Lair of the Beasts

Demons 2
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Chapter 2: The New Slayer in Town

By SRSilverhawk


                "Hiroshi, quit it!" She giggled.

                "Alright, alright, I'll quit...., Rei. Sooo, didja have fun tonight?"

                "Yeah, it was best night on the town I've ever had..... Oh my God, it's nearly three in the morning.  I have to get home, I have work tomorrow.... err,... today."

                "It's all right, were right here, as it is.  See you later, have a good day Rei."


                Hiroshi left Rei at her doorstep with a peck on the cheek and the promise of another romantic appointment.  "You are very lucky man, Hiroshi Sagisu.  You are a very lucky man indeed."  He cheerily thought to himself.  "I'd best get home as well, it is getting rather light out."


                Chuckling softly, Hiroshi turned to take a shortcut through an empty overgrown lot and was halfway through when he was greeted by a grisly sight.  A trio of bodies, the earth around them stained crimson with blood, lay in a loose pile.  A few feet away a fourth corpse rested, this one seemed to jerk and twitch in the twilight dawn.  Hiroshi gasped; covering his mouth in revulsion as the smells of old fear and fresh blood hit him. Hiroshi began to back away slowly in another direction, at his third step he suddenly stumbled and fell backwards over a cold, wet, inert mass.  Looking down, he stifled a horrified scream.  There, ripped open from jaw to belly, was Rei's neighbor, Mrs. Sohyru's little mixed-breed dog, Shi.  


                Hiroshi, whimpering in fear, crawled away as quickly as he could when abruptly he heard the sound of a pleased snarl.  Looking fearfully back, he could just barely see a dark form standing over the fourth body.  The massive form lifted it's head and sniffed the still, cool air, two odd-shaded eyes opened, glowing with evil delight   The head scented the air again then abruptly swung in his direction, the grim purpose in the eyes was chillingly obvious.  Hiroshi would have screamed, would have run like a madman, but he was held there, frozen by the hungry stare.  The creature stepped off the body it had been standing upon and began to stalk the fallen man, slowly; relishing the fear it was receiving from him.  The monster stopped and crouched, the jaws gaped open showing bloodstained tusks and a wicked grin. 

                Hiroshi gasped when he realized what the creature was; it was a gigantic, wire-haired, blood-covered demon weasel with jaws like a steel trap and a stout body and tail. The weasel stopped only a few feet away from Hiroshi's leg, eyes narrowed.  The monster crouched, muscles rippling under it's fur as it tensed, readying itself to pounce upon the man.  Hiroshi sat frozen, fully and grimly accepting his fate as the demon leaped at him, fangs bared, paws wide and claws outspread. 


                As the demon flew toward him, Hiroshi was suddenly aware of two things swiftly happening.  First, a huge flying shape of garnet-brown and white fur suddenly sped soundlessly above and partly through him, and slammed into the weasel so hard that it threw the demon back, clear over it's earlier victims.  Second, something grabbed him by the back of his shirt and half-yanked, half-threw him back, away from the two furry entities as they began to growl and roar threats at each other.


Hiroshi was only too happy to oblige the obvious order of 'Get out of the way!', but before he barely moved a step, a voice suddenly said, "Stop where you are.  You'd be better off staying put, or I'd have to chase you down."

"Who What?" Hiroshi stuttered as he staggered to his feet, amazed at his rescue from the claws of near-death.  He was peripherally aware of the demon weasel and the second furry creature beginning to tussle with each other, but he was too engrossed with his savior to even spare them a glance.  "Who are you?" He asked.  

                "There will be time enough for that later, big guy.  Stay out of the way and you might live to see another day." A distracted female voice said.

 In the faint dawn Hiroshi could just barely see her; as he watched a single stray glimmer of light caught her left eye, and it glittered a light burgundy-brown as she half-turned to address him.  "Be thankful we got here in time." The girl's gaze then shifted from him to the weasel's former prey. "Hmm Spoke too soon; we weren't in time at all."  She leaned in to take a closer look at the stiffening bodies.  Wrinkling her nose, she softly said, "Gods, what a mess."  A pained yelp abruptly pulled the girl's attention from her inspection.  "How you doing over there fur ball? This isn't what I think it is, is it?"  She calmly asked, as though it was all no big deal.

