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Trial of the Demon (2014)
Hi guys my name is Chris,
This story launches a series of novels i've named the Reaper's Campaign. It deals heavily with the supernatural and is a pure fantasy based off of actual culture and religious beleifs. Hope you all enjoy.
The darkness was cold and spacious, most people would experience immense grief in such a setting, but not Sakon nor his brother, Namikasha. The pit pat of blood dripping echoed throughout the stillness of the night and each small sound pulsated in Sakon’s ears. Even after you killed a man there were still ways for him to get under your skin. Sakon’s eyes narrowed as he made out seven silhouettes. Men who had sought to claim he and his brothers’ heads, men who met their end. Namikasha shifted in his sleep, jolting Sakon’s back a little. The two always slept back to back when they were on the road, you never know what might be lingering in that cold darkness. Namikasha was sound asleep. His hands gripped his blade, Eclipse. Sakon slowly shut his eyes and fell to sleep.
Sakon and Namikasha’s mother died during child labor, and their father died in combat while fending off the people from the North. The two, known as the Setaki brothers, took to their lives in mastering the art of the blade. Now as both were in their late twenties they had gained infamy for their controversial styles of combat. Namikasha paired with Eclipse had created the inverted shadow techniques. His blade would glow blue at the rims, showing his focus during combat. Sakon paired with darkness created the besieging shadow techniques. His blade made a sound unlike any other of this world when it moved. Some say that the sound represented imminent death. The two were referred to by many names: Kage, Oni, Kami, but the most common was, Kishin.
Tojiro ran through the forest to the sound of the voice, after dodging several trees he came about a clearing in the vegetation. There stood four of his comrades, at their feet lay a mangled heap of blood, flesh, and bone. Tojiro slowly approached. “Boten and Maru…” Tojiro gasped. One of his companions looked at him. His white hair was long and danced with a passing breeze, his eyes were full of fury. “Saito, your son’s…who would do this?” Tojiro asked. Saito’s gaze shifted from Tojiro’s shocked face to the vast forest before him.
“Not man, nor beast…” Saito stated in a low voice.
“Nothing from this world.” A young man next to Saito added, his name was Okita. He was the elder brother to the two boys who lay in a pool of their own blood, and now he was the only child to Saito the Silver Swordsman.
“What do you mean?” Tojiro asked confused. Okita’s eyes flashed with anger as he prepared to shout his reply, but was cut off by his father.
“He means we hunt.” Saito stated as he began to walk into the forest, Okita looked away from Tojiro then picked up his spear from the ground and made after his father. Tojiro’s two other companions; the village's blacksmith, Ishida, who was a huge, muscular man with a bald head, gave Tojiro a nod then headed after the two. The final companion was Tojiro’s older brother, Nobushige. He patted his young brother on the shoulder. Tojiro was inexperienced in these matters, however after the long war with the Northerners the village was low on manpower so he was necessary for this “hunt.” Tojiro nodded nervously then followed his brother to catch up with the rest of the group.
“Wake up.” Namikasha demanded. Sakon’s eyes slowly opened, his brother stood over him looking towards the east. Sakon climbed to his feet then took his blade and stuffed it in his waist sash; the sound of the sheath sliding against his armor was shrill yet pleasant. “We have not the time to dawdle, we journey to the eastern shores.” Namikasha stated as he looked at his brother, who briefly scratched his hair before placing on his helmet.
“What of those?” Sakon asked as he nodded towards the slain men, Namikasha turned his gaze towards the bodies.
“Leave them, nature will deal with them as she sees fit.” Namikasha stated as he began to walk away. Sakon watched his brother then turned to the bodies one last time.
“Why didn’t you just leave us be?” Sakon mumbled as he shook his head then followed his brother.
Tojiro and Nobushige held up the rear of the formation. They had been walking for hours through the forest tracking whatever had slain Saito’s sons. Every so often they would find a trail of blood with liquid that Saito himself identified as poison. “Whatever we now follow must be truly terrifying.” Nobushige stated with concern as Tojiro looked to him. Nobushige was renowned for his archery skills and during the war with the Northerner’s he established a band of elite all-purpose bowmen; seeing his brother dismay discouraged Tojiro immensely. Suddenly Saito held the signal to halt and immediately all five men were crouching, after a while Saito turned and gestured everyone to form on him. As Tojiro drew near he heard a terrible sound, and as he and the others peeked through the tree line they witnessed a frightening obstacle on their path.
Namikasha dodged a strike by sidestepping out of the way then spinning and cutting all in one move; in a blur of lightning fast movement a rogue warrior was falling to the ground in two pieces. The sound of Sakon twirling Darkness was a high pitched noise and Sakon flipped and spun sideways with the blade to build momentum. He landed on a knee as he completely cut vertically through another rogue. In one short move of dodging and counterattacking Namikasha had killed the twelfth and final assailant. The two young swordmasters stood then sheathed their blades.
Sakon walked over then sat on a tree stump. He pulled down the black cloth that covered his lower face as he reached for a bamboo canteen. Namikasha looked over to the tree line fifty paces away from them. “You there, come out.” He called out blandly. Sakon gulped down some water then tugged his mask back over his face.
Out of the tree line emerged five men, at their lead was a swordsman with long white hair. Sakon and Namikasha glanced to one another briefly. Long white hair and a nimble grey blade could belong to only one man, The Silver Swordsman. Sakon stood then moved so he flanked his brother’s left arm and was a distance of two strides from him. This was one of many defensive formations the two created to help turn battles to their favor, five men would be nothing to the two while they stood in the Sun God’s Spear.
“We come not to hurt you!” Saito called out as he walked forward with his hands raised. Tojiro walked nervously at the end of the formation, everyone was on edge and rightfully so. Before them stood the Setaki brothers, war gods who called no one master nor followed anyone’s word. These were two men who killed constantly, these were two demons. They were clad head to toe in heavy black armor. There faces were concealed by black clothes so that only their eyes were visible, and atop their heads rested black helmets with large crests adorned on the fronts. The two were a menacing sight.
“I’m not sure you could if you wanted to.” Namikasha replied calmly as the five men neared he and his brother.
“We are simply tracking a murderer, we wish not for conflict.” Saito explained in a calm tone. Tojiro watched as the man nearest them stood in silence. His hair was jet black and incredibly long, his eyes were an intense shade of blue that gleamed under the light of the midday sun. Within those eyes Tojiro could sense danger.
“Very well, be on your way then.” Namikasha said as the atmosphere suddenly loosened. Sakon slouched his stance as he turned to a slain man.
Tojiro was caught off guard by the sight of Saito bowing slightly to the blue eyed Setaki; as Saito and Okita moved past the young man Tojiro soon followed. They all filed past the second brother, his hair was long but not to the length of his brothers. This one possessed grey eyes that appeared dead and absent of emotion. Yes, these men were truly demons; or so Tojiro thought.
