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Mouikkai Musume Mohitotsu
After weeks of strange dreams about another life, Madoka has a series of encounters with supernatural beings that will change his life.
Author(s): Rellawing | Editor(s): Trismegistus Shandy | 3 Warnings!
Content Keywords | Status: Completed | To Disqus!
MyReviews: 1
Madoka experiences a setback due to Yoshimaru's further relentless attacks. Kami-sama takes measure of her resolution!

Chapter Twenty Eight : The Girl Who Fell
Posted: 2019-01-02 08:20:57 | Updated: 2019-01-02 08:20:57
Words: 7024

An enormous oni mask lunges in the darkness to devour a naked and weakened Madoka.

It’s all in your mind, Goshujinsama! Don’t let him win! Ippei yells.

Fight on, Goshujinsama! Kanna chimes in. It’s scary, but you can do it!

Madoka!!! Aoi screams.

The jaws of the oni mask close on Madoka. Something… tearing away… Madoka cries.

Madoka wakes with a shrill yell.

“M-Madoka… you’re awake!” Madoka hears Kozuke’s voice. “What has happened to you?”

Madoka opens her eyes and moans as tears pour from her eyes.

“Are you not well, Madoka?” Kozuke asks, and Madoka feels a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“N-no… I’m not well at all… I dreamed… that evil bastard won’t leave me alone! Every time I take a step back, he’s there to destroy it all! What am I going to do?” Madoka gasps.

“You need to destroy him,” Kozuke murmurs. “That’s your charge, Madoka. That is what Kami desires. Put an end to your enemy. Our enemy. He is fixated on you.”

Suddenly the door to the room opens. “Wow, Madoka-chan! I thought I heard a yell before I came in, and oh! Where is she?” Riri asks.

Madoka blinks, crying. She looks towards Riri and sniffles. “I-I’m here, Riri-chan… I’m sorry!”

Riri gapes and stares for a long moment. “First, you were wielding amazing powers I’ve never seen outside fantasy, but now you’re a man?” she yelps.

Madoka stares back and her own jaw drops. “A man?” she asks, and looks down to see that her body is back to the male form she was born with. Now that she thinks about it, the clothes are tight in places. She winces. “Oh no… what has he done to me?” Madoka yells.

“It’s how you were before Kami touched you, Madoka. The oni attacked you in a weak moment. He leeched some of your essence.” Kozuke takes Madoka’s head in his hands and seems to focus. “Your power slumbers again. Perhaps it’s self-defense. You have been divested of Kami’s blessing.”

Kami’s blessing? What is going on here?” Riri gasps. “Things here seem really complex now… oh, no… what am I going to do… as a girl you could stay here, but now if you’re really a man, it won’t work. You were always a man? I can’t… I couldn’t have imagined it!”

“It’s fine. We need to train again. It’s not impossible to recover. Trials strengthen you. Nothing is easy, Madoka.” Kozuke sighs.

“Train? What’s the point now? It feels like it’s all gone now!” Madoka sobs as she takes refuge under Riri’s pillow.

“Madoka has to fight monsters? That’s what she… he has to do?” Riri asks. She sits down on the bed and places a gentle hand on Madoka.

“It’s her fate. Don’t forget that the true Madoka is the girl you met. It’s her soul. She can regain it. I have faith in you, Madoka!” Kozuke murmurs.

Aoi, Kanna, Eiji, Ippei! Are you there? Did he hurt you? Madoka consults the emptiness within her. No response echoes out.

Why does he always do this to me? Where did you all go when we’re ready to fight and dance? How can he so easily destroy me?

“What’s the point even if he can do this to me any time he wants? Power? This is power? What kind of real power is this?” Madoka cries.

“Power is not given. It’s found within. You have a great deal of power.” Kozuke sighs.

“There’s someone… is it the one that burned your home? Is that the one who did this to you?” Riri asks with intuition. “Why are you having to fight someone who can do things like this? You were given power? By who? Who’s making you fight, Madoka?”

“K-Kami-sama…” Madoka gasps, gritting his teeth.

“N-no… that’s cruel!” Riri gasps.

“No. Kami is not cruel. Kami looks after those who fight and work hard. Kami rewards determination,” Kozuke sighs. “Don’t speak unkindly of Kami.”

“What kind of wonderful Kami would subject someone to this? Kami-sama, please save Madoka!” Riri cries out. There is no response.

“I will see Kami and consult with her to discuss our next steps. Relax for a time, Madoka, but stay strong.” Kozuke pats Madoka’s shoulder.

Madoka opens her eyes and uncovers her head and looks up to Kozuke. “Can Kami fix this?”

“I don’t doubt it. Don’t you doubt it either, Madoka. We’ll fix this,” Kozuke murmurs as he turns towards the window. “I’ll see you again soon.”

