Warsong Chapter Eight: Nova Roar

“Run!”

“Where?” Inari yelped, backing away from the approaching villagers, Ger clutching his side.

Katsume glanced over her shoulder and grimaced before turning her attention back to the slowly approaching Junta. Her attention flickered to the hole in the wall that had been left by the demon’s surprise attack on Kieskei, but she knew there was no way all of them could use that as a means of escape. Junto was too fast.

More villagers floated in to surround the demon, ending her thought of using Ravaging Flare before she could even bring Shoki’s flames to life. The trap had been too well laid, she realized. There was no way out.

She could always bash the wall at her side and make her own exit, but the odds were good, she knew, that even more villagers hovered beyond, waiting to flood in as soon as she did. Backing up a step, Katsume could find no way out of the ambush.

“Yukiko,” she barked. “Got any ideas?”

When the demon girl didn’t answer, Katsume spared her a glance. Behind her, Yukiko stared at the hole beyond Junto, wide eyed and unmoving. Katsume’s grimace deepened into a scowl.

“You really think an Atochi would be taken out by that?” she yelled. “Have some faith in Kieskei, dammit!”

Yukiko stared, coming out of her daze. “You think…”

“I know,” Katsume growled. “But I’d rather not wait for him to come save our asses, here. We need a way out, and I got nothing. So, get your head outta your ass, pipsqueak, and help me think.”

“Right,” the demon girl nodded, glancing around and getting a full appreciation for their situation. She quickly saw the same thing Katsume did.

“There is no escape,” Junto laughed, pausing his approach as Katsume brought out Shoki’s fire. “Trust me, even young Master Kieskei has already learned this.”

“Shut it,” Katsume snorted.

The demon laughed again at her defiant stance. “You really think an Atochi would harm any of these pitiful humans? Or would he allow himself to be torn limb from limb by them first?”

Katsume heard Yukiko gasp, but choose to keep her attention on the demon. “You’ve spent too long contained, big boy. The Atochi’s ain’t what they use to be. If he had to, he’d take out some of the villagers for a chance to put you back in your hole. It’s the only way he could save the rest of them.”

Junto’s smile stirred fear in Katsume’s heart, so dark and full of it hate it was. “Who said I was controlling the villagers?”

“Shit,” the Demon Slayer muttered.

“Bastard,” Yukiko snarled. “I won’t let you use these people!”

“Try and stop me,” Junto howled with glee, reaching out, his arm extending down the hallway, grasping for Katsume.

Snapping Shoki around, she barely managed to block him, sending his fingers back singed. It was only a matter of time, though, until he got a grip on her, she knew. With the possessed villagers closing in, and the narrow width of the hall, she couldn’t use Shoki effectively. Not its power, or its blade.

Yukiko glanced to Inari, as he snapped at the villagers, trying to hold them back, Ger swatting at them in vain by his side. Turning her gaze back to Katsume, she saw the resolve in the Demon Slayer, the way she held herself, refusing to yield.

“Time to make a way out of our own, then,” she said softly as she turned, as Katsume took another step back from Junto, and yanked open the door to Kieskei’s room.

The headman and his fellows hovered beyond. At the creak of the door, they turned and began drifting her way. If she was careful, however, if she took aim, and stayed calm, they wouldn’t matter. Everyone could come out of this alive.

“Claws of the Reaper!”

Light danced from her hands, arcing out, aiming for the wall beyond the controlled headman and his band. Yukiko held her breath. She had gotten better with her demonic attack. She believed that. Trusted in it. She could aim with precision now. She was sure.

Her attack tore a villager asunder before ripping a hole in the wall beyond.

軍歌

Junto’s surprise attack had left Kieskei stunned as he tumbled through the wall, and onto the roof outside. Gasping for air, he hadn’t been able to stop himself rolling down the slant, and over, falling to the ground below. The impact had been less jarring than the demon’s fist, but enough to leave him dazed.

Struggling to stand, using Seiken’s scabbard as leverage, Kieskei forced himself up, his vision wavering as he fought just to breath. It only lasted a moment, however, as Seiken did more than trap demons. It granted him access to a portion of their power.

Revitalizing energy flowed through him a moment later as he focused on the sword, drawing what he needed. His vision settled, and the ache in his chest diminished, leaving him more or less back to normal. One had to be careful when drawing on the power of the demons trapped within the blade, however. Too much, and the wielder could become addicted, eventually becoming a demon themselves.

