In Noctem Picture

Carry my soul into the night

I may have committed to doing at least two more illustrations depicting Black Dogs (in the supernatural sense), and I also want to draw more Noragami fan art, so... two birds one stone, eh? The story in this image hinges on the belief that in certain tales these phantom hounds exist to bear away the souls of the deceased to the afterlife. This illustration depicts Yukine's (from Noragami) spirit shortly after his death, waking in a snowy wood and coming face-to-face with an ominous Black Dog that has appeared to escort his soul to the Far Shore. I suppose an alternative title could be Meeting the Reaper. FYI I've posted another version without the dog here.

It's no secret that Yukine lived a tragic life or died a tragic death, or perhaps both, given Yato's reaction to receiving Yukine's memories early on in Noragami: tears. Let me share my thoughts concerning Yukine's death, based on the fleeting sequence of images we're shown in episode 2 of the anime.

I believe Yukine's parents divorced or separated, whereupon his mother took custody of his sister while Yukine remained with his father. On top of that grief, at some point his father began experiencing financial troubles and turned to alcoholism to cope. It's probably safe to assume that Yukine did not get along well with his father during this time due to being... well, a stubborn, strong-willed teenage boy. His father may have physically abused him. Yato acknowledges in the manga that Yukine had troubles with his father in his past life; whether or not the troubles were this severe-- well, who knows.

Anyway, I'm going to speculate that eventually Yukine's father hurt him very badly but refused to take him to a hospital for proper treatment for obvious reasons. Instead he kept Yukine at home and attempted to treat him, or left Yukine to treat himself. I think it's safe to assume that the bandages we're shown had been applied to treat bleeding, but it's not a stretch to think that Yukine's eventual death came from internal injuries that bandages could not reach. We do know his death wasn't a case of suicide because of a comment by Yato about how only those who had died despite wanting to live could become a shinki / regalia / divine weapon.

Now, here's where I had to get a little creative to make my theory of his death work with this image, which I wanted to take place in a snowy field or grove. I imagine that Yukine may have fallen into a coma or a similar very near-death state and his father, perhaps not realizing that his son was still alive-- or panicked beyond caring-- dumped or buried his body in the snow in a remote area. Shortly after which Yukine did pass away. This scenario suggests that Yukine's last living memory was of snow, hence the name Yuki (Snow) when Yato found and named him.

In all honesty, he probably just ran out after a fight and died in the snow of hypothermia (though this wouldn't explain why in this image he's naked but for the bandages). However, I like my theory better... it's a bit more tragic!
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