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We arrive at the humans’ camp, still earlike and forenoon, to celebration. “Both” the challenged humans have won; they are now all free to go. Neieiki gives me a full joy nod as she is brought into the welcome of her kin and praised. I allow me self a little joy as well in seeing her there, but it is swallowed fast by the latest sick lie built on the others in my gut. Hm... So Yuugi lost, did she? Keen... I would have liked to see that.
Like a satori that’s heard unspoken whispers of her name, the Hoshiguma happylike barrels out the crowd and finds me who’s just thought of her. She bashes into my body with a wide grin on her face, and she rubs her cheek to mine.
I cannot hide that I cried before, and ev’ryone here believes I must have done so for losing. My first loss, after all. I say this is so, and the weight (guilt) within me is suffered more. No one can tell by cause oni are honest, so…
“Brighten your self, Suika!” Yuugi declares, her arms over my shoulders, her grin toothy and bright. “You’ve found a good human, and that is a gain!”
In mine eyes and brows I cringe, and I am wanting to shrink. I suppose that I can, but I shouldn’t. Still I consider it seriouslike, and am disrupted when I feel hands at my waist and look to see the youngest Ibaraki there, trying to comfort me with a tough squeeze. Hmph. I put my hand on her head and say, “Be on your way, Kasen. Oni or not for you to be here isn’t either safe or wise.”
She onlike uses more power to hold me.
“Hmnn...” I mumble, glancing over the growing party on round us. I cannot feel any excitement from it vicariouslike, so aye, I know...
“You look too depressed, Suika,” Yuugi observes. Mad, if this bear can tell there is some thing off onbout me, it is showing far too clearlike. But she is off the mark, asking, “Your stomach hurts?”
“Might I speak with the two of you all lone? In some quiet place.” I ask them.
“‘Some quiet’...? Hmn, well, yes I’d say that is fine. Suika, you aren’t well?” Yuugi asks, touching her stone forehead to my skull and feeling for heat.
I tell her, sure.
“Aye, I am definite unwell.”
And for mine unwellness, I am punched.
“Bfwuh—!” I spit out, fall hard into dirt, and when I recover caress my jaw. Tonguing my gums I... Ach, I must spit on gain, into my palm. There it falls: one of my first teeth, in a tiny pool of blood.
The Hoshiguma is standing at twenty feet on way from me, gentlelike massaging her fingers. How much of her muscle was put behind that strike, I wonder?
As I wonder, the Ibaraki strides over to and squats before me. She drags me into her grasp, by my shirt’s collar, and she tells me, “That was deserved,” before she collides her skull to mine with the words “and this”. I slam on gain to the earth, and the impact is so heavy the leaves of the trees near by shake. The little, short-haired, nearlike hornless girl hits as a grown woman does. Very, very full pain, this... Still, I can stand, and do... try.
“Ho’, Kasen...” I say, placing a hand on my knee and bringing my self up, “were you so mighty, or have I angered you? Ha ha...”
She pulls me in by my collar on gain, and I find mine eyes wincing. “Open your eyes!” she shouts, and I do. “An’—An’... do not accept! Fight!”
“No.” I want this, after all.
She bares her teeth, glaring at me with a fire in her eyes. Then, I am thrown; caught ungentlelike by Yuugi and feeling as though my limbs will be broken. My word, these two... do they think my collar is a handle? The golden bear, looking over me in sober contempt, speaks: “Suika... I didn’t think you so daft.” And there is a low growl behind her words. “Lies? Breaking out of the ways? And now, Suika, we must beat sense into you? Have your ears broken?”
“They still work.”
“Then I say, why will you not listen!?” the girl shouts, and her volume shakes the trees, as too my heart. Tears well in mine eyes, and when she sees that, so well hers too, at once. She talks more, saying, “This does not mean you will die, Suika! It can onlike be worse! Do you want to vanish!? Into nothing!?” Her voice then gives out, as she surrenders to emotion and drops her studded head light onto mine sore. She pulls me closer, though all so she tries to hide her face from me. The act coaxes out my suppressed grief in its entirety, and I bellow the denial I have been skirting these last two days.
“It is senseless!”
And, it is as if all on the mountain has gone still.
“With all this power you crush bugs! With all this freedom you make slaves of women and men!” I cry this out, like I am conviction manifest. “With all this time we take what little others have out their hands! With all this mirth and hedonistic insobriety, vapid full cheer inanity we sit on this mountain, glad that all below it, and those chained to it, all bleed, die, and are silenced by masters they serve but could not ever choose!”
Yuugi and Kasen stare on as if the foulest things have just come off my tongue. But not yet. I declare it:
“Mount Yatsugatake...! The hill where worthless oni pretend at being gods!”
Yuugi sticks her fist fierce into my stomach at once, wounding me and with contact pounding too the atmosphere. I heave dry and almost vomit, managing onlike to spit voluminous sweet water in nausea, and feeble reach for her forearm. I feel a hand holding the back of my head, then. Yuugi lets go of me, and Kasen behind puts my face harsh to the ground, almost busting my nose. Now down to the soil and grass, I push from the surface with my hands and fingers spread, and the Ibaraki struggles to keep me down.