“Thank you, old friend,” he whispered to the blade before looking up. He could just make out the form of Junto sliding past the hole in the wall above, but he could tell, it was too far away for him to get to.

Yukiko and Katsume would be in dire need of his help, however. Junto was no easy foe, and now, Kamachi had arrived as well. There was no other demon Kieskei had ever heard of capable of controlling so many people at once. Which meant two of the Twelve Sacred Demons was present.

“Lucky me,” he mused at the irony before hurrying for the front of the inn. His only option was to get beck inside and reach his fellow warriors, if any of them wanted to see the next dawn.

This proved easier said than done. No more had he turned the corner to the front of the building, when he saw just how extensive Kamachi’s control had grown. Over two dozen villagers crowded the street, with more coming. There was no way he was going to get back inside without harming at least some of them.

“Guess ya ain’t so lucky after all, huh?”

Kieskei frowned. “Kamachi. Have you grown so lazy that you take orders from Junto now?”

“Ha! Like he’s in charge!”

Turning, Kieskei faced the demon, a towering monster at over nine feet, with a massive turtle like shell taking up his entire back, lined in deadly looking spikes. They were more than just defensive, however, for it was from those spikes Kamachi was able to extend the hair thin fibers he used to take control of people.

Kamachi’s face, a gnarled thing of warts and tusks, curling into a grin. “Been waitin’ a long time to take control of an Atochi. While you sure as shit ain’t your great grand daddy, I’m guessing you’ll have to do, kiddo.”

“I wish you luck in that endeavor,” Kieskei retorted as he pulled Seiken free of its sheath. “Though, I hope you don’t mind me making you earn the privilege.”

“Don’t matter neither way,” Kamachi chuckled.

“I beg to disagree,” the devil hunter grinned.

Before Kieskei could attack, Kamachi surrounded himself with villagers, creating a shield of innocent humans he knew the devil hunter would never be able to get past, even if he had the will to do so.

“Coward,” Kieskei growled.

“Survivalist,” Kamachi argued. “Show me what ya got, kiddo. Maybe I’ll let ya die slow if ya impress me.”

A large group of villagers broke off from the crowd outside the front of the inn and began drifting towards him, forcing Kieskei to consider he may have no choice but to harm, or even kill, them in order to survive himself. He was loathe to do it, even thinking of it turned his stomach, but the first duty of an Atochi was to survive.

Grimacing, he readied himself for battle.

軍歌

Yukiko screamed as her claws faded, her fingers covering her face to block out the sight of what she had done. Covered in gore, the headman and his fellows continued their advance, as if nothing had happened.

At the sound of her cry, Katsume jerked her head around, seeing instantly what had happened. Her scowl softened for a moment, knowing all too well what must be going through the demon girls mind in that moment. Unfortunately, there was no time to deal with it.

“Inari!” she called, jabbing a finger towards the door.

“Got it,” the nine tails responded, darting for the opening Yukiko’s sacrifice had made, Ger hanging on to his back in fear.

He was no sooner to the door than he, too, saw what had happened. Despite how desperate their situation was, he felt a well of sadness with in him. Not so long ago, Yukiko had stood, proud and brave, against Rekko in order to protect people. Now, she’s taken a life. It would not be easy for her, he knew, but better that than they all die here.

“Hang on,” he told Ger as he rushed the two, growing in size as he passed into the room, scattering them like leaves.

“Sorry,” Katsume told Junto. “Looks like we’ll have to finish this somewhere else.”

He roared in age as she scooped the stunned Yukiko up with one arm and followed after Inari, kicking the door shut behind her. It wouldn’t hold him off for more than a moment, but a moment was all they really needed right now.

“Now what?” Inari asked as he swept his tails across the room, knocking the two mind controlled villagers down once more, and kept them pinned there.

“We get outside and join back up with that damn Atochi,” Katsume told him. “We gotta be quick, though. Ain’t’ gonna take them long to get back around to that hole Yukiko made.”

Inari nodded, eyes already on the demon girl, he simply hung in Katsume’s grasp, crying quietly, her gaze locked on the splattered remains of the villager. Even Katsume hesitated a moment, watching her with sadness, before putting her on Inari’s back.

“Hang on to her, Ger,” she said. “She can’t do any more right now.”

The Goblin nodded, taking her hand and gripping it as tightly as he could. “Won’t let go. Promise.”

Katsume nodded, then looked to Inari. “ready?”

“Not really,” he told her with a sad laugh.

