24iza_run: (ninja)
[personal profile] 24iza_run
Title: The Medium
Rating: R
Genre: AU, friendship, horror, angst
Characters: Sakurai, Aiba
Disclaimer: Slightly inspired from Fatal Frame. Only the plot is mine!
Summary: 10 years ago Sho was saved from a haunted spirit by the town's medium, Aiba. The two of them become best-friends-forever and always stick to each other after that until one day Sho was forced to stop from seeing his only friend. What Sho doesn't expect though is to find out that he might lose Aiba in the most saddening way. Now it's all up to him to let Final Ritual to be performed, or save Aiba and drag their town into its calamity.
Warning: Supernatural stuff and mentioned of human sacrifice.

Chapter 3


“I would never ever expect the rotation of fate is going to be this soon. Young man, do you know you are going to turn the effort of those previous Mediums into dust if you decide to meddle now?”

Sho feels Masaki’s sudden grip on his shoulder from behind by the priest’s words. When Masaki tells him to leave with a soft yet very firm voice, he realizes that how he is going to act after this moment will critically decide their life.

“There is no effort from the first place! People in this town actually leave them to no choice but be the living sacrifice no matter how young they are…or if they have a dream to achieve or not!”

Sho’s brave answer makes some of the ill-temper priests there almost lose their cool. They however have no chance to take any further action when the priest who Sho recognizes as the one who was called Sensei comes forward.

“The only dream a Medium is allowed to have is to protect the harmony and happiness of people who live in this town. They are the chosen one. They have obligation to live up to this Sacred Land’s reputation.”

“Stop with that nonsense already! Human should live with free will! You forced them to hold onto that dream that you guys are so obsessed with! It’s not their choice from the first place!”
“A Medium is not supposed to have any other desire than protecting this land from the first place. And we as the priests have to aid the Medium to stay focus on completing that mission only.”
“Says who?!”
“Fate.”

Sho grows angrier by the emotionless tone. It is unbelievable the old man can come up with such a conclusion about someone else’s life just as simple as that. He was about to open his mouth to against such a crazy ideology, but immediately got cut by the other one.

“I can see you are still immature and easily get offended if someone disagrees with your view. Talking with you will only lead to nothing. This topic is over.”

The old priest then turns to the others behind him and tells them to get prepare. Some of the priests immediately take their place along the entrance path by the order while the rest walk passes the two teenagers into the deeper side of the cave. As the dark space echoes with the priests’ prayer chanting, two young men slowly step out and approach the Sensei while carrying a blade and a rectangular wooden box which is now sealed with only one amulet paper across its cover. The sight of how the box shakes violently in the priest’s hands makes Masaki turns to panic as he grips onto Sho’s shoulder tighter.

“Sho, you really have to leave now. Those spirits are restless. You will get injured.”

The Medium however receives no response from his determine friend. His pleads was ignored for over and over again by the other one until he eventually loses his composure and starts to raise his voice.

“Sho! Your parents won’t be happy to lose you like this! You must leave now!”
“I’ve told you I’m not going to betray you! We are going to leave or die together!”
“You are not betraying me! I will feel even much better to know you are living safely outside! JUST GO!”
“AND JUST WATCHING YOU TO DIE ON THE SIDE WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING?! YOU’RE MY ONLY FRIEND FOR GOD’S SAKE!!!”
“You always can find someone to replace me outside, Sho! I am a Medium! In all honesty I don’t even deserve to experience something like friendship!”
“IF YOU TREASURE OUR 10 YEARS FRIENDSHIP DON’T YOU EVER DARE TO SAY THAT! I WON’T LEAVE! THAT’S IT!!!”

Masaki’s breathe hitches. His eyes turn to teary again by Sho’s words, but this time more due to fear with the awaiting consequences of his friend’s stubbornness. Why is this guy so headstrong? Why can’t he listen to him at least just for this very last time? Usually he will give up to Sho’s temper easily, but this won’t be one of that times. He can’t let his friend to die. Not in this way.