“Suika, you cannot be like this!” I hear her say. “Hear the elders—hear any on the mountain: a youkai cannot be any thing other than what it is! An oni who lies!? An oni who won’t steal away humans who have lost!? If you follow on denying this, then the world will deny you! You will not exist, Suika!”
“Well then, I’ll have that,” I plainlike answer, sudden rising more and startling the girl, “No, I welcome it to try. Hell, if the world will want me gone for what I have to think of it, I will find what is its face and I will spit in it. Let it try to refuse me.” My muscles swell with blood, tighten up, and begin to pulse. Pressing teeth to teeth I lift my self, and so Kasen’s hand. Finding an opportunity, I grab that hand and swing her right, spinning her so that she is under me. Her ribs straddled between my legs, I hold her down with my palm on her chest. “Let any try,” I say, “I avow: I will not bow for a second to any of it. I will demolish what ever stands on gainst me with these hands: this mock-kingdom of the oni, the rule of nature, the Dragon God... you.” I poise my right fist, and summarylike knock her ‘cross her chin.
I drag my left hand to her throat, full squeeze her there, and raise my right on gain. And burning now, I beat her face in. I want to hurt her. I will split her head open. Her spit and blood speckles my face, and I just hit on gain. When I have struck her a seventh time and make for an eighth, Yuugi’s toes sharplike find my side, as my fellow oni kicks me off of our younger friend so to collide with some bark. The ground is broken from the falling and uprooting of the tree which caught me, and after I lay amidst clouded sand and splinters. This feeling... Yes: that shot was one that sought a kill.
But I stand as if it were nothing. I have a cause, and now feel onlike as the belly of Yatsugatake it self. This Ibuki Suika is hellfire whole. I am bolstered. And, with this shatt’ring of the earth, now I will erupt.
The Ibaraki can sense this coming. I can see it in her swollen face as she picks herself up, staring at me with a light hold of her wrist. I see her glance back at Yuugi too and—yes. Yes. There it is. You want it, too, eh bear? We are aligned as “oni” on this. I all so want to have you. Come on, then: let’s fight. But, do I have to say it? I am greater than you.
I breathe out and fog escapes me, but I will not grow. No, I do not need that advantage for Yuugi. The want of murder between us stands our hairs, and our malevolent wills replace the air. Kasen gets out the way, and I am ready. It is then that a crow finds us and lands in front of me. I look at this red-eyed servant, her slight-cropped hair frayed and frantic. I look at her, and begin to raise my grasp for her neck.
“W-Wait, Sovereign Ibuki! I beseech you, stay your hand!” she cries, seeming to want to stop me by hers, but she is too fear full to do so.
“‘Sovereign’...” I repeat in an unhappy tone, “I am not the Ibuki’s Sovereign. Why that address?”
“O Suika, I had onlike meant—”
“There is a word I have learned from mine elders to describe crows of your ilk. It is ‘sycophantic’. Do you know this word?” I ask.
The crow falls silent.
“What is your name, crow?” I request. “I wish to know it.”
“I-I am Shameimaru Aya, O Suika. I meant you absolutelike no disrespe—”
“Miss Aya,” I calmlike interrupt, and bring her close by the front of her robes, “I think that what whispers on the wind brought you here should be to your self kept, or I say: it will not end with a Hoshiguma’s blood I see spilled today.”
[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVfLTGgDem0 ]
She swallows, and nods. I let her go.
“Be gone, Aya!” I shout, and she flies by gusts at my order.
Yuugi and I stare each other down once more. The blond child brings her knuckles to pose. I slouch, and drag back my right foot. Yuugi squints just slightlike, and it is the signal to our fight. We both hurl forward, our fists cross, and we plant them violent each into the other’s cheek. The surrounding forests fall from the power, flattened right to earth, and their bark becomes skinned and turned to dust in an instant. We keep one another here, Kasen observing us, and I put mine other hand to the Hoshiguma’s face. I make her eyes meet mine. I pull my head far back. I take in a deep breath. And, with a grunt, I crash my skull into hers. I let go at the ruthless blow, and she is shot backward into the air, hurtling like a spear. I jump, become mist, and speed through the sky after her.
I’ve propelled her through the forest canopy and over Misty Lake. Quicklike I find her there flying with wet and clenched eyes. Becoming whole on gain, I reach for the front of her shirt, tugging her close to me, and I then step care full onto her, stand slowlike, and stomp her that she plummets into the lake water. She falls like a comet stricken to Earth, and when she is swallowed it seems for a moment the lake cannot in reason accept her speed and force.
