Warsong Chapter Three: The Battle At Lord Tso’s Castle

Lord Tso stared at the small demon girl that faced Rekko, the fire demon. His jaw worked impotently as he tried to find the words for the feeling that washed through him, burning him with its icy fingers. Near him, his guards, and the villagers that lived in his domain felt it as well.

Inari, the white nine tails that traveled with the girl approached, standing beside the Lord as he struggled to understand what was happening before him. The Demon Slayer, Katsume, had been dispatched with such ease by the demon, he could not imagine what the girl hoped to do.

“Why?” he asked softly, his voice tight in his own throat. “Why does she risk her life for us? What good will it do?”

“Because it is the right thing to do,” Inari replied with pride. “She risks everything, so that you, and those with you, do not have to.”

Lord Tso shook his head. “But, she is a demon! Why does she stand against this monster for us? I don’t understand!”

Inari smiled. “She walks the path of light, that is why. She risks all for the sake of others because she can do no less. She is a good person, and that is what good people do.”

He stared down at the Heavenly Being, tearing his eyes from the sight of the unarmed girl as she stood between the towering demon and his people. The sadness on the face of the nine tails, and the pride, was overwhelming, and slowly, the Lord tumbled to his knees.

“You shame me, nine tails,” he gasped.

“No, Lord Tso,” Inari replied. “You shame yourself.”

“I..” he tried to say, but his voice caught in his throat.

Inari nodded to himself and sighed. “She shames me, however. To stand back and watch while she dies is more than I can bear. I will stand with her, I think, for if I am to die, I would like it to be with more honor that I have lived.”

That said, the nine tails walked towards the demon girl, so that in the very least, she would not stand alone. If this was to be her final hour, he would not have it be lived without a friend at her side. It was reckless, and foolish, he knew, but as he had said, Yukiko shamed him with her bravery, and he found he could do no less.

“Yukiko!” Lord Tso called from behind him. “YUKIKO!”

Inari stopped, turning back. Before him, Yukiko did so as well, glancing back over her shoulder in surprise. Rekko paused as well, the passion in the Lord’s voice startling even him.

Lord Tso met the gaze of the demon girl and bowed low, hands outstretched, forehead resting upon them. “Forgive me! Forgive me, Yukiko! You’re bravery, it shames me!”

Yukiko gasped, unable to believe what the Lord had said. In her heart, warmth blossomed, and she felt tears sting her eyes. Never had she dared to dream anyone would speak to her in such a manner. Never had she truly believed she would ever be seen as anything more than a demon.

“Forgive us!” a villager called, kneeling to bow as well. Behind him, more followed, until they all had joined their Lord.

Of them all, only the broad shouldered man who had listened to her earlier rose and met her stunned eyes, saying simply, “We believe in you, Yukiko! We believe in you!”

She bowed her head as Inari joined her, tears burning down her cheeks. She gave them all a smile and nodded before turning back to face Rekko, who was just as stunned by the villagers show of support.

“Do you see?” Yukiko called to him. “Do you see what I have at my back? Look, and know, without a doubt, that I am going to win! I am going to beat you!”

Rekko snarled. “After I am done breaking you, little one, I will have them all for my dinner! Prepare to die!”

“Not so fast!” Inari bellowed. Nine Tails Magic: Thousand Illusions!

Where there had stood only Yukiko, there now stood a thousand and one. Rekko stepped back at this, startled by Inari’s power. Was it possible that they were more than just illusions? Could it be that the demon girl had been right? Could she beat him?

“Go!” Inari yelled.

Yukiko darted down the hill, her duplicates following, weaving around her as she moved, confusing even further which one was the true her. Launching herself in the air, Yukiko bellowed in defiance as Rekko swung blindly at the illusions, dissipating them like so much smoke.

Twisting at the last moment, she brought her heel to bear, striking the massive monster in the face, sending him back a step. Back flipping away, she landed nimbly, her duplicates drawing his ire.

Roaring, he unleashed a wave of fire from his body, wiping them out as Yukiko gasped at the power he held. With her duplicates gone, she faced him alone again, and her best strike hadn’t so much as broken his skin.

“This is bad,” she told Inari.

He grunted his agreement. His best illusions hadn’t held up for long against the demon, and he doubted that Rekko would be fooled by them a second time. They needed more firepower, and as he looked to Yukiko, he knew where to find it.

