Keita couldn’t exactly remember when was the last time he had stepped out of this condemned room that they had forcibly withheld him in. Ever since the shogunate had declared their crusade against Christians ( those self-righteous pricks–), Keita had been on the run, with the sole purpose of keeping his family safe in lieu of his belief. Then he, no they, the entire group of teenagers were cordially invited ( Betrayed by one that they thought was their friend ) to seek refuge in his house. They were desperate, and glad that the Lord had given them a refuge in their times of need and barely had they rested when the shogunate stormed the house, and all that was left were screams of fire and blood and cries of tortured flesh and bones. He was thrown into this room ( cell) , unrightfully abstained from water and food, starved till he salivated only at the sound of the door opening to dump the moldy bread onto his lap. Days had blurred into weeks, months..or maybe even years, but Keita no longer cared. His eyes twitched.

“Is it time for me to go?” He murmured, on his knees in prayer, facing the dank wall that enclosed him. “Answer me, my Kami.” He felt salty tears drip their painful path down his cracked face. Oh how his body ached. The pain was gradually getting unbearable as he reached his limits. Long fringes fell in disarray across his features that were once handsome in his youth, now marred by scars of torture and brutal violence and the sharp gauntness of what was left in lieu of starvation. He waited fervently for the voice that never failed to resound in his room. It always did appear without fail, every day, to question him, to irk him, to coerce him ( like the Devil) into giving up his God, his faith, his belief and everything that made him who he was. Static crackled across the room from the old speakers, jarring his ears and making him flinch. Was it going to be a male or female this time? His trembling fingers picked rhythmically at the crick in the wall ( a habit cultivated to cease his nervousness) , plucking the petals of the wilting sakura flower he had left in place ( a gift, by a soft-hearted soldier who pitied him).





Male— The last petal fell to the ground, crumpling under his bloodied feet, leaving the faded sickly scent of the sakura flower floating into his nostrils.

“Tell me, Keita Ashimoto. Who are you?” The voice that called out seemed neither male nor female.

Ah. Yes. There was a word for it, he remembered foggily. Androgynous. What was left of his sane mind screamed the word. The idea of neither being feminine nor masculine. He crawled forward on his knees, prostrate in reverent prayer, and clasped his hands firmly together.

“Keita Ashimoto, Aged 18, Kyoto Prefecture, Christian—-” An inhuman shrill scream tore from his lungs almost immediately, as a piercing and yet burning pain raced from his hands through his body and nerves, raging like an untamed wild animal. His back twisted and arched, words forming soundlessly on his cracked lips as the electricity conducted from the chains that held him ran its destructive path.

“That is not who you are, Keita Ashimoto.” The voice from the speakers crackled to life again, monotonously and apathetically. “Try one more time. Renounce your faith and your God, and you will be released.” Keita’s body quaked in the throes of his torture, twitching helplessly as he struggled to remain prostrate on his knees. They were toying with him, forcing him to commit a sin by turning from his Saviour. He gritted his teeth, grinding them in pain as he forced himself to reject the tempting proposition that was made.

“I…am Keita Ashimoto, aged 18, of Kyoto Prefecture..”He paused, struggling with his words, tongue still thick from the recent electrocution. He wiped his bloodied mouth with shaking hands and smiled toothily, ignoring the remnant blood pooling around his lips and dripping down onto the floor obscenely. “May the Lord God forgive all your sins, for he is faithful and just—”His voice rose shrilly, and the voice behind the speakers reacted.

TAKE HIM!” It roared like an angered torrent, and the shogunate that stood around the room descended upon Keita like a flock of demons, cloaks billowing—and then a familiar sharp pain descended upon his back, his bones screeching with the stabbing pain as their bayonets tore into his flesh brutally, ravaging and spilling his blood across the walls. Keita coughed pathetically, the familiar scent of blood staining his lips and invading his nostrils.

“No! Wait, wait! Stop!” The voice crackled to life across the speakers. “I’m sorry, leave him be. We will show him more..grace.” Keita struggled to his feet, spitting the foul blood in his mouth contemptuously across the shogunate’s face, earning a roar of indignation and a brutal backhand across his own features. “We will let him see his family.” Keita startled, ice cold fear flooding through his veins at the voice’s words.