Gripping Sho’s shoulder hard for one last time, the already weak Medium then gathers the last bits of the energy he has.

“I’m sorry, Sho.”

Sho frowns by the sudden apologize.

“Priests! I beg you to grant my very last wish! Please take my friend away from here safely! Don’t let him see The Final Ritual!”

Giving no space for Sho to say a word, Masaki then pushes his friend hardly forward. Sho who falls onto the rough cave floor whimper both in pain and shock by it, but before he manages to turn to his friend behind two priests already come and drag him away. Their strength make Sho panicky try to break free as he watches his friend is now being approached by the elder priest, but to no avail. He curses, screams, and roars when his entire attempt to escape from the death grip fails until he notices Masaki is mouthing ‘Goodbye’ to him, his expression looks so serene from under the dim candles light. This full realization of their eternal parting gives Sho a sudden rush of desperation until he could pull himself away in one swing. Hurriedly, he rushes toward his friend in attempt to save the latter before one of the priests there suddenly grab him and gives him a very hard punch on face. The unexpected blow sends Sho to crash against the cave wall with his head.

“SHO!”

Not letting himself to be defeated by the pain, Sho forces himself to move away from the wall. His attention goes back immediately to Masaki due to the previous call and notices how the other one’s eyes already change into a worried one after witnessing the priest’s harshness. Just then the cave suddenly erupts with the head priest’s shout before Sho witnesses the wooden box has been opened and pushed onto Masaki’s chest roughly.

“LIVE AND SUFFER IN THIS SACRED BODY FOREVER, TORMENTED SOULS!”

There is a loud thud when Masaki falls on his back to the cave floor. Everyone there then watch how the Medium’ squirms desperately like he gets chocked by something before his body get thrown hardly aback by an invisible force, making the metal chain that was supposed to cuff him snaps from its place. The scene is both heartbreaking and terrifying as Sho have to witness his best friend falls hardly onto the rough surface and get dragged a few meters away until the friction finally stops. He can see Masaki tremble and gasp for air after all the pain he have to through what more with his current weak body, but the only thing Sho can do is to call out for him helplessly. As he is being dragged closer toward the cave entrance, his expression change into horror when notice the head priest already has the Sacred Blade in his hand.

“UNNEEDED SPIRITS SHOULDN’T EXIST IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE! YOU ARE THE THREATS FOR THE HUMAN BEING!!!”

Despite the extreme pain that his friend has to endure, Sho found Masaki still forces himself to get up though unable to stand straight any longer. Sho screams until the top of his lungs when see the priest swiftly runs toward his friend and ready to swing the sharp blade, but a hard slap to his face makes him whimper painfully. Later when he manages to gather his composure and look at Masaki again, he notices his friend already crying after witnessing the priests’ rough treatment to his friend. This makes a droplet of tears unconsciously fall from Sho’s eyes as well before he erupts with another scream to warn Masaki about the approaching priest who is just a few steps ahead – all ready to stab him using the Sacred Blade.

“DIE!”

Masaki let out a cough all of a sudden. He then suddenly clutches his chest before vomiting a huge amount of water. The sharp tip of the blade only gets to leave a long scratch on his backhand when he is suddenly being lifted high in the air while coughing more and more water from his mouth like he has been drowned in deep water. It is so obvious he is suffering when he unable to breath in any air as his body flinches endlessly like he is being beaten by something from inside – probably by the things that have been stuffed into him which now are trying hard to come out.

Seeing his already half-conscious friend gets hurt until having no energy left to cry out breaks Sho’s heart into pieces. Later he widens his eyes in fear when watches his friend’s slowly stops to struggle as both of his bruises arms fall weakly to the sides with water still dripping from his now colorless lips. Nothing can be heard inside the cave for a while until Sho and all the priests there is startled by Masaki’s painful wail. Things turn into chaos a second later when the teenager suddenly being thrown onto the cave wall by an incredible force like he is nothing but a lifeless ball, so powerful that Sho swears he can hear the loud thud has drowned the panic priests’ screams for once.