                Hiroshi, his previous terror forgotten, cocked an eyebrow in bewilderment, 'Who is this girl?  And who or what is 'Fur Ball'?' Hiroshi's second question rapidly answered itself when a second voice tersely made itself known.

                "I could use a little help, Kid.  Bind this thing! I don't feel like losing another ear this week!"  Hiroshi couldn't help but flinch back from the fierce, intense tone.  The girl, however, only grumbled wordlessly for a moment then suddenly and loudly said, "Circle of Destruction-White."  Barely had the words been spoken before a ring of white light sprang from the palm of her right hand and encircled and engulfed the shocked weasel demon, and as quickly as the light appeared it disappeared leaving only a faint circular line in the grass.


                "That wasn't what I meant and you know it.  And don't call me fur ball." 'Fur Ball' groused.  "And I wouldn't try to sneak away if I were you."  Hiroshi froze in his tracks at the vaguely annoyed tone and turned cautiously around to face the pair.  Looking closely he saw that both had their backs turned to him as they examined the mauled bodies.  He also noticed that the furry, ruddy-brown figure seemed vaguely wolf-like in shape and stood nearly as tall as the girl.  As Hiroshi watched, it gingerly began to inspect the slain dog with one taloned forepaw.  The girl tiredly rubbed her face with one hand, turned and began to walk in Hiroshi's direction.   

"It's entirely too early in the morning to have to deal with this." The girl yawned.  "I've got to be somewhere in a little while."

"Deal with the boy then, and go home if you have to.  I'll clean this up." The burgundy-brown shape suddenly said, not even bothering to look up.   

"Huh? Okay Umm You didn't answer my question you know.  Was that weasel one of them?" The girl quickly replied, changing the subject.   

"I didn't pick up anything from it.  Besides, they don't kill like this nor do they possess beasts like that one" The creature paused and glanced back in Hiroshi's direction with one shadowy blue eye for a tense moment.  "Before you ask, the boy's clean too.  Go give him the usual warnings and then go home." 

"Uh, sure.  Whatever Ran, see you later.  I guess."

"Whatever, and don't call me Ran, it's bad enough you gave me a pet name without you shortening my real one as well."


A little while later Hiroshi and the girl were on the main street and talking in the shadow of a building.

"Now, I don't think I have to tell you that this would not be a good topic to talk about.  Right, ami?" The girl asked.

"Absolutely, no problem.  It's not like anyone would ever believe me anyway."

"You'd be surprised.  A lot of 'things' have us on their hit lists, and you saying something would certainly tell them where we are."

"Are you guys, like, on the run from something?"

"No, nothing of the sort!  We're the ones chasing something. But I won't get into that.  I guess I might as well tell you what'll happen if you talk."

"You don't have to say a thing, really-"

"Yeah, I do actually.  It's part of the rules, you know; goes with hanging around with demons like Fluffy back there. The girl jerked her thumb at the lot.  If you talk my companion will rip you limb from limb, and then I will incinerate your remains into unrecognizable char.  We clear on that, cher?" 

Hiroshi gulped, "Crystal clear. I won't even think about this." 

"That's what I wanted to hear. Alright, all the bases seem to be covered. That ends this, I guess."

Hiroshi turned to leave, but suddenly the girl tapped his shoulder.  "I do have one last thing to ask you, Hiroshi."

"Uh, okay Fire away."

"Have you even seen one of these?" Hiroshi looked into the palm of the girl's right hand as she pulled her left away from it.  Hiroshi suddenly gasped as the center of her hand exploded in turquoise light.


~              ~              ~


                "Hiroshi Hiroshi?  Hey, Sagisu, snap out of it already!!"


                Hiroshi abruptly jerked his head up and found himself looking into the concerned face of one of Rei's friends.  "Huh? What?  What is it?" He dumbly asked.

