you are in danger as long as you are away from your home," a female voice said "I can protect you if you return to your place of rest, Naga No Orochi can be defeated but only if we remain together." I had no idea if the voice was some psychotic illusion brought on by a panic attack or if this voice was linked into the guy that had just attacked me. I looked past my insanity and began to dial in 999 on my phone before I heard a colossal draconic roar.
"Orochi!?" I suddenly yelled, against my own will.
"Sheimasu, hurry!" the female voice begged me. "We are running out of time!" Whether or not I was hallucinating or going crazy I wasn't sticking around with a dead body near me. For some insane reason I grabbed the knife from the dead man's chest and pulled it out, wiping it clean on his clothes and tucking it into my belt. I raced down off the roof and jumped onto my bike, taking off through the streets to try and return home.
As I hit the brakes outside of my home I jumped off my bike and sprinted up through the building. Every time I turned my head I would see the same shadowy figure standing and calling out my name, screaming death threats at me at every turn. Without stopping to unlock my front door I shoulder charged it open, the lock splintering and the door swinging inwards with a colossal crash. I skidded to a halt before sprinting into the living room to see the same shadowy figure I had killed standing in front of the TV.
"Sheimasu," he snarled, reaching behind his back and retrieving another knife, this one being a large machete with Kanji symbols engraved on it.
"What the fuck are you?" I asked in a whimpering tone, a burning feeling of panic all around me. The figure charged towards me with another, alarm-like scream only to be tackled to the ground by a white figure with blazing colors all around it. I heard the man scream in pain, my eyes locking onto the wolf that was tearing his throat out.
"A...Amaterasu?" I asked in bewilderment. The white wolf turned to me, her bright eyes locked on me as she nodded her head. Despite being a wolf she was able to speak to me and she spoke in a clear and beautiful tone.
"Sheimasu, I am glad you have returned home," she said calmly. "If we remain strong and stay together we should be able to banish Orochi from this world." I grabbed hold of the sides of my head, a furious expression on my face as I began to burn up inside.
"Banish Orochi, remain strong... what the fuck is going on here?!" I screamed in rage "Why are you here, why did that guy back there try to kill me, how are you here in the real world?!" Amaterasu padded quickly over to me, appearing to want to speak before another deafening roar echoed from the TV. We both turned to see one of Orochi's heads placed flat against the screen, its red eyes glowing furiously.
"The blood of the Mother God... it shall be ours!" it roared. As it screamed once more an inky black smoke poured out of the TV and onto the white carpet.
"Sheimasu, get behind me!" Amaterasu yelled. Not wanting to argue with her I instinctively grabbed the Ka-Bar from my belt and held it tight enough to turn my knuckles white. Fear, confusion and anger welled up inside me as the smoke began to form a spectral version of Orochi. The serpent stood nine feet tall with its head having to duck to fit into the room without hitting the ceiling.
"Mother God!" Orochi snarled, "We have waited far too long for this day!" Amaterasu settled into a crouch, snarling loudly before pouncing at Orochi only to have another head slam into her and knock her into the wall. She yelped loudly before dropping to the floor but the head refused to allow her a moment to regain herself. It lashed out for her and clamped its enormous teeth down onto her right back leg, chewing deep into the muscle. Amaterasu screamed in agony as the serpent began to toy with her, each of its heads biting down hard on places that would cause her great pain but not kill her. I could clearly see the sick smiles on each of the heads of Orochi as it tasted the blood of the wolf goddess, gutteral growls in the back of their throats as the vital fluid seeped down their gullets.
"Get the fuck off her!" I roared, sheer stupidity overcoming me as I charged at Orochi with my knife in hand. One of the heads lunged towards me at rapid speed, a speed that I normally wouldn't have been able to avoid. It was only due to the extreme adrenaline rush I was experiencing that I was able to see and dodge the attack. I dropped down to my legs and slid across the carpet, dragging my knife across the unarmored throat of the serpent. As the three inch cut was made a torrent of black, wispy smoke once again resembling the art style of the game the beast had come from began to pour from the incision. Stupidly I inhaled most of the smoke in a sheer state of panic before Orochi raised up one of its talon tipped claws and brought it down into my ribs. It crushed through my rib cage and slowly began to burn through my skin, the smoke and smell of my own burning flesh filling my nose and lungs. I roared in pain as I felt the talons begin to slice through my insides. The strange thing was, that there was no blood coming from the gaping holes in my chest. My guess was that the burning talons were cauterizing the wound before it had any chance to bleed. I caught the heads of Orochi letting go of Amaterasu and all hang over me with red-tipped fangs.
"You stupid human!" Orochi roared in agony, "You will die for this!" I felt a twinge of terror fall over me before a bright and warm light caught my attention from the corner of my eye. I slowly turned my head to see Amaterasu charging up the power attack from the Solar Flare Divine Instrument she had on her back.
"Leave him alone!" she roared, unleashing the full power of the attack with a powerful front flip, the rainbow-colored light slamming into Orochi, burning through the smoke colored monster.