“Swordsman.” Namikasha called out as he turned to the man with white hair, the five men stopped and the Silver Swordsman turned to look at him. “You might find your murderer amongst the lot here.” Namikasha stated with a hint of sincerity in his voice; he gestured towards the pile of slain warriors.
“Our murderer is not of this realm, Kishin.” Saito stated. Namikasha’s eyes narrowed, frustration and sorrow were written all over the Silver Swordsman’s face.
Namikasha nodded then said, “I wish you luck, and pray you bring justice unto this murderer.”
Saito’s eyes widened. He then bowed again, however this time it was lower and he waited longer before standing and turning. The five men then disappeared back into the forest and out of sight.
Sakon turned to his brother. “Not of this realm, huh?” Sakon pondered as his brother returned his gaze.
“Does that mean something to you?” Namikasha asked. Sakon looked at the direction the men had left.
“Nothing at all.” Sakon replied as Namikasha neared him. Namikasha was preparing to speak but was caught off by a loud scream, the brothers exchanged wide-eyed looks.
The two were then running full stride in the direction of the scream.
Tojiro and his group heard the scream. “It came from this direction!” Okita blared as he shot through the tree line. Tojiro grasped his bow as he followed behind Nobushige, who also had his bow in his left hand and an arrow in his right. The four then came across a small house made of wicker, the five formed around the edge of the tree line as they yet again witnessed a terrifying sight.
There it stood a menacing seven feet from the ground. Its armor thick and long, a deep purple that glinted under the sunlight. Its helmet was massive, its face guard in the fashion of a dragon’s mouth. Suddenly the teeth opened, making visible to the five a dark void within absent of life. Steam exited its mouth and blew around the body of a young woman. Her body was limp in the grasp of the monstrous warrior. It held her by the neck in its left hand, within the firm grip of its right hand was a massive blade decorated in black and purple. It sank its teeth into the woman’s chest as it tore flesh from her body.
Tojiro looked away in horror towards his companions. All of them held the same look in their eyes, terror. Quickly Saito’s eyes narrowed. “Nobushige, you and Tojiro support our assault. Ishida, Okita, let’s go.” Saito commanded in a whisper. Before the five stood to take action the monster’s head turned to them; its face a dark void, its eyes a glowering purple that held no resemblance to a Human’s.
Okita led the charge as he brought up his spear and hurled it at the monster, which sidestepped out of the way. As it did, it was immediately met by Ishida and his giant two-handed hammer. Ishida brought his hammer high as he swung down with tremendous force. The monster brought up its massive blade as it blocked the hammer, the monster stood like an immovable fortress. The monster moved in a fast blur as it disengaged Ishida. It stomped down its hind leg as it brought its left fist forward into Ishida’s chest. Ishida’s eyes shot wide as the sharp sound of bones cracking screamed around the men, Ishida went flying to the ground.
Without a moment's hesitation Saito flew past the fallen Ishida. His silver blade glinting with uncontrollable anger, sliced through the air three times in the span of a second. Two hits cut the monster’s chest armor, the last glanced off the monster’s blade. Saito backed off as he brought his blade into both hands, his eyes glared at the monster before him. “What are you?” Saito demanded in frustration.
“Demon.” The monster muttered in an otherworldly voice. It was sharp and brittle, falling upon the men’s ears like needles. The Demon stepped forward to strike, two arrows soared through the air. The first planted itself within the Demon's shoulder armor, the second flew past him and dug its way into the earth.
“Focus.” Nobushige muttered as he pulled an arrow, fired, and then pulled another and fired that one. Tojiro closed his eyes then slowed his breathing, when he opened them he drew an arrow and sent it screaming towards the head of the Demon. The arrow flew true and proud, however, like his brother’s last two it sank into the Demon’s armor without phasing the mighty foe.
Saito dashed in to engage the Demon; five cuts, now nine, seventeen. His blade moved like lightning, his arms a blur of movement. Most strikes met their mark; however, despite the vicious assault, the Demon stood unyielding. Saito quickly rolled out past the Demon as it brought its blade around in a wide swoop.
“Go to Ishida!” Nobushige yelled to his brother as he himself stood up, drawing and firing arrows with equivalent speed to Saito’s blade strikes. He walked forward with a steady gait. Tojiro clumsily got to his feet then dashed towards his fallen comrade, he slid on his knees next to Ishida. Ishida laid wheezing and coughing blood.
“It broke me.” Ishida muttered as he pointed towards his torso. Tojiro quickly unwrapped cloth from his waist belt then began to bandage Ishida. Glancing up, Tojiro watched as Okita now engaged the Demon alongside his father and Nobushige. The three were holding their ground, however Tojiro was unsure as to how long they would.
The Demon was perplexed by its current situation. It was feeding on the soul of the woman when this group of men attacked it and, much to the Demon’s surprise, they were skilled in the arts of war. The Demon had a strict quota of souls it needed to devour, not to mention a certain type. Only one of these men had an acceptable soul. The boy with the spear would be devoured, his comrades would either disperse or the Demon would simply withdraw into the vast forest.The Demon looked over towards the young man that knelt beside the man already injured. He was the weak link within their formation, he was the liability.
The Demon swung his massive blade around, sending Saito backpedaling to avoid the strike. Nobushige fired off several arrows as Okita charged in with his spear tip aimed for the back of the Demon’s neck. Okita, his skill compelled him to strike; but he was too slow. Arrows sank into the Demons armor as, with lightning quick movements undisplayed by the Demon previously, it spun on its heels as it brought the tip of its massive blade through Okita’s abdomen.
Saito stood in shock, his throat dried and his stomach tightened. “Okita!” He shouted at the top of his lungs as he charged towards the Demon. His eyes a gleaming fury and his blade slicing through the air, cutting through the Demons armor. As Saito and the Demon locked blades, Nobushige slung his bow over his shoulder then dove in to catch Okita. He picked up the spearman’s limp body as he shot out of range of the two combatants.
Tojiro looked on as Saito moved with godlike speed as he engaged the Demon. Who was now actually parrying every strike, compared to simply receiving the blows. “Okita…” Ishida muttered; Tojiro looked down towards his comrade, his condition had stabled but if he wasn’t seen by a shaman soon, he would lose his life. Tojiro looked back up towards the two titans who clashed blades in metal sparks of fury. In an instant the Demon had spun around and landed a reverse kick to Saito’s abdomen, sending the Silver Swordsman flying out of range. The Demon then faced Tojiro as it presented its blade into a two handed stance and charged towards the young man.
