She was a goddess in the eyes of all that looked upon her and her music brought calm and tranquility to this usually unsettled town.
When her song ended, she bowed respectfully to her audience before she left the stage. Her host was sad that she had to go. He had never gotten this much business before.
"Lady Himorogi, must you truly leave?" The man asked her.
"Unfortunately, Paku-san. I have a long journey ahead of me and it'll be a lot easier if I cover much ground before sunrise. The heat has been brutal these days at noon and it will slow me down." The young woman explained as she began to pack away her instrument, preparing for the long journey in front of her.
"But my dear, travelling after sunset is dangerous. There are demons lurking in the darkness."
Demons. She never usually heard the townsfolk talk about it but the fact that these people weren't shy about mentioning such a thing informed her just how awful their experiences must have been. Most people in the places she went to didn't believe in demons.
Letting out a sigh, she gave him a gentle smile.
"Thank you for your concern, Paku-san, but I do not fear demons. I will be alright." She told him.
After a few minutes of trying to convince her to stay, the man finally let her go, begrudgingly however.
The moon had an otherworldly aura around it that night. The air, however, had a chill to it. There had been a shift in the current sometime during the evening and that had told her that something bad was coming to this town.
She usually preferred to stay out of trouble but she knew that once again trouble had found her.
A chilling scream suddenly broke the silence of the night. It only lasted for a second hence she knew that she would arrive too late. Taking out her personalized red bladed Kusari Fundo, forged with nichirin ore, she dashed towards the place where she sensed the demon's aura.
After running for about three hundred feet, she came to a grassy clearing. Four dead bodies lay mangled and battered on the ground but the thing that caught her attention the most was their black uniforms.
She caught sight of a fifth slayer, the poor girl stood with her sword drawn but her limbs were shaking heavily.
The man who stood in front of her had a hand on the hilt of a sword that was sheathed by the side of his hip. The gentle evening breeze caused his dark burgundy ponytail to sway with the wind. Against the pale moonlight, he looked regal. If it wasn't for his obvious demonic aura and, as she soon noticed, the six eyes that stared his opponent down, Akira would have believed that he was another swordsman.
As she looked closer at him, she could see the dense muscles and sense the heaviness of his demonic aura. He was unlike any demon she had ever encountered before.
At that moment, she knew that if she doubted herself, he would kill her.
"Total Concerntration : Stone Breathing, Second Form, Upper Smash!"
Akira shouted these words as she threw both her scythe and weight for a pincer move before smashing down on the chain to cause the weight to then rebound and smash her target from afar.
"You dare to draw your blade against me, when you know it would be futile?" The demon said with an amused smile, "Do you really think you could ever hope to defeat me, little human?"
He didn't make a move toward her, but he watched her intently, his golden eyes narrowed in curiosity.
The next thing he knew, she was standing right next to him. He had no idea how she had moved so fast that all six of his eyes had missed it. She stood next to him and spoke without so much as looking at him.
"Big words for someone who can't even keep up with my speed."
The demon hadn't expected her fast attack. She attacked with such great speed that she managed to cut through him before he could process the attack.
For a moment his eyes were wide as he regarded her. This girl. No. This woman was somehow not paralyzed by his aura. She even moved at such speed that rivalled his own, maybe even greater.
His eyes widened in surprise. For the first time in centuries, he felt a rush of adrenaline at being outmatched. Without warning, he swung his blade in a wide arc, intending to intimidate her into backing down. But when he turned back to look at her, she was gone.
"What are you trying to hit, demon. I'm over here." She said to him. Appearing back at her original position. She smiled mischievously at him as she held her kusari fundo in front of her. "Too bad the blade of my weapon didn't cut all the way through."
He was still puzzled with how he hadn't sensed her attack when he suddenly realized that she had almost decapitated him.
His hands grabbed a hold of his head that only just barely still attached to his neck in surprise.
"Stay still now." She told him, tightening her hold on the Kusari Fundo. "I have no desire to cause you pain but I cannot simply forgive you for the lives you've taken here tonight. I will try to make your death as painless. You have suffered enough already."
As he gazed up into her lavender eyes he saw no anger, fear or resentment. Her eyes were kind and gentle and a lone tear fell down from her right eye.
"What - what are you?" He asked as his wounds finally healed.
"What do you mean by that? I am just a musician, that is all." She replied with a gentle smile.
Her eyes widened as she looked at him.
"Upper - One, is that some kind of rank amongst you demons? Forgive my curiosity but my master tried to teach me these things. If only I hadn't been such a scatter brain."
The demon narrowed his eyes at the woman when he saw her suddenly relax her stance.
"Are you mocking me, woman?" He demanded, still regarding her with distrust.
He was thinking about how he could strike her down but he didn't trust her carefree attitude.
"Huh? Now why would I do that, Upper One?"
