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31 May 2009 @ 12:20 am
Laogai // Chapter 1 [Medicine Seller x Kayo]  
Title: Laogai
Pairing: Medicine Seller x Kayo
Fandom: Mononoke
Genre: Horror, Supernatural
Rating: PG
Summary: A curse is only what the cursed imagines it to be.




…all the world is just a watery mirror…
(and the people are only illusory ripples reflected)

Kayo has done something terrible. And so, she must be punished (for her own good) so not to offend society, so not to offend the gods (that was crucial).

You stupid girl!” the mistress cries, tossing and hissing, viral spit spewing from her vampiric mouth.

The girl cowers and then shoves. Forces her way through, into the rainy, muddied streets—not looking (regretting) back—she kicks her way through summer-misted crowds, the last of those still out (drenched) purchasing food. Kayo shoves her way past children and courtesans, past scions and scholars. Down, down, down she runs (never pausing, always towards the looming mountains).

At sunset, she stops and rests. Short of breath, rapid in beats (heart-wrenched and palpitating like mad): Kayo sits and calms herself. It was fine, she reasons, nothing bad. (It had only been a small, insignificant silver bracelet, which no one would, should, could, miss.)

—except for the mistress, and really, that had been the point all along—

Delicate and pretty, the silver glistened in her palms, cleansed by soul-rain and glowing from her warmth. Her head is crazy and dizzy, but still, she must continue on.

“I must.”

She must, she must.

(Lines carved in spongy silver chant along, an ill-gathered harmony, lisping and wispy.)

The rain does not stop, slams down in torrents (in slam-poetry that will be all-the-rage centuries later, Kayo does not know this). Still, she carries herself proudly and walks. The sky turns gray then black, inky and grotesque as cumulous clouds become accumulating arrows. Zip, they fly by. Kayo cranes her neck up to watch. And amazing!

“The sky is so beautiful tonight,” even though I wish for some place to stay.

Behold: miraculous, an inn slithers into view. Its brown and beige body curtained like inside a mirage-pillow. But it’s tangible, it’s real. Kayo sighs and rushes on, thinking she’s found sanctuary at last.

(Brutish guards inside seize her immediately. “But how did you know!” —This is the only inn miles around. Both ways, we checked.)

Kayo hangs her head and allows them to push her into a straw-littered room. Ready to depart bright and chirpy in the morning (sorry, no food for prisoners).She sighs and cries, wondering why—why, why, why­—she’s so unlucky. Why did she get caught, why did she just have to take the damn bracelet. (Because, really, it’s just a cheap knock-off.)


“I am going to loosen the rope, promise you won’t run away,” the fat guard said.

Kayo nods, happy to have the angry ties released, even though he was ugly and sour-smelling and liked to cough an awful lot.

“I’ll be good,” she answers, mocking.

“Oh, I’m not worried. There’s no place to run. And you don’t want to go up those mountains.”

“What’s in the mountains?”



They take her back to the town, miles behind, and thrust her—kneeling—in front of the haggard harridan. The mistress sucks on her pipe, blows out smoke-rings larger than platters. Perfectly symmetrical, they gyrate around her face, obscuring the yellow-tinged skin (making her look almost-pretty again).

“I don’t want her,” mistress shrieks.

“But she’s your servant,” guard protests.

“So? She stole from me. I don’t want a thief in the house! Toss her in jail.”

“She’s an orphan, and young. She didn’t know any better. Have mercy.”

“Screw you. Get her out of my sight.”

“Then where should I send her, you ugly hag?” (he’s becoming frustrated).

“I don’t know, don’t care, really,” puff goes the pipe.

And so, Kayo is locked in a shed, just for the night. (There are orders not to thrash her. The old guard has an unusual soft spot for young girls.) And in the morning, or the next day, week, etc., they’ll send her away.

“Don’t worry,” the guard begins, smiling sweetly—genuinely, “There’s a place for women like you, just at the base of the mountain. It’s real nice. Lots of food. You’ll have shelter, and you’ll be able to leave. Given a few years’ time and good behavior. All you need to do is work. Can you work?”

Kayo nods (no shit, idiot). “I’ve worked as a maid since I was ten. And I can sew, extremely well,” thinking maybe that line will help .

“Good,” disbelieving.

They pack her up in a wagon, cattle, the next day. Kayo bounces up and down and down and up the ride to the Village Below The Mountain. She plays with some words and phrases in her head, trying to come up with the most eloquent way of saying: hello, my name is, very hard worker.


“Thank you, oh thank you, Medicine Seller!”

The Medicine Seller nods slightly, refusing their vociferous flattery (drivel) but takes the meager coins. He is not a businessman. He is….even he does not know what.

“We are so grateful to you! So very grateful. That mononoke, you, oh, we cannot thank you enough.”

He leaves (amused). Humans will forever be interesting enigmas: they always lie and never learn. It has been a long, long day.

(Just ahead, he sees a village, by a mountain, by Nothing and Nowhere. He is satisfied.)


(Deleted comment)
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on May 31st, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks, BB. :)
SERIOUS FEMININE DERANGEMENTwoodburner on June 25th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
Just saw this on FF.net and realized I'd forgotten to comment on it here! Very intriguing, hope you continue!
Christy: hyouka ➙ hotaro orekirinhail on July 11th, 2012 11:41 am (UTC)
A very interesting start. Hope you decide to continue.