It sinks and then, after being all still for some seconds, it entirelike fires up like the angriest hot spring. It was enough to reach and rain over me, and while I await the bear’s return, I spot a glint of light that just as quick I see it becomes a white-hot ray making steam of any water it passes. I have seen it before, spat out by her: a wicked power beyond comprehension. It is too soon from my seeing it to move, so her strange energy is allowed to burn clean through my left shoulder. I look at the new hole in my body, eyes wide, and mind alerting me loud to the pain. I reach for the wound and open my mouth to cry out, but before I am e’en able, Yuugi jumps above me, raises her right foot straight above her head, then brings her leg down like an axe on my damaged side.
“Ah—... g... ggaaaahh!!!” I am made to scream, and now cry distressed. I close my teeth over mine own searing blood that has burst out my body and splashed into my mouth. With it draining down over my jaw, all the sudden, my thoughts become blank, and I am mist on gain, billowing, spreading, and collecting my self greater and greater, closing the hole, verylike becoming a mountain in a person’s shape. Soon I see Yuugi hov’ring below my chin and at my chest, there in place the size of a beetle. I open both of my hands and swing them fast into a clap on round her, aiming to crush her.
There is a boom from mine act, but the sound is damper than I had expected it would be. I feel pinpricks in my hands, and no matter how intenselike I try to push them together, they do not touch. I bring them farther out from me and I see it: Yuugi is there, holding back my palms like one would hold back impossible, moving walls, and with as much effort showing on her face and body. With almost white eyes, all veins beating at a fast pace, she begins to force me apart. Her shining teeth are like a furious mill, gnashing as if with them she could cast sparks. Sweat beads down her skin—enough of that.
Mine efforts are redoubled. As I am now it is enough to soon make her into a paste, and knowing that, it seems, she opens up her mouth, raises up her head, and wails like death with a pitch and intensity that may crack the sky. Her scream near bleeds mine ears, and my heart begins to flutter in resonance. My hold is weakened, she throws my hands apart, and she wastes no time to fly in an arc to my left, fist out, and punish my side in a single, vicious strike that finds and cracks a rib of mine.
At once I return to smoke and then normal dimensions, but I cannot reset the bone. S-So, so much anguish flows throughout me. I am racked with it. Yuugi does not want me to recover and brings her leg round for a dang’rous kick. I do not allow it, and half-turn to wisps and ether. She looks frustrated as her blow sweeps through a black and shapeless part of me. With my corporeal hand I reach for and jerk at her hair. I pull my body up, using it for support and forcing her skull down. I put the sole of my foot on her face and use it to nudge her head upward. Good. I step my heel down on her nose with so much effort. Her blood paints mine ankle and she is sent backward on gain. She stops a yard out from me, holding her injured face with both of her hands.
I stay, and start trying to collect and reform my shattered rib inside me. I breathe out hot when, after a little while, all is right and back in place, and look to see Yuugi an inch on way from me on gain. We meet eyes, and we immediatelike have unspoken agreement. Our powers flare, and we start to destroy one another. Ferocious. Vigorous.
Our knuckles are banged, we each bite the other’s ears, arms, neck, thumbs, we butt our heads into bone, pound the wind from our lungs, pull violent at one another, kick, scream, thrash, and roar. I crack my knuckles on her teeth and then, while she is reeling, bend backward. She sees this and bends to mirror me. We breathe, we focus, and with speed we ram our skulls so fast together the blast distorts the air above the Lake, and the thund’rous sound is sure enough to have Raijin him self hide his navel scared. With my vision blurred of the pain, I grab her skull on gain, driving it low that I can be brutal to her nose once more, next with my knee. I bruise her horriblelike, and she growls but then slams her claws down on my scalp in a split-second. She tears my head down, fires her knee up, and returns my strike in kind. Hellish vibration.
Mine entire body feels rocked as if an earthquake has gone through me in stead of the land. Now we both weaklike waver far back from each other, blood dripping and bodies aching some thing terrible. I am vexed to admit this, but the bear is more power full than I. But, it is surelike to laugh: I think that she must feel the same. I can sense from her a gath’ring of mysterious energy. That is her top ability, after all. She has settled, honestlike, to kill me. Ha... No. I will kill her first.
I lift my hand. Mine is the ability to gather and disperse. With it, I am certain... I am sure I can rip the fabric of the world it self apart, and so shape a hole of death to devour Yuugi. My fingers twitch as I manipulate nature’s make, turning and twisting all of it to its stressed limits. There, on the cusp of rending and as the heat of Yuugi’s phenomenon builds to a level that I find terrifying, we are interrupted. I see an older oni before me: a woman, in her hands a kanabo. She lifts the colossal, studded club to ready it for an attack, and under her arm I can see a male doing the same before Yuugi. The weapon crashes down on my head, and in not one second I am on the Lake’s floor and under water, mine ears ringing. My consciousness falls with an avalanche’s momentum, though I struggle to retain it. Interference... Interference, now...? I look through the shimm’ring, rippling surface above, and see on gainst the Sun a black-winged figure. That was it.
That was it.
Hahh... blasted tengu.