“You have to let go, Yukiko,” he told her. “You have to tap into your demonic powers. It’s the only way.”

She stared at him, eyes wide with disbelief. “I don’t know if I can! Or even what will happen if I do!”

“We can’t worry about that now,” Inari insisted. “Yukiko, please, for them, and yourself, you must try.”

She glanced back at the villagers, who watched her now with hope burning bright in their eyes. If she failed, they would die, and that was a certainty. Inari was right. There was no other way.

“Look out!” he cried.

Yukiko dodged to the side just as Rekko’s massive hammer whistled through the air, narrowly missing her as it struck the ground. Inari was not so lucky, and was thrown by the blow, striking the earth and rolling to a stop.

Yukiko gasped as she pulled herself to her knees. Inari, her truest friend, for all his flaws, and the one person who she knew would always believe in her, no matter what, lay on his side, and did not move.

A lecherous little nine tails though he was, and a coward as often as not, Yukiko had never doubted his friendship, or his faith in her to find the right way. Now, he lay so terribly still, even as villagers scrambled to reach him, to pull him back.

“YOU SON OF A BITCH!” she screamed, spinning to face Rekko once more.

Rekko hesitated at that, looking down on her as Yukiko’s rage exploded through her small body, unfettering the chains that bound her powers in check. Though it was minor, and her true potential remained buried, it was enough.

Before Rekko’s eyes, Yukiko changed. Her small hands grew deadly as her fingers turned to claws, wicked talons so razor sharp, the moonlight glittered off them. Growling, he swung his hammer back, and prepared to smash the annoying girl before she got any stronger.

Moving faster than she ever had, a blur of motion, she dodged his swing, flipping into the air at the last moment to land atop his hammer. He had only a heartbeat to be stunned before she launched herself from it, hands outstretched, claws glistening as she bore up at him with a rage soaked screech that made his nerve waver.

Her fingers found his face and raked savagely, drawing blood as he tried to swat her away. Screaming at him, for the loss of Katsume, and Inari, both of whom she feared in her heart were dead, Yukiko battered at the demon without mercy, her taloned fingers slicing his flesh again and again.

Howling in agony, Rekko flailed at the small demon, trying to dislodge her, before he lost an eye to her wicked claws. Finally, with luck, he grasped her and flung her away, hammer swinging to catch her in the air and hurtle her into the ground with tremendous force.

The villagers gasped, fearful that Yukiko had fallen as her body hit the ground and tore through it, leaving a furrow in the earth. To their amazement, she pulled herself up, resting on her hands and knees, gasping.

“Is that the best you’ve got?” she snarled. “Cause if it is, then I have to say, I’m pretty disappointed.”

Rekko growled, wiping blood from his eyes. “You are a strong one, I’ll give you that, but to taunt your executioner belies your desperation.”

She laughed, forcing herself up, where she wavered and collapsed back to her knees. “I’m not done just yet. I can’t be done. I won’t be done!”

“You’re finished, fool,” Rekko laughed, pulling back his hammer and thrusting it at her with blinding speed and deadly force.

Yukiko knew it was coming and tried to move, but his last blow had been powerful and she was weak. Before her, she could see the villagers, their eyes wide with fear and hope that somehow, she would find a way to stand and fight.

Distantly, she heard the rumbling that had started as Rekko had spoken, a tremor that resonated through the earth as something moved. From the corner of her eye, she glimpsed a path of devastation being torn through the village as something else approached.

She could not stand, even as Rekko’s hammer bore down on her, and already, something else drew upon the villagers. She had failed, and their lives were the price. Shame wrapped itself around her and hugged her close as her final seconds ran down.

Katsume exploded into view, hurtling into the air from the village, Shoki burning bright. Roaring her defiance, she hit the ground at Yukiko’s back, battered and worn, but very much alive, her magical sword catching the demon’s hammer and holding it at bay.

Yukiko stared up at her in shock as the Demon Slayer looked down at her in grim determination. The strength she would have to possess to block Rekko’s blow was impossible for any human to have. To survive the blow she had taken, much less the fall, would have easily killed a normal woman.

“Get up already, dammit,” Katsume snarled. “I don’t got all day here!”

Yukiko nodded and forced her self to her feet, dodging out from under the hammer as Katsume shoved back, sending Rekko off balance. He fell as he stumbled, crashing through a building.

“How is this possible?” Yukiko asked as Katsume spun Shoki in her hand. “You should have died!”