"Sheimasu!" Amaterasu yelled as she rushed over to me. She ignored the dying Orochi as she ran over to me, beginning to shake me roughly.
"Seamus!" she said, her voice changing for an unknown reason "Come on man, wake the fuck up!" It was when I felt a sharp contact with my face that the buzzing feeling in the back of my head disappeared. The scream of Orochi was replaced with a fire alarm, the pain in my carved chest was replaced with the stinging of burned flesh, the burning heat of adrenaline was replaced with the heat of the orange flames that covered my apartment and Amaterasu was replaced with Jaden, his face covered with black ash. He went to slap me again with a scorched hand before he saw my eyes opening slowly.
"Oh thank fuck, you're awake!" he yelled triumphantly. "Come on man, we need to get you out of here!" I coughed loudly as the smoke in my lungs affected my breathing ability.
"What happened...? Where..." I asked slowly before my lack of oxygen intake caused me to slowly drift in and out of consciousness. The last thing I heard was Jaden's voice screaming for help as I felt him lift me up and drag me out of my blazing apartment.
I woke up in a warm hospital bed god knows how long after my apartment had burned down. A team of doctors told me that Jaden had come over to visit me, to ask how funny I found the fact he had hacked Okami and if I wanted him to fix it for me, when he found my apartment on fire. The first thing I did upon hearing the news was ask where Jaden was. They told me that he was having a screening to make sure his hands were going to heal from the burns he had suffered while lifting a burning wooden beam that had fallen on me after I passed out. I tried to explain to the doctors that I didn't remember passing out and that I had gone to work after moving a few pieces of paper off my Wii. It was then one of the leading doctors explained to me that the fire department had defined the Wii and the stack of papers as the cause of the fire in the first place, explaining the the cooling fan had been blocked of air and it had overheated. This extra heat caused the papers to set alight and then the inferno began while I was lying passed out on the floor. The ash marks of the fire showed that I had been lying there even before the fire started and that I had not come back in to work having been knocked out by the beam of wood that had fallen from the ceiling. I asked how I had memories of being at work and this was when another doctor began to explain it to me.
He explained after finding the burned wreckage of the Wii they had found a small silver amulet in the shape of en eight headed dragon in the wiring of the Wii. They had tested my blood and had found a large concentration of a hallucinogenic toxin known as Datura Stratamonium or the 'Devil's Snare' in my bloodstream. They said that they believed that the amulet had been coated with the toxin that when it was heated by the Wii's circuitry it had evaporated off the amulet and I had inhaled it, causing me to begin to hallucinate all the events like going to work and, unbeknownst to them, the fight with the shadowy figure, Amaterasu saving me and Orochi attacking us. The doctors asked me if I had any questions about what had happened after that but I shook my head and they left me in the room with a young nurse. I turned my head and asked her how bad the damage to my body had been seeing as how I felt numb all over and I was unable to check my injuries due to my hospital clothing and bandages.
"You suffered second degree burns to your chest and hands with third degree burns to your left arm and right thigh," she answered. "We were able to treat the burns on your right arm without damaging your tattoo." At this point I raised an eyebrow.
"Tattoo?" I asked in confusion.
"Yes, the tattoo of the wolf on your right arm," she said with an unsure expression, "It's a very lovely piece of art." I furrowed my brow before raising my right arm out of the bed and rolling down my sleeve. I saw, as she had said, a tattoo of a wolf on my arm. From my shoulder to my elbow joint was a white wolf's tail with a black tip on it and from my elbow joint down to my hand was the body and the head. On my pinky and index fingers were the red tipped ears of the white wolf with the head of the wolf tattooed onto my palm, the red markings of Amaterasu tattooed in the same places it was on her model in the game. I allowed myself to smile at the tattoo, breathing a content sigh as I relaxed in the bed.
"Yeah, it is lovely isn't it?" I nodded.
It's been just over a year since the events of that night. I'm almost certain that I didn't hallucinate the whole thing with Orochi and Amaterasu. Some of it may have been dreamed up and some of it couldn't have been. It being real explains where I got the tattoo from doesn't it? I never got one in my memory so it must be some sort of reward for helping Ammy. Now I know some people call me crazy for believing that I helped a mystical wolf goddess defeat and spectral smoke serpent after killing a man on a roof with lizard eyes but I truly believe that something supernatural happened that night. If you're wondering how I'm coping after it I'm doing great. My body has healed completely, Jaden apologized for hacking my copy of Okami and I've decided to make a big decision in my life. I got the insurance for my apartment burning down and I decided to put the money into buying a house in the Japanese city of Nagasaki, where the arch dedicated to the Shinto religion is. Shintoism is the same religion that worships Amaterasu and it's still practiced today. So while I'm staying in a hotel in England I've hired a Japanese tutor to teach me everything I need to know language and culture-wise to survive and support myself in Japan once I move out there. I wouldn't exactly call myself a practicing believer of the Shinto religion but I know that I am going to be making regular visits to the Shinto shrines across Japan. Amaterasu saved my life that night and I'm going to make sure I show her I'm grateful for it. And right now, I've got a plane to catch. See you around.