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Monogatari: The Tale of Castra

Part one of five.

NARRATOR

Flames engulf the Fountain Garden as Castra is on the floor holding onto her shoulder, blood streaking down her arm. Fenora kneels next to her, breathing hard. Their loose, thick trench coats are in tatters, soaked in blood, with dirt all over.


FENORA

Come on! Stand up.


CASTRA

I can't.


NARRATOR

Castra shakes her head. Her vision blurs in and out as Fenora looks down in thought.


FENORA

Then drag yourself through the gate, she won't be able to follow.


CASTRA

And what about you?


FENORA

I'll hold her off.


NARRATOR

A loud CRACK sounds in front of them. They look beyond the fountain. A beautiful piece of work where a maiden is on her knee with an arm outstretched almost in prayer. Beyond, a woman stands. The water spraying out of the statue's arm obscures the view. She wears a tainted white dress, a bloodstained rectangular great shield on her back that was clearly meant for someone far larger than her, and two broadswords in each hand. She walks towards Castra and Fenora.


FENORA

She's coming.


CASTRA

You need to run.


NARRATOR

The woman walks around the fountain. There are no eyes, only sockets, as black tears run down her cheeks. Her jaw dislocates, and her mouth stretches letting out a howl. Fenora stands and gets between Castra and the woman, holding a dagger. The bleeding on Castra's shoulder intensifies, and her breathing is like sandpaper on skin. It lifts both broadswords overhead, and covering the distance to Fenora, swings down. Fenora rolls to the side. The broadswords connect with the ground making the floor vibrate. She stands and turns to find it is already there, midswing. She blocks with her dagger, however it shatters and she is flung against the surrounding walls, knocking her unconscious.

Castra falls, while her vision blurs, as a figure walks in front of her, wearing a trench coat with a hood, holding a scythe. The figure launches towards the woman, and all goes black. 

Castra wakes up, sitting straight. Forearms up. Bandaged and shaking as a woman walks toward her from one side of the large room, lined with beds from wall to wall.


MAIDEN

Ah Castra, good to see you awake again.


CASTRA

Maiden?


NARRATOR

She is covered from head to toe in black and white. Only her face is exposed. A wrinkled face with a smile that is cracked into place. She sits on the bed with Castra.


MAIDEN

We were all worried about you.


CASTRA

How did I get...?


MAIDEN

Fenora carried you here.


CASTRA

Fenora?


MAIDEN

Yes. She told us everything.


CASTRA

Everything?


MAIDEN

Yes, about how you were attacked by the wolf beast, and how you protected her.


NARRATOR

She places her hand on Castra's cheek. Castra gives her a half smile.


MAIDEN

Such a brave girl.


CASTRA

Where is she?


MAIDEN

Oh, she's with her brother helping the younglings.


CASTRA

Oh.


MAIDEN

I'm glad you are back in one piece.


CASTRA

Maiden?


MAIDEN

Yes Castra?


NARRATOR

The door to the infirmary opens and the High Deacon walks in, draped in white. A solemn face with soft eyes that look into your soul.


HIGH DEACON

Ah, so the warrior is awake.


MAIDEN

Wonderful is it not?


HIGH DEACON

How are you feeling young one?


NARRATOR

Castra looks down and nods.


MAIDEN

Now, what were you going to ask?


CASTRA

Oh, it's nothing.


HIGH DEACON

Come now, if you have something you wish to ask, it is best to ask, than to not and regret it later.


MAIDEN

We are all family here.


NARRATOR

She hesitates for a moment.


CASTRA

Is everyone else?


HIGH DEACON

All three groups returned unharmed. The higher beings look down on us with favour.


MAIDEN

Indeed they do. That makes five travels in a row.


HIGH DEACON

So how are you feeling Castra dear?


CASTRA

I feel like I can move.


HIGH DEACON

Good, then feel free to go when you please.


MAIDEN

But High Deacon her wounds are–


HIGH DEACON

Are nothing we have not seen before, she is already in good spirits, let her leave instead of spending another night alone in this room.


MAIDEN

Yes, High Deacon.


HIGH DEACON

Continue to look after Fenora, and yourself.


CASTRA

Yes, High Deacon.


HIGH DEACON

Good, good, now run along.


NARRATOR

Castra nods reluctantly. Jumping off the bed, she walks towards the door.


HIGH DEACON

Oh Castra.


CASTRA

Yes?


HIGH DEACON

Have you yet made your decision?

(Pause)


HIGH DEACON

For your coming of age. You ARE eighteen next week.


NARRATOR

Castra forces a smile.


CASTRA

Almost.


HIGH DEACON

Good, good.


NARRATOR

Opening the door, Castra leaves, walking through the halls that are covered in mold, cracked floors, and stained windows. She opens the door at the end of the hallway. The sun brightens up the world around her, luscious greens, reds, and violets fill her vision. A group of children play while a handful of people watch over them. Fenora is sitting at the steps with her younger brother, Jaden, in front of her. He smiles and Fenora turns to Castra.


JADEN

Castra!


FENORA

You're awake.


CASTRA

Yes I am.


NARRATOR

Castra sits next to her and rubs Jaden's mop of hair.


CASTRA

Miss me?


JADEN

She did.


CASTRA

Oh? And what about you?


JADEN

I knew you'd be fine.


CASTRA

How's that?


JADEN

You always are.


CASTRA

Good to know someone believes in me.


JADEN

Of course.


FENORA

Go on then.


NARRATOR

He smiles and runs to play with the rest of the children. Fenora looks at her bandaged forearms.


CASTRA

Just a precaution.


FENORA

That's good.


NARRATOR

She looks at Fenora's forearms. Runes tattooed onto her skin from wrist to elbow glow bright blue.


CASTRA

I hate that about you.


NARRATOR

Fenora smiles as they then watch the children play.


CASTRA

You lied to them.


FENORA

Did I?


FENORA

You know what would happen if they knew.


CASTRA

I saw him.


FENORA

Garrol?


CASTRA

God no.


FENORA

He's been getting more aggressive lately.


CASTRA

Don't even.


FENORA

So, who did you see?


CASTRA

I saw the reaper.


FENORA

The reaper?


CASTRA

That's who saved us.


FENORA

The reaper's a ghost story.


CASTRA

A ghost story that saved the two of us.


NARRATOR

The door creaks behind them.


GARROL

Well, well, the sleeping princess is finally up.


NARRATOR

She rolls her eyes, ignoring him.


GARROL

Not even talking to me?


CASTRA

I'd prefer not to talk to you at all.


NARRATOR

Garrol sits next to Castra.


GARROL

Is that how you speak to your future mate?


CASTRA

You will never be with me.


GARROL

For now. I am eighteen soon, and I can have anything I want.


CASTRA

I am not a piece of meat for you to own.


GARROL

Yet.

(Pause)


GARROL

Want to join when the time comes? I'm sure I can satisfy you too.


NARRATOR

They stand and leave Garrol behind.

(Pause)


NARRATOR

At night, Fenora and Castra lay, holding each other. The room is a tiny cell with a door, four walls, a window, and a bed.


FENORA

You're running out of time.


CASTRA

I know.


FENORA

What're you going to do?


NARRATOR

Castra leans in and gently kisses her.


CASTRA

Do you trust me?


NARRATOR

Fenora nods.


CASTRA

Run away with me.

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Monogatari: The Tale of Castra
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