“Heh,” the Demon Slayer laughed. “Didn’t you catch it before, dimwit? I’m Katsume, the Demon Slayer! I’m the greatest that’s ever lived! No single blow is going to fell me!”

Despite her desire, Yukiko felt herself smile. Brash and arrogant though she was, Katsume lived, and had rejoined the battle against Tong’s brother, Rekko. What did it really matter how, in the end?

“So, you done dancing with this big boy, or can I cut in?” Katsume asked with a dark grin.

Yukiko smiled back at her. “Trying to hog all the glory for yourself again, are you?”

“Not trying,” Katsume told her dismissively. “Doing. That’s the difference between you and me, pipsqueak.”

“Try to talk less and fight more this time, then,” Yukiko told her with a snort.

Rekko rose again, roaring in rage. The two dropped their debate as they spun to face him, Katsume raising her sword as Yukiko snarled. The smaller demon girl had wounded him a bit, but this fight was far from done.

“Go left,” Katsume barked, swinging away as Rekko swung at them, his hammer digging up earth.

Yukiko wove away, claws at the ready as she searched for an opening in the big, fire wrapped demon’s defenses. As wide as he had swung, she spotted it easily and launched herself at him, kicking off from the ground and flying through the air, bringing her talons to bear.

Katsume hurtled at him from the other side, Shoki swinging high and striking without mercy at his exposed side. Rekko howled in pain at her blow, though Katsume quickly saw it was neither deep, nor fatal. The towering beast was too big, and his hide too tough for her to get a solid blow on.

At his other side, Yukiko’s foot found his wrist, and kicked off, propelling her even faster up his arm, claws raking his flesh as she went, digging furrows and dragging a roar of anger from the demon. Still, it wasn’t enough, and she knew it.

The two warriors retreated, regrouping before the villagers as Rekko examined his wounds and laughed at their pitiful blows. As strong as they were, their weapons were insufficient for the task at hand, and even they were beginning to see that.

“We need a new plan,” Katsume growled, shoving her flowing red mane from her face.

“And a good one, too,” Yukiko agreed.

Rekko came at them, hammer crashing at the earth, exploding with fire as he grew angrier at the two women that had wounded him. “You can not defeat me! I am Rekko! You will fall before my might!”

“Not today!” Yukiko snarled, slipping around to claw at his fingers.

“Not ever!” Katsume added, Shoki whipping through the air to sting at his wrist.

Rekko sneered at them, sending living flame down his arm to strike at them. Katsume saw it coming and dove forward, rolling across the ground to snap Shoki up, shielding both she and Yukiko from the blast. The sword reflected it back, sending the demon staggering again, surprised by the Demon Slayer’s cunning move.

“We need to get him down,” Katsume told Yukiko. “Think you can trip him up?”

“I’ll give it my best shot,” she nodded, darting away as the Demon Slayer reoriented himself.

“I think I’ll eat you slowly, woman,” he growled as he threw a fire wrapped fist at Katsume.

Shoki spun in her hand, blocking his assault, though her heels dug up the earth as she was forced back. Fire wrapped around her, but could not touch her, the power of the magic sword overwhelming it, bending it, and lashing it back at the demon.

Yukiko swung her arms wide as she reached his legs and dove between them, raking his calves, cutting deeper than she had before. As she passed, she rolled and came to her feet, hurtling herself into the air at the back of his head, striking at him with all her might.

Rekko staggered forward, taken off guard by the small demons fury, but did not fall. Katsume, however, had been ready and was already moving, Shoki swinging straight and true, striking the massive demon square in the chest.

He roared in pain, and swatted her away. Coming over his head, Yukiko saw her tumble away and threw herself after the Demon Slayer, catching her before she hit the ground. Katsume shook her head, clearing stars, and threw the smaller demon a grin.

“Careful, pipsqueak,” she quipped. “You’re upstaging me.”

“Is this really the time to worry over that?” Yukiko sighed.

“Heh,” the Demon Slayer laughed. “When is it not the time?”

“Maybe after we’ve beaten him?” Yukiko snorted.

Katsume became serious again, looking to Rekko as he gathered himself. “Turning out easier said than done. Got a plan of your own?”

“You’re the Demon Slayer,” Yukiko told her.

“Just checking,” the other woman laughed before snatching the girl up and dodging Rekko’s next attack. “In case you had some ideas, you know, that made me look good.”