                "I could ask you the same question.  You were just staring out into space there. You all right, your eyes were really glazed over?" The man cautiously said.

                "Uh, yeah I think I'm alright, thanks Sho.  Man, what happened? I've got such a headache."

                "It beats the hell out of me" Sho said bemusedly.  Something must have suddenly caught his eye, for said eye abruptly seemed to bug out of his head as he stared beyond Hiroshi into the empty lot behind him.  "My God.  What the Hell did happen here?  Hiroshi, look at the lot!!"

                Hiroshi drunkenly turned around to see what had caused his friend's excitement, but on viewing the scene his jaw suddenly dropped.  The lot that had been so overgrown with weeds that the neighborhood children had laughingly referred to it as 'The Jungle, was now a featureless, char-marked, square acre of dirt, gravel and ash.

                "I didn't hear anything that could have done this last night, what in the world did this?  Oh jeez, what is that? Smoke?" Sho wildly asked, stepping onto the level field.  "My god," he incredulously whispered again, "it's warm."

                Hiroshi cast about in his mind for why this seemed familiar and almost fitting?  As he did so half-recalled memories stirred and an image of one burgundy-brown eye and one shadowy blue came into his mind's sight.  But as quickly as he tried to grasp the image and hold it, it twisted and slipped away, disappearing forever.  And try as he might, Hiroshi could remember no more.


                In the shadow of an alley a dog watched the two men.  Suddenly it turned it's head, as though it had heard it's name called by it's master.  It paused, looked back at the men for a moment longer, then stepped out of it's alley into the pale rose-gold light of the early morning and began trotting away from the scene.  The dog turned to look back a final time and as it did so one eye began to glow a deep sapphire blue while the other turned the color of frosted silver.  The dog suddenly blinked and both eyes abruptly dimmed to a dark gray; growling low in it's throat, fur bristling across it's shoulders, the dog jogged away. 


*              *              *             


                "Okay, I'm gonna ask once more. Why do you insist on coming to school with me, Tora? You know I don't do anything interesting here." Ushio grumbled.

"What's my alternative, Brat? Stay at the shrine and watch the grass grow? I think not." Tora snorted from atop his usual perch of Ushio's shoulders; infinitely pissed off that the boy was giving him the third degree, again.  "And in any case, Brat- Hey! There's Hamburger girl! Hmm and someone new."

Ushio had tried to stop his knee-jerk jab the moment Tora said 'Someone new', but only succeeded in slowing it, thereby giving the monster a painful crack in the knee with the Beast Spear.  Tora, as expected, jumped straight up off of Ushio's back with an embarrassing yelp and came back down blazing with raging feline fury.  Ushio quickly sidestepped to save himself from becoming the monster's landing pad.  Upon touching earth, Tora snarled and lashed out at Ushio with one razor-clawed hand, Ushio dodged the swipe by a mere inch and swung the Beast Spear down hard, catching the monster square between his eyes and forcing his chin to smack against the concrete.  The rest of Tora then dropped like a sack of hammers, cringing under the pain of a freshly bruised skull. 

Of course, no one saw or heard any of this but Ushio and Mayuko, everyone else saw only a boy with a shrouded pole tap something on his shoulder, next, dance to one side and jump to another, then bring the pole down hard upon the concrete walkway.  Asako came to Ushio's rescue, waving off the crowd of their peers that had paused to watch the odd display.

"You owe me one, Aoutsuki." Asako said to Ushio out of the corner of her mouth.  A moment later the small crowd had completely dispersed and Asako and Ushio were alone (If you overlook the fact that there's a really grumpy demon cat hovering above them).  "Can't you two go twenty feet without getting into a fight?" Asako sighed, then quickly looking back over her shoulder, she hastily said. "C'mon, there's someone here that Mayuko and I want you to meet.  Oh, and Aoutsuki, I'll never forgive you if you embarrass yourself in front of her."

                "Her?" Was all Ushio had time to say before he was dragged off towards Mayuko and a girl he'd never seen before. 

