Grilled Chicken !knpZoUeiT2 2010/02/24 (Wed) 04:42 No. 112926
"Damn!" swore Toshihiro as Shuzou's body lay motionless near the archway. What use was impeding the fox beast's speed if they could not even match her power? Regardless, he kept his swords at ready, drawing on his fighting spirit as his master taught. Not every man here was an ordinary warrior, there was a reason Hidetaka picked out these specific samurai for the mission. A blue-white glow began to emanate from Toshihiro's arms.
Glancing over at his commander, Toshihiro noted Hidetaka was beginning to emit a faint green glow from his arms and chest as well. This was an advanced technique, to manipulate one's own battle spirit to become stronger and faster. Improper use of it could prove just as self-damaging as being helpful, but with it one could match or even overcome very dangerous foes, be they human or beast.
On an unspoken signal, both men leaped at Ran together, moving several faster than usual. Even the giant fox was taken off-guard by this display, and only barely backed out of range of Toshihiro's sword slash. Hidetaka's spear, however, found purchase, tearing out a gash in Ran's left hind leg. With a loud snarl, she turned to retaliate, but the hardened warrior was already on the ground and moving fast. Toshihiro ran opposite of Hidetaka, making sure to give Ran two faster-than-expected threats to track.
Nobushige and the remaining samurai were now focusing their own spirits as well, waiting for an opportune moment to strike. The giggling from Yukari had ceased, as she now watched with rapt attention to how these fighters moved.
Seemingly frustrated, Ran gave out a howl as several waves of danmaku spewed out from her body in all directions. However, in their focused states, the samurai were able to discern the patterns and nimbly avoid the bullets as they closed in on the fox beast.
A cut across her flank! A slash to her left shoulder! A nick to her ear! The intensity of attacks grew as four glowing bodies circled around the nucleus that was Ran, whom finally in a rage burst up and out of the crisscrossing web of blades. Curled forward in a spin, she rained danmaku down on the four warriors, whom danced through the hail as they tailed her descending form. In a deliberate move, she made sure to land upon the one-armed, wounded man still struggling on the ground, caving in his chest cavity with her front paws. Kicking away the fresh corpse like litter, she advanced on the four warriors; despite the damage they inflicted, she was still very much in the game and quite volatile in her rage now.
"Sir, we need to finish this fast... I don't think I can last longer than a few minutes now," gritted out Toshihiro through clenched teeth, sweat pouring down his face. Hidetaka nodded in acknowledgment; he too was feeling the heavy exertion from the technique.
"We have one more chance here. Together, we're going to charge and then split apart in front of her. I'll lead; she's not stupid and will realize what we're doing, but I need you to follow my directions. Aim for her shoulder if you can. Once we do this regardless of the outcome, I want you all to retreat. I'll be right behind you. She won't stay down for long so we'll need to move fast."
He crouched into a ready position. "On my mark... one, two ...three!"
All four warriors burst forward in a dash, their glows trailing behind them like will-o-wisps. The fox beast hesitated, backing into a defensive posture at their concerted charge. Hidetaka split to her left, while the other warriors split to her right. Ran glanced towards Hidetaka for a split second, only to snap back suddenly towards the trio, believing Hidetaka was the feint and they were the real attack. Toshihiro and the other two evaded her swipes, and began to pull back as planned. For his part, Hidetaka had his spear raised high as more energies coalesced around his arms and weapon.
"This should put you out for a bit..."
With his weapon held high for an overhead strike, Hidetaka flew at Ran's undefended flank. She noticed him at the last second, turning back towards him, but too late to react.
There was a flash of violet-white light.
Hidetaka's smoldering lower torso scattered across the stone, as Yukari floated down above it. The rest of the veteran samurai was gone, to the others it was obvious what had just occurred. Yukari giggled once again. "That was quite a magnificent display. Unfortunately, I do happen to like my shikigami undamaged. Mostly. I am afraid the show stops here."
At about the same time, Toshihiro collapsed to one knee as the glow from his collected spirit dissipated. Time was up. The other samurai also lost focus, leaving only Nobushige left in any fighting capacity.
"So much for this farce. Hey, kid," said Nobushige over his shoulder. Toshihiro looked up at him, catching his breath. "Grab your friend over there, and the three of you RUN. Harder than you've ever run. I'm going to hold them here as long as I can."
"Shut up and do it, kid. You guys think I didn't know that Nobunaga wanted me axed, thinking I'd be disloyal after betraying the Takeda? Well, I'll show you what loyalty means. Loyalty to one's comrades in battle, I know that well. Loyalty to an incompetent daimyo like Takeda, that's something else."
He snatched the spear away from the third samurai, and held both it and his own weapon crossed before him. "Now, GO!!"
Unable to even utter thanks, Toshihiro and the other survivor fled, sheathing his swords and scooping up Shuzou as they made their escape down the shrine steps. Walking forward, Nobushige let a grin cross his face.
"Do you happen to know a monster who once dwelt upon Sendo Mountain, youkai whore?" sneered Nobushige, his spears still crossed before him. "Well who cares if you do, just know that I, Oyamada Nobushige, have slain beasts like you before, and that death in doing so is the true way to die!"
There was a loud clap like thunder behind the escapees as they neared the bottom of the steps. Not pausing to look back, Toshihiro muttered a prayer for the man who gave them the chance to escape.
Yukari nudged the blackened form with the sole of her sandal. She'd seen such acts of sacrifice and bravery before in her long life, but it never really got old. Humans were quite fascinating indeed.
"Lady Yukari, shall I hunt down the others?"
Yukari hmmed, tapping her closed fan against her chin before shaking her head. "No Ran, I think we'll let them be. I am certain they will try to go back to Nobunaga to warn him of what I mentioned, but they won't arrive in time. And even if they did, they would expect a youkai attack, not the plan I have already set under way."
Turning around, she clapped twice, and the entire scenery changed as if water dripping off an oil painting. No longer was the shrine run-down and decrepit, but instead in pristine condition and well-kept. The blood, corpses and other damage to the area were all wiped away as well.
"Now Ran, let's get those wounds treated. You really ought to work more on your fox-form combat."
The giant beast glowed blue for a brief moment before the glow shrunk down to a humanoid shape; when it dissipated, a tall and attractive blonde woman stood there in the nude, her head adorned by fox ears and multiple golden tails growing from her lower back.
"You also should work on summoning your clothes back when you transform."