“But wait, Kozuke-san! A boy Madoka can’t stay here! There will be a scandal!” Riri yelps.

“I can’t do much about that. Madoka will have to find a way out. Or hide for a while. Perhaps you can sneak out at night?”

“It’s impossible!” Riri gasps. “There’s no way out except the front door or emergency exits. If we go that way, the alarms will sound! Out the front door, the guards are here. They’ll see Madoka this way! There are cameras in the lobby too!” Riri yelps.

“I’ll try to think of a way to get Madoka out. She’s lost much of her strength. She probably can’t jump down out from the window.” Kozuke frowns. “Perhaps you can ask for John’s assistance?”

“No… that would not work. They’re all paid to report on situations like this. That’s why I cleared you with Ran-san!” Riri sighs.

“Kozuke, what will I do? I’m wearing…” Madoka gasps, examining himself. She notices that she’s wearing a cute pajama set. It’s purple with lacy frills. Those big breasts are gone now… the top is so baggy, and it’s kind of tight in places. The bottom feels like it will fall off. They’re cute shorts with frills!

“Yes… I borrowed it from a friend for you. We weren’t sure how long you’d be sleeping, Madoka. Hush… don’t speak too loudly…” Riri gasps, whispering in her ear.

“Just hide for now. I’ll find something for you,” Kozuke says. “And we’ll find a way to get you out. I doubt they’ll stop me from leaving if they know me now. I’ll see you soon!” He steps to the door and opens it and steps out.

“N-no… don’t leave me in this situation!” Madoka yelps, and lays back frustratedly.

Riri takes a deep breath. “Well, are you hungry, Madoka?” she asks. “I’ll see if I can get something from the kitchen. It’s not unusual for girls to eat in their rooms.”

“Riri-chan!” a voice exclaims as her door slams open. Riri gasps and throws the blankets over Madoka’s head quickly. “Riri-chan! Did she wake up yet? We’re going for the barbeque soon!”

“How is your friend, Riko-chan?” another voice chimes in. Madoka bites her lip and her eyes widen enormously.

“Unfortunately, she still isn’t well,” Riri responds, laughing as she stands quickly.

“Is she still unconscious? Oh, that’s a shame!” another girl chimes in. “Have you tried shaking her awake?”

The first sighs. “Awww… it was a great idea. We can wait to go until she wakes up!”

“Awww… but I was looking forward to barbecue… please, can’t we go? We can go again when the girl wakes up, right?” the second suggests.

“You should definitely go. All of you. I have cramps. I’ll stay and look after my friend… why don’t you all go and have fun?” Riri counters.

“But without Riri-sama it won’t be the same. She’s our leader!” a third chimes in.

“She looked really cute when we saw her down in the foyer with that butler,” a fourth states. “Hugging her to his chest. What kind of a girl with a butler needs to stay with a friend? Is it domestic violence? Is that why she’s unconscious? Was it a problem with a fiance? Promising your children is outdated, but some families still do it. It’s really sad.”

Madoka gasps and shakes.

“Can I see her? We brought her some extra clothes we thought might fit her,” the third voice asks. “You know, that’s a wonderful point, Hina-chan, and so sad! I hope it’s not true!”

The fourth voice, Hina, sighs. “It’d be a shame! Violence is inexcusable!”

“No, girls… she’s alright. She’s having issues with her parents,” Riri says softly.

That’s accurate… Madoka sniffles quietly.

“Did I hear her make a noise? Is she going to wake up soon?” the first asks.

The second girl speaks again. “If she was she could come have bar-be-cue!” she sings.

“Neither of us are in the mood right now, and she’s still sleeping. Maybe tomorrow or another day. I think Madoka may not be here for a long time, but she’ll be grateful to find the wonderful clothes you’ve brought for her.

Madoka hears a box drop to the floor.

“Does something smell kind of like a guy…” the fourth asks.

“Kozuke-san has been looking after her. What kind of a smell are you talking about? Kozuke-san doesn’t smell strangely. Maybe a little like wet fur.” Riri laughs.

Kami.” Kozuke bows low.

“Kozuke. I know why you’ve come,” Kami states. “Honestly, I’m at a loss for what to do about the Madoka situation. Her willpower must be running low after Yoshimaru’s assaults.”

“And you know that Madoka has reverted to her male form?” Kozuke inquires.

“Yes, I know. Yoshimaru has been aiming to weaken Madoka. He’s feasting on dribbles of her spiritual power, but this blow he has delivered has rendered her incapable of fighting.”

“We need to protect her better, Kami-sama! He’s gaining strength. He’s able to attack her even in her dreams.” Kozuke sighs.