Tojiro’s eyes widened as the Demon’s figure approached him, then out of the corner of his eye he saw two armor clad warriors approach from the tree line. Soon Tojiro’s ears were filled with the distinct sound of Darkness spiraling through the air, the blade dug its way into the Demons right arm with tremendous force. The Demon went flying as the blade dug itself into a tree behind Tojiro. Pinning the Demmon. Tojiro looked up at the Demon as its purple eyes glowered down at him.
As if he were a bolt of lightning, Namikasha dashed in towards the Demon with Eclipse held at his midsection. He struck across the Demon's chest as he shot past him. Sakon took the opportunity to dash in, crouch as he grabbed Darkness, tug it out of the Demon's arm, and then finally bunt the Demon’s chest hard with the backside of his blade handle. The Demon stumbled backwards as Sakon stood upright, twirling Darkness. Namikasha brought his blade low as he dashed back in towards the Demon, sparks flew as the young swordmaster brought his blade in an upwards cut to the Demons back. He backed away on light feet as the Demon turned, blade held high in both hands.
Then they stood in stalemate, the Setaki brothers with the Demon in between the two. Namikasha and Sakon exchanged several quick glances. Tojiro watched the two as they mentally prepared a plan of attack. The ringing of Sakon’s blade echoed around Tojiro as a chill went up his spine. What was he now witnessing? Each of the three steel armor clad warriors had an immense dominating presence, the Setaki brothers displayed no signs of worry or dismay as they faced the mighty foe that had turned Tojiro’s formation in on itself. Would they truly be able to overcome the Demon? Tojiro’s eyes widened as he watched in anticipation. This battle, it would be the likes of none other previously fought.
Slowly the Demon turned its head to assess the current situation. The white haired swordsman and the archer knelt over the boy with the damned soul. The wounded strongman was in stable condition with the young bowman at his side. And now two warriors appeared. There auras were dark and immense, they were…dangerous. As much as the Demon disliked the thought, it would have to retreat. It received too much damage from the old swordsman. Its armor would not withstand combat with these two new warriors.
Namikasha lowered his blade ever so slightly as he dug his back leg into the ground, Sakon nodded to his brother as he caught on to his movements. Namikasha would dash in, Sakon would strike after Namikasha made an opening; the Twin Sparrows Technique. Before the two could act, the Demon let out a loud, terrifying shrill scream. The noise was sharp and pierced the men’s ears, then suddenly the noise resided. Namikasha’s eyes widened as he looked around. “It vanished?” He asked as he and Sakon scoured the surrounding area with their eyes.
“He is long gone.” Sakon stated as he and his brother sheathed their blades. Tojiro looked over to Saito and Nobushige as they frantically went about tending to Okita’s wounds. The young spearmen himself had already passed out due to blood loss. Namikasha and Sakon approached Tojiro and Ishida.
“Thank you, I thought I would surely lose my life.” Tojiro said to the two brothers. Namikasha nodded to the young bowman then slowly headed towards Saito, Sakon watched his brother then turned back to Tojiro.
“We were glad to help, but what exactly was that?” Sakon replied then inquired as Ishida shifted so that his eyes locked with the young Setaki.
“He told us Demon, and his voice sounded not of this realm.” Ishida muttered as he looked over towards his massive hammer that was sprawled far from his reach. Sakon walked over to the weapon then carried it over to the blacksmith.
The three men turned to see Saito stumble towards a tree. He laid his forehead upon the trunk then pounded his fist against it. Nobushige walked over to Saito and placed his hand on his shoulder. Saito simply tucked his head and wept.
Namikasha knelt down over Okita's body, he touched his right hand to his opposite shoulder then outstretched it towards the deceased spearman.
Tojiro walked forward on one side of Ishida, supporting the wounded strongman. On the opposite side was Sakon. Before the two Namikasha and Saito walked at point with Nobushige slightly behind them. The three seemed to be discussing something in hushed tones.
“Whatever that thing was it needs to be found, and dealt with.” Sakon stated with intensity, breaking the silence.
“I suppose you will have to do so without me. Take care of this pup for me, kishin.” Ishida requested in a playful tone, Sakon chuckled in reply.
“My name is Sakon; that one up there, my brother, is Namikasha.” Sakon introduced.
“I am Ishida.”
“Tojiro.” The young bowman spoke as his eyes wandered ahead of the path. Sakon noticed this and as his eyes followed Tojiro’s, they narrowed. Smoke rose up from the horizon...
The group of warriors entered the village. The wicker huts were scorched and ruined, pillars of smoke ascended from the rubble. The streets were littered with bloody bodies, torn and mangled. Eyes widened, mouths gaping; the horror of their demise still apparent on their faces.
Saito dashed off towards a hut. Tojiro fell to his knees; forcing Sakon to shift quickly and support the rest of Ishida’s weight. “Our home.” Ishida muttered as Sakon glanced around. Nobushige and Namikasha had kept their cool, now the two went about looking for survivors.
“Tojiro won’t be able to help as is.” Sakon started as he strained to lower Ishida to the ground softly. “I’m going to help them look around, be mindful of your surroundings.” Sakon finished as he looked at Ishida. The large man’s gaze stared off into nothing, his face quivering with shock. Sakon sighed slightly as he began to have second thoughts about leaving the two so vulnerable. He didn’t speak a word, he simply sat down with his legs crossed and folded his arms over his chest. The Setaki’s sharp grey eyes studied the carnage around him.
Namikasha wandered around the remnants of the village center. A cherry blossom tree, once a noble symbol of the village, stood withered and burnt. On its trunk was a parchment, held in place with a bloody dagger. “Nobushige.” Namikasha called out as he approached the tree. The swordsman pulled the note off as his comrade approached him.
“What is that?” Nobushige asked.
“An ultimatum.” Namikasha replied as he handed to note to the bowman.
“Ash to Ash. Dust to Dust. In that we are created and destroyed. All shall be brought to tremble before the pride of the void.” Nobushige read. “Do you suppose that demon was the cause of this?” Nobushige asked as he and Namikasha looked to one another.
“There is not a doubt in my mind that it was so.” Saito spoke. The two men turned around as the silver swordsman approached them. “With this I am the last.” Saito spoke, within his arms was the body of a beautiful middle aged woman. Saito’s wife had been slain.
Both Namikasha and Nobushige’s eyes widened. Saito dropped to a knee as he gently placed his wife on the ground. His eyes flashed with swelling anger as he rose to his feet. “Our hunt has not ended until we send the demon’s soul screaming back to hell.” Saito spoke with intensity.
“Let us not waste time then; we should leave Tojiro and Ishida to increase our speed.” Nobushige stated, Saito noded.
“My brother and I are with you.” Namikasha offered. Saito and Nobushige turned to him. Saito nodded approvingly to the wandering sword god known as kishin. “Let me just go and grab Sakon, then we can set off.” Namikasha spoke as he walked back towards the village entrance.
