Warsong Chapter One: Yukiko And Katsume

Steel clashed on steel, ringing through the vast forest like wind chimes in a hurricane. All other sounds had retreated as the music of battle was sung, fleeing as the two inhuman combatants sought to be the sole survivor of their private war. To an outside observer, the victor would have been clearly decided, however.

Tong slammed his massive sword against Yukiko’s katana, pushing her back several steps, pressing his advantage once again. The reverberations of his blows trembled up to her shoulders, her arms aching from the force of his merciless onslaught. Almost as bad was the effect his slow witted laughter was having on her mind.

“A-huh huh huh,” Tong laughed, drooling slightly as he slammed his blade against hers again, forcing her heels to dig earth up as she struggled to hold her ground.

Dammit, she thought, This is bad…

Tong laughed again, “Girl should give up. Tong gonna eat girl.”

His sword crashed down on her weakening defenses again and again, painfully fast, numbing her arms as she sought to just hold off his blows from reaching her body. Soon, she knew, she’d be too weak to hold her sword up, too slow to block his powerful assault. Soon, she knew, the demon Tong was going to beat her.

It humiliated her, to think a demon such as Tong would be her end. While he was painfully stupid and slow witted, Tong was massive, nearly eight feet of solid muscle under a thick coat of purplish blue fur, topped with an ape like head filled with multiple rows of serrated teeth. His breath reeked of human blood and rotting flesh, all that remained of the dozen villagers he had devoured since moving to the forest.

Waiting till he lifted his sword for another barrage, Yukiko launched herself backwards, away from his powerful blows, landing several feet from the massive demon, giving her arms a much needed rest from his overwhelming assault. Tong hesitated, cocking his head to stare at her, puzzled by her sudden retreat. Then came the mind numbing laughter again as he hurled himself towards her, his idiocy belying his super human speed.

Her arms still ringing, Yukiko launched herself away from him, her small frame, barely over five feet in height, narrowly avoiding his fast moving sword, her short dark hair a bit shorter from the close call. Red eyes narrowed as she looked for a weakness in this monster she could exploit, her own demonic strength far from enough to battle the obscenity.

This, she thought, Is a lot more than I bargained for.

Only a month gone from the monastery where she had awoken with no memory of herself, or her past, Yukiko had arrived at a small farming village after hearing a rumor the local Lord would pay a handsome reward to whomever could slay the demon that had taken up residence in the nearby forest. While she was loathe to do mercenary work, and was certain the old monk who had taken care of her would be disappointed, Yukiko had discovered that even demons needed to eat.

The Lord had been hesitant, of course. A demon entering his home to offer herself as a Demon Slayer. Despite this, the man was obviously desperate, and willing to accept any who would make the attempt to put down the man eating monster. Even the small, scantily clad, red eyed girl armed with nothing but an old katana.

If ever there was a time to discover my demonic powers, now would be it, she thought to herself as she nimbly dodged Tong’s wildly swinging blade.

“Stop hopping around, girl,” Tong bellowed, “Tong is hungry! Tong want to eat you!”

“Noticed that,” Yukiko snapped back, bouncing herself off a tree trunk and catapulting over his head. “Looks like you’ll have to earn this meal.”

Tong laughed his horrible, drooling laugh. “Tong likes playing with food. But Tong tired of playing. Girl needs to get eaten now!”

Yukiko somersaulted past his sword again, and was beginning to wonder if she could wear him down, tire him out enough to actually fight back, when she felt a massive fist close around her ankle.

Dammit! she chided herself as her momentum suddenly changed and she was slammed face first into the ground. Stars danced before her eyes as Tong swung her wildly around, crashing her into trees, rocks and the forest floor again and again.

Struggling to hold on to her senses, Yukiko clung to her sword just as desperately, twisting herself in his grip until she could slice at his meaty fingers. As she was swung high in the air, Tong aiming to bash her against another tree, she chopped down, slicing through the meat and to the bone, blackish blood erupting from the wound.

Tong screamed and released her, nursing his injured finger. Yukiko tumbled to the ground, where she pulled herself to her knees quickly, shaking her head to clear it. Silently, she thanked her demonic parents for her super human stamina. Had she been human, she’d have been dead several times over by now.

The irony of it didn’t escape her, either. The demon who wished she was human suddenly being thankful she was a demon. Somewhere, she knew, someone in Heaven was laughing themselves silly at her.