“Even in her dreams, yes. Many souls are connected to Madoka. It leaves her both weakened and empowered. She will need to learn how to protect herself. If she attains true strength, he may not be able to come after her even in her sleep.” Kami sighs. “The time has come, Kozuke. I fear we must throw her from a proverbial cliff. No, she must climb it. If she wants the power to fight, she must prove her determination. She must cleanse herself.”

Ah, it’s cold… the miko shivers.

A priest shakes a ōnusa over her head. They stand in the ocean, ankle deep. Her hakama pants are tied high up on her thighs to keep them dry, and the priest has similarly tied his. The miko stands with her head bowed, her hands clasped.

It’s the winter and the sea is icy. We’re doing this ceremony now, but the ocean is holy. Kami-sama, please bless me! she devoutly prays as she shivers.

After a long while, she ceases to hear the crackling noises of the ōnusa waving over her head. She bows and stands quietly for a long period in the frigid wintry ocean.

“They’re gone…” Riri sighs. “I think they went to eat… but I don’t think we can sneak you out even if most of them are gone eating barbecue.”

Madoka throws off Riri’s sheet and blanket as she gasps. “Finally…” she yelps quietly. She jumps to her feet and sighs as she paces.

“What are we going to do?” Riri gasps. “There aren’t any boy’s clothes here… I could ask John to take me shopping. It’s not unusual for girls to buy boy’s clothes for themselves or friends.” Riri giggles.

“If you can do that, that would be great… but I don’t know how I’ll get out now.” Madoka walks over to the window and unfastens the latch on it. She pushes it open and winces. “We’re a few floors above the ground… but I’m wearing frilly pajama. I used to be able to jump far better than any normal person.”

“I remember it!” Riri laughs as she walks over. “You jumped onto a roof in a fit of rage… I saw that. I was stunned by it!” Riri laughs ruefully then. “You know, Madoka-chan… if you can jump like that still… you would look like some kind of a pervert… but get away from the window for now. Wait until night if you try it. If you broke your neck jumping from a window in those clothes, you would make the headlines.”

“I probably would.” Madoka rolls her eyes. “Well, at least like this I can use my muscles to pummel that scumbag oni!” Madoka growls. “Not that I’ve ever been particularly muscular… but aren’t guys stronger than girls?”

“Stronger?” Riri asks, as she laughs. “Guys are stronger, really? Oh sure, they have more natural muscularity, but female athletes are pretty amazing. But you have much more going for you, Madoka-chan. What athletic man can routinely jump up onto a shrine rooftop to do battle with an oni?”

“I-I guess you’re right. I felt weaker in some ways, but stronger in other ways… and honestly…” Now that I’m back in this body, it feels all wrong. It’s what I was born with, and who I was for my whole life, but could a week as a girl change my heart so much?

No voices reply to Madoka’s thoughts.

“What, Madoka-chan?” Riri asks.

“I-I’m back to normal, but I’m not happy. I have to know that I’m able to fight still, even if this has happened to me.”

“Why don’t you hide? Run away? He’s already taken so much from you. He may cripple you next or outright kill you. Aren’t you afraid? When a psychotic stalker is after you… I can’t imagine that… someone will suddenly attack you out of the blue for reasons you don’t understand. It frightens you. It’s like if you can’t be theirs, you’re better off dead.” Riri sniffles.

“That sounds terrifying… and it’s not unlike my situation, Riri-chan.” Madoka sighs and impulsively hugs Riri.

Riri yelps and blushes. “No! Not in front of a window! If photographers are lurking… no!” Riri cries out and squirms out of Madoka’s tight hug.

“W-what? Really? Well I’m wearing clothes like this, maybe they’ll think I’m gay? If I act really flamboyantly, if someone is watching maybe they’ll decide that.” Madoka laughs softly.

“And if you never returned to your girl form you would be labeled as a strange hentai forever.” Riri sighs.

“Oh, that’s very true, Riri-chan!” Madoka laughs. “I suppose that would be no good, but I understand your career is very important. If you’re worried about your reputation, I wonder what kind of a girl you are. Anyhow, we’re in your home… I didn’t ask any questions because of my situation. Who are you exactly? Is this an apartment? And the security is so good I couldn’t just walk out?”

“Yes.” Riri gestures quickly for Madoka to move away from the window. “It is very important, Madoka-chan. Honestly, I thought I would guide you towards trying what I do. If you don’t have any other aspirations for your life, I thought you look… looked so beautiful you would do very well. This is a dorm, you could say. Many of us live together because it’s more fun. Some prefer to be isolated, but I’m not one of those.”

Madoka looks out the window one last time, and frowns. “Wait… someone is out there watching… oh, it’s a girl I think?”