“You’re impossible,” Yukiko snarled and shoved herself away from the larger woman.

“And damn good at it,” Katsume chuckled.

“Not good enough,” Rekko roared, his hammer swinging backwards, bearing down on them with fearsome speed.

Katsume shoved Yukiko away, spinning to block the blow. As she fell, Yukiko saw the Demon Slayer tumble under the hammer as Rekko swept it upon her, and gasped. Hitting the ground, she rolled and came to her feet.

Rekko leaned on his hammer heavily, pressing against Shoki as Katsume held him at bay from the flat of her back. Around her, the earth itself gave way, collapsing before the demons might, pushing her deeper as she strained to just hold. The crater they made as they opposed each others strength kept growing with each roar of the fire demon, and each cry of anguish from the Demon Slayer.

Yukiko ran forward, bringing her claws up, ready to slash at his wrists until he released Katsume, but her eyes found the Demon Slayer’s before she could, and in them, Yukiko saw that her efforts would do no good. With her own sword at her throat and the massive demon putting all his weight and might behind the enormous hammer, Katsume could not hold for long.

Their eyes met, Katsume’s in pain, Yukiko’s in fear, and held. Somewhere between them, respect was spoken on the wind, and pride at having stood along side another who would not bend, or break, against the torrent of despair that creatures such as Rekko unleashed.

“Run,” Katsume called to her. “Take the villagers and flee! Head into the mountains! I’ll hold as long as I can!”

“No!” Yukiko cried.

“Do it!” Katsume roared at her. “Hurry!”

“NO!” she cried again. “I won’t leave you to die!”

Katsume couldn’t help but smile. “You really are a strange little demon, aren’t you? So ready to die for others, so unwilling to let another sacrifice for you. I’m sorry I didn’t know you better, and never will. Go, now, and keep them safe. No one else can, Yukiko! Their lives, that’s all that matters here! Be their guardian!”

Her words burned through Yukiko, the simple admission of the Demon Slayer who was inches from death making her gasp at the power they held. She turned and began to do as Katsume asked, but found she could not.

She couldn’t leave the other woman to die. No matter what, she had to find a way, she had to do something, to save her. There was nothing else for it, and as she met the eyes of the villagers, knew that they would never accept Katsume’s death a fair trade for their lives.

Forcing herself to be still and calm for a moment, Yukiko took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. Everything else faded away as she sought an answer, a way to emerge victorious without she or Katsume losing their lives. In that brief moment, it came to her, as another binding chain fell away, and revealed another piece of herself to her.

Eyes flashing open, Yukiko dropped into a crouch, anger at the demon who would use his power to terrorize and kill marring her pretty face with rage. She kicked off from the ground, flying into the air as she pulled her hands close to her chest, the deadly claws she now possessed beginning to glow. The answer had been within her all along.

Claws Of The Reaper!

Flinging her hands wide, she watched in awe as light erupted forth, dazzling and brilliant. Glowing with power, the tiny arcs flew from each of her fingers, dancing through the air at blinding speed, to strike Rekko’s arm. He screamed in agony as they cut deep, severing flesh and bone alike, and his arm fell in pieces to the ground.

Yukiko landed as Katsume flung the hammer, Rekko’s hand still clutching it, away from her and rose from the crater, looking at the smaller demon girl in awe. Then, she smiled and swung Shoki over her shoulder, as if what had just happened didn’t surprise her in the least.

“About time you showed me what you’re capable of,” the Demon Slayer said.

Yukiko couldn’t help but grin. Before them, Rekko stared at the bleeding stump of his arm, severed above the elbow by Yukiko’s attack. Never had anyone hurt him so badly.

“You will pay for this with your lives,” he snarled.

“Face it ugly,” Katsume snapped. “You’re out of your league here.”

“We’re absolutely…” Yukiko told him.

“Positively…” Katsume added.

“Going to win!” they said together as they moved to stand, side by side.

Rekko looked down at them, Katsume with her sword high and wreathed in fire. Yukiko with her hands at the ready, claws glowing in the moonlight. In that moment, in the determination he saw in their eyes, he had doubts, and believed they just might, that they could really, slay him.

“Let’s go!”

Katsume swung to his right, Shoki spinning, leaving a trail of fire in the air behind the Demon Slayer as she made ready to attack. Yukiko went left, hands spreading as she readied herself for a second barrage on the massive fire demon. Rekko stepped back, suddenly afraid of them both.