“Bad girl!” Tong howled, tears pouring from his eyes. “Bad girl hurt Tong’s hand! Bad girl made Tong bleed!”

“Life’s rough all over,” Yukiko told him, pulling herself to her feet, gripping her sword tighter as she faced him. “Get over it.”

Tong bawled as he stamped around. “Tong’s finger! Tong’s finger! Bad girl gonna pay for Tong’s finger!”

Yukiko had seconds to marvel at the absurdity of this before Tong was coming at her, sword swinging impossibly fast, too fast to even think of blocking. She gasped, knowing the next thing she would feel would be the massive blade cleaving her in half. The pitiful sword she carried would never be able to block the force she knew was behind that swing.

Damn, she thought.

“Hey, ugly.”

Tong stopped dead, turning to look at the owner of the voice that had suddenly intruded. Yukiko couldn’t help but glace that way as well, wondering if perhaps someone in Heaven had seen fit to show her a shred of mercy.

“Who you?” Tong demanded.

Perched atop a boulder she stood, a towering woman, easily over six feet high, with a shock of blood red hair that fell down her back in a tight braid. Her armor, or what there was of it, was blackish green, appeared to be leather, and consisted of little more than a bustier, a long skirt slit to the waist on both sides, and knee boots.

The sword resting on her shoulder however, was a totally different matter. The blade was wide and nearly as long as the woman was tall, with words scribed into it. Yukiko narrowed her eyes, but found she couldn’t read them, the language one she didn’t know. Whatever they said, the fact the woman held the sword grip with one hand, the other resting on her hip, conveyed a great deal.

A Demon Slayer. A real one. A professional.

The woman narrowed her emerald eyes, cocking her head a bit as she stared at burly demon. “You Tong? The demon what’s been eating the villagers around here?”

As if Yukiko didn’t even exist, Tong turned towards the woman, sword coming up. “Me is Tong.”

“Well, I’m here to kill you, ya ugly son of a bitch,” she replied.

Tong laughed his idiot laugh. “You kill Tong? Tong no think so. You just girl. Tong powerful demon. Tong kill you, then eat you, with mean girl for dessert!”

“Nah,” the woman replied. “I don’t think you’ll like the taste of me.”

Tong stopped laughing and braced himself, sword swinging up. “Tong kill you now. Die, for Tong, like a good meal!”

Propelling himself with powerful legs, Tong rushed the woman, who casually lifted her sword from her shoulder and brought it to the ready. To Yukiko’s amazement, the blade burst into flame, wreathed in a halo of dancing fire as the Slayer gripped the hilt with both hands, smiling devilishly at the demon barreling down on her with howling fury.

Time seemed to slow for Yukiko, measuring out in her own breaths. She could see it clearly, with her demon eyes, the swirls of energy being pulled into the blade, as the woman swung it up over her head. Tong’s headlong rush was a crawl as the mighty sword hummed in the air over the Slayer.

A magical weapon… Yukiko thought, eyes widening as she watched the energy move and shift around the sword.

Ravaging Flare! the Slayer bellowed, releasing the energy in the sword as she swung it down.

Bolts of fire fell from the sword, striking the ground and ripping their way towards Tong, who had only seconds to grasp what was happening. Then, he was torn apart, the energy from the swords assault shredding through his flesh and bone, burning him alive with magical fire. Tong screamed briefly, parts of him falling all over, some still burning.

Yukiko gaped. The Slayer still stood, perched on the boulder, sword swinging leisurely back onto her shoulder as the flames snuffed themselves out. Before her, four deep grooves had been cut into the ground, ending at a scorched patch of earth that had been Tong.

“Oh, good,” the woman said, “Most of his head is still intact.”

Exhausted, Yukiko fell back, laying in the grass for a moment, panting. She hadn’t even realized she’d been holding her breath, or that her body had tensed so much, as the Slayer had put Tong down with so little effort. Most of all, she was amazed she would live to see tomorrow.

“You okay?” the Slayer asked as she hopped to the ground, walking over to nudge Tong’s smoldering head with the toe of her boot.

Yukiko waved. “I’m great. Thanks. Just wonderful.”

The Slayer eyed her cautiously as Yukiko pulled herself to her feet. Her battered, and mostly useless sword was returned to its sheath before she took a moment to dust herself off, the red leather halter dress she wore a bit worse for the wear.