“Yeah, me neither,” she replied with a wan grin. “Let’s do it anyway.”

Bringing Shoki’s flames to life once more, having doused them as she entered the room, Katsume ran through the opening Yukiko had made, ignoring the feel of blood against her bare feet. She would have preferred to be in her mother’s armor right now. Those boots had walked through blood many times. Both with their previous owner, and with her.

It was a tiny shield, but one she wished she had against the horrors she now faced.

Entering the room beyond, she made for the door that would grant them access to the hall beyond, hoping neither Junto or any of the possessed villagers had made it around yet. Behind her, Inari kept close, Ger keeping an eye on their backs.

Katsume’s hand no more grasped the door, than she heard a crash from behind her. Junto had taken out the entire wall to get to them, and villagers were already flowing in around him. She heard him howl as he saw the opening in the wall, and threw the door wide, swinging out into the hall beyond.

It hadn’t bought them much time, but it may have been just enough, as the corridor was clear. Katsume let out the breath she had been holding as Inari joined her, kicking the door closed behind him. It wouldn’t stop Junto, but it would hold the villagers at bay, and give them some extra breathing room while Katsume figured out what to do next.

“They’re already coming,” she mused, glancing both ways. “So, we’ll never make the stairs. Don’t leave us a lot of options.”

“My illusions may give us a chance against Junto, but I doubt they’ll help against the villagers,” Inari told her. “They are being controlled, so odds are, they won’t even notice them.”

“Figured as much myself,” she said. “Guess there’s only one way outta here, then. Just hope the innkeeper don’t charge us for the damages.”

“Damages?”

“Step back, nine tails,” Katsume said with a wicked grin. “We’re checking out early.”

Hopping back, he took a moment to glance at Yukiko, who was still in shock. Ger held on to her, watching her with worry and sorrow, but there was nothing any of them could do for her right now. The only hope they had was to survive first.

“Ravaging flare!”

The wall before Katsume exploded away.

軍歌

Kieskei swept his sheath before him, dropping several more villagers as the fibers Kamachi was using were severed. It didn’t do him much good, not with the demon so close by, but it thinned the shield he was using somewhat. Almost enough for Seiken to get a blow on him.

The villagers rose back up a moment later, but Kieskei barely noticed, already pivoting on his heel to send Seiken in a wide arc over the heads of the controlled humans behind him, cutting those threads and leaving them harmlessly asleep. It was a delaying tactic, though, and he knew it. He wasn’t really even buying himself time, or breathing room, so much as he was just avoiding the end for as long as possible.

“You gotta get tired eventually, kid,” Kamachi chuckled. “And when ya do, I’ll be right here waiting for it.”

The one weakness in Kamachi’s ability to control people is that he could only attach the fibers while they slept. Otherwise, the human will for independence was too strong for him to overcome. Once attached, the fibers pumped a toxin into them that kept them asleep, as well, making his control total.

“I’ve got more stamina than you know,” he replied, already facing the demon again, his sheath snapping out to push a villager, and those behind him, into the demon with enough force to get a grunt in return.

“Ain’t gonna save ya, not in the long run,” Kamachi told him with glee. “You are gonna be my puppet before this night is over.”

“Best not to make plans,” Kieskei warned him. “The night is still young.”

As if his words had summoned it, the exterior of the inn on the second floor exploded outward, startling both combatants. Glancing up, they watched as Katsume and Inari leaped from the building among the scattering debris.

Kieskei had to admit, it was a pretty impressive entrance.

“Heads up, ugly!” Katsume roared as Shoki cut the air before her, leaving almost a dozen villagers at Kieskei’s back asleep on the ground.

“Heads down,” Inari snickered as he landed on the shocked demons’ head, bouncing off of it to land a few feet away, his massive nine ails sweeping out to scatter the humans he used as a shield.

“Heads off,” Kieskei intoned as he leapt forward at the opening, Seiken seeking Kamachi’s throat.

He almost had it, too. Stunned though he was at the sudden turn of events, Kamachi narrowly managed to avoid the blade, rolling to his left as Seiken cut the air, the sword scraping along his neck.

“Lay off the corny jokes,” he snarled as he took a step back, his mind controlling fibers already seeking to regain control of those he lost. “Ain’t no of ya got time for that shit.”

“Kieskei, swing left,” Katsume called, ignoring the demon.

“Got it,” he said, already moving as he pulled the massive nodachi back, the sheath swinging out to knock the innocent villagers away.