Ravaging Flare!

Claws Of The Reaper!

Rekko ducked away from Yukiko’s attack and into Katsume’s, absorbing the fire she hurled at him, letting it engulf him as he soaked it in and turned it to his own, laughing at them. His arm regenerated as he did, flesh and bone knitting together to give him back his elbow.

Sweeping back, they came at him again, unleashing their mighty attacks, but Rekko was ready and ducked away a second time, avoiding the small demon girl’s biting assault even as he absorbed the magical fire of the Demon Slayer’s sword. His arm repaired itself more, and he knew, with another such move, he would regain his hand.

“Dammit,” Katsume growled. “This is helping him more than it is us.”

“He keeps dodging me,” Yukiko agreed. “I can’t land a blow on him.”

“Hmm,” Katsume pondered as Rekko laughed at them. “What we need is for him to be nice and still for a minute.”

“I’m open to suggestions,” Yukiko replied.

Katsume gave her a smile. “I’ve got one, but I’m not real excited by it.”

“If it’ll let us end this, then I’m sure you’ll get over it,” Yukiko told her pointedly.

The Demon Slayer nodded as she buried the tip of Shoki in the ground. “I will, yeah. Because it’s what must be done. Get ready to move when I say.”

“Who made you the boss?” Yukiko sniped.

Katsume lifted her hands and suddenly they became claws, her green eyes turning red as her teeth became fangs. “I did,” she told the other woman.

Yukiko gasped at the transformation. “You’re a demon?”

“A half demon,” Katsume replied. “On my mothers side.”

“And you waited till now to use it?” the other woman cried in disbelief.

Katsume looked up at Rekko, her eyes sad, “It’s not something I like to brag about. You wouldn’t understand. You walk the world open and free, who you really are. That’s something I’ll never be able to do. For me, there is nothing but lies, and hiding. Be proud of what you are, Yukiko. Not all of us get to be.”

Yukiko rested a hand on the Demon Slayer’s shoulder and smiled up at her. “Today, you help save many lives by being what you are. Be proud of that.”

“Heh,” Katsume said, slapping her own forehead. “Now I’m getting lessons from you. What a day.”

“Let’s finish this,” Yukiko grinned.

“Let’s finish this,” Katsume agreed.

“What do you think you can do?” Rekko chuckled. “All you’re attempts have been pitiful before me. You’ve nothing left!”

“Oh, shut up,” Katsume growled as she raised her hands, pointing them at the demon.

Entangling Talons!

Her claws shot from her hands, flying out and arcing wide of the demon. He grinned, thinking she had missed her mark, then felt the gossamer touch brush his skin. In the moonlight, and by the fires that burned in the village, he saw them, so thin as to be almost invisible.

Then he was caught, held fast, as if by steel as her claws wrapped around him. Trailing after them were fibers, nigh on impossible to see, but stronger than even he was as they bound him tight, cutting into his skin. He had a moment to be shocked, but it was just that, a moment.

Growling in an almost feral voice, Katsume pulled her hands to her, straining her muscles as she drug Rekko to his knees. Beside her, Yukiko stared in awe at the power the Demon Slayer wielded, and the strength she had hidden so well.

“Finish him, Yukiko!” Katsume yelled.

“Right!” she said, kicking off and launching herself into the air, over the fire demon, her claws already glowing.

“NO!” Rekko howled, sheathing himself in fire, trying to burn those powerful fibers free.

Katsume cried out in pain as the fire seared her, the tendrils that held the demon part of her living body. She stood firm, none the less, and though it hurt, pulled the fibers tighter, binding him too tightly for him to ever escape.

Claws Of The Reaper!

Light danced from Yukiko’s hands, answering her command. Flashing in the night, they flowed free of her, flying towards the bound Rekko with deadly accuracy, expanding as they went. She couldn’t help but find them beautiful, and in that moment, felt beautiful herself.

They struck Rekko, tearing him apart.

“How?” he gasped as they ripped his body to piece. “How could I have lost to you?”

Katsume released him, her claws flying back to her hands as she said, “I told you. When you tangled with us, you stepped out of your league.”

Rekko did not hear her, though, for he was already dead. His body fell in pieces to the ground, the fire he had summoned swirling out of existence. The expression on his face as his head hit the ground was awe and dismay, but in his eyes, there was nothing.