“Pretty foolish, trying to take on a demon like him single handed,” the Slayer commented.

“He was killing the villagers. Someone had to do something,” Yukiko replied.

In a flash, the Slayer was on her, massive sword swinging down, the tip inches from Yukiko’s nose. “Had I realized,” the Slayer growled, “That this was a battle between two demons, I wouldn’t have interfered so quickly. Now I have to kill another.”

Yukiko gulped, holding up her hands. “You don’t actually have to, you know.”

“Is that so?”

“Um…” Yukiko managed, eyes nearly crossing as she stared at the massive magical weapon hovering before her, flames circling it.

The Slayer looked at her closely. “What sort of demon are you anyway?”

“I don’t really know for sure…” Yukiko said slowly, trying her best to look inoffensive.

“What?” The Slayer made a disgusted face. “That’s not going to do. Not at all!”

“Uhhh…” Yukiko managed.

“How would it look? Hmm? How would it look to my reputation?” the Slayer snapped. “Katsume, the greatest Demon Slayer in history. Destroyer of monsters big and terrible! The most revered and respected of them all!”

“Well…” Yukiko started.

“Hush, I’m talking here,” Katsume snapped.

“Sorry,” Yukiko said softly.

“Think of how it would sound. Katsume, Slayer of that little whatever it was demon. Not a real nice addition to the resume, now is it?” The sword bobbed and wove a bit as the Slayer said this, eyes turning to Yukiko, as if expecting an answer.

“I guess I can see how that would ring wrong,” she agreed quickly.

Katsume nodded, “Good. Now tell me, what sort of demon are you? I haven’t got all day, you know. I’d like to get you slain in time to get back to the village before nightfall.”

Yukiko scratched her head, looking at the other woman curiously. “I’m very sorry, but as I said, I don’t know what sort of demon I am. If I did, I’d have likely been able to kill Tong a lot easier.”

“Hmph,” Katsume snorted, lowering the sword, the flames snuffing themselves out. “You’re too pitiful to kill. It’d just end up looking bad on me.”

“Now wait a minute…” Yukiko started.

“And what’s this about killing Tong? When I got here, you looked more like his dinner than his slayer,” Katsume continued.

“It wasn’t like that…” Yukiko retorted.

“Why, if it hadn’t been for me, he’d have carved you up into bite sized pieces by now,” the Slayer said, sword falling back on her shoulder.

Yukiko fumed. “I could have killed him, you know. Nobody asked you to interfere anyway!”

“Nobody except the Lord of the village,” Katsume shot back. “He hired me to rid his forest of that annoyance.”

“What?” Yukiko yelped. “He hired me for that task!”

“Looks like he didn’t think to highly of your skills, huh?” Katsume smirked. “But you know what they say. Never send a demon to do a Demon Slayers job.”

“Nobody says that!” Yukiko barked.

“Well, they should.”

“The only reason you were able to kill him is because I worn him down so much! I’m still entitled to half the reward!”

Katsume shot the smaller woman a shocked look at that. “The only reason? Why, you little pipsqueak! I blasted him to pieces with Shoki here while you cowered on the ground!”

“Cowered?” Yukiko bellowed, shaking her fist at the taller woman. “I wasn’t cowering! I was trying not to get blown up along with him! You should watch where you swing that thing, you overgrown oaf!”

“Did you just call me an oaf?” Katsume raged, crouching slightly to look the demon in the eye.

“I call them as I see them, yes, and you are definitely an OAF!”

“Why you little…” the Slayer snarled. “If I knew what you were, I’d chop you up right here!”

“My name is Yukiko, and you best not try to cheat me out of my share of the credit for the kill! I was here first after all!”

“First? The only thing you were first at was getting you scrawny ass kicked!”

A few feet away, a large, white fox popped his head up from inside a bush, looked around quickly, and spotted the scattered remains of Tong. Dragging a paw across his brow, the fox let out a deep sigh of relief before turning to look at the two arguing women.

“I’ll show you, you over inflated moron!” Yukiko screamed.

“Show me how to lose, you mean!” Katsume screamed back.

The fox rested his head on his paws, watching as the two wrestled each other for a moment, hurling insults and obscenities back and forth. He casually scratched at a flea, and wondered why all humans, and demons for that matter, acted as if they had never passed beyond the age of three.

