From Me To You @nezukana
The Butterfly's Gift To Her

Shinobu opened a cabinet, grabbing stopped containers—the glass completely opaque—leaving the contents inside a mystery to onlookers (or for those who do not read the labels attached to the bottles).

Demon Matter (varying sample sizes), labeled one container.

Her experiments have been coming along nicely—the wisteria poison mixtures had paralyzed and degraded demon cells in record time. Now she was to proceed to the next phase of her new poison’s development: killing demons with power just shy of the 5th lowest ranking Moon.

Her experiments have been coming along nicely—the wisteria poison mixtures had paralyzed and degraded demon cells in record time. Now she was to proceed to the next phase of her new poison’s development: killing demons with power just shy of the 5th lowest ranking Moon.

She was lucky to have found so much material to work from Natagumo Mountain—the webs and string remains created by the Lower Five’s little clan reacting similarly to the poisons, just as effectively as testing them against actual demons—it gave Shinobu perfect material to test her new prototype poisons on, and possibly derive new killing solutions from as well.

Test #1 — 50mg of Prototype A, Sample A

She heard three soft knocks on the door behind her as she put down her writing utensil.

“Come in.” She called over her shoulder quickly, before injecting the poison into the sample. The demon matter quivered, slightly hissing as red spots grew over the matter. Then it stopped; and the spots shrunk and shrunk until the matter looked as if it was never touched.

Shinobu clicked her tongue. How disappointing.

And she had high hopes for it, too.

The demon matter hardly reacted, and the prototype poison was already fairly potent. This was only against a small part of the sample as well; it could never defeat an entire demon from the Twelve Moons.

She would never be able to kill him if this was the result of all her research— 

Stop it. Shinobu took a deep breath. It won’t do me any good to be negative about this.

I’ll just try again. And again. However many times it takes until that bastard is gone from this world forever.

But first… 

“Sorry for keeping you waiting, Kanao.” She smiled as she faced her successor. “Did you need anything?”

Kanao avoided her eyes, as she shifted her weight from side to side. “...Yes.”

Shinobu gestured to her to go on.

“I was wondering—if it’s okay with you, of course—if I could give Kamado one of my hair pins?” Kanao trailed off.

“You know you can do whatever you like with your accessories; they are yours after all—”

“No no, I mean,” Kanao interrupted her, “can I give her one of sister’s?”

Kanae’s? This is oddly specific… 

“Why do you ask?”

Kanao fidgeted with the hem of her skirt. “During training the other day, Kamado said she liked my hair pin, and I thought she would like to have one of her own, but I know how special sister’s hair pins are, and I wanted to ask first...”

The more Shinobu watched Kanao fumble over her words, or accidentally smile or blush while talking about Kamado, the more certain she was that she knew exactly what this was about.

Whether or not Kanao wanted her to know, or was even aware of it herself, was a different story entirely. So Shinobu did not mention it.

“You can give Kamado the pin; I don’t mind.”

Shinobu thought that was the end of it, but Kanao piped up again just as she was about to clean up the previous experiment.

“Actually, could you… give the pin to her? But, don’t tell her it was from me.”

Shinobu hummed. “Okay.”

Kanao smiled, gave Shinobu the hair pin that was hidden underneath her cloak, muttered a small ‘thank you,’ and shuffled out of her study.

Shinobu traced her finger over the insect wing pattern of her sister’s hair pin.

Looks like I’m going to have a little chat with Kamado later.

~

Now, where could she be? Shinobu wondered as she quietly closed the door to the ward. While the boar mask and blond kid was here, Kamado wasn’t. She also already checked the room the demon was staying in; the demon was fast asleep as always, yet his sister was still nowhere in sight.

She walked outside, the crickets chirping into the night as she glided over the grounds. There, she heard it—the crumbling sounds from bits of debris up above—and hopped on to the roof top.

Found you.

The girl was meditating—or attempting to meditate; her constant fidgeting made it difficult to tell—and it didn’t appear to be working as well as it should.

She sat down next to her. “Nobody said mastering Total Concentration Breathing was going to be easy.”

Shinobu smiled as Kamado jumped.

“You really scared me there,” Kamado said, after she righted herself. “How did you do that? I didn’t even hear you.”

“Years and years of training.” Shinobu answered. “Perfecting a sword fighting style that relies on pure speed and the element of surprise would also teach you to avoid making unnecessary noise that would give away your position. That’s how.”

“Oh, I guess that makes sense.” Kamado twirled a strand of her hair with her finger. “Anyways, did you need me for anything?”

“Yes, I do.” Shinobu revealed the butterfly pin from where it was hidden in her sleeve, and handed it to her.

Kamado inspected it. “Wait, isn’t this Kanao’s?”

Shinobu hummed. 

Maybe so, Kamado. But I can’t tell you that.

“It belonged to the former Flower Pillar, Kanae; she was my older sister.”

“Oh, can you tell me more about her?”

Shinobu looked up at the night sky, and closed her eyes. “Kanae was wonderful. She was always so nice and compassionate to everyone around her; her love even extended to demons, believing they still had humanity inside of them despite their wrongdoings. She hated having to kill them, saying it broke her heart every time she was forced to lop off their heads, but she understood it was necessary so more people do not suffer.”

“She sounds really nice.” Kamado said, “you said she was the former Flower Pillar. What happened to her?”

[space]

The sun was rising, its rays illuminating the landscape and Kanae’s haori, ripped and stained with blood, as Shinobu cradled her sister’s head to her chest. Her body shook with her sobs—tears streaming down her cheeks and soaking her beloved sister’s hair—as the last biological tie with her family choked on her own blood, the life in her kind eyes dimming. 

No, please don’t leave me! Please…you are all I have left...

[space]

Shinobu sighed. “Despite what she may have thought about demons, they did not feel the same. She was killed by one of the very beings she pitied.”

And oh, how she hated them for it.

Kamado casted her eyes down. “I’m so sorry...”

“Don’t be.” Shinobu said, “you know, she believed that humans and demons could coexist peacefully. I always thought it was impossible—an unrealistic dream—until I met you and your brother. I believe you two can fulfill my sister’s dream more than I ever could.”

Shinobu stood up. “If you ever feel doubtful in your journey, remember the pin. The spirit of my sister will always be there to support you.”

Before she fled back inside, Kamado stopped her. “Before you go, um...” Kamado bit her lip, before she shook her head. “Ah, never mind, sorry. I hope you have a nice night!”

Hmm...

“Alright then. Don’t stay up too late.” Shinobu leaped off the roof and dashed back into the estate. 

~

Shinobu hung up her haori and rolled up her sleeves, preparing another experiment.

Test #25 — 50mg of Prototype AB, Sample AB

As she set down her writing utensil, she glanced at her bare forearms—the skin was unblemished and perfect—and an idea came to the forefront of her mind.

Poison AB was doing a marvelous job on its own, completely eradicating the demon samples in the previous tests, but 50 milligrams of it may not be enough against stronger demons. 

In other words, a Plan B may be needed.

She hastily scribbled out the previous entry, and wrote a new one underneath.

Test #1 — 10mg of Prototype AB, Subject KS 

She relaxed her left arm, and...

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