“Noooo!” Riri yelps and gestures madly. “Please… this is a horrible tragedy… oh no… it’ll ruin AKB!”

“AKB? Really? You?” Madoka gapes with wide open eyes. “You’re… no wait… you’re Okamoto Riko! Oh!” Madoka rushes over and bows deeply.

“You’re a fan, Madoka-chan?” Riri gapes.

“Not exactly. But a celebrity is a celebrity. You’re due respect and reverence. Honestly, Tatsuo is a real fan of AKB. He even has a membership.” Madoka laughs.

“Oh no… someone saw us… someone saw you in my room! Who is it?” Riri yelps.

“We can’t do anything about it, but I promise I’ll make a speech for reporters. I don’t care about my reputation. So I’m your gay friend. I’ll even have terrible pictures taken to ‘prove’ it to anyone asking about it.”

Riri laughs aloud and touches Madoka’s cheek. “You’re way too sweet, Madoka-chan. Even when your life is already a shambles, you’re thinking that you’d ruin it even further for the sake of another? I might fall for you if you keep this up.” Riri laughs. “No… it must not be.” She turns her back and walks towards the door of the apartment. “We can’t do anything about what happened. All we can do is trust fate and hope for the best. Madoka-chan, I’ll bring you some food.”

As if on cue, Madoka’s stomach growls loudly, and she clutches her stomach. “I feel so hungry and weak suddenly. I think I burned a lot of energy. I fought that terrible oni earlier… and with everything…” Madoka sighs as she goes to her knees.

“Oh! I can imagine it! I’ll go get the food right away! Rest, Madoka-chan!” Riri exclaims and rushes out through the door, closing it behind her quickly.

Madoka sighs and groans. My stomach is cramping so much. Maybe it’s stress? There’s so much happening. I have to get out of here and back to the fight. I learned how to dance and I want to fight!

“You don’t look like you’re doing well. Oh… the old Madoka is back, I see,” a voice rings out in the silence. Madoka gasps and looks towards the window, seeing Harue sitting in the windowsill, wearing their school uniform. She’s leaned against the sill, her legs crossed in perhaps an enticing way.

“Oh… Harue-chan! I look so terrible!” She blushes and tries futilely to cover herself.

“You’re hilarious, Madoka. You can’t hide yourself.” She laughs.

“What are you doing here? How could you find me?” Madoka yelps.

“Quiet, Madoka. You probably don’t want anyone hearing you.” Harue smiles as she places a finger before her lips. “I was passing by and I thought I saw you in this window wearing that adorable nightwear. You’re fortunate that I happened past the area after going shopping nearby. I picked up some working clothes for my father. By coincidence it seems your body type is very similar. Well, most men are slight. I’d imagine you’d fit very well in what I purchased. You can borrow these for a while, though if for whatever reason you can’t return to your feminine form, well, I suppose you’ll need clothes, won’t you? A friend in need can’t be ignored.” Harue laughs and extends the bag she holds in her lap. She stands and walks over to Madoka, who is crouching on the floor.

“Smile and stand. I suppose your morale is pretty low. Losing your parents perhaps, your home, a friend, your way. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I think you need more than just saving. You need something more.”

“Something more?” Madoka gapes as he gratefully accepts the bag.

“Yes, something more. Personal strength. The trials we face in life make us better people. Stronger people. Madoka…” She reaches out and touches Madoka’s cheek. “It’s not the end of the world. You’re still plagued with impurities. I can’t say much, but I’m very devout. I have a feeling that if you seek and purify yourself, you’ll find a great deal more waiting for you.” She smiles.

“Devout? You’re very religious?” Madoka asks.

“I dabble a little.” Harue laughs and takes Madoka’s hand. “I think it’s time you seek more answers, Madoka-chan. I look forward to seeing your feminine form again. I always thought you were adorable, but it’s the girlish form that really does it for me.” Harue giggles.

Madoka looks down at her hand and gapes, feeling something cold in her hand. She opens it as Harue steps away and stares at the fifty-yen coin in her hand. There’s something eerily familiar about this coin… Madoka frowns and looks up to Harue who is standing on the windowsill.

“Madoka-chan. Now you have what you need. Maybe what you need is to pray for good luck and purification. Go.” Harue smiles. “Do your best, Madoka-chan. I believe in you.” She winks and steps over the edge of the windowsill. Madoka yelps and leaps to her feet and darts to the window, and looks around wildly. She stares and gapes when she is unable to see her. Where did she go?

The door behind opens and Madoka yelps again as she darts for the bed.

“Baka! It’s your breakfast… or maybe a lunch.” Riri laughs and brings a tray over to the bed. She sits gracefully on the bed and sets the tray down. “I dabble in cooking… I hope you don’t mind my cooking,” she laughs.

