Energy < Force Resonance !EchoK8mNvk 2012/09/07 (Fri) 10:30 No. 701 ▼
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The path of destruction led deep into the woods. Without end, the shinigami and Yama met splintered trees and torn earth. And despite their haste, the pair felt as though they had gone in circles.
The leading member was the shinigami. With the power of distance manipulation, her strides seemed to reach impossibly far as she began to separate from her partner. Eiki, despite her best efforts, could not hope to match the speed at which the ferryman moved. In an attempt to keep the pair together, the Yama called out urgently to the shinigami who was starting to disappear into the foliage.
"Komachi, slow down!"
The Yama's words fell on deaf ears though. Komachi continued on without her at a furious pace. In a matter of seconds, the shinigami had vanished from Eiki's view. Seeing the ?slacker? in such a hurry surprised the Yama. There was nothing the hell judge could think of that would possibly motivate Komachi to actually RUN.
Not as in casual jogging.
An all-out sprint.
Komachi, had a good reason to run in mind. The gardener of Hakugyokurou was now in immediate danger. And Youmu Konpaku was one of the few people the ferryman considered a friend. The two had often met, when their schedules would allow and spent time off work trading gossip and hearsay from passing travelers.
The gardener was also an accomplished swordsman in her own right. Youmu was definitely no pushover- being one of the fastest individuals in Gensokyo. The shinigami had faith in the half-ghost's abilities, but she understood that the rogue spirit they were pursuing was monstrous in power. Speed would only get the swordsman so far against a beast that ripped and tore apart anything that stood before it.
Following the debris-strewn path, Komachi traveled further in, unaware that she had abandoned her superior.
As she glided past tree after tree, something caught her eye among the carnage. Closing in upon the spot of interest, she slowed to a stop as she inspected the gruesome mess.
It was an arm.
Or rather, what had been an arm. Lying among the splinters and rubble, the arm was less an arm now and more a mangled, bloody pile of bone, flesh, and skin. Judging from the sorry shape of it, the bones appeared to have been utterly smashed to bits before the attacker had finally decided after pulverizing its opponent's arm to a pulp... to rip it clean off its host.
Komachi stared unflinchingly at the appalling sight, not even batting an eyelid. These things were common for the shinigami to encounter and many souls that she ferried possessed a rather grisly reminder of an untimely death. To name a few, she had seen countless sword wounds, a number of decapitations, and a handful of people who were, if she had to describe it, ?half the person they were alive?.
She stopped as she replayed that last thought of hers.
The ferryman began searching her surroundings for a sword. If this was indeed Youmu's arm (which the shinigami hoped it wasn't), then one of her blades would not be far away. While the torn arm was not a pretty thing to look at, Komachi knew that the arm could be fixed. The doctor of Eientei was a miracle worker when it came to fixing injuries; even of this magnitude. Many souls had in fact been saved from a trip with Komachi because of her efforts, which the ferryman herself was thankful for. It meant a lighter work load, which she always welcomed enthusiastically.
Eventually, Komachi returned to the arm, empty-handed. She hadn't been able to find a sword anywhere nearby; even using her distance powers to scan far away. This was definitely not the gardener?s. Looking closer, she also noted that the remnants of cloth on the arm didn't match Youmu's attire anyway.
The scorch marks from the first clearing should have been an indicator that it was not the half-ghost the sinner was fighting. Whoever they were, it was clear that the brute of the two combatants was winning now though- the scorch marks from before becoming less and less frequent further down the trail. Regardless, these were two reasonably strong individuals, and the Yama needed to intervene before someone was killed by this living anomaly of force.
Having finally realized the absence of the hell judge, Komachi scouted far off in search of her boss. At the edge of her range, even she had trouble making out the shape of a person amongst the shadows of the forest. There was no sign of Eiki- the shinigami had gone much too far ahead.
Looking back at the arm, the shinigami knew that whoever was fighting whom, one of them was in a very bad situation. Eiki could catch up later. Someone had to do something, the sinner needed to be recaptured before they continued causing havoc, unchecked. Without another thought, Komachi darted off, heading towards the source of the destruction.
Several minutes after leaving the arm, Komachi caught sight of a clearing in the forest. Drawing closer, she began to hear the commotion of the fight up ahead. There were occasional crescents of flame that would light up as well, but these were dwarfed by the massive and much more frequent explosions going off across the glade. Those definitely looked like the work of the sinner. Only someone that strong would have had a chance of escape over the Sanzu River.
Before the shinigami could enter the clearing though, a blur whipped past her, smashing through several nearby trees until it was stopped by a very large oak. There was a distinctive CRACK from the object as it collided with the solid wood, accompanied by the crashing of the tumbling trees it had punched through. Staring hard, the ferryman could make out the shape of a person, lying motionless in a crumpled heap at the last trunk base. Whoever that was, they were dead- an impact that hard was surely instant death and Komachi didn't even bother to confirm it with her shinigami eyes. It was for sure now.
The sinner had to be stopped.