The shocking view sends the teenager still by instant. For a while he is too shock by everything that he has to witness there, but once seeing his friend is already lying motionless on the cave floor, everything suddenly snaps inside him. The fear of his friend’s current state changes his expression into a horrified one by instant.

“MASAKI!!!”

Pushing the priest away with all his might, Sho then runs toward his unconscious friend. He doesn’t care with their warns and screams for him to not get closer with the possessed body yet and just move as fast as his ankle let him without stopping to scream out for his friend. His breath already turns to uneven once he kneels beside his unconscious friend - everything he has read from the countless number of medical books before suddenly disappear from his head due to panic. He slaps lightly Masaki’s cold cheek when still receiving no response from the other one until he eventually notices that Masaki’s bloodshot eyes are actually on him already.

Yet this time he found no gentleness in those eyes. Everything is empty. Lifeless.

Revengeful.

“RUN FROM THERE!!!”

The warning is much too late. An evil smile already creeps on the Medium’s face when he suddenly reaches for Sho’s neck, surprising Sho who is totally unprepared. Seeing the possessed Medium is trying to strangle his best friend to death just like what has happened since the hundred years ago, the elder priest screams aloud immediately to stop the possessing spirit from harming the innocent teenager. He runs with all his might to Sho’s side and is ready to stab the Medium’s chest with the Sacred Blade when out of a sudden he gets stumbled aback by Sho’s strong push. Thinking that Sho is trying to protect his friend despite being in danger himself, the priest hurriedly shouts to the others to come and help him until Sho’s angry scream makes them stop in abrupt.

“I’VE TOLD YOU I’M FINE!!! JUST LISTEN FOR ONCE D*MN IT!!!”

Slightly breathless after screaming endlessly, Sho then shoots his dead glare to the priests who are now looking at him with shocked eyes. He has been screaming at those ignorant for a while already and yet all of them are still busy with their heartless plan to kill his friend. Once he sees that all the priests there realize about the actually weak hold around his neck, he finally turn to his already pale friend below, obviously worried. Veins are so visible on Masaki’s face and neck as the possessing spirit tries hard to strangle him to dead though to no avail since it seems Masaki’s body is already too weak to move due to extreme exhaustion and pain. Sho can hear the priests behind voice out their confusion by the unexpected turn out before he feels Masaki’s hands slowly move away from his neck. He catches his friend’s hands quickly before it fall to the ground as he watches Masaki’s eyes finally return to its original color. Seeing Masaki’s mouth moves weakly to murmur something, Sho immediately moves closer to listen better.

“Take that boy out of here! The devils are still in the Medium’s body!”

Almost straightaway Sho is being dragged out of there again. This time however the mad teenager fight the hold on his body back so violently until it takes more than 3 people to pull him out. He screams with all his might for his unconscious friend to wake up as he kicks everyone who is in his way, tears already fall heavily to his face when he notices that his friend remains unresponsive. His voice cracks when see the head priest is standing beside his friend and ready to lift the sacrificing blade high while chanting his pray. This is the point where Sho starts to lose hope until he falls immediately on his knees, still begging endlessly for the priests’ mercy. The only thing he can do is to close his eyes tightly when the elder finally swings his blade to Masaki’s chest, doesn’t want to witness the cruel scene where his friend will be stabbed to his own death. The thought of incoming bloody spluttering sound makes him grit his teeth as he continues to cry over his friend’s fate until something really unexpected happen.

For a while, there is no sound can be heard aside of the eerie blowing wind from outside. Sho can feel his heart is still beating hard against his chest as he finally forces himself to open his teary eyes when hear the question from the priest behind.

“What’s wrong, Master of Ceremony…?”

It feels like his heart finally functions again when see the blade stops just a few inches above Masaki’s body. That though is not for long when his face immediately turns to pale just like the other young priests there once sees there is actually a shadowy hand is holding the elder priest’s hand from behind.