“I-I’m sure it’ll be wonderful!” Madoka yelps as she stands and sets the bag down on the bed.

Riri stares at the bag. “What is that?”

“Oh… it’s fine. I was feeling kind of spooked. A friend dropped this off for me. I haven’t looked yet, but it’s clothes for me.” Madoka upends the bag while she looks at the tray. “Oh wow! Curry rice? You want to go to that trouble for just me?” Madoka gasps.

“For a good friend.” Riri blushes and laughs. “I hope you enjoy it.”

Madoka sniffs at the air and gasps. Her stomach gurgles again. The sauce glistens like liquid gold clinging to potatoes, other vegetables, and large pieces of chicken. She takes the plate and the pair of chopsticks on the tray and immediately starts devouring the curry. “It’s so good…” Madoka says around a mouthful of delicious curry.

Riri giggles and blushes more. “You really like it so much? Ehe…” She giggles, flustered.

“Oh, yes! This is what I needed! Carbs and protein and delicious curry sauce. You’re amazing! You should be a chef when you graduate, Riri,” Madoka mumbles around mouthfuls of food.

“Ah, there’s milk too. I thought it might be a little too spicy. I’m too crazy with the peppers and seasonings.” Riri giggles.

“No, the heat is perfect!” Madoka exclaims.

After a long while, she sets the plate down and takes a long deep breath.

“Wow, this suit is really fancy! It looks like something Kozuke might wear. We could make this work if you look really professional, Madoka-chan!” Riri exclaims as she holds up the top. “Are you sure Kozuke wasn’t back here? He mentioned he would get you clothes. If he did, I imagine it would be alot like this.” Riri laughs.

“Yes, it was Harue. She was at the hospital before,” Madoka explains.

“Oh, I remember her! She’s pretty cute. She has a natural grace. I think she would do really well as a kenkyuusei.” Riri laughs.

“I can see that.” Madoka laughs. “But me? Oh, no… that’s not for me.”

“Really? That’s sad. But you would have to transform back.” Riri laughs.

Madoka stands and moves to undress, but then blushes. “Oh, habits now…” Madoka gasps.

Riri blushes profusely and rushes away to a nearby closet. She opens the door and steps inside, closing the door.

“Go right ahead, Madoka-chan, I’ll be here.”

Some time later, Madoka stands in the suit Harue brought her. She looks down at herself and frowns.

“Is it safe?” Riri asks through the door.

“Yes, I’m decent.” Madoka blushes.

“Alright, then… I’ll come see. Oh!” Riri gasps as she steps out of the closet and grins at Madoka. “You look good, but we need to do something with your hair. You know, it’s still long even if you’re a man. Maybe not everything changed? I hadn’t thought about it.” Riri runs to her beside table and retrieves a brush and mousse from the drawer. She walks around the bed and starts brushing Madoka’s hair. She applies copious amounts of mousse to one hand and smears it into Madoka’s hair as she brushes it out. She works for a while.

“I don’t have a hair dryer handy here, but it should look fine,” Riri murmurs. Finally, after a while, she steps back, satisfied. “I think we’re ready to get you out of here. Don’t say anything and hurry after me and look protective.” Riri grins.

“Oh, the tray… we should take that to your kitchen…” Madoka gasps.

“No, don’t worry about that for now. I’m sorry you can’t stay longer, Madoka. I wanted to give you a temporary home, but the longer we wait, the more chance something will go wrong. I’ll give you some yen so you can stay in a hotel for a while if you don’t have anyone else you can rely on.” Riri smiles brightly.

“I understand. I can’t endanger your reputation. Don't worry about me. I’ll be alright, Riri-chan! You’re a great friend and I only just met you!” Madoka exclaims.

Riri blushes profusely and smiles. “Come on, let’s go!” She gestures. “Be quiet and look protective.”

Riri leads Madoka out of the room and she closes the door behind them when they’re in the hall. Finally, she leads her to the elevator bank up the hall. She presses the button and they wait together for a time. Riri seems antsy.

She sighs in relief when she finds the elevator is empty. She gestures and they rush in. She presses the 1F button and they descend. The doors open some time after with a ding and she walks naturally across the foyer to the doors. Madoka follows nervously but does her best to look like a bodyguard.

She leads Madoka across to the doors and Madoka rushes ahead to open it for Riri. Riri blushes and laughs quietly. She gestures. “Let’s walk a short distance,” she murmurs.

“Riko-sama?” a man asks. Madoka steps out and the men stare at Madoka. Her hair is tied back and styled. “Who is this young man?” he asks.

“Ah, a friend of Kozuke’s. Neither of them may pass the background check, but they were in need. We’ll see.”

