Volume 4: Second Trial
Volume 4: Chapter 19: Oni Village
On the opposite side of Pishak Village, separated by the large body of water, was an Oni Village.
Oni was a race of demon shape shifters, able to take on a form of anyone they see at will. But in their base forms, they were mainly humanoids with a pair of horns upon their heads, and unlike the other demon types, they did not have any other extra features like wings, scales, or tails.
Simply put, they were considered closer to being humans than demons, but humans saw them as abominations due to their power, which is why they attacked them every chance they had.
This particular village of Oni lived here for one reason alone, out of loyalty.
A long time ago, when their ancestors had nowhere to go, they encountered a horned woman who resembled a black fox.
She led them to safety and protected them.
She guided them to this very land and told them that they shall prosper here.
After her noble deed was done, she was never seen again.
The tale of Lady Shadow Fox, as they came to call her, was passed down from one generation of Oni to the next. And as the years went by, the Lady Shadow Fox came to be worshipped akin to a deity, the protector of their village.
But as the years went by, many wars between demons and humans resulted in the very water that allowed them to prosper to turn poison, it became more and more clear that living here any longer would be the death of them.
Yet, the Oni refused to go. Many of their elders held on to their beliefs that the Lady Shadow Fox led their ancestors to this land for a reason, and they refused to abandon the land to which their sacred goddess had led them to.
Currently, the Oni Village had some visitors.
A group of demons, consisting of: a snow white fox demon named Akjan, a red haired eagle demon named Kizilkoz, lizard demons named Sukesir and Sirinke, a light blue haired frost wolf demon named Karli, and a peculiar looking green haired demon named Aijasyl, who looked almost human if it were not for her horns.
Of course, it was not a warm welcome, at least not at first.
When they stumbled upon their village, they were exhausted, out of mana, and some of them were even severely injured.
If they were humans, they surely would have been killed on the spot, but because they were demons, whom Oni viewed as their cousin species, they chose to aid them.
Akjan, in particular, was seen by many Oni with awe filled eyes, due to being a fox type demon. Her presence was one of the reasons Oni were not hostile to them, seeing the fox type demon as someone to be revered.
Many of the children in the village were eager to play with her and even showed her around the village. As for the others, the children were not so trusting, apparently.
Seeing that other Oni were looking at them with the exception of Akjan with eyes full of suspicion, the other five chose to not push their luck. But on the bright side, the village chief was very welcoming, allowing their injuries to be treated by the healers and even held a small feast.
Overall, they felt as though they have come upon a very nice place.
But Akjan, who was walking around the village, saw an entirely different picture.
Their crops were declining, many acres of land were used up and fading away.
Almost no animals were left to hunt, and while there were plenty of marine life within the water that surrounded the village, they could not use it since they were within Holy Water.
To make the matters worse, when it rained, it was still Holy Water.
Many Oni within the village have gotten sick due to it, and even more succumbed to death, the ever-increasing field of graves was a testament to that.
Starvation was common; Akjan was appalled at their generosity, even if they had only a few resources, they still chose to hold a small feast for them.
Akjan even witnessed an Oni be buried in the ground. It was a sad scene to say the least, with the children of this Oni crying non-stop as their father now was one with the soil.
Of course, Akjan was not walking alone.
A little girl, an Oni of about ten years of age, by the name of Lamina, was leading her way.
Then, she brought Akjan to their place of worship, a shrine of sorts.
There, upon the wall was a large picture of a woman that resembled a black fox.
Clearly it was a painting depicting a fox type demon.
“Jan-Jan, This is Lady Shadow Fox. Aside from the color, you look so much like her. We pray for her to give us a good harvest and keep us safe. And we thank her for leading us to this sacred land.”
She playfully referred to Akjan as Jan-Jan.
“But everything in this place is dying, Mina, surely she wouldn’t want this.”
Akjan returned the favor by calling her Mina.
“I know, Jan-Jan. But even if that is the case, our village shall go nowhere until the Lady Shadow Fox comes back and shows us the way. That is what others within the village pray for every day.”
“But that is ludicrous!”
“I know. I tried to tell them that, but not a single one would listen… After all, they tell me I am just a child who does not know any better. But living here is slowly driving our village to extinction. Jan-Jan, our village is dying”
“So until she comes, the Oni within the village shall not budge.”
“In that case, what if I were to become the Lady Shadow Fox?”
“Become her? What do you mean, Jan-Jan?”
“Well, Mina….By certain means, I can temporarily make myself look like her, at least how she is depicted in the painting. If it is just a matter of making the color of my fur change, then it should not be too much of a hassle.”
“Lady Shadow Fox is said to be able to fly. Can Jan-Jan also fly?”
“That…. might be difficult.”
Then they heard a sound of alarm.
When they exited the shrine devoted to the Lady Shadow Fox, they saw the cause of the alarm.
Four demons, three of whom were familiar.
It was Shaula, Lowa, and Gema, and a demon who Akjan could tell was a lion type demon, leaning upon Shaula for support.
“Don’t worry, Mina, they are with me.” Akjan said with an awkward smile.
“Really? They are Jan-Jan’s friends?”
“Yep, at least most of them are….He he he…”