Storm - Amanda Sun

Ways to Put a Kami to Sleep Forever

1. Leave Japan

2. Die

I tapped my pencil against the paper propped on my knees. Ten minutes, and I only had two ideas, the latter scribbled in Tomo’s handwriting. If I went to live with Nan and Gramps, if I left Japan for good, maybe Tomo would be better off. There was ink trapped in me, kami power that didn’t belong, darkness that caused Tomo’s power to spiral out of control. But even if I distanced myself, it wouldn’t put the kami in him to sleep. He’d struggled before I’d even arrived here. And if he left the country, who knows what would happen? He could run, but the power would still lurk in him. I didn’t think it would work.

And the second on the list wasn’t an option, not at all.

How to put a dark power to sleep, one that whispered in your ear that you were a demon, one that gave you nightmares and brought your drawings to life with teeth and claws?

“Maybe a really good lullaby?” I suggested. Tomo rolled his eyes. We were slouching on either side of his living room couch, our backs curved against the arms of the sofa and our knees flopped against each other’s in the middle. Tomo mashed the buttons on the TV remote, cycling through the channels over and over.

“Or a bedtime story?” Tomo teased back. “Goodnight Moon?”

I shoved his knee with mine, gently, but he still winced. The bruises from his fight with Jun hadn’t faded yet. They hadn’t even had time to fade.

Only a few days ago we’d learned the truth, that the kami Amaterasu, goddess of the sun, wasn’t the only one with descendants. The power to make ink drawings come alive, the nightmares that plagued Tomo and Jun and the others who could control the ink...that power could come from other kami. Tomo had sketched Amaterasu in his notebook, and she had revealed the truth to us—that Jun was descended from Susanou, the kami of storms, snakes and the World of Darkness.Yomi, or, you know, Hell. Susanou was Amaterasu’s brother and most dangerous rival.

And worse, Tomo was descended from not one but two kami—Amaterasu, the imperial ancestor, and Tsukiyomi, the god of the moon, her scorned and vengeful lover. The two bloodlines fought within him, which meant that Tomo often lost control of his drawings and himself, his eyes growing large and vacant and deadly. It had become so bad that he couldn’t enter shrines anymore; going through the Shinto gateways knocked him out cold. Jun had called him a land mine; he could go off and cause mass destruction at any time. And then Jun had decided it was up to him to destroy Tomo, right then and there. It had been like both of them had lost consciousness, taken over by the ancient hatred between Susanou and Tsukiyomi. Ikeda and I had barely pulled them apart in time before they killed each other.

“Funny,” I said. “But I don’t think Goodnight Moon will cut it.”

I wished I could go back to the time I’d arrived in Japan, when the cherry blossoms had rained through the sky and Tomo had just been an annoying senior classmate, when neither of us had awakened the sort of forces we now faced.

I sketched a cherry blossom in the corner of my paper, thinking back on that spring. I wasn’t the artist that Tomo was, but I still drew a mean stick figure and flower bud.

Tomo lifted the remote to flip the channel again. The tiny gust of air spun the sketched cherry blossom in circles. I stared at it, my eyes wide.

When Tomo’s drawing of Amaterasu had come to life, so had the ink trapped in me. When Mom was pregnant with me, she’d been accidentally poisoned by a kami drawing. We’d both barely survived, and now the ink ran in my veins—Jun called me a manufactured Kami, a man-made descendant. I was nowhere near as powerful as Tomo and Jun were, but the ink in me called out to the ink in them. And now it was going totally haywire. I pressed my pencil against the edge of the sketched petal, stopping the blossom from twirling.

“Yurusenai yo,” Tomo said in a high, clipped voice, and at first I thought he was talking to me. I won’t forgive you. But then he made a peace sign with his free hand, holding it up to the side of his face. God he looked adorable. I