“Oh… I saw the man Kozuke leave earlier. He looked like he was hurrying. I thought he was out on some errand for you,” the man suggests.

“Oh, yes. But Riko-sama, I didn’t see this young man enter. This is truly strange.”

“You weren’t watching the entrance when he came in. I thought it would work out, but as great as this young man is, he may not show up here ever again. It’s a shame. Perhaps some day when he has better credentials?” Riri suggests.

“Passing a background check is important.” The man smiles dryly. “Riri-sama… I’m not a fool… this boy is far too young for work like this.”

“Too young, yes, but very serious. He’s homeless. I wish him good luck,” Riri murmurs.

“Ah… thank you Riri-sama…” Madoka bows seriously. “I won’t trouble you further.”

She briskly steps away from the entrance. “I’ll do my best to build up my reputation so you may hire me someday soon,” Madoka calls out over her shoulder.

“Great!” Riri enthuses and smiles warmly. “Oh, I’ll walk you away briefly, but I’m not feeling well… so I’ll come back and lay down,” Riri says for the benefit of the bodyguards.

“Of course. Don’t be long, Riri-sama,” the man murmurs. “It’s a real shame, your friend is cute.” He winks at Madoka. Madoka blinks and laughs, looking over his shoulder for a moment.

“Oh, he might be gay.” She laughs and walks after Madoka. When out of earshot, Riri sighs. “I don’t think it went very well, but it is what it is. We’ll see.”

After a while, Madoka responds with a sigh. “I don’t know what I’ll do.” She clutches the bag which contains the girl’s clothing she was wearing at the hospital.

“I’ll hold onto the other girl’s clothes for you just in case, Madoka-chan. I hope things go well for you,” Riri murmurs.

“Thank you, Riri-chan… if I can’t return to normal, at least I have this nice suit.” Madoka laughs.

“And if you can, you’ll have a new wardrobe. I’ll buy you some more too.” Riri winks. “Though it would be alright if you stayed as a boy.”

“I don’t want that, Riri-chan. I don’t feel comfortable in my skin. I have to fix this situation,” Madoka murmurs.

“Really, you’re a girl all inside after all?” Riri smiles.

“I guess I am.” Madoka blushes. “I’ll fight to get everything back… and I need to pray…” Madoka pulls the fifty-yen coin from her pocket and sighs. “I need to pray for myself and my father, and my mother… and for Emi-chan.”

“That sounds like a good idea. I would come with you, but I can’t be gone for long. Call me if you have any problems. At least you had your phone with you,” Riri murmurs.

“It’s low on energy,” Madoka responds as she pulls her phone out of her pocket and examines the battery indicator on it.

“We could have charged it up before you left… you should have checked that!” Riri admonishes Madoka.

“I didn’t think about that! There are many more important things to worry about.” Madoka sighs. “I need to go. Thank you, Riri-chan!” she bows again.

Riri nods and smiles, bowing in return. “Let me know how you’re doing soon! I’ll call you too if you don’t call me.”

“Thank you!” Madoka smiles brightly. “See you!” She dashes away, and Riri watches her go with a worried expression.

Without my maps it was hard to find a shrine, but here I am… Madoka thinks. She walks into the shrine grounds amidst a small crowd. She takes a moment to bow to the torii. Then she approaches the chōzuya to cleanse her hands. She waits a moment and when one frees up, she takes a ladle and scoops it in the water. She steps back a step and pours water into each hand, switching the ladle to her left hand as she washes her right. She drinks a little of the water from her hand. She sets the ladle down and rubs her hands together, then walks away towards the building where Kami are enshrined. She waits for others to pray, watching as they throw their coins into the offering box; some ring the bell as they pray.

Madoka steps up when it’s her turn. She rings the bell and bows as she removes the coin once again from her pocket and gently drops it into the offering box. She closes her eyes as she bows again. She claps her hands twice and bows a third time. She takes a deep breath.

Kami-sama, please save my father. Please return my mother to me! Please help me find the strength to fight. Please save Emi-chan… please help me destroy the oni! I’m ready to fight!

You aren’t ready yet, my shrine priestess. My first and only real one. I have faith in you. Come to me. Madoka yelps as the ground beneath her seems to vanish. She hears startled yelling. She opens her eyes and realizes that she’s plummeting into darkness.

“Yoshimaru! You attack me every time I take a step forward. You evil bastard! Leave me alone! I will destroy you! You can’t toy with me, you incredible…” Madoka gasps. She drops for what seems like forever, but no voice responds. Suddenly she hits a surface. It hurts a lot. “O… ow… what’s going on?” Madoka gulps. It hurts so much…

Madoka shakily climbs to her feet and looks around. In the darkness there are cracklings of golden energy. She turns quickly and frowns. “Where is this? Where am I?” Madoka yelps. Her voice echoes into the distance, and nothing responds to her query. Am I a prisoner?