Oh god. They found them. He’s implicated them—Oh god oh god oh god—

“Y-you Bastard!” He screeched in his righteous bout of fear fueled anger. “You leave my family be! They have nothing to do with—”

“Your faith?” The voice questioned coldly. “A son’s sin is due to his parent’s negligence and his sibling’s wayward ways. You have not renounced your faith, might change your mind if they bear a tenth of your pain.” Keita moaned wordlessly, clasping his hands tightly in desperation.

“You love your younger sister, don’t you, Keita Ashimoto?” The voice changed suddenly, turning to a soft coo, cloying and gentle. “We will let you reunite with her.” Keita bashed his forehead against the ground, tears running astray down his cheeks.

The desperate and frustrated scream tore in sobs from his throat, as they dragged a bloodied young girl through the doors. “Oh god, Yume..”He sobbed helplessly, abandoning all pretense at her limp form and throwing himself forward to gather the girl into his arms. He stared at her through tear-filled eyes almost hungrily, drinking in the fact that despite the torture the young child had gone through, she was still..alive.The child moaned wordlessly in pain in his arms, curling into the warmth that he provided, her breath barely a whisper against his chest.

“O-onii..”He cradled her gently, as though she would break upon the slightest impact, pressing his own bloodied cheek to her hot forehead and breathing in her scent.

“Shhhh…Its alright. I’m here. I’m here.” He brushed a thumb gently across her cheek, trying to ignore the incessant pooling of blood on the floor from what was left of the crude dismemberment of the young girl’s legs.

“I-it..hurts..”The small girl clung to his chest, her body spasming from the shock of the brutal procedure and from blood loss. Tears that brimmed in Keita’s eyes spilled over, landing hotly on her closed eyes. “I..I want Mommy.”

“I know. I know. Shh…I know.” Keita breathed, his chest swelling with grief as he watched her chest rise and fall shallowly, riddled with the physical scars of her brutal stay. “Forgive me, Yume. Your brother dragged you into this.” The young child shook her head gently.

“‘S okay..”She whispered, only opening her eyes a fraction to gaze at him, pressing his cross necklace into his palms. “I kept it for you. After you told me about him.” She drew a cross gently over his heart. “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. He will reward us for our faithfulness, and despite all my pain and suffering, I will enter his gates with thanksgiving and praise.” She smiled gently, brushing the tears from his face. “Maybe just a little earlier than you.”

“Forgive me.” Keita breathed, weeping silently as his hands snaked across her neck. “For I cannot bear to see you suffer.” He cradled her like a babe and then—-there was a sickening crack of a fragile neck, and the young child’s hands fell limply onto his lap, scattering the cross necklace to the floor. Keita trembled, picking up the necklace reverently as he let go of his sister’s body.

“How funny you Christians are.” The voice from the speakers sounded amused. “You claim to be sinless and pure, self-righteous and yet, you can still commit murder just like us. Isn’t that a tad too ironic?” Keita kept his mouth tightly shut at the voice’s taunts.

Forgive me of my sin, my Lord. I have taken a life in my self-righteous desire to stop seeing her suffer.

His eyes landed gently on the broken body of his sister.

“Renounce this useless God of your, Keita Ashimoto.” The voice sounded triumphant, rising in volume. “He cannot protect you nor liberate you from us.” Keita grinned wolfishly at the direction of the voice, shaking his head in mirthless laughter.

“Never.”The voice sighed at his response.

“Pity. And you had such potential.” It said rather resignedly. “Kill him. “ Keita smiled gratefully as the shogunate dragged him forcefully towards the filthy pits, the sounds of his comrades’ moans resounding in his ears as they stopped by the blood-scented pits. Thick bonds were tied chokingly to his wrists and shins, and the knife flashed quickly across his forehead, drawing blood across the deep gash.

“Set him into the pit.” The soldier gripping him said gruffly. “There’s no more hope for him.” Keita gurgled softly on the mix of saliva and blood in his mouth as the stinking stench of excrement filled his nostrils. Bile rose in his throat, spilling down his face as vomit as he regurgitated reflexively at the repugnant smell. What a torturous way to go, Keita smiled to himself. They were actually aiming to bleed him out. Slowly. Blood dripped in rivulets down his forehead and he wheezed as his vision tunneled. His mouth opened, face reddened after hours of hanging upside down and a liberated smile crossed the contours of his face.

“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His loving kindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations….” Keita’s voice warbled, fading slowly as he sank into the darkness.