Namikasha’s eyes widened. “We have a problem.” Namikasha called out to his new comrades. Nobushige and Saito slowly started towards Namikasha, as they drew near they increased their pace. The three men stood shocked at what lay before them. Ishida’s eyes were rolled back into his head, his mouth wide open; as if he meant to scream. He lay on his back, his stomach carved out and his innards scattered around the ground. The strong man’s blood was splattered about as if an animal had feasted upon him in a wild frenzy. Sakon and Tojiro were nowhere in sight.
Namikasha’s eyes shot around as he searched for his brother. Saito moved near Ishida’s carcass as he took a knee. “Poison.” The silver swordsman muttered as he dipped his finger in a purple liquid. He flicked his fingers clean in disgust as he stood up.
“The demon.” Nobushige stated angrily.
“It has our brothers.” Namikasha added, the intensity of his voice overtaking the bloodlust of his two companions.
“Gentleman.” Saito started as he grabbed a sack he had filled earlier, wrapping it around his back. Okita’s spear within his grasp. “We hunt.” He finished as he ran off, following a trail of poison. Namikasha and Nobushige tailed close behind as the three began their journey to face the demon…
Sakon’s sight returned in a blur, his head throbbing with terrible pain. He was being carried. Sakon glanced up to the sight of the demon, the Setaki was carried under its arm. Sakon struggled to maintain his sight as he looked past the demon’s cold face. Tojiro’s body was over the demon’s shoulder, lifeless. The demon’s footsteps were heavy, and Sakon’s bones ached with every rocking movement.
His first thought was to fight, he could feel Darkness still safe within his waist sash. Yet his body wouldn’t move, he was powerless. He felt his eyes grow heavy as a searing pain rose in his forehead. Sakon became shrouded in darkness. He sucked at his teeth as he felt his consciousness slipping. His voice came out strained and distant. “This isn’t over.” He cursed at the demon as his mind went blank...
The three men travelled far. Across rolling hills and deep forests, coming upon decimated villages. Arriving too late to help, scavenging whatever supplies they could. They journeyed for days, sleeping a few hours during the night. Eventually the trail of destruction lead them to a chain of mountains in a distant land. The three assessed the mountain range. “Come, the path leads into the rock.” Saito stated as the three continued single file. There was small path through the mountain side, Saito inspected it.
He sidestepped into it as he sucked in his stomach, shuffling his feet as he went. Nobushige and Namikasha followed suit. Namikasha’s dark blue eyes were cold and focused, all he had in this world was his brother. He had never wanted his younger brother to take up the sword beside him, however there was little choice. One had to kill to survive, but Sakon deserved a better life. Namikasha wanted his brother to have a better life.
After what seemed like an endless struggle, the three men had exited the slim passage. Before them lay a glorious valley, serene and tranquil. A rare jewel of nature, untouched for ages. There was a large pond near the far end of the valley, with a large cherry blossom tree reaching towards the heavens. “Be on your guard.” Saito cautioned as they walked towards the pond.
Namikasha sat down near the tree’s trunk, resting his back against it. Nobushige was near the pond's edge, filling a bamboo canteen. Saito stood with his hands on his hips, his eyes searching the area for their dreaded foe. The morning air was cool and crisp. Pink petals floated on the calm breeze, dancing around the three weary men. Namikasha focused on one, his eyes making out dew from the morning bliss. From within the reflection of the liquid Namikasha spotted a figure...swinging a massive blade.
Namikasha quickly barrel rolled forward, dodging a swipe from the demon’s blade. Drawing Eclipse as he stood, he backed up as he squared off before the Demon. A breeze shot past Namikasha as Saito dashed towards the demon, his son’s spear flashing with tenacity under the rising sun.
His strike was parried, and as Saito ran past the demon, an arrow soared through the air. The barb stuck itself into a soft spot near the demons shoulder, Namikasha saw an opening. His blue eyes flashed like lightning as he jumped high, bringing his blade outstretched wide in one hand. With the twist of his waist Namikasha brought Eclipse down into the demon’s pauldron. Eclipse pierced partially into the demon’s armor, Namikasha glaring at the demon. The black jaws of its mask opened as it breathed steam, the purple flare of its eyes locked onto Namikasha.
Namikasha tugged Eclipse away as he pushed his feet off the ground, backing off from the demon as it made to strike at him. The demon stepped forward, but its leg jolted as three arrows consecutively tore through the same mark on its knee. With a slight stumble the demon planted its hind foot and turned as Saito lunged Okita’s spear at it, the swordsman's voice raising into an angry shout. Namikasha’s eyes narrowed as the spear tore through the demon’s chest. The sword master dashed forward, his blade held low, his eyes signifying an omen of death.
With a swift strike, Eclipse pierced through the air. Cherry blossoms descended around the sword god, Namikasha Setaki. He stood upright as he snapped his blade shut into its scabbard, his hair dancing with a passing breeze. The dragon jaws of the demon’s mask hung open, the helmet slowly rolled off and clattered to the ground.
Nobushige lowered his bow as Namikasha glared back at the demon’s body, daring it to move. “It is done then.” Saito spoke as the three men gazed at the demon’s body. The armor was propped up by Okita’s spear, one end embedded into the ground.
“We should look around, Sakon and Tojiro are probably hidden somewhere.” Namikasha said.
Saito turned to him. “Then let us separate, in order to cover more ground.” The silver swordsman offered, his comrades nodded and the three walked off in different directions…
“Anything?” Nobushige asked as Namikasha approached.
“Nothing.” Namikasha replied as he sat down, the two sat near the edge of the pond. Saito returned slightly afterwards.
“Find anything?” Namikasha asked as Nobushige gulped water from his canteen.
“I’m afraid not.” Saito replied. The three men were still as they watched the sun setting on the horizon. The red tinge of the sky foreshadowing an ominous trial. “They could be somewhere else.” Saito added after the period of silence.
“Only if they are dead.” Namikasha replied, his eyes grave. They sat in silence once more. Namikasha glanced around, Sakon dead? No matter how hard he thought about it he could not accept it. Sakon was far too skilled and resourceful to have fallen so easily. Caught off guard? Impossible, Sakon’s sensory skills were a level above Namikasha’s own. His brother would have felt danger before it reached him.
Namikasha looked around frantically. There had to be something, Sakon hadn’t died. He couldn’t die. Not before finding a woman and watching his children grow into splendid people. As his eyes scanned over the mountainside at the ponds end, he shot to his feet.
“What is it?” Nobushige asked quickly.
Namikasha began to wade into the water, the pond ceasing to rise above his waist. He moved quickly as he splashed water around.
“Namikasha!” Saito yelled after the Setaki. He and Nobushige exchanged glances. Reluctantly the two entered after him.
Namikasha could see it clearly as he approached the end of the pond. A small, jagged cave entrance led into the mountain. Namikasha stopped as Saito and Nobushige caught up to him. The two men stood uneasy, only Namikasha retained his calm composure. An ominous feeling emitted from the dark abyss before them.