                On first sight of her, Ushio immediately assumed she was some kind of aristocrat; her very appearance seemed to say she had no business here.  She had long, carefully plaited, auburn-black hair that gleamed red wherever it was touched by the sun.  Her face was oval shaped with smooth and unblemished, lightly tinted skin.  Her features were proud and fierce and there was no weakness in them at all, though she did carry an odd nick in her left eyebrow.  Her eyes also held that same sense of calm power yet, they were her strangest feature; they were two different colors, one a light gray-blue, the other a dark wine-red brown.  However, as she carefully studied him, her expression gave him the impression of her being too serious, and largely indifferent to any of them. Oh yeah, she was definitely an aristocrat. 

                "Ushio, this is Cynthia Cynthia-." Mayuko paused, "Oh dear, seems I've forgotten the rest of your name-"

                "Binaka, Cynthia Binaka." The girl interrupted.  "Youngest child in the Binaka family and daughter of Roberto Binaka, president of the Binaka Technology Corporation."  The way she made that statement should have sounded haughty and snobbish, but instead she sounded almost like she'd had too much practice saying that, she sounded almost sad.  An instant later though, the melancholy was gone from her voice, replaced by a stiffly proper, "And you are?"

                Uh... Aoutsuki Ushios my name. Its a pleasure to meet you. Ushio said, giving the girl a light bow, in his hand the Beast Spear sent a wave of silvery music through his arm, warning him that something was amiss.

                Im sure, the girl politely, if a little coldly, said.  Ushio noticed that on her hands she wore a pair of white gloves, and carried a long, dark case along with her book-bag. Wonder whats in the case? Ushio casually thought.

                I have a music lesson after school. Cynthia calmly said, nearly making Ushio jump out of his skin when she answered his unvoiced question.

                Wha How? Ushio stammered, unable to form a coherent sentence.

                You were looking at my case.  I just made an intelligent guess. She indifferently said.  She looked Ushio calmly in the eye when the bell rang, making her turn her head towards the building.  Before she could move an inch, Mayuko already had her by her arm. 

Cmon. Asako lightly said, stepping up beside the other girl. We have the same homeroom. As they led her off towards the buildings Cynthia let slip a faint shadow of a smile.  Ushio watched the girls leave, thinking to himself, and as he was thinking a familiar weight settled itself on him again.  

Keep an eye on that one. Tora softly growled, having resumed his place on Ushios head.  Somethings not right about this, keep an eye on her.

What do you mean? Ushio asked, remembering the shiver of music the Beast Spear had sent him when he had neared the new student. Is she a demon?

No, she isnt.  There is something else, but I dont know what.  Just watch your step around her.


*              *              *


                "Did you see where Cynthia disappeared to, Asako?" Mayuko asked.

                "I guess she left already, she did say she had to be somewhere later on.  It's too bad; I wanted to show her around town.  Hope she doesnt get lost."  Asako answered.  The girls continued on their way towards the front gate of their school, when Asako spotted a tall, young woman watching them and the other students from just outside the entrance gate.  The woman was dressed in a formal, long-sleeved white and red kimono with a thick, white, fur obi curled around her narrow middle and a pair of what looked like samurai swords tucked against her left side.  Her oval face was disturbingly elegant and beautiful, with its flawless complexion, high cheekbones, narrow chin and small mouth.  Her silvery-white hair was loosely bound in a braid against the back of her neck, while long bangs and forelocks remained loose, covering her forehead and ears, framing her face in white as they did so. 

Behind them, Asako and Mayuko could hear their male schoolmates give delighted, spellbound appraisals of the woman as they passed her on their way off of the school grounds.  They chattered on about whose mother, or (even better) whose sister she could possibly be.  The woman, who frowned slightly at the particularly vocal boys, closed her eyes and made a subtle show of counting down in her mind, apparently not overlooking the boys whispered comments about her and not liking what she heard in the least bit.  As Mayuko and Asako walked past the woman on their way around the corner she opened her eyes again, and barely just barely, Asako heard her whisper, Soon my love, soon And then Asako and Mayuko were gone, having melted into the growing crowd.