Finally the two stopped tussling, standing and glaring at each other, panting and snarling. The fox gave a world weary sigh as they eyed each other, all but nose to nose, fists clenched, looking as if they were going to break out in a full on brawl any second.

“Excuse me…” the fox offered.

Both snapped around, glaring at him with boiling rage. The fox sank down into the bush slightly, suddenly afraid of women in general. Of these two women specifically, he was terrified.

Katsume blinked, the anger vanishing from her face as she stared at the fox. “Hey, did that fox just talk?”

Yukiko’s glare only deepened. “Inari! There you are! Where the hell did you go? I could have used a little help!”

The fox sank deeper into the bush. “I’m sorry, Mistress Yukiko. That demon was really big. He would have swallowed me in a single gulp!”

“So you left me to die?”

“Hardly,” Inari shot back. “I was… um… watching your back! Yes, I was watching your back, in case… ah… any other demons tried to sneak up on you. That’s what it was!”

Yukiko fumed. “You coward!”

Katsume stepped over to the bush, grasping the fox, which was easily three times the size of any she’d seen before, by the scruff and hauling him up to eye level. The fox swallowed hard as the Slayer’s eyes went from curious, to shocked as she caught sight of his full nine tails.

“A nine tails!” Katsume breathed, dropping him instantly and falling to her knee, head bowed. “Forgive me, Heavenly One.”

Inari paused. Yukiko gaped.

“Ahem,” Inari said, standing on his hind legs and brushing himself off, eyes taking in the sight of Katsume’s abundant cleavage. “Yes, well, let’s just not let it happen again, shall we? I’m willing to let the matter go, perhaps if you disrobe….”

The sheath of Yukiko’s sword rang across his head, sending the nine tails to the ground in a moaning heap. “Don’t even try to play that game, Inari!”

“Sorry, Mistress,” he groaned.

Katsume stared at this, eyes narrowing slightly as she looked at the demon. “He’s your servant?”

“Sort of,” Yukiko replied.

“What sort of demon are you?”

Yukiko looked to the ground suddenly, trying to avoid the sharp emerald gaze of the Slayer. “I told you. I don’t know. I don’t remember anything about that.”

“That’s not possible,” Katsume said.

“Actually,” Inari cut in, pulling himself into a sitting position as he rubbed the knot on his head. “She’s telling the truth. Yukiko has no memories older than a year ago.”

“Huh?”

“It’s a bit of a long story, really,” Inari said. “But a year ago, she…”

“Shut up,” Yukiko snapped suddenly. “It’s none of her concern.”

Inari clamped his mouth tight, bowing quickly least Yukiko give him a second knot. Katsume frowned as she stood, considering the unlikely pair before her. A nine tails, a Heavenly Being, in the service of a demon, who couldn’t remember her own past. Unusual somehow didn’t begin to cover this situation.

“How many times do I have to tell you to keep your mouth shut, Inari!” Yukiko snapped, threatening the fox with the sheath of her sword.

Inari bowed quickly, crying, “Forgive me, Mistress! I was only being polite! She did save your life after all!”

Yukiko snarled. “What did you say?”

Inari swallowed hard, dodging behind Katsume for protection. “Please, Mistress, have mercy! I’m just a lowly functionary!”

“Maybe you should go easier on him,” Katsume offered. “He is a Heavenly Being, after all.”

Yukiko growled, holding the sheathed katana, her grip tightening on it, eyes blazing as she glared at Inari. Katsume frowned slightly, but her expression quickly turned to shock as she felt something odd. Something she knew she shouldn’t be feeling.

“A thousand pardons, Mistress!” Inari yelped as he cowered behind the Slayers leg.

“Why,” Katsume asked, her voice a long, slow, snarl, “Is your hand on my butt?”

Yukiko stopped, eyes wide as Inari froze, his paw high behind Katsume’s skirt, fingers in mid squeeze. Katsume’s expression darkened, head turning to look down at the nine tails. In return, she got a terrified smile.

“It seemed she was going to kill me,” Inari blurted. “I wanted my last sensation to be a pleasant one.”

“Get your hand off my butt,” Katsume ordered. “Now!”

“Sorry!” the nine tails squeaked, shrinking away from the towering Demon Slayer.

Yukiko couldn’t help but sigh, burying her face in the palm of her hand. “Always with the groping. Why am I so cursed?”