Out in the clearing, the sinner shook the gore off of his fist. That battle had been drawn out far longer than he had hoped. He had not expected that much fight from such an unexceptional-looking person. And he had not expected them to be capable of shooting gouts of flame- that was an interesting trick. Despite that, the sinner was relatively unharmed, sporting only a few minor burns and bruises from his opponent.
Brushing himself off, the sinner resumed his march towards what had been his final goal in life. While the land had changed drastically since his time, he recalled quite clearly the location of his target.
An impossibly large building, concealed within a labyrinth of bamboo trees, infested with rabbits, and, the most important thing?
"the home of an immortal.
A voice, stern and rigid, called out to him, making the sinner halt at the edge of the clearing, "Move any further, and you'll be leaving this place a head shorter than you are now."
Taking a glance down, the sinner noticed the familiar glint of steel hanging in front of his neck. Faintly cocking his head, he spotted from the corner of his eye a pole, stretched ridiculously long across the glade and ending at his collar with an intimidating scythe blade.
The sinner chuckled. So they had finally arrived. He had started to wonder when Hell was going to catch up to him. He casually faced the wielder of the scythe, a shinigami, with a leisurely smirk upon his lips.
"I'm surprised. I never expected anyone to come looking for someone they forgot an entire millennium ago."
From the far side of the clearing, the form of the scythe-bearer flickered, reappearing at an arm's length in front of him. Resting the sickle on her shoulder, the red-haired woman gave a displeased look at the imposing figure before her.
"Well, we wouldn't need to do this if you had just stayed quietly in Higan, now would we?" The shinigami arched her head back as she complained, "You wouldn't believe how much of an uproar your escape has caused in Hell. Heck, I even ran as fast as I could all the way here."
The sinner snorted in amusement. "Ohohoho, I'm sorry. I didn't realize how much they cared about me."
"Yeah, well, we didn't? until you escaped that is."
"I see." There was a brief moment as the sinner's lighthearted grin turned into an intense frown. While he was unfamiliar with the procedures the shinigami was following, he could guess what would be next.
"Sooo? look. I'm gonna make this easy for you to understand." The shinigami bent over, scratching her head as if the entire ordeal embarrassed her. There was an awkward sort of tone as she continued, "Either you surrender right now, so nobody else gets punched across the forest like that last victim of yours? oor-"
The scythe immediately found the sinner's neck, hovering menacingly as it waited for the slightest twitch from the man.
?-We bury you right here.? The final words came out, crisp, clear and quite serious.
The man scoffed, "You think threats will work on me? I have rotted in those damned fields for centuries and you honestly believe I would willingly turn myself in? to you? Just to be sent back to Higan?"
"I was never any good at threats, though I really would prefer a peaceful resolution. No one else has to die if you stop right now."
The sinner's laughter echoed across the field. "You are an interesting shinigami. I had pegged you all to be stingy boatmen- only worrying about their next paying customer? I never figured I'd meet one that was actually concerned about the souls they ferried."
Komachi was unamused. "I'm not, not really, or at least not that much."
"Oh? What then?"
"Well, it's just that you murdered someone? Who do you think has to ferry that soul across the Sanzu now?" Withdrawing her scythe, the shinigami stabbed the butt of the pole firmly into the ground. "Personally, I don't like you giving me more work to do."
"That's not my fault, that bitch refused such a generous offer. And I DO feel a little regretful that I had to break her pretty face? and her neck. Too much fight in that one, it's unsuited for a proper woman to behave like that." The man let out a pained sigh, though he wore a taunting sneer on his face.
Komachi shot a glare at the sinner, finally fed up with his cocky attitude. While she had wanted to delay him long enough to allow Eiki to catch up, the conversation with the sinner was really pissing her off. She tilted her head- barely flinching as an audible crack was heard from her neck popping. "Well, my boss is going to be a little late, so why don't we just get started? I'm kinda out of shape and I could use a nice workout to get back into the swing of things."
The sinner continued leering, "Finally ready, are you? Once I'm done burying YOU, I'm going to celebrate my victory by feasting on that immortal's liver."
The shinigami gave a swing of her scythe, reacquainting herself to its weight. It had been at least a couple years since she had last used it on that mischievous celestial. "You talk big for a human spirit."
"I'll remind you why you should be afraid of Hell?"
The clearing was silent, save for the soft hush of the occasional breeze that rolled through. Despite the wind, there was a stillness in the area- tension hung thick over the glade and the surrounding woods.
It was beginning.
In the field's center, two figures stood across from each other. Neither made even the slightest twitch, waiting for the other party to make the first move- a sign of weakness? a sign of their lack of focus.
One was an imposing man of immense size who stood proudly, exuding an air of superiority.
The other, a female shinigami, opposed him, wielding a twisted scythe blade in a subtle, yet prepared stance.
They no longer spoke- words were no longer necessary- they understood what the other's intentions were.
Neither one planned on letting the other have their way, though.
As if an unspoken alarm had gone off, the two suddenly leapt, simultaneously, at each other.
It had begun.