 The woman stood a little longer, then stepped back from the wall and with one last look at the school grounds strode away, continuing on whatever other business needed her attention.


~              ~              ~


                Oh come on, Mayuko!! Asako sighed.   I want to show you this little pool I found a few days ago.  Its really nice and has these beautiful flowers and plants growing around it.

                Fine, fine.  But I cant stay for too long, I have things I need to do today. Mayuko gave in and both girls began to jog together down a narrow forest path.

                Lookssss like my lunch hassss arrived. A calm reptilian voice hissed as the girls sped by, a moment later a dark, writhing shape began to stalk the two humans, its long body hidden perfectly in the dark undergrowth.  This will be too easy. The figure thought.




                Ushio was on his way home from school, bag in tow, his Spear slung lightly over his shoulder.  He hummed thoughtfully to himself and stopped to stretch, looking up at the blue sky above him at the same time.  Out of the corner of his eye he saw a red bird fly past, and something about the way it flew made him stop to look at it more closely.  Hmm, thats a weird looking bird. He yawned.  Tora abruptly became visible on the ground, looking with furious intensity as the bird suddenly folded its ruby-tinted wings and dove, disappearing into the trees.  Brat, he hoarsely growled, thats no bird.  Suddenly the Beast Spear exploded with sound and Ushio found himself running towards the spot where the bird had vanished, Tora a hairsbreadth behind him.        




                Are we there yet, Asako. Mayuko whined, something about this area was giving her the creeps and she wanted nothing more than to leave.

                Wait a seco- Asako started when a crashing sound made both girls spin around.  Not more than a dozen paces behind them a demon sat complacently, watching them with evil opal eyes. 

                I think you are very there yet, my meal. The demon hissed, a maroon tongue flicking out to taste the air.  The demons body was that of a man at the waist up but below that, it was a giant thirty-foot serpent, all covered over with thick purple scales.  The snake-man chuckled wickedly, brandished its claws and stretched its mouth open wide, revealing long, needle-like fangs.   The demon then arched its body back and threw its coils at the two petrified humans, fangs ready for the kill.     

As the snake-man leapt to strike, something fast, furry and orange-red swooped down from the sky into Mayukos terrified range of vision, and before she could utter a sound it had slipped past the snake, tossed Asako over its shoulder, grabbed her in its paws and leapt up into the sky again.  The sinewy coil of snake demon grazed the creatures tail as it lunged, the furry beast paid it no mind as it made its get-away, two frightened human girls in tow.  The demon serpent looked at the retreating red shape, flicked its tongue and quickly followed, leaving a trail a yard wide in the undergrowth.


                Tora!! Thank You! Mayuko sobbed. Burying her face into the soft, white fur of the creatures chest.


                White Fur?


Tora doesnt have a white chest!!! Mayukos mind suddenly screamed.


                The red and white creature inelegantly dumped both girls in the far end of a small clearing a short ways away.  Mayukos relief at being rescued turned to near-panic when the shaggy shape turned its head to one side, considering them with one crimsonred eye, and in a gruff voice said, My name isnt Tora, little human.  Mayuko and Asako both scrambled back a bit as the demon creature snapped its long head forward and looked Mayuko straight in her eyes.  What in the seven hells made you think I was a tiger? What frightened the girls most werent the words the demon had used, but the look it was giving them while it was speaking; it looked uncomfortably like Toras when he was preparing to pounce on an unlucky rabbit.  The demon was sizing them up.

                A soft rustle caught the demons attention and it turned its head back towards the direction they had come from.  Eyes riveted to an apparently empty expanse of forest, it calmly said, Dont move from this spot if you want to live.  Its a Naga, it tracks movement very well.  Stay here, stay still, stay quiet and you might live to see tomorrow. 