Kamachi growled as he saw Katsume head to right, the bright flames wreathed around her sword highlighting the rage in her eyes. If he didn’t act quickly, they might actually be able to get close enough or either of the swords to do him in.

“Forgot tot watch your front,” Inari told him as he barreled into the demon, staggering him.

“Nice,” Katsume called as she switched directions, running straight for the demon.

“Very nice,” Kieskei added, doing the same.

“Dammit!” Kamachi howled, realizing the trap they had laid, and how well caught in it he was.

It almost managed to close, too.

With Seiken high, Kieskei could see victory in his minds eye, until a massive hand grasped him from behind and threw him to the side. As he rolled across the ground, he spotted Junto in the wide hole Katsume had made, grinning in delight.

A moment more was all they had needed to free the villagers, and assure their victory. In a heartbeat, it slipped away.

“Why haven’t you finished off that damn Atochi yet, Kamachi?” Junto called as he slid out and down the building.

“Why didn’t you take out this damn Oda brat?” Kamachi retorted as he he sent a fist into Katsume’s stomach, doubling her over and throwing her sprawling onto the ground.

“She’s smarter than she looks,” Junto shrugged. “Not as smart as she thinks, but still.”

Kamachi snorted at that. “Guess it ain’t no big deal. They can’t fight us both.”

“True enough,” Junto agreed.

“Dammit,” Inari muttered as he jumped to Katsume’s side. “You okay?”

“Ain’t dead, so yeah,” the Demon Slayer replied as she pulled herself up. “How about you, Kieskei?”

“A little ragged, I must admit, but well enough to fight,” the devil hunter told her as he, too, gained his feet.

“Still full of piss and vinegar, ain’t they?” Kamachi chuckled.

“Some people just need to be beaten down,” Junto agreed.

Though he hated to admit it, Kieskei felt his energy flagging. He couldn’t keep this fight up much longer. His battle with Junto the previous day had taken a lot out of him, and he had not gotten enough sleep before the ambush to make up for it. While he had no doubt Katsume was more than capable, he knew he wasn’t going to be able to last much longer before his weariness caught up to him, and caused him to make a fatal error.

“Yukiko,” he called, but got no response.

“She’s finished for this fight,” Katsume told him. “Leave her be.”

“What happened?”

“Don’t matter right now,” she answered, watching Kamachi closely. “You, me , and Inari are are gonna have to finish this.”

He frowned a bit, watching Junto closely. “Very well, then. Let us tend these miscreants, then we can attend to Lady Yukiko.”

“Don’t talk about me like I’m some common thug,” Junto yelped.

“Oh, but you are,” Kieskei replied. “A mangy dog that has slipped its leash, and little more.”

“You brat!” the demon howled. “I’ll show you!”

Kamachi rolled his eyes at Junto’s outburst. Powerful though he was, he had always been easily provoked, something Kieskei obviously knew. While Kamachi had no love for his fellow demon, he knew he’d need the idiot if he was going to recover the demon girl for his master.

“Keep a lid on your temper, dammit,” he yelled. “The kid’s trying to provoke ya, dumbass!”

“I know that,” Junto snapped back. “Shut up and kill that damn Oda woman already. Lord Onihone is getting tired of waiting already!”

“Lord Onihone?” Katsume asked in surprise. “Who the hell is that?”

“You idiot!” Kamachi bellowed. “Don’t be tellin’ them everything!”

Junto fumed for a moment. “Shut up, already! It isn’t like they’re gonna live long anyway! What’s it matter what they know, huh? Long as Lord Onihone gets that demon girl, that’s all that’s important!”

“Oh, for fucks sake,” Kamachi growled.

“Whats this Onihone guy want with Yukiko?” Katsume asked in his ear.

Kamachi had the span of a breath to be startled she had gotten so close without him hearing, another to see the red eyes and fangs she had grown, and a third to gasp at the realizations he was a half demon, before Shoki hit him.

The strength behind the blow was enormous, sending him flaying, crashing into the inn, and demolishing the kitchen as the roof collapsed on him. He groaned, hurt but hardly beaten, as he sat up, shaking his head. Down the street, Junto frowned, disappointed that the other demon had let himself get so distracted by pointless trivialities.

“Indeed,” Kieskei said, as he slid past, Seiken severed the demons’ arm. “What does this rogue want with Lady Yukiko?”

“Shit,” Junto yelped, slithering back and away from the devil hunter, chastising himself as he had just chastised Kamachi. “Isn’t any business of yours, brat!”

