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Kuri was a child.
A child from a small village in Japan. Named for the colour of her hair, the name meaning chestnut. She was a curious child. An inquisitive child. Always asking questions, always going on adventures, discovering new things. And often wandering away and getting lost.
The most intelligent child in her class, her knowledge was described as otherworldly. She was often referred to, lovingly, as the village encyclopaedia. She knew things not taught in school or by her family. Things she couldn't possibly have known... She would return from the forest or stream or meadow with knowledge she shouldn't have known at all. A gifted child, she was thought of as a prodigy, a child genius.
But knowledge wasn't all she returned from the trees with. She was considered a gifted storyteller for the fantastical tales she told her friends and neighbours. Strange, awesome stories about visitors; strange creatures from distant stars coming out of odd flying machines to teach her a great many things.
Her stories, as amusing and entertaining as they were, were dismissed as flights of fancy, explained away by the rational as childish fantasy, never taken seriously aside from Kuri's obvious propensity for a future perhaps in authoring science fiction novels.
In addition to her preternatural intelligence and wild tales, she was friendly and helpful and kind, a model student and a golden child, loved by everyone.
As beloved as she was by the community, it was no surprise that the village was collectively shocked and saddened when one day, Kuri did not return home from one of her frequent jaunts into the forest.
Search parties were sent out, authorities were notified, the entire village searched for her, but years passed and Kuri was never found.
In the wake of her mysterious disappearance, conspiracy stories cropped up all across the internet. Rumours, misplaced blame, wild far-fetched stories swirled around maddeningly. At the centre of it all, claims of alien abduction reigned as the most popular explanation for her traceless vanishing.
In an instant, Kuri and her tiny Japanese village were famous nearly overnight. Tourists poured in to investigate the rumoured site of her disappearance for themselves. They bothered the grieving locals and made a mess of the beautiful village.
But eventually, as with most conspiracy theories, the story of Kuri's disappearance faded into the ever-changing tapestry of the World Wide Web and was forgotten in favour of new sensations.
Many locals fled from the small village she came from to escape a town so dampened with sadness in her absence.
The village was like a ghost town now. Tourists no longer found anything of interest there. The forest took back many abandoned homes. Kuri's aging parents remained, hoping perhaps one day she might return.
And she did.
Twenty years had passed since her disappearance when she abruptly returned, appearing suddenly from the forest as if no time at all had passed.
A grown woman now, she was much changed. She was reserved and introspective. She often seemed somewhat impatient, as though waiting for something she anticipated eagerly. In certain lighting, her eyes glowed in a strange electrical way. Her movements had become robotic. In some ways, she just didn't seem like herself.
In others ways though, some things were unchanged. She remained as polite and helpful and knowledgeable as ever, perhaps now even more so.
However, upon her return, she refused to stay in her home in Japan. She insisted, most peculiarly, that she leave immediately, though she would not say where to.
She left her village and her parents behind to seek out the creators who could finish her transformation.