Yukiko landed on the ground lightly, looking to Katsume as the Demon Slayer retook her human appearance. Smiling, she held out a hand, allowing her own claws to fade as well. With a laugh, Katsume took it, and held it tight.

“Nice work, pipsqueak.”

“Stop calling me that!”

“Mistress!”

Inari struck Yukiko full on, toppling her to the ground, face buried in her cleavage. She grunted, but was too relieved to find he lived to be overly angry with him.

“Hey you,” Katsume stormed. “Get your head out of there!”

“But I thought I might die!” Inari whined. “I’m just so happy, I wanted to know her bounty!”

“For crying out loud,” Yukiko sighed, shoving the nine tails away.

“It’s so warm!” he whimpered as Katsume hauled him off Yukiko.

“Behave yourself, nine tails,” she growled. “Or I’ll kick your fuzzy ass.”

“Ahh!” he howled, reaching out to grasp Katsume’s breasts under the thin, ragged kimono she wore. “More bounty!”

“Pervert!” she screamed, throwing him away from her.

Yukiko couldn’t help but laugh. Nearby, the villagers began to cheer them as Lord Tso bowed his head. His people lived, and though the village had been almost completely destroyed, no lives had been lost.

Turning his face up to the moon, he thanked the Goddess who lived there, Sora, for sending two such skilled Demon Slayers to his village. Though they might be demons themselves, they were his peoples salvation, and that made them wondrous indeed in his book.

“I’m sorry!” Inari was crying. “Have mercy!”

“I’ll show you mercy!” Katsume snapped, foot planted on his head, shoving.

“Ohhhhh,” the nine tails whimpered. “The pain! The view from here is worth the pain!”

Katsume flushed as she realized the fox was looking up her kimono. “PERVERT!”

“AHHH!!”

軍歌

“Are you certain you won’t stay a while longer?” Lord Tso asked.

Katsume smiled at him warmly, but shook her head. “No, there’s much to do, and I at least need to get moving.”

“As do I,” Yukiko added.

“I could stay,” Inari said.

All three of them gave the fox a dark look. He sank back from the conversation quickly.

Lord Tso shook his head, then bowed to the two women. “Again, allow me to thank you both for all you have done for me, and my people. Without you’re efforts, all would have been lost.”

“It was our honor,” Yukiko told him, bowing in return.

“Besides, you fed us, bathed us, and gave us warm beds to sleep in, so I kind of consider it all a fair trade,” Katsume shrugged.

Yukiko nudged her in the side with an elbow, and the Demon Slayer sighed and bowed as well. Lord Tso tried not to smile too much at Katsume’s brash manner, for whatever else she was, she was brave first and foremost.

“May your journey’s be safe, and your destinations welcoming,” he told them before turning back to the village.

Already reconstruction had begun, but there was much to do, and he was determined to stand along side his people as it was accomplished. From the village, the residents waved goodbye to the two Demon Slayers that had saved them all.

Katsume and Yukiko returned the waves, and were off, traveling down the road, their eyes turning to the horizon and what ever lay ahead for them both. For Yukiko, a new sense of purpose, and hope, that she could stay the course she had set for herself. For Katsume, the desire to slay the monster that had killed her family, so that their spirits would rest easy.

“How long are you going to follow me?” she asked Yukiko.

“You’re following me,” the smaller woman told her.

“I don’t think so, pipsqueak,” the red head laughed. “You are most definitely following me.”

“Get your head out of the clouds,” Yukiko told her. “You’re the one trailing after me.”

“Am not!” Katsume growled.

“Are so!” Yukiko snapped.

“Ladies, ladies,” Inari sighed. “This is not the time for such words. Already, we have learned that you work better together than you do separately. Let us continue this journey together.”

Both sulked for a moment, but Yukiko sighed and nodded first. “Perhaps he’s right. We did work well together in slaying Rekko.”

“I guess,” Katsume grunted. “Besides, every hero needs a sidekick.”

“I’m not your sidekick.”

“You’re smaller, and less interesting than me, so yes, you are.”

“Am not!”

“Are too!”

“Ladies, ladies,” Inari sighed. “If you must fight, please, get undressed first.”

“What?” the both snarled in unison.

“Eek!” the nine tails squealed and fled for his life.

They chased him, and before they knew it, were laughing at his antics. Together, the first bonds forged, they turned to the road ahead, and began the journey that would change them both, forever.

©-2016 Cain S. Latrani

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