There was a flash – so bright, it almost wiped away the night. Then it faded and the night roared silently back, covering the land once more.
Ise Grand Shrine burned. Splinters of wood and flakes of ash fell like rain. Tsukuyomi stood amidst the devastation, weapons lowered, breathing heavily. Of Amaterasu, there was no sign. But somehow, he knew he’d beaten her. The sun would rise no more. The only light would be that of the silvery moon.
Tsukuyomi tried to recall the moment of victory. He wished to revel in his triumph. But his thoughts were disordered, jangling in his head like broken glass. Their blades met, and his had proven the stronger. So why did he feel as if he had been the one who had been humbled? He looked down at his tonfa, reassuring himself that they were intact. That his blades had not sundered upon meeting Amaterasu’s blade.
But they were whole. He was whole – he was strong. “The strongest,” he said, relishing the word. Possessed by a sudden glee, he threw back his head and laughed. “I have won. This land is mine and all the skies above as well!”
The future passed before his eyes in a rush, a tumble of images. Japan was his now, but it would take time for the others to admit it. Susano and Hachiman and the rest, they would resist until he proved his superiority beyond a shadow of a doubt. But with Amaterasu beaten, it was only a matter of time. And once they admitted defeat, he could turn his attention to other matters.
Tsukuyomi turned west, and saw an ugly glow on the horizon. Something about it made him nauseous, but he forced himself to keep his eyes fixed on it. Cthulhu was there, making war on Olympus at last. If he strained, he could almost hear the sounds of that desperate battle. He bared his teeth in a grin.
They would lose, of course. Without him, they had no hope of victory – but their efforts would serve to weaken his foe enough for him to strike the final blow.
“And I will.” He clashed his tonfa together. “I will defeat the Great Dreamer and banish him once more, even as I banished the sun. Then all will know Tsukuyomi is the greatest of the gods, and bow at his feet!”
A mocking trill followed his declaration. Tsukuyomi spun. “Who’s there?”
“Just me, myself and I, oh great lord.” A hunched shape sat nearby on a fallen roof beam, drinking from a jug of sake. “Care for a drink? To celebrate your victory, I mean?”
“Tsukuyomi took a step towards the newcomer, eyes narrowed. “Danzaburou,” he said. “Why are you here, tanuki?”
“Someone ought to be, don’t you think? Someone must bear witness to the great folly of Tsukuyomi, after all.” Danzaburou lowered his jug and grinned, showing sharp teeth. He was dressed as a monk, but it did little to disguise the round body, the pointed muzzle, large eyes and bushy tail. “How’s it going so far, by the way?” he continued, taking a generous pull from the jug. “Wasn’t really paying attention.”
Tsukuyomi snorted. “You know I was planning to just ignore you. At least until all other matters were settled to my satisfaction, but since you’re here..” In a flicker of movement, he sent a flurry of night-black shuriken hurtling towards the newcomer.
Or, rather, where the newcomer had been. Instead of the tanuki, there was only a grinning statue. The shuriken thudded into the statue, and Danzaburou poked his snout around it. He took a sip from his jug and eyed Tsukuyomi mockingly. “Do you greet all your friends in such a manner, my lord?”