Fanfic Friday – “The Demon and the Shining Sword”

24 Aug

Blasted earth, scorching sun, whistling clouds of blowing grit and a grim white figure, tiny against the vast wasted ocean, huddled and striding slowly.

His katana clanks softly against his thigh. His jet-black hair has escaped its tight binding and come flowing loose in long straggled cords, matted with sweat and sand. His hand holds his tattered cloth tight against his face, and his eyes narrow out at the wind. If he is looking for something, he has come to the wrong place. There is nothing, nothing except countless untold eons of dust and death and emptiness spread across an endless blight. There aren’t even any bones.

But the samurai strides on, oblivious to the harshness of the desert. It is not what is or is not within the wasteland which concerns him. He wants what lays beyond.

As he walks, he feels a sudden and unnatural chill blow past him in the breeze, snapping his senses awake. He spots a wisp of ebony ether spiralling upward from the ground ahead, which erupts into a roiling cyclone of black smoke. The samurai recoils, and the empty air is filled with the sound of harsh laughter. “Foolish samurai. You think the desert can hide you? None can escape my gaze!

Twin beams of electric hatred arc out from the peak of the smoky tower and scar the dry earth where the samurai stood a moment before. He is twenty feet west, stance spread, hand on the hilt of his blade. He rips his scarf loose to flutter away, and stares with wanton defiance at the fiendish apparition.

“Show yourself!”

That laugh again; guttural, ancient, dripping with arrogance and malice. The cloud reforms itself, taking on jagged edges as sharp as shattered obsidian, forming into a cloak of shifting darkness and snaking arms with dreadfully long claws. A face emerges from the folds of the smog, horned and leering, with eyes and beard aflame in hideous crackling fire. Its criss-crossing fangs jut out from pale green lips as they grin with evil satisfaction. The samurai stares, eyes wide in horrible recognition, and tears his sword from its sheath.

AKU!

The demon laughs once more, throwing up his claws and cackling into the sky. With a rush of cold inky smoke he swirls downward to curl around the samurai’s tensed form, taunting him from over his shoulder. “I am glad you remember me, samurai. I have not forgotten you.” The demon’s foul oni face looms before him, smiling in a disgusting caricature of pleasantry. “You won’t be needing this.”

A tendril of smoke whips out and snatches the samurai’s katana from his grasp, tossing it to stick point-first in the cracked earth some distance away. The samurai, furious, points an accusing finger at the demon, who has taken on the curling shape of a snake-like dragon. “Aku! You will not–”

Aku’s mouth gapes open and belches a gout of yellow flame, which washes over the samurai. Moving faster than a darting snake, the samurai grasps his sword’s wooden scabbard and spins it in a fan before him, reflecting the jet of fire in whirling eddies. The heat flashes away and the samurai is already gone, already sprinting along the ground under the twisting demon’s body toward his shining sword, waiting for him in the dust. Aku realizes too late what the samurai is doing, and sends shurikens of solidified black smoke darting after him, bellowing in wordless rage. But the samurai is too fast.

When the samurai’s palm closes over the katana’s grip, its sleek metal shines. He pulls it from the ground and readies it in front of him, and the shine bursts outward in a flash of white light. He can see the demon flinch, pulling away instinctively from the purity of the sword’s glow. He narrows his eyes, and the corner of his mouth twitches upward.

The samurai leaps, and Aku’s echoing scream of surprise and fury fades into the blowing desert as the blazing sword slices through his smoke with graceful ease. There is no time for a final taunt; a pledge to return, a promise of vengeance. Aku is gone in an instant, and the samurai is left alone again with the silence of the vast and never-ending desert.

His curling lip becomes a broad smile. That is exactly the way he likes it.

He slides his shimmering sword into its sheath, takes a long breath, and resumes his tireless march.

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