Suddenly, the sound of the shrine’s bell echoes in the air. She turns quickly and gasps as she suddenly darts forward, to desperately find a way out of this eerie darkness laced with golden energy. She runs for what seems forever, but finally trips and collapses. “No! I won’t give up! What is this? Is this a trial? I’m ready to fight Yoshimaru!” Madoka yells.

“You aren’t ready yet,” a voice echoes in the darkness. “Come and purify yourself. You can’t truly be my shrine maiden unless you truly believe and devote yourself.”

“Purify? Are you talking about that thing where people stand in ice water and douse themselves in it until they can’t stand it anymore?”

“Something like that, Madoka. Trials purify the spirit. There is a trial before you.”

Suddenly Madoka gasps as a dog-lion nuzzles at her shoulder. Madoka gasps and looks into the somewhat frightening face, recognizing Kozuke.

“Kozy!” Madoka yelps.

“Come with me, Madoka! Run after me!” he snarls and Madoka leaps to her feet.

“I will!” Madoka gasps and darts after Kozuke as the lion-dog breaks into a run. She chases Kozuke as quickly as she can.

“If you can keep up with me, you will reach Kami’s place,” Kozuke calls over his shoulder.

Madoka runs onwards easily at first. After what feels like hours, she starts panting and puffing, but doesn’t flag.

“You were never very athletic in that form. You’re like a butterfly, back in your ugly cocoon. Keep fighting to break free from that cocoon!” Kozuke yells.

Madoka pants and huffs. Only the sound of her panting, Kozuke’s encouragements and the eerie sound of the shrine bell ringing endlessly in the darkness are audible.

“Where are… this will lead us to… Kami?” Madoka pants. “Surely… she could have just taken me to her…”

“She could, but if she did, you would come to her without determination. Those feelings are required,” Kozuke responds.

They continue to run and Madoka pushes herself beyond her limits just to keep up. Her heart hammers like it might shatter her ribcage.

“Is this ever going to come to an end? Will this run ever end?” Madoka gulps, sweating.

“No… this run will never end. Life is struggle. It’s a run forward. If you don’t flag, you will find strength.” Kami’s voice comes from the darkness around.

“I’ve had enough of this! Let’s get to it! I… I’m ready to fight!” Madoka screams.

“In your condition? Very well, show me that determination,” Kami responds. Suddenly Madoka strikes a hard object and rebounds off it to collapse. Light blooms all around and a wind blows over her. She sits up in grass filled with wildflowers. She looks forward and sees a large structure. Kozuke sits nearby.

“Rest, Madoka. Your next trial awaits you. You must scale this structure. The place of Kami lies above. You can’t go there unless you have determination. Your spiritual power saw you here. Now you will need to draw on it to reach the place of kami.”

Madoka gulps and lies back in the soft grass. She takes in the wonderful fragrances.

“Madoka…” Madoka hears a voice and her eyes open wide. She sits up again, gulping as she sees a familiar face. Tears start pouring from her eyes. Her mother stands by the structure.

“My daughter… my son… my child…” Mana murmurs softly.

“Mama!” Madoka exclaims and leaps to her feet to embrace Mana. Mana gently strokes Madoka’s hair and hugs her warmly.

“You’re alive!” Madoka sobs. “I’m so happy! Kami-sama answered my prayers! I love you, Kami!” Madoka screams loudly.

“No, Madoka. I’m so proud of you… you fight so hard… I’m sorry your life is so hard. You will have to continue on without me,” Mana murmurs. “I’m dead. I burned. I know that Haruo is injured and may join me. Even if that happens, be happy for me. I love you. I want to give you more… I want to see you grow up and become the amazing person you will be. Please remember me.”

“I couldn’t forget you, Mama! Oh, no!” Madoka sobs.

Kami has another trial for you, Madoka. Please fight.” Mana tightly hugs Madoka and cries. Madoka clings to her mother and cries as she fades into motes.

“N-no… Mama… don’t go! Stay with me!” Madoka sobs.

Later, when the sun has fallen behind nearby mountains, Madoka sits up with tear-streaked eyes. “That was so cruel, Kami… showing me my mama… and she’s dead…” Madoka sniffles.

Kozuke sits quietly watching Madoka.

“Why did she do that to me? Does she want to break me like Yoshimaru?” Madoka gasps out plaintively.

Kozuke does not respond. He watches silently.

Madoka stares into the distance as twilight creeps over the world.

Some time later, Madoka wakes up, and looks around with bleary eyes. It’s morning and a sweet-smelling breeze is drifting across the grass.