“Where Yukiko is concerned,” Katsume snarled. “Everything is my business.”

“Well, aren’t you sweet,” Junto scoffed. “Worried about your little friend, when you ought to be worried about yourself.”

Katsume’s scowl darkened as Junto’s arm righted itself on the ground, holding itself out to him as he extended the part still attached to his shoulder and reconnected it. Pulling it back, he smiled as he made a fist and backhanded Kieskei, sending him sprawling.

“Ah, so that’s how you survived my last attack,” she said, sparing Kamachi a glance as the cloud moved, bathing them all the light of the full moon. “I been wondering about that.”

“Now you know how hopeless this battle is,” Junto replied. “I can’t be killed, not even with that demon slaying sword of yours.”

“Inari, Kieskei, you might want to get clear. This little bitch is mine,” Katsume said, ignoring him.

They nodded, retreating quickly to one side of the street. With Kamachi still recovering from Katsume’s last blow, the villagers simply hovered, posing little threat, giving the devil hunter time to retrieve Yukiko from the nine tails, and place she and Ger behind him.

“Ravaging Flare!”

Junto braced, then blinked in surprise as the painful attack he suffered once already swept towards Kamachi, wrapping the demon in flames. Howling in pain, the assault didn’t destroy him, but did burn away his controlling fibers, sending the villagers tumbling to the ground, removing them from the battle entirely.

“Clever,” Junto admitted. But he’ll only take a moment to recover. That attack isn’t strong enough to kill him any more than it was me.”

“I wasn’t trying to kill him,” Katsume admitted. “I just didn’t want him in the way for a minute while I kill you.”

“I already told you, that’s not possible,” the demon smirked.

Katsume watched Kamachi a moment, her red eyes filled with anger. When he groaned, but didn’t move, she nodded, and turned that gaze on Junto. It was enough to make him roll back a step, wondering if he had missed something.

“You know anything about this sword of mine?” she asked.

“Can’t say I do,” Junto told her. “Why? What’s it matter?”

“According to legend, when it was forged, it was blessed by the God of the Sun, Taiyou, and his wife, the Goddess of the Moon, Sora. Together, they infused it with the power it holds.”

“So what?” Junto scoffed. “They gonna save your ass? I doubt it.”

“Shoki of the Nine Rings, they named it,” Katsume continued. “The first of which is fire. The Ravaging Flare comes from that ring. However, it has another ability, that can only be accessed when both Taiyou and Sora smile upon the blade they blessed.”

“Blah, blah, blah,” Junto snorted, then his face fell as he looked up, at the full moon. “Wait… you mean…”

Katsume gave him a wicked grin. “I mean, you’re fucked.”

“Bah,” Junto snarled. “Nothing can kill me! When I’m done with you, I’ll kill that Atochi brat, and take Lord Onihone his prize! I’ll be a General of Hell again when I do, too!”

“Shut up,” Katsume said, lifting Shoki and pointing the fire wreathed blade at him. “You’re gonna be dust.”

“Never!” Junto roared, racing for her.

“Nova Roar!”

The fire that danced around Shoki’s blade swelled, growing brighter, as it soaked up the moonlight, reflected light from the sun, gathering energy from the two Gods that had bestowed it with the power it contained. As Junto tried to reach Katsume, the fire began to burn white hot, growing ever larger, blinding him with its brilliance.

He was only a few feet from her when it released, a massive streak of blessed flame that spilled down the street, incinerating everything it touched. It had been important, the Demon Slayer had known, the remove the villagers from play before she had unleashed this attack, and to hold the blade steady when she finally did. The gout of holy fire passed above them, leaving them unharmed.

Junto was not so lucky. Wrapped in the mingled power of two deities, every cell in his body burned, leaving nothing from which he could regenerate. He felt it happening, felt himself truly die, and could know only fear, then nothing.

When the attack ended, and the light and roar faded, Junto, one of the Twelve Sacred Demons, was nothing but a statue, made of ash, that quickly collapsed and was blown away by the gentle night breeze.

Kieskei gaped, having heard ales of the power of Shoki, the most powerful demon slaying weapon ever made. It was still far more incredible than he had dared imagine. With a single blow, Junto the Eternal was dead.

By his side, Inari gave a soft smile. He had been right. Katsume was the one. The warrior of flame. She held the fate to Yukiko’s destiny in her hands, just as Yukiko held Katsume’s. The will, and the wish, of the one served was coming to be.