“What lays before us may be similar to that damned demon.” Namikasha started. “Whether our brothers are in there or not, spite compels me to destroy whatever is producing this malice.” Namikasha stated, his eyes harboring sweltering blue flames. “Follow at your own peril.” Namikasha finished as he waded into the cave. Nobushige followed after him. Saito stood for a moment, then followed behind Nobushige.
After a few minutes of walking the three men looked upon the inner structure of a massive chamber. It was created of shimmering blue crystals, the three warriors climbed out of the water and on to the chasm floor. Namikasha glanced around as the other’s did the same, torches hung from the walls. The lighting was dim and sinister.
Three paths parted from where the warriors stood. They eyed each dark entryway with unease. “Should we part ways?” Nobushige asked hesitantly.
“It would be faster.” Saito started, his voice lacking confidence.
“We were only able to defeat the demon with our combined skills.” Namikasha admitted.
“If our brothers are alive, time is of the essence.” Nobushige retorted.
Namikasha thought of Sakon. The archer was right, they would have to take the risk. “Fine then, I’ll take the center.” Namikasha said as he walked forward, his companions dispersing as he did.
Namikasha ventured through the winding, crystal hallway. His eyes affixed on a doorway that sat near the path’s end. He stopped before the large oak door, strange glyphs and symbols carved within it. The previous feeling of anxiety was replaced by an irrevocable manifestation of terror. Namikasha pushed against the door, it stood shut. He stepped back and squared himself off before the door. His inner fury rising as he drew his right arm back. With his frustration he disregarded his principles as his eyes flashed with ferocity. The fifth technique within the Forbidden Arts, Fury.
Namikasha drove his hand forward with immense power, stomping his foot down as he did so. As his palm met the oak of the door a shock wave emitted around it from the massive force. The crystalline wall cracked and fractured in wake of the strike. Namikasha released a heavy breath as he stood upright. The door was left unscathed.
“Tougher than you look.” Namikasha muttered. A rumble sounded from the door.
“I cannot permit entry.” A ghostly voice spoke to him. Namikasha’s eyes widened.
“Why so?” Namikasha asked, his hand resting on Eclipse.
“I cannot permit entry.” The voice repeated.
Namikasha paused as he took a moment to think. There must be some phrase to open the door. He racked his mind as he attempted to recall anything of significance. He raised his eyebrow. There was something that he sensed when he crossed blades with the demon. A sense of pride, that hung around without cause. And he remembered the note the demon left, referencing the “void.”
“Pride of the void.” Namikasha stated. Silence.
“Welcome, Pride.” The voice greeted as the door creaked open. Namikasha walked in. The room was relatively small and bare. There were torches at each corner of the square space. Near the end of the wall there was a large sword stand, with a banner hanging over it. A woven silk with purple characters stitched into it. Pride is poison, it read. This was the demon’s lair, but there was something more here…
“I cannot permit entry.”
Nobushige stood before an oak door. He studied the carvings as he began to decipher its meaning. “This is a metaphor.” The ranger stated as he neared the door, placing a hand upon it. The image on the center was a large black circle, with words swirling into it. They were in different tongues, however Nobushige recognized one. The language of the northerners, he had seen the writings during the war. Shamans placed them on more valuable objects. “Wrath.” Nobushige spoke. His eyes moved back to the center of the image. “This must be the void.” He whispered.
“Wrath of the void.” Nobushige stated, there was a pause of silence.
“Welcome, Wrath.” A ghostly voice answered. The door began to creak open, Nobushige took his bow in his left hand. As the door opened his eyes widened. “Sakon!” He exclaimed as he rushed into the room. The Setaki warrior laid strewn across the ground, his body unharmed. His prized blade nestled next to his waist. Nobushige knelt beside Sakon, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Sakon.” He called out.
Nobushige’s eyes shot wide, he was so worked up at the sight of his lost comrade that he didn’t notice the aura of the room. The area was filled with bloodlust. Nobushige slowly looked up, a black blade with golden accents sat upon a stand. Behind it sat a massive body clad in armor. Its face mask that of a dragon, golden and wicked. The golden accents of the armor glinted under the dim light. Behind the figure, a banner hung from the wall. Its colors the same fashion. Wrath is fire, its golden characters read.
Nobushige felt a pit form in his stomach. He glanced back at the armor. The dark void of its face slowly lit up, as two golden orbs opened into a glowering stare. “Sakon, get up!” Nobushige shouted with panic…
“I cannot permit entry.”
“Yes I heard you the first time.” Saito muttered in frustration. He sat before an oak door, his arms crossed over his chest. He studied the strange glyphs before him but couldn’t make anything from it.
“Dark demon?” He asked with impatience.
“I cannot permit entry.”
“I don’t have time for this!...”
Sakon’s sight returned in a blur. “Get up!” Sakon looked around, his head throbbing. “Come on Sakon. Get on your feet!” Sakon stood up as he held an arm out to regain his balance. His vision slowly cleared. The demon swiped its blade at Nobushige, who ducked and dashed away from it. This demon was different however, its armor was golden.
“Help me, before Wrath kills us both!” Nobushige shouted as he shot two arrows quickly at the demon, who swiftly moved his blade to parry each bolt. Its golden eyes glared at Nobushige as it held its blade low in both its hands. It stood in a sturdy and disciplined stance, much different than the first demon that seemed to rely on its strength.
Sakon didn’t know what was going on, however he knew he had a score to settle. His grey eyes lit up in fury as he drew Darkness up into both his hands. He dashed forward as he and Wrath locked blades. The two struck at one another, their blades screaming as they met. Nobushige stepped back as he looked for a lead to send an arrow, but Sakon and Wrath were too close and moving too quickly. Nobushige was filled with awe as he watched Sakon engage his foe.
Wrath was easily twice the opponent as the first demon. Its movements were quick and sharp, it used its body similar to how Saito fought. Seeing how the first demon gave them so much trouble, Wrath would have been a handful for Nobushige, Saito, and Namikasha. Yet here Sakon was meeting it on equal footing.
Sakon dodged his head as Wrath’s blade glanced off the side of his helmet. He stepped forward with a strike then brought an elbow into the demon’s chest. It stumbled back slightly, its chest armor was made of a thin material. “Nobushige!” Sakon called out.
On cue arrows sank into Wrath’s chest, the bowman’s assault was relentless. Nobushige moved forward as he fired arrows, his eyes narrowed with his focus. The demon of wrath jolted to dash towards Nobushige. Sakon moved forth to meet it. The Setaki dashed passed Wrath in a low stance, bringing Darkness through its torso. Wrath fell to the ground in two pieces, the gold of its eyes dying as its face darkened once more.