Out of sudden, the candles there get lit off at once. Only Sho’s forgotten flickering flashlight on the cave floor becomes the light source for people in there as they watch a pale, drenched woman suddenly get up from Masaki’s body. One by one death spirits then crawl out of Masaki’s chest – giggling, crying, or glaring to everyone as they make their way to the now paralyze priest. It takes only one touch from them to make the priest erupts with torturous screams as they start to emerge into the old body through his mouth. The elder’s eyes open so wide due to the painful process until it makes some of the priests escape hurriedly due to fear of experiencing the same fate. Sho himself freak out when see the old man falls to the hard ground below while screaming put of pain endlessly. A realization immediately click into his mind though when feels the grip on his body already loosen up as he takes that very chance to pull himself away and run toward his unmoving friend. Thankfully the remaining priests there seem no longer bothered about him anymore when they hurriedly approach their elder instead who is now shrieking like a mad man.

“Masaki! Can you hear me?!”

Sho feels like air finally fill his lungs again when notices the faint movement on the other one’s chest. Quickly, he put down his bag to take out a rope before he carefully let Masaki’s weak body to lean on the wall. After make the latter to lean forward on his back and put Masaki’s arms over his shoulders, he ties their body together to secure his friend’s position so he can piggyback him easier. Despite knowing how risky his decision is in case there are still remaining spirits in Masaki’s body, he just tighten his hold determinedly around his friend’s thighs.

Sensei!”

A gruesome vomiting sound that comes from the other side of the cave startles him. His expression turns to horrify once see the possessed priest is now throwing up blood as he clutches painfully on his chest, his eyes open extremely wide as he gasp desperately for air. That sight however fails to bud a glimpse of sympathy inside him. After all compare to what Masaki actually had to through for all these past years for their town, what the priest is experiencing now is actually nothing. It is just a very small part of the real torment that his friend has to endure with for this entire time.

“Let’s go, Masaki.”

Tightening his hold, Sho then get up from the ground while carrying the unconscious Masaki on his back. He only manages to take one step ahead when the breathless priest suddenly speaks.

“Leave…and this-town…will-destroy.”

In the midst of his hard breathing, the priest unexpectedly still manages to throws his bloodshot warning look at him. This makes Sho to immediately turn to the older man and frown.

“The-Medium…must-die. The calamity-must…be-stopped.”

The teenager feels his rage boils almost immediately by the selfish order. Just how come this old man still can think about killing other people when he is about die himself? Sho however doesn’t get to open his mouth when what the elder says the very next send him still at once.

“E-veryone-will-die. Everyone…will-suffer. Your friends-family…parents. Is he-worth?”

There is a moment of silence in the cave for a while. Only sound of dripping blood that comes from the priest’s mouth fills the quiet place until it is covered by Sho’s heavy sigh. All the remaining priests there believe that the young man is having a second thought about his decision before Sho suddenly shoots his determined look at them.

“Yes.”

Leaving the shock and disbelieve priests behind, Sho then quickly storm out of the cave with Masaki. A loud warning can be heard from inside as Sho run with all his might through the dark forest while tightening his grip on Masaki’s legs. He can feel Masaki’s hard shivers when the night breeze hit their skin as he speedily dodges all the trees and bushes on their way, but he only can mutter his apologize since he can’t take the risk to slow down or they might get caught by the priests who probably are chasing after them. His childhood trauma also unexpectedly unresponsive with the environment this time no matter how eerie the sounds he catches since his thought is fully on Masaki’s condition.

Just then Sho hears some odd chirping, howling, and growls come from every part of the forest. All birds which are supposed to be sleeping on the tree branch a while ago suddenly fly to the direction where Sho is heading to like trying to escape from something. Soon, he gets startled by a terrifying scream comes from the cave which is getting further behind. More and more tormented screams break the silence of the dark night not very long after, followed by a long howl from every part of the town which sends a very strong goosebumps to his entire body. Explosion and cries get overlapped with each other by time that it makes Sho to grit his teeth hardly, feeling helpless than ever by the tormented sounds he hears.