“You?” Katsume exclaimed. “It was my butt he was fondling!”

“Usually, he’s trying to get a hand on mine,” Yukiko replied with another world weary sigh.

“A lecherous fox spirit? Serving an amnesiac demon? Who in the thousand hells are you people?” Katsume asked, jabbing a finger from one to the other.

“Nothing special…” Inari offered, but snapped his mouth shut at the glare from the Slayer.

“Enough!” Yukiko barked. “This is getting us nowhere. I’ve had enough of the stench of that demon. I’d prefer to continue this conversation elsewhere.”

Katsume huffed a bit. “Fine by me, though I see we have little to discuss. I slew the demon, the reward is mine. If anything, you should be paying me for saving not just your life, but that grabsy little nine tails of yours as well.”

Yukiko sighed. “Whatever. Why don’t we let the Lord decide it for us.”

“Whatever makes you giggly,” Katsume retorted, snatching up Tong’s head and stalking away, headed back towards the village.

“Why can’t anything ever just be simple?” Yukiko lamented before trailing after the gigantic Demon Slayer.

Inari cringed as she passed, waited a moment, then sighed when she didn’t strike him for his earlier brazen act. Once both women were heading away, however, his expression changed drastically. The false fear and subservience melted away, replaced with keen curiosity.

Could she be? he pondered to himself. Could this Demon Slayer be the one? The one we’ve been waiting for?

“You coming, Inari?” Yukiko called from the distance.

“Right behind you, Mistress!” he replied, dropping to all fours, the momentary look gone, replaced with his usual reluctant grumbling. “Though it is a long way to walk. Perhaps our new friend would be so kind as to carry me? In her arms? Close to her heart?”

“Forget it,” Katsume snapped.

“Damn…”

軍歌

The village was a large one for that part of the country, with several hundred people living under the protection of the local Lord, who’s castle lay nearby on a small hill over looking the area. From his home, he could easily see the village and the surrounding farmland, and his soldiers could respond quickly to any threat that should rise. Beyond that lay the forest itself, a seemingly never ending stretch of verdant green that had been, until recently, a safe buffer from the chaotic and dangerous world beyond. Few had the patience to traverse such a distance for the sole purpose of mischief, fewer still for what little of value the village might offer.

Until Tong had come, that is. With the arrival of the idiot demon, the forest had become dangerous, and the villagers had been afraid to venture near it, even in broad daylight. The Lord had sent many of his soldiers to clear the demon, but none had returned, and little time passed before villagers began to vanish as well. Some, from the safety of their own home in the dead of night.

Terror began to grip the village, and the Lord knew it would not be long before his people sought to escape. Determined to protect them, he had sent out messengers, seeking any able bodied Demon Slayers, offering a hefty reward to the one who returned with Tong’s head. Many had responded. None had returned to claim their reward.

Then had come the small demon girl. At first, the Lord refused to even speak with her, but her quiet manner and the nine tails that traveled with her had persuaded him to hear her out. Perhaps where Demon Slayers had failed, a demon would succeed.

She introduced herself as Yukiko, and stood only five foot two, with shoulder length black hair and large red eyes. She wore little beyond the red halter dress, armbands and foot wraps, and the sword she carried looked like an antique. While the Lord was not used to entertaining guests that were inhuman, or so scantily clad, she spoke with a soft sureness that made him wonder if perhaps she could be trusted.

All she had asked for was the promised reward, and despite his misgivings, he gave his word it would be hers if she returned with the demons head. Just as quietly as she had arrived, she departed, walking through the village in the morning sun as if she were human, ignoring the obvious fear and mistrust of the villagers as she passed them by.

The Lord almost believed she could do it. Almost.

Then had come the towering woman, Katsume. Six foot three with blood red hair and intense emerald eyes, wearing blackish green armor that did little more to cover her than the demon girls had. The sword she carried, however, that was obviously a weapon made for killing demons, and despite the very womanly curves she possessed, the Lord could not ignore the powerful muscles in her arms, or the ease with which she handled the massive weapon.

He felt certain the small demon had already met her end as Tong’s lunch, and had been quick to promise the cocky, loud Demon Slayer the full reward if she returned with proof of Tong’s death. This she had promised to do by dinner, and even asked if her meal would be complimentary before striding off in the foot steps of the demon girl, Yukiko.

