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Asuka Yakushi
by on January 3, 2021
//This is a story that explores a sort of alternate future I had in mind for Asuka. One that I ended up scrapping since it would effectively retire her prematurely. So I've decided to write it as an alternate future story.
A young stallion steps off of a rickety old bus in the middle of the Frozen North. Despite his heavy coat the young man can't help but shiver after hearing the crunch of the compacted snow below. His eyes focus on the mountain ahead. A mountain so tall that it pokes above the clouds. He can't quite remember why he came here, but it's too late to turn back now. The stallion's head begins to fall until he spots a building not 20 feet from him. It's a shack with what looks to be an old payphone out front. The sign on the front of the shack read "Guided Tours."
Upon entering the shack the young stallion is met with the sound of an old radio, a dinky radiator, and the humming of an old mare. Inside the shack the stallion finds an old wooden rack of postcards, an incredibly old radio sitting on a wooden table, and an old mare standing behind a counter in the back. The mare appears to be an earth pony. Her pink mane still as vibrant as ever, but her once golden blonde mane has faded to be closer to a bleach-blonde. He wasn't able to see her blue eyes until after she stopped humming, and opened her eyes. She seemed surprised to see someone, but that surprise didn't last long.
"Well well well! We have a visitor!" The old mare's smile was slightly unsettling, but somehow warm, and friendly. "Welcome to Mount Lunae sonny! I'm guessin' you're here to climb the mountain?" The young stallion drags a hoof on the wooden floor. "Well I'm not really sure if-" The old mare interrupts him before he can finish. "Nonsense! Everyone who shows up in this little shack is here to climb the mountain. Whether they know it or not." The stallion opens his mouth to speak but is once again interrupted. "So kiddo! What's your name?" He pauses for a moment before being able to squeak out his name. "Jothun." To which the old mare responds. "Well Jothun! I'm Asuka! But most visitors just call me Batty, or just Old Bat." Jothun tilts his head. "Like... Crazy bat or-" Once again Jothun is interrupted as the Old Bat begins to laugh. "No the kind you use for baseball!- Of course crazy! But don't worry sonny. I'm not as crazy as you think." So... Still some amount of crazy. Jothun begins to wonder if coming to this mountain was a good idea. Old Bat quickly snaps him out of his thoughts as she exits from behind the counter, and heads towards the shack's door. "C'mon sonny! Time's-a-wastin'!" "Wait! Don't we need climbing gear, or oxygen tanks, or something?!" Jothun begns to panic.
"Oh sonny. You won't need any of that here."
Jothun is lead out of the shack, and up towards an old, broken bridge. "How are we supposed to get across?" The Old Bat simply smiles in response. "Simple sonny. You jump."
"Jump?! But the gap's at least!-" Jothun protests until he feels himself shoved forwards. He nearly screams before taking as best a leap he can. Jothun closes his eyes tight, expecting to meet an early demise, but when he opens his eyes he's on the other side of the bridge with the Old Bat. After taking a moment to breathe he looks to the Old Bat with wide eyes. "Did you-" "Push you? Of course not sonny! The mountain's just a little impatient today is all!" "Oh, I see- wait! The mountain is impatient? What does that mean?" "You think this is just some ordinary mountain? Didn't you read at least one book on it before you came here?" "No." Jothun is quiet for a moment before he begins to panic. "Am I going to die here?!" The Old Bat shakes her head slowly. "No sonny, you'll be alright. He won't let anything happen to you." She even places a hoof on his shoulder to comfort him. "C-can I just go wait for the next bus?" "Too late for that sonny. No way to go but up from here!"
'Oh man. What did I get myself into?'
Jothun follows the Old Bat for a while before she tells him to go ahead of her. She was a little winded, but she'd catch up. Despite desperately not wanting to be left alone Jothun agrees, and begins to walk the path on his own. It isn't until an hour of hiking later that he realizes the Old Bat never caught up.
Asuka had been the keeper of Mount Lunae for almost 40 years now. She got her start at the young age of 24 after the last keeper passed away on the mountain. Ever since then she's lived here on Lunae. Of course, Lunae wasn't just any mountain in the Frozen North. In fact, Lunae wasn't actually the mountain itself. Lunae was the being living inside the mountain. A being from the Feywild with immense magical power. Though unlike most Fey, Lunae was not one for trickery. Lunae wanted to help the creatures of this world. He could feel the ones who needed his help the most, and through subtle hints he guided them to him. Though Lunae couldn't communicate with creatures once they arrived. That was the keeper's job. Since Lunae couldn't speak with the people he helped he had others he could talk to in order to help guide the visitors in his stead. Though different keepers had different methods of guidance. The earliest keepers actually kept people away from Lunae as they thought the mountain he resided in to be a holy site. The keepers after them would guide their visitors through the entire climb, never leaving their side. Then there were a few who just welcomed the poor visitors and sent them on their way, leaving Lunae to do the legwork. Finally, there were the last few keepers. They were still mostly hands-off, but they didn't just leave the visitors alone the whole time.
Asuka had left her friends and family behind when Lunae chose her as his next keeper. She was able to tell them all about what was going to happen, and none of them were too happy with the decision. Her cousin, and friends thought they'd done something to upset her. Her parents were devastated that their eldest daughter was going to become a hermit, and her sister refused to speak to her for years. Thankfully everyone had come around to accepting her choice. Her parents had passed away almost 15 years ago, but they affirmed their support and love long before then. Her friends send her letters and gifts from time to time, with updates on how things are going back home, and her sister even came to visit 20 years ago. Though she never made the climb like Asuka did all those years ago. Since the beginning of her job as keeper Asuka has helped dozens of creatures of differing ages and backgrounds make the climb. She adopted the approach the keeper who guided her did 40 years ago. She lead them to the trail, faked some sort of need to stop while urging them to go ahead before slipping off. she'd then come back and visit them every night, and morning to share a meal, give some encouraging words or advice, and slip off again to scout out the path ahead. She didn't want anyone having to go through what she did when she made the climb, and neither did Lunae. Maddy never left. She was still there. Only now she spent most of her time roaming Lunae while avoiding visitors. She still looked just as she did 40 years ago. She didn't age with Asuka, instead staying young.
Asuka finds Jothun just after he'd set up camp for the night in a small clearing. "Whoo-wee! Something smells good!" The Old Bat's sudden appearance startles Jothun, but when he finally recognizes her he becomes increasingly upset. "Hey! You left me on the trail!" The Old Bat simply chuckles as she sits by the fire Jothun had made. "Sorry Sonny. These old bones just aren't what they used to be." Jothun didn't seem to pleased with the explanation, but he accepted it. After all, he never did wait for her. That night Jothun and the Old Bat share some stew while Asuka tells Jothun about the 'Purple haired lady in the woods.' Jothun doesn't believe her, but she doesn't mind. The next morning hey share breakfast, and the Old Bat gives Jothun a few words of encouragement before slipping out of camp as Jothun packs up.
Jothun has a long climb ahead of him, but Asuka knows he'll make it. Lunae says he will.