This. This must be what Masaki meant with leaving the town will endangering their town.  He knows that in return of the Medium’s life the life of people in the town will be on stake, but he never thought it will be this horrible. Somehow he can see blood is spluttering everywhere, people are killing each other out of insanity, houses and shops are burnt down into ashes, and dead bodies are lying on the road until it makes his dizzy and nauseas.

A loud groan then suddenly erupts in the dark night not long after. Sho’s breathe hitches when feel a strong wave of wind gush from behind as if something is coming after them in a full speed. He tries to hasten his step, but caught himself on the tangled tree root below instead until he almost fall flat on his face to the ground if not because he manages to put his hands on the ground first. The fact that he is carrying someone on his back though doesn’t make the impact any less painful at all. The teenager tries to calm himself down by catching more air into his lungs as he slowly push himself up from the ground, but his fear and anxiousness only turn out to be doubled when he winces by a strong pain to his already injured ankle.

‘No. Don’t tell me it’s twisted. Not now.’

Clamping his lips hard together to prevent a yelp, Sho then uses his elbows to drag his ankle away from the root. His face scrunch in pain since every single movement feels like just breaking him apart even until he eventually succeeded to remove himself away. A teardrop already escapes his eye as he gasps desperately for air after the torturous process, his hands grasping for the dried leaves and dirt below in hope that it at least can ease the pain he feels. Every single thing is torturing him mercilessly – the town, his parents, his ancestors’ business, the ritual, the warning, the priests, people in the town’s smiling face –that it makes him feel like want to rip his head apart. Tears start to flow heavier down to his face as those thought keep on torturing his already close to insane brain. He drops his face to the ground when guilt begins to stab him over and over again.

Why? Why in the end there must be people who have to suffer? Why in the end there must be someone to die? Why can’t everyone just live happily without fear of hurting others? He feels sick. He feels so miserable for having to through all this mess and bearing the guilt and burdens of the consequences of his act. He can’t imagine how he is going to carry the guilt of his selfishness act for his entire life – the guilt of becoming the town’s destroyer and the reason of the dead of thousands of people who live in there.

Crumples everything in his grip, Sho no longer bothers to keep down his sobs. He grits his teeth hard when the pain is starting to get out of hand until he feels a hard shiver on his back. He let his tears to flow down freely as he tilts his head to his side, only to see Masaki’s serene expression on the top of his sloping shoulder. Seeing a teardrop is falling down from his unconscious friend’s eye makes him wonder if Masaki knows that he is crying right now and is feeling his pain as well. His sorrow expression though slowly disappear when remembers what Masaki has wrote on the last page of his journal.

“If it is for my friend’s good life, I will bet on my own death as return.”

Sho stills. He doesn’t have an impressive instinct like Masaki but deep inside, he somehow now gets the reason behind Masaki’s tears. It is indeed due to pain, but not because of the reason he thought previously.
Masaki is actually crying for becoming the reason of his pain.

“I…knew it… I’m glad… I can’t…hurt you…Sho…”

What Masaki has murmured to him in the cave previously makes Sho blinks away his tears. Does it mean that from the first place Masaki actually knows he is going to come for him? Then the reason why he let himself to be used by the priests until he is extremely exhausted is because he doesn’t want the possessing spirit to strangle him just in case he couldn’t able to control his emotions in the end? The realization of how far his friend is willing to do for him make Sho swallows down hard the lump in his throat.

There is a short moment of silence before Sho brings his gaze down and wipes his tears. The pain around his ankle hasn’t subsided yet, but he somehow manages to ignore it and take a deep breath. His body is shaking hardly in pain when he drags their body away, but it doesn’t stop him from forcing himself to keep on moving as he whispers to his friend, soft yet determinedly.

“Just don’t…give up, Masaki. We will…through this together.”

Yes, this is not supposed to be about him only. He forgot that his friend is actually the victim of the town’s cruel tradition.