Never, however, had the Lord suspected that both would return, much less with the demon’s head in tow. Suddenly, faced with the approach of both women, he felt a slight sinking in his stomach. No doubt they had teamed up, or were already working together, looking to extort the Lord for extra gold.

He sighed heavily as he watched them approach through the village. He had promised both the full reward, and now stood faced with having to pay out twice as much, he just knew. It was enough to make him wonder if Tong himself had been part of their plan.

“No matter,” he muttered to himself. “I’ll get to the bottom of this before dinner, and one or both will leave empty handed, or find themselves chained to my prison wall.”

Moments later, they stood before him in the courtyard. He eyed them cautiously from the porch, wondering what was coming next. Katsume threw down the head of Tong, which landed with a dull, wet, thud on the grass between them.

“You Lordship, as promised. The head of Tong, the demon, and before dinner.” She gave a slight point at the low hanging sun as if to emphasis her success.

“So I see,” the Lord agreed. “But there are two of you returning, and only one reward to claim. What is the meaning of this?”

Katsume blinked and looked down at Yukiko, who shot her back a warning look. Inari sat between them, glancing at both, wondering if they were about to start wrestling again. If so, he hoped there would be mud involved.

Suddenly, Katsume broke the moment by laughing and waving her hand dismissively at Yukiko. “You mean her? Oh, my, I’d all but forgotten she was trailing behind me, after I saved her from being eaten alive by the demon!”

Yukiko snarled, looking at the ground in shame. She didn’t have to keep rubbing it in, or laying it on so thick. Her hands clenched at her sides, but she didn’t move, determined to prove herself better than the average demon.

“I see,” the Lord chuckled. “So it was you who delivered the killing blow, then?”

“It was,” Katsume replied, hefting Shoki from her shoulder briefly. “And not a moment too soon, either. This poor little thing was about to be cleaved in half!”

“It wasn’t like that,” Yukiko snapped quietly.

The Lord arched an eyebrow in curiosity. “How was it then?”

“I fought the demon, Tong, for over an hour, wearing him down greatly. I would have dispatched him myself, had this barbarian not interfered,” Yukiko retorted.

“Actually, you were lunch,” Inari offered.

Yukiko shot him a baleful look. “I was not!”

Inari cringed, ears flat against his head. “Sorry, Mistress! I can not lie! You know this! Show mercy!” His fore legs flew to cover his head, expecting the sharp whack of her sheath any second.

Katsume smirked. “You see?”

“Dammit…” Yukiko fumed.

“Tell me, truly, who slew the demon?” the Lord asked patiently, his men watching quietly, ready to jump at a moments notice.

“She did,” Yukiko finally said after a long moment, eyes glued to the ground, her face burning with embarrassment.

The Lord nodded. “The reward is yours then, Slayer Katsume, as is the hospitality of my home.”

“You have my thanks, my Lord,” Katsume replied with a bow. “A nice room, a hot bath, and a good meal will compliment the gold nicely, I think. Though, perhaps, I am wondering…”

“Yes?” the Lord asked, feeling conned for no reason he could name.

“A simple request. A plaque, placed in the village square, proclaiming that I, Katsume, defeated the demon Tong at this village.” This was said with a bright smile.

“You gotta be kidding me…” Yukiko muttered.

The Lord laughed, but nodded. “It shall be done. Now, please, come and make yourself at home. Dinner will be served shortly. I’m sure you’d like that hot bath before hand.”

“That sounds delightful!”

“Oh,” the Lord added, almost as an afterthought. “For you, Yukiko, I’m sure one of my stable hands can make a soft enough place in the barn hay for you to sleep the night, if you desire.”

Yukiko gasped. Insult upon injury, that’s all this was!

“Never mind her,” Katsume cut in. “I’d hate to see you go through any extra trouble.”

“What?” Yukiko exclaimed, but the two already had their backs to her, heading indoors, laughing.

“Come on, Inari. We’ll find our own place to sleep for the night,” Yukiko snapped. “Bad hospitality is worse than none at all.”

“I don’t know, Mistress,” Inari whined. “Hay is better than rocks to sleep on.”

“NOW!”

Inari drooped his head and followed her as she stalked away. “Yes, Mistress.”

Behind them, Katsume looked over her shoulder, wondering again what sort of demon traveled with a nine tails. Somehow, she had the feeling she hadn’t seen the last of Yukiko and Inari.

©-2013 Cain S. Latrani

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