Sakon stood upright, sliding Darkness into its scabbard. Nobushige slung his bow over his shoulder, releasing a sigh of relief. The two looked at one another. “I’m glad to see you’re alright, I pray my brother shares your luck.” Nobushige said.
“Tojiro was with me, I barely recall seeing him.” Sakon replied.
“Saito and Namikasha are searching as well, one of them will find him.” Nobushige informed.
“What of Ishida?” Sakon questioned.
“Dead.” Nobushige replied. Sakon sucked at his teeth.
“Come.” Nobushige said as he moved to exit the room. Sakon glanced back at Wrath. His eyes falling upon his foe’s glorious blade. The metal was pitch black, similar to Darkness. Sakon moved to the blade as he took the scabbard that lay on the ground. He snapped the blade shut within it as he followed after Nobushige. Stashing the blade beside Darkness on his hip…
Namikasha returned to the cavern entrance, wonder of his comrades situations on his mind. “Brother.”
Namikasha turned with widened eyes. Sakon and Nobushige walked side by side as they approached him. The blue eyed Setaki’s worry was alleviated at the sight of his younger brother. Sakon’s presence seemed different than before, more confident. A strange apprehension surrounded him. “The demon took me by surprise, Nobushige told me how the three of you defeated it.” Sakon stated as he stopped and put his hands on his hips.
“It was a conclusion too long in the making, that damn monster won’t be causing us any more trouble.” Nobushige responded.
“Listen we fought another demon, a golden one.” Sakon told his brother. Namikasha’s eyes widened.
“Is that so?” The older Setaki asked.
“That’s right, we took him down within a few bouts.” Sakon replied. “It seemed weaker than the other.” He added. Nobushige looked at Sakon, Wrath’s skill was scores higher than the first demon. Sakon’s own skill simply exceeded that.
“See this blade.” Sakon started as he motioned at the blade beside Darkness. “It was that demon of wrath’s blade, it was too glorious a weapon to leave for a pile of armor. It’s similar to Darkness, but far from being superior.” He finished. Namikasha’s lips curled into a smile behind his black mask.
“Come, we need to find Saito. Tojiro should be down the path he took.” Namikasha spoke. Nobushige and Sakon followed after him as they entered the way Saito had journeyed.
As the three neared the end, they saw the silver swordsman sitting on the ground. “Saito.” Namikasha called out. Saito shot to his feet as he turned around.
“Sakon.” He stated as he saw the younger oni, who nodded to him.
“Tojiro should be in there.” Namikasha started.
“As well as another demon.” Nobushige added as he moved towards the door, studying its features.
“Another demon?” Saito questioned.
“We defeated a second one within the chamber I was in.” Sakon explained.
“Really?” Saito asked, Sakon showed him the blade as proof. “Unbelievable, you three defeated him?” Saito asked in wonder.
“No, I wasn’t there.” Namikasha replied. Saito turned to Nobushige.
“The two of you defeated it on your own?” He asked in disbelief.
Nobushige didn’t break his gaze from the door. “It was the demon of wrath, twice the foe of,” Nobushige looked at Namikasha with question.
“Pride was the first.” The older kishin said.
“Twice that of Pride.” Nobushige finished, running his hand over the door.
“Wrath didn’t seem all too difficult an opponent.” Sakon offered.
“That’s because you are twice the opponent it could ever be.” Nobushige stated. Saito and Namikasha looked at Sakon.
“This one is Fear. Be prepared to face him.” Nobushige stated. The three swordsman drew their blades behind him. Taking his bow into his grasp Nobushige spoke, “Fear of the void.”
“Welcome, Fear.” The door acknowledged as it creaked open.
Fear sat before its own banner of vitality. Its characters were a bloody crimson. It read, fear is power. The demon of fear’s armor was decorated in black and red. Unlike Pride and Wrath, its mask was that of a human’s skull. Before it was a large scythe, as dark as the void worshipped by the monsters. Tojiro lay limp before the third and final demon.
Fear’s eyes lit up into a red flare, its mouth opening as a jet of steam shot out. It stood tall as it reached for its weapon. “Don’t give it time to react!” Saito shouted as he and the Setaki brothers shot forward. Nobushige shot an arrow into Fear’s gauntlet. The archer turned away as Saito engaged the demon.
Nobushige knelt near his brother. “Get up, Tojiro!” He commanded, shaking his brother’s shoulder. Tojiro shot up in terror, looking at his brother with widened eyes. Nobushige wrapped his free arm around Tojiro in a strong embrace. “I’m glad you’re alright, but we need your help.” Nobushige spoke after he and Tojiro drew back. “There isn’t time to explain. All you need to do is fight.” Nobushige said with strength as he and his brother stood tall. Tojiro felt an unfamiliar feeling in his chest. The feeling of confidence.
The young man took his bow in his hands, his brother turning and firing at Fear. Tojiro drew up an arrow as his eyes fell on a weak spot in Fear’s armor, he released his grip. The arrow flew true as it shot through Fear’s elbow.
The demon swung its scythe around wide. It was bombarded by a relentless assault of arrows. At the same time the three swordsman engaged Fear consecutively, the men attacking as if they were one. Not allowing the demon a single moment of respite. An arrow sank into the crimson of Fear’s left eye, blocking its light. Namikasha dashed past Fear as he tore Eclipse across its chest. Saito ducked below a strike as he dashed forward, sinking his blade into Fear’s arm. The Silver swordsman retracting his blade as he dodged a strike, shooting backwards.
The demon spun its scythe around in a vicious swing. Namikasha tracked the weapon with his eyes, he wouldn’t be able to react in time. “Gah!” He exclaimed in pain as the edge of the scythe carved at his stomach, Namikasha dashed backwards. Saito glanced at Namikasha with worry. Fear brought the opposite end of its scythe towards Saito’s head. Saito’s eyes widened as the cold steel struck him across the face, he was tossed to the ground.
Nobushige walked forward with his shots, attempting to overwhelm Fear. The demon shot towards Nobushige, spinning its scythe around high as it went. Nobushige’s eyes widened as Fear skidded to a halt before him. The demon swiped its weapon around high then low. Slicing Nobushige into three pieces. Blood splattered around the two as Tojiro felt his heart stop.
“Nobushige!” He screamed as he fired a volley of arrows at Fear. His vision clouded by tears. The demon turned to the young man.
Sakon sucked at his teeth as he motioned forward. Namikasha held his free hand over his wound, Eclipse within the strong grip of his opposite hand. One eye closed with pain. He tracked the demon’s path. “Tojiro!” Namikasha shouted as Fear shot towards the young bowman.