Shaken from her stupor by Shoki’s Nova Roar, Yukiko stared at Katsume in awe, then down the street, to find that not a single villager had been harmed, even by that powerful attack. While she was glad, it was also a knife edge in her heart. Even with something like that, Katsume had avoided taking an innocent life. Something she had failed at.

“Now,” Katsume said as she lowered Shoki. “For you.”

Kamachi blanched, looking from the devastated remains of Junto, to the half demon Demon Slayer. “Wait, please, I beg of you! I was just following orders!”

“Don’t care,” Katsume said, lifting the sword once more.

“Shit,” Kamachi whimpered, scrambling to avoid being in front of that thing when she unleashed her attack again. Though he doubted it do much good, he crawled around the side of the inn, desperate to shield himself from her.

Kieskei had a moment to think it possible that two of the Twelve Sacred Demons would die this night, but it ended as Katsume pitched forward, and landed face down in the street, unconscious. With a weary sigh, he realized that unleashing such a powerful attack had likely taken all she had.

Pulling himself up, he could only watch as Kamachi fled, vanishing into the night. Glancing down at the distraught Yukiko, he decided that one was enough for now. They had all lived, and that was more than enough.

Turning back to the full moon overhead, his expression darkened. Who was this Lord Onihone, and what did he want with Yukiko? They had missed their chance to get answers, but something told him the mysterious Lord was behind the freeing of the Sacred Demons to begin with.

Questions for another time, he finally accepted, and went to check on Katsume, leaving Yukiko and Ger with Inari, who retook his normal size, and draped an arm around the grief stricken demon girl.

Reaching Katsume, Kieskei rolled her over, and found her snoring loudly. With a smile, he collapsed to the ground by her side, just thankful to be alive as the villagers began to wake up.

軍歌

“Dammit,” Hiataenushi snarled, gripping her glaive tightly.

Lord Onihone didn’t even spare her a glance, fingers paused in the midst of stroking his chin, eyes fixed on the scene far away and below them. He was rarely surprised, so much so, he was struggling to even grasp how he felt at the moment.

“My lord, allow me to…” Nushi began, but stopped as he let go of his chin to hold a hand out to her.

“There will be no need,” he told her softly.

She grimaced at his casual tone. “But, my lord, that accursed Oda woman, and Atochi brat, both live!”

Onihone cocked his head to the side, dropping his hand. “Indeed, they do. A most unexpected turn of events.”

“Unexpected, and unacceptable,” Nushi argued. “Yukiko will never be ours with them in the way!”

“You still cannot see what I do,” he answered, sounding slightly disappointed, enough so to still the priestess.

Looking at the ground for a moment, she forced herself to calm down, before asking, “Such as?”

“Katsume Oda wields Shoki of the Nine Rings,” he replied with a smile.

“All the more reason to kill her,” Nushi grated out. “Slowly.”

Onihone wagged a finger at her, tsk tsking. “If you could take up one of two weapons meant to slay demons, my dear, which would you choose? Seiken, or Shoki?”

Nushi bit her tongue, holding back the answer she wanted to give, and made herself consider the question for a moment. “Shoki, of course. It is a far more powerful weapon.”

“Indeed,” he replied. “Powerful enough, in the right hands, to even slay Orochi himself with ease.”

“You mean…”

“We have no more use for Master Atochi, or Seiken, my dear,” he nodded. “Katsume Oda, and Shoki, however, just became our goal. Let us foster the friendship between she and Yukiko. When she dies, Lady Oda will no doubt pass Shoki on to Yukiko, and we will gain a far more powerful weapon to sue as we please.”

Though she tried, Nushi was unable to hold back her outrage. “You mean we let that bitch live? I cannot abide it, my lord! She deserves to burn in each of the thousand hells!”

“And she will, I promise you,” he told her, reaching out to cup her chin. “I ask only for patience, nothing more. When the time comes, I will let you take her to each, yourself, that you may pleasure herself on her screams.”

Nushi’s knees weakened at his touch. “You swear it me?”

“On my life,” he vowed, dipping his head to kiss her lightly.

“Your will be done,” she managed to gasp out as he pulled away.

“As it should be,” he agreed.

Black smoke swirled about them, transporting them away, as Onihone smiled at the fortunate turn fate had given him. Kamachi’s cowardice would have be dealt with, but not too severely. That could wait for alter.

For now, he had to insure Katsume and Yukiko were as close as two souls could be. Which made Kieskei Atochi a problem to be dealt with immediately.

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