“Instructor Sejanes tells me you believe your people are in danger,” Selenay said levelly. “If the Circle concurs, then this conversation never happened.”
Yamagata grimaced. “I am… unsure where to start.”
“Perhaps a story.” Kenshin slipped Yahiko a wink. “After all, one knows someone is behind on their history lessons.”
“Oh, man…” Yahiko glanced around the room for any overlooked way out. “Is this one gonna put me to sleep again?”
“One hopes not.” Kenshin’s smile smoothed into seriousness. “It is said that long and long ago, centuries before the Eastern Empire ever met Chi’in, something tore magic asunder. Perhaps it was your Cataclysm. Perhaps a mage who dared too far, and risked too much. No one knows for sure. What is known is that the Isles, that had been a place of life so rich and wondrous we knew the gods themselves chose to dwell there, were twisted, and tainted, and laid waste. Summer became winter, innocent beasts warped into killers, humans who wandered lost vanished – or returned, to slay and feast on kin as even mad dogs do not. And every night, demons walked the land, sometimes taking human form to enter fortresses by guile, sometimes merely stooping on those unfortunate enough to be without walls, killing and feeding as they would.
“For seven years, it is said, our clans endured. But every season the deaths grew more common; every dawn, hope faded more.
“Yet there was hope. Our leaders of war and spirit had found the demons differed. That they were at war; between the oni, who had bound themselves in flesh and could remain in this world in day or night, and the akuma, the evils that rode the wind, who must hide from Amaterasu’s mirror and only took shape in darkness. More, they had found there was a source to both these demons; a hole between this world and the Abyss that might yet be sealed. If there was strength enough. If.
“But alone, we did not have that strength.”
Selenay’s chin lifted. “So you called on your gods.”
“We were not dead yet, Selenay-dono,” Kenshin said dryly. “Though as my shishou told the tale, we did ask for advice.”