Sakon’s eyes widened as Fear approached Tojiro, he ran to the aid of his comrade. Tojiro stood his ground as he watched Fear. At the last moment he fired an arrow and dropped to his back, kicking at Fear’s legs as it approached him. The demon tumbled forward, past Tojiro. Tojiro stood up, Sakon flew before him. He had Wrath’s sword drawn. He held both blades up as the back end of Fear’s scythe glanced off them. Sakon jolted forward past the strike. Pushing Fear’s weapon away and laying his shoulder into the demon’s chest. The demon stumbled backwards.
Sakon turned to Tojiro. “You’ll need this.” He said as he offered Tojiro the blade of wrath. Tojiro slung his bow over his shoulder as he accepted the dark blade. He held the weapon as knowledge coursed through his mind, strange sword techniques revealing themselves to him. The two rushed the demon of Fear. Sakon met Fear’s scythe with Darkness, the two pressing their weapons in opposition of each other. He angled his blade down as he forced Darkness through the scythe handle. As Sakon cut through he spun low, swiping his blade through Fear’s ankles. His movements quick and unpredictable.
Tojiro lunged over Sakon as Fear fell backwards. Wrath’s blade became a dark flurry of movement as Tojiro striked at Fear. His voice raising into a shout of strength. Ten cuts, seventeen, thirty. Tojiro’s speed was unparalleled. Namikasha and Nobushige watched in shock.
Saito had moved towards Namikasha, the silver swordsman’s eyes were wide as he looked at the blood flowing from the Setaki’s wound. Namikasha had just noticed upon Saito’s arrival. “Argh!” He exclaimed as he felt his strength wane.
“Lay down.” Saito spoke as he dropped his blade and helped Namikasha onto his back.
Sakon watched Tojiro carving Fear apart. Tojiro ceased his assault, the blade of wrath held up in a high stance. The young man’s breath was heavy, his eyes cold and narrow. Fear’s armor fell to the ground, its eyes light dying long ago in wake of Tojiro’s fury.
“Sakon!” Saito called. Sakon turned, his eyes widening immediately. He ran to his brother’s side. As Sakon knelt next to Namikasha, he studied his older brother’s wound.
“The cut is deep, we need to stop the bleeding.” Sakon started. Namikasha glanced at his brother.
“If I had been a moment slower, my innards would have been disgorged.” Namikasha stated with strain as his brother and Saito sat him upright. Sakon quickly took his brother’s heavy helmet off his head and placed it on the ground. The older kishin’s hair spilled around wildly as Sakon pulled his brothers cloth mask down to his neck. He did the same for himself afterwards.
Saito glanced at the Setaki brothers as he realized why they had kept their faces covered. The two had soft, feminine features; pleasant to look at. A blessing to some, a curse to others. No warrior would take two men seriously with such gentle faces. Sakon quickly undressed his brother’s torso armor, laying it aside. He pulled his own face scarf from under his armor and began wrapping it around his brother’s waist tightly. “If we give you a moment your condition will stable, afterwards we can take you outside and treat your wounds more thoroughly.” Saito spoke as he aided Sakon in undressing the remains of Namikasha’s armor.
Sakon glanced back at Tojiro, the young man knelt over his brother’s scattered corpse. Silently recalling his older brother’s life. Glancing back at Namikasha, Sakon felt reassured to see his brother’s breathing regulate. “I’ll be right back.” Saito said as he stood and walked away.
Saito knelt beside Tojiro, placing a hand on his shoulder. Namikasha placed his hand on his brother’s arm. Sakon turned to him. “Listen, Sakon. Within the demon of pride’s lair I found something terrible. We must destroy it.” Namikasha explained, his eyes grim.
“For now let’s get you outside, so we can clean out that wound.” Sakon replied as he helped his brother to his feet. Namikasha leaned on Sakon as the two stepped towards their remaining comrades. Tojiro stood up, Saito did the same. Tojiro moved towards Sakon, offering to return Wrath’s blade. Sakon reached at the scabbard with his free hand, holding it out to the young man. “Keep it.” Sakon said as Tojiro slid the blade in after receiving it. “You’re far too skilled a swordsman to rely on a bow alone.” Sakon added. Tojiro nodded as he dug the blade into his waist sash. The four men walked away…
The four exited the lair, Sakon aiding his brother’s gait. They waded through the pond, their eyes widening as they drew closer to the bank. The wind sent blossoms around in a violent dance.
“Didn’t you say you had left Pride’s body here?” Tojiro asked.
Namikasha strained as he spoke, “We did.” Pride was nowhere in sight.
The four men were now standing on the bank. Like a mighty fortress, it stood. The light of the midday sun shooting off its damaged armor. Within one grip its blade, the other held the spear used to inflict its own mortal wound. From within its helmet the bright purple of its eyes gleamed with ferocity. The dragon’s mouth opening, a mist of steam pouring out. The demon of pride stood tall and strong. Its presence ominous.
“Enough of this!” Saito shouted, drawing his blade quickly. Tojiro drew the blade of wrath as he and Saito charged Pride. Pride lowered into a strong stance, holding both weapons at the ready. Saito dashed forward, meeting Pride’s blade with his own. Tojiro skidded to a halt beside Saito, holding up his blade as Okita’s spear whipped towards him. Tojiro felt the concussion of the blow throughout his body as his back was forced against Saito. The two swordsman glanced back at one another, they couldn’t move.
“Sakon!” Namikasha shouted. His brother immediately dropping him to his knees, dashing to the aid of their allies. A swift cry rose up as Darkness cut through the air. Sakon dashed toward Pride, the demon disengaged the two swordsman as it dashed backwards.
Sakon flew past his comrades, he appeared before Pride as the demon planted its feet. Sakon watched the spear swing high towards his face. Pride’s blade looping towards his feet. Sakon tapped his feet off the ground, flipping sideways. Turning his head along with his torso as he dodged the attacks. His momentum transferring to Darkness, the blade swinging down in a vicious strike.
The blow struck down along Pride’s chest. Namikahsa brought his blade up as he defended a counter attack. He backed away on light feet. He and the demon squared off. Saito and Tojiro ran to Sakon’s side, the two taking stances as they anticipated what would happen next.
Namikasha watched in earnest, his hand resting atop Eclipse. He had cut clean through the monster’s neck, and yet there it stood. A pit formed in his stomach, something was wrong.
His eyes widened as he sensed an immense spirit from within Pride’s hollow shell. “Sakon!” Namikasha shouted as he struggled to his feet.
Sakon glanced back as his brother began to run towards him. “You idiot, what are you doing?!” Sakon shouted as he turned to face his brother. Namikasha coughed blood as he drew Eclipse.
“Get away from Pride!” Namikasha screamed. But it was too late.
Pride raised its head as its jaws opened wide, it released an extraneous cry. The ground shook as the men felt their ears rupture. Sakon turned to look at Pride as his eyes widened, he finally felt terror. The demon dashed forward like a rocket, an explosion sounding as it went. The ground caving in its wake.