Using the remaining power he has Sho inch by inch drag himself and Masaki away through the forest with only his hands and elbows. His breath hitches by the murdering pain he feels on his injured feet every time it glides against the bumpy ground but he keeps his stare to the front as he reaches for a big tangled root on their way to pull their body ahead. Both his body and face already dirty with mud in no time as he continues to crawl on the ground, but Sho minds nothing about it and just keep on reaching for anything that can drag them even when his hands already full with bloody cut due to the sharp and rough things he have touched.

By the time the sun rises on the horizon, he barely can feel his hands anymore as it starts to tremble due to both exhaustion and pain. His stomach and chest feel like burning since it has to glide against the rough ground while bearing another person’s weight on his back. Just then he hears sound of something snap before he feels Masaki is shifting away from his back. Only when seeing the latter has falling down to his side after he tries to make another movement ahead, Sho eventually notices about the broken rope on their body. This makes him to drop his gaze down to the ground immediately, taking his time to breathe in before dragging himself to a closest tree. He struggles for a few minutes to lean on it with his back before he finally pulls his friend and let the latter’s head to rest on his lap.

For a while after that the teenager just takes his time to calm down and even his breathe as he looks at the sky above. As beautiful as his surrounding looks right now with the sunrays entering the forest to liven up the green nature, he finds it so irony that it is saddening. Even after the calamity which actually happens last night, the new day somehow still looks very peaceful. The forest also seems a little bit lively than before with the sound of birds chirping or leaves rustling on the trees, completely contrast with the destiny of people in his town by now. Just imagining his parents’ current condition unconsciously brings the tears to his eyes that make him to look immediately at Masaki on his lap. The moment his tears fall together with the blood which is now flowing down from the latter’s nose, his stained with dirt and blood hand immediately touch the other one’s cheek to seek for any trace of warmth. The serene expression that his friend has though forces Sho to grit his teeth hard.

It is cold. Everything is cold.

“N-N…Not you too…”

His pouring tears begin to wet Masaki’s colorless face when he receives no response.  He already chocks with sobs as he moves his shivering hand to the motionless guy neck, trying to look for any sign of living before he rests his head on the latter’s crown. His body trembles hard as he cries everything out while shaking the other one on shoulders desperately, again and again though to no avail.

“D-Don’t die-on me, plea-se… I b-eg-you...”

Not even a faint breath can be heard. To this realization, Sho cringes and begs endlessly for his best friend to wake up. His voice starts to break as he repeating his pleads and hugs the other one tight in hope it can give the warmth that the latter needs. The pressure though is getting too hard for him to bear that it makes him nearly scream out his frustration if not because of a sudden sound of dried leaves crackling from nearby alarms him. Sho grows more anxious once realizing that the person is coming to his direction that makes him to pull his friend’s body closer to himself immediately. Things unfortunately just get even worse when he notices the person is actually a priest and already running toward them as soon as their presence has been noticed. By the time the man already kneeling in front of them, his hands already tremble with anger as he shoots his murdering glares just in case the man tries to harm them.

“Can you walk? Is he okay?”

The priest’s worried stare make him frowns. He protectively pulls Masaki closer when the man tries to touch Masaki’s skin, but instead of feel offended by his action, the priest just calls out for more help. Panic creep on Sho’s face at once when seeing more priests are coming to there later before he recognizes that there are paramedics and policemen are following behind. Confused, Sho just look at those people helplessly before let the paramedics to examine Masaki in his hold. His expression tense as he watches the paramedic does his job until the man eventually turn to him, making the tension he restrains for this entire time breaks as soon as the man gives him a look which only implies one thing.

The tears he has been holding back flow down freely as he cries everything out and leans his forehead on Masaki’s cold one.


-to be continued-



>When I came up with this story I actually planned to make the ending to be voted by the readers. But then I don't remember why I change my mind and it turns out like what you're going to see on the next chapter. I planned to make the readers to vote what is the 'answer' Sho will choose and the ending will be decided from there.
>At first there are actually 3 kind of endings - 1)Both of them die 2)Only Sho survive 3)Both of them survive. I will share with you briefly about what the other 2 endings are on the next one.
>Thank You SO much for reading! Comments, criticism for improvement and opinions are much loved!

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