He was taken aback by her casual tone, and her complete lack of fear. Most humans quaked in terror at the sight of him, but this girl was clearly not most humans.
"You are an odd one. No human should be able to match me in speed, yet here you are, taunting me like you're a demon yourself." He said, with a hint of begrudging amusement in his voice. "How did you get so strong?"
"Strength is my curse, demon." For a moment a look of sadness flashed across her face before she regained her jovial expression. "But you still haven't answered my question. If you do, I might choose to spare you."
The demon felt a chill run down his spine, despite the fact that he was a demon and should not be capable of feeling such a thing. There was something unnerving about this girl, who spoke so casually about killing him.
"What is it you want to know?" He asked warily, his grip on his sword tightening.
"Tell me, what does it mean being upper moon one." She asked.
His eyes narrowed. He did not like sharing information with anyone, but especially not with a human. But something about this girl made him feel strangely compelled to answer her question.
"The Twelve Kizuki are a group of the twelve most powerful demons. Each one is ranked from Lower Moon Six to Upper Moon One, in order of strength. Upper Moon One is the strongest, and as such, I am the most powerful demon in existence." He said, pride evident in his voice.
"So you're the strongest, huh?" She asked. "That must be lonely."
The demon felt a flash of annoyance at her words. No one had ever questioned his strength before, and certainly no one had ever expressed sympathy for him.
"I do not need companionship. I am content with my power and my position." He said, with more conviction than he truly felt.
"There's nothing wrong with seeking companionship. If anything it shows just how strong you are to seek the company and criticism of others." She told him with a giggle. "Anyways it was nice meeting you, uppermoon one. I will be going now."
"Wait." He said, before he could stop himself.
He had never felt the need to interact with anyone before, but this girl had piqued his curiosity.
"How is it that you are so strong, and yet you do not appear to be a demon?" He asked, unable to hide the hint of suspicion in his voice.
"The things I fight for - they give me strength." She replied with a warm and gentle smile
He found himself at a loss for words, a strange sensation for him. No one had ever talked to him like this before, and no one had ever given him such a look. It was almost... affectionate.
"What things do you fight for?" He asked, before he could stop himself.
"Ah well that's something you might find strange." She said with a laugh.
"I am not easily surprised." He responded, with a hint of a challenge in his voice. "Go on, I am listening."
"What's the one thing you enjoy? Besides being the strongest?" She asked him.
He paused for a moment, before replying.
"I have never given it much thought. I exist to serve my purpose. But I suppose I find some satisfaction in honing my skills and abilities." He admitted, feeling oddly vulnerable. "And you, girl? What do you find satisfaction in?"
"The laughter of children as they play, the song birds sing, the warm rays of sun on my cheek after a cold and windy day. Even a meal with my friends and family. These are all things I enjoy. Memories that I cherish." She replied thoughtfully as she smiled at the memories she conjured. "These are all the things I fight for. To protect these memories and ensure that I will have many more."
The demon was stunned into silence. Such small, simple things were what gave this girl strength? It was almost incomprehensible to him. And yet, in a way, he envied her. His life had been nothing but violence and destruction, and he had never known such simple pleasures. He found himself feeling... wistful.
"You are an intriguing human." He said at last.
"Why thank you. And you are the first demon I've had such a lovely chat with." She replied with a smile. "But I need to be going now. It was nice meeting you. Of course I must warn you that if I catch you killing humans again I will not spare you."
"You would attack me, even knowing that I am the Upper Moon One?" He said, unable to hide his disbelief. Who was this strange human, who would dare to threaten him so? "You are either very brave, or very foolish."
"Well, I know who you are but you don't know anything about me." She replied with a smirk.
He felt a strange surge of curiosity, something he had not felt in a very long time. Who was this girl, who could make him feel so intrigued and unsettled?
"Perhaps I would like to know more about you. You are different from any human I have ever encountered." He admitted, feeling strangely vulnerable.
"Hm, I will consider telling you more about myself." She replied with a smile. "If you can find me after I leave here."
She giggled at her own private joke. Akira had no intention of letting him find her, no matter how intriguing she found him. He was, after all a demon. An enemy. She would adhere to her training and hide herself from all potential threats.
The demon , on the other hand, raised an eyebrow, his curiosity piqued.
"A challenge, I see. Very well, I accept. I will search for you until I find you again. And when I do, you will tell me more about yourself." He said with a slight smile. He found himself actually looking forward to the challenge.
"And maybe then you'll tell me your name." She said as she bid him farewell.
"Perhaps." He said, as he watched her turn and walk away.
As she left, he felt a strange sense of loss. He had enjoyed their conversation more than he had expected. It was a strange, foreign feeling. But not unpleasant.
"Farewell, intriguing human." He called out as she disappeared into the distance.
Merci pour la lecture!
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