Pride appeared before Saito, who stared at it with widened eyes. Saito clenched his teeth as he brought his blade into a guard. The demon swiped its blade upwards as Saito was thrown into the air.
Tojiro faced Pride as it exploded towards him. The young man dodged a strike from the spear as Sakon dashed towards them. Tojiro threw himself backwards away from the demon. Sakon held Darkness high within both his hands, glaring down at Pride. The demon brought its blade back towards Sakon, who stared down with widened eyes. “Sakon!” Namikasha shouted as he pushed off the ground, feeling his wound tear open as blood flowed from his mouth.
The demon pivoted on its heels, bringing its blade into a vicious stab. The blade tore through skin and bones, sending blood spraying over Sakon’s face. He sat on the ground as he stared at Namikasha. The older kishin had thrown his brother out of the way. The demon’s blade was embedded in his chest, protruding out his back. He held Eclipse out as far he could, the blades tip just barely reaching Pride’s face. Eyes glaring spitefully at his foe.
Namikasha held his vicious stare for a moment before coughing a large pool of blood. He grabbed the demon’s blade with a firm grip. “Now! Slay the beast!” The kishin shouted as he felt every muscle in his body straining. Namikasha glanced over at his brother, approaching with eyes of rage.
Namikasha tossed Eclipse to his brother. Upon receiving the blade Sakon moved forward with the ferocity of a lightning dragon. Pride released its grip on its blade as Namikasha fell to the ground. The demon brought its spear around wide, dashing to meet Sakon. Sakon brought both blades forward in a cross as he dashed off the ground, flying towards Pride with the speed of a hawk in flight. His helmet shot off his head as he did so.
Pride jabbed with his spear. Sakon turned his hips as he twirled both blades downwards, slicing the spear into pieces. Pivoting his body, Sakon brought both blades carving into Pride’s chest. Before the demon could react, Sakon had spun around twice. Bringing his blades in a fury of slashes, sending Pride’s arms soaring towards the sky as they were severed. Sakon spun around the demon as it fell forward. “On your knees!” He shouted, stabbing a blade into each of the demon’s legs.
Pride turned to look up at Sakon, who glared back towards him. Sakon looked back at his brother, Saito and Tojiro were knelt before him. As Sakon passed the demon he struck it across the face with the back of his hand, Pride crashed to the ground.
Sakon knelt before his brother. Saito and Tojiro gave them space, each swordsman watching the brothers. The grey of Sakon’s eyes reflected from within the blue of Namikasha’s. The two seemed to read one another’s thoughts as Namikasha’s life slowly faded. In unison they reached their right arms out, placing it on the other’s shoulder. “Slaying a group of demons, a fitting way for a kishin to meet his end.” Sakon stated, a tear running from his eye.
“That’s right.” Namikasha replied. The two stayed in silent lament as they stared at one another, reminiscing the cruel life they had faced together. “Live on.” Namikasha commanded, placing a hand on his brother’s cheek as he shook it. “Live well.” He finished as he felt his lifeforce slip.
“Yes, brother.” Sakon replied softly. His eyes shut, his hand atop Namikasha’s. Namikasha’s head slumped back gently, his hand went limp. Sakon gripped Pride’s blade with his free hand, withdrawing it from his brother’s corpse. He set the blade aside, folding his brothers hands over his chests.
Glancing back he saw the demon, wriggling on the ground. Sakon took Pride’s blade into both hands as he and his two comrades moved forward. The three men’s faces stark with anger and fury before the being that had taken so much from each. Sakon kicked Pride’s face, bringing the demon up onto its knees. He placed a foot onto its shoulder heavily as he drew near its face. “I want you to know that it doesn’t end here, I will completely destroy your kind.” Sakon growled as he drew back, stabbing Pride in its chest. The demon’s jaws opened, letting out a painful scream.
“Good! Know the terror of death you had dealt so carelessly!” Sakon shouted as he stepped back and turned his waist. His eyes wide and furious as he brought Pride’s blade around wide, cleaving the demon’s body in half. The light in Pride’s helmet finally died, its armor turning to ash slowly afterwards.
Sakon looked at his comrades. Saito stared at the ground, his gaze distant. Tojiro stepped beside Sakon. “With this we are the last of our lines.” Tojiro stated.
“Yes, this old man will be the last Teskanda.” Saito added, his voice near a whisper.
“No.” Sakon started. The two looked at him. “Tojiro, we may not be brothers through blood, yet now I consider you a Setaki.” Sakon said. “Take the name as your own and wear it as a proud symbol.” He continued, as the two men placed their hands on one another’s shoulders. “Our quest is not yet done, we have to honor our fallen brothers and the innocent souls.” Sakon spoke, he then turned to Saito.
“Come with us.” Sakon said as he and the silver swordsman locked eyes. Saito could see something from within Sakon, for some reason he felt that he could follow this young man.
“I am with you, kishin.” Saito replied.
“Now we are all kishin. Come.” Sakon spoke as the three walked back towards the cavern across the pond…
Sakon’s eyes narrowed as he and his comrades assessed the interior of Pride’s lair. The Setaki’s eyes fell upon Pride’s sigil, he felt an otherworldly presence from it, quite different from the other two banners. Sakon moved forward, kicking the blade stand aside. He gripped the edge of the enormous banner as he tugged it down.
As it fluttered to the ground, the three men looked upon a large gate way. Its border the crimson of blood. The center a swirling dark void. “Where does this lead?” Saito questioned.
Sakon looked at each companion. “Wherever it does, the demons came from there. We will find their master within.” He stated with fury, the two men nodded in reply.
“Let me take the lead.” Tojiro offered, immediately starting forward. His comrades followed closely as they entered the gate.
As they exited they stood upon a barren field, expanding infinitely towards an unseen horizon. The sky was a bloody red. Crows circled above head, gawking and taunting the three outsiders. The presence around them was dark and terrifying. They heard the ring of a small bell.
Turning the three men were met by a large pile of skeletons. Atop it sat a cloaked figure, seeming to gaze lazily at the men from within its dark hood. “Who are you?” Sakon asked, the three men gripping their blades.
“Who am I? I am Death.” The figure replied…
Little is known of the events that transpired after the three heroes entered that portal, so many long centuries ago. However, in wake of the demon’s trials, the Setaki empire was born. The fabled Sakon Setaki at its head, conquering all around him with the unnatural powers and abilities of he and his allies. Yet only after two generations, that empire mysteriously fell. The houses of the empire splitting and eventually fading as well.
It is said that the valley where Sakon and his band of heroic souls faced the demons still exists, hidden from the world. There one may yet find the legendary tools and gear wielded and adorned by the ancient warriors. And here we spiral towards the events of the present. With a young man with red eyes, the lord of fear. The man who seeks out those lost treasures. I stand beside that young man in earnest, as we search for the Setaki Legacy...