“Madoka. You must scale this building. If you can reach the top you will reach the place of kami,” Kozuke murmurs, still in komainu form.

“A building?” Madoka sits up. Aughhh... My head hurts so much… “Shouldn’t it have a staircase?”

“No, Kami’s shrine is not reached by stairs or elevator. No, you must scale it.” Madoka gasps as she runs around the building. It’s impossibly tall. It looks like a skyscraper, but its architecture is old. There are nooks and crannies in the face of the stone that can be used to scale it, but as Kozuke has said, this shrine building has no door.

“What will you do, Madoka? Will you turn away? I can take you back to the mortal world,” Kozuke offers quietly.

“No! I will not surrender! I’ve come this far! I will not give it up! I will see this place of kami!” Madoka sighs.

“If you wish to go before Kami, you must go nude. Remove your clothes. I will return them to you, if you fail,” Kozuke states. Madoka blushes and gulps, but finally shakes her head.

“I don’t care.” She tears off the clothes, throwing them down one by one in front of the komainu. When nude, Madoka grits her teeth. “It’s cold, like an early spring morning.” Madoka winces.

“It will be colder the higher you climb. Go, Madoka, and stay warm. Don’t stop,” Kozuke murmurs. “I will catch you if you fall.”

Madoka nods and scrabbles at the surface of the building until she finds a secure handhold and begins to scale it. She climbs quickly at first, but after a while, it seems impossible. She grits her teeth and carefully climbs up. After a while, her muscles burn and she clings to the wall desperately as cool wind blows across her nude body.

Madoka yelps as a particularly strong gust whips past, throwing her tied hair around. Madoka groans and forces herself to move again. Her whole body burns as she moves. She finds handholds, though sometimes she has to scrabble for them.

“Is your determination flagging?” Kami’s voice whispers to him.

“No! I will not give up! I want to see your face! I want to scream at you for everything you’ve done to me!” Madoka yells.

“That’s why you seek me?” Kami murmurs.

“No… I’m frustrated, but I want the strength to win. I want to destroy Yoshimaru! I… I will end him!” Madoka pants.

“Then climb, shrine maiden.”

Madoka continues to climb with a surge of determination. Madoka keeps climbing until sweat pours from her body. Her grip becomes uncertain as her fingers become more coated with sweat and oil. I don’t have a way to clean my hands… She looks at her hand and winces. It’s red and scraped, and it looks dirty. She winces and licks a red sore. S-salty… ugh… Her hand starts burning and she realizes the building is made at least in part of salt. Salt is purifying, but when rubbed into a wound it hurts.

Madoka groans and tears start pouring from her eyes as she forces herself onwards. Her eyes film and it becomes hard to see. The wind whipping around begins to freeze her. Madoka shivers and gasps, her body racked with aching pain. This is torture… Madoka cries.

Madoka madly scrambles up the building with teeth gritted. In her desperation, she puts her weight on a handhold without checking it and it crumbles away under her hand.

Noooo! Madoka-chan!!! Aoi’s voice sounds in Madoka’s mind as she falls.

Glossary -

AKB - If you’ve been reading you know this one. They’re an idol group in Japan.

chōzuya - A fountain to cleanse one’s hands and face. Often times you take a sip to cleanse your mouth as well.

kenkyuusei - A low-ranked member of AKB in training. While building reputation and gaining skill, a member is a Kenkyuusei. When you’re popular and skilled you may be promoted to one of the three main teams.

komainu - The formal Japanese term for lion-dog.

Ōnusa - A ritual wand made of paper. It’s waved over you or an object to purify.

I'm sorry I lost a release day due to Christmas and other reasons. :D I hope you have enjoyed this one and will enjoy the next! Please take a moment to review or favorite if you like it!

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Avatar The trials begin by Yuki 2019-01-02 9:24:36

So much happened here, from Madoka being male again, to sneaking out, to just being pushed down by Kami-sama. She lost so much, but she has so much to gain. I understand why the kami is pushing so hard. It's like she wants to hold Madoka's hand and protect her, but she can only do so much or she won't get the results she wants. She wants Madoka to stand on her own feet. To be worthy of being a shrine maiden, of the gift that she gives to Madoka. I have to stop and think though, Madoka's doing so much on revenge now, what happens when she beats Yoshimaru? It's an end yes, but it doesn't need to be the only thing she wants to do. as for Harue, I have to wonder just who she is, and how she is wrapped up in all this. I'm trying to recall but Harue never got involved up till now to my knowledge. She was there when Yoshimaru first attacked but she never got involved after. was always Emi that got involved with Madoka.

Rellawing's Reply: Very true, Yuki-chan! Emi-chan was always there for her since they made friends in Shibuya! *hugs* I'm glad that you're thinking and wondering about it!

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