                Mayuko and Asako huddled together as the demon turned away from them and stepped a few paces to the side, muttering something under its breath at the same time.  The demon stood up straight again and majestically paced to the center of the clearing.  Mayuko couldnt help but notice that this demon seemed even bigger and more dangerous than her feline-demon friend, Tora.  As it slowly stepped away from the girls, its strides were light and elegant.  Each stride was marked by a delicacy and sureness that its size had suggested otherwise.  The fur down its back and legs shimmered with a color so close to fire-red that at first Mayuko thought it was made of fire, while the white fur she had clung to earlier flowed from the demons lower jaw, downs its throat, to its chest and flickered up along its sides and belly like a carpet of silvery snow.  The demon stopped and lifted its head straight up, staring out into the dark underbrush, waiting.     

The demon was taller in the shoulders and longer than Tora, four-legged, thickly furred around its neck and tail and seemed almost doglike in its body shape; short of that, however, its resemblance to any creature either girl had ever seen ended.  Its head was long, almost like that of a collie dog, but behind its wedge-shaped muzzle its face had a cats wide forehead and a eagles farseeing eyes.  Its ears were oddly long, narrow, tapered like a jackal's and were held stiffly back behind the demons head, its right ear carried two gold rings while its left ear was unadorned.  Its eyes were almond shaped like a cats, but lacked the cat-slit pupil that most other demons seemed to have; it's eyes were very strange, the black pupils were round like a humans and one eye glowed the fierce red of challenge, while the other was the sleepy, glassy-blue color of calm indifference, the iris bright colors surrounded by pearly-white sclera. Finally, one jet-black streak traveled vertically from the corners of each of the demons eyes, running down its cheeks like a tear track to stop at its lower jaw. 

It's body was long and had a deep tuck in its belly like that of a greyhound and was covered in thick, soft fur like a rabbits, while the fur around its throat and tail was much longer and fluffier.  It had abnormally long, cheetah-like rear legs; its shoulders and chest was shaped too much like a humans to call it an animal and its forearms ended in three fingered, black-clawed hands rather than canine paws.  It was daintily boned, almost as though it had been wrought from red glass, though springy, well-defined muscles slipped smoothly beneath its fur.  Its body was tight, giving the impression of youth and energy, but as with all demons it was all but impossible to reliably tell age by appearance alone.  Finally, its furry tail twitched gently at its tip, the tail was longer even than the hind legs, reaching back to gently touch the ground well behind the demons hind paws.

The demon looked down into the patch of forest with its eyes narrowed.  Watching with growing irritation, the stillness that emanated from the thicket.  It didnt watch for long. Two nostrils set in the black nose-leather at the end of the red muzzle trembled, the two-toned eyes narrowed even further, and the demon gaped suddenly, showing off the top row of glistening ivory that lined its maw.  Doubled canines the length of Asakos middle finger glinted in the afternoon sun, silent roar finished the demon laughed, an unconcerned, condescending chortle.

 Come out, worm, the demon rumbled, and for the first time the two humans realized that the demons voice was female. You know that I know you are there.  Dont keep me waiting.  The demon gave it head a light toss and folded its legs to rest on its belly on the ground.

You ssshould not interfere, female.  My prey isss none of your concsssern. A deep serpentine voice hissed from the growth.  Leave or I will kill you, that isss a promisssse.

You talk pretty big for an overgrown blindworm, naga; do you honestly expect me to take that threat seriously?  I kill things that are much more dangerous than you before breakfast, bellycrawler.  The furry demon sleepily commented, head tilted to one side as she listened to the hidden snakes empty words.  She yawned, showing her fangs again. The least you could do is come out and face me, or would you rather die like the little worm you are, quivering under some brush? 

You are quite arrogant, bitch, NOW DIE!!! The undergrowth exploded as the naga charged the somnolent yasha; its rush so rapid that the mass of scales and muscle tore a gouge in the earth beneath it.  The furry demon made no attempt to dodge or otherwise move from her spot; she just watched the snake bear down on her with an expression akin to boredom on her vulpine face.  

NOO!! STOP!! Mayuko cried, rising to her feet.  Something deep inside her screamed to try anything to keep the snake from leaving a flattened pile of red-white fur in its wake.  Asako leapt up to drag her friend back, but the damage was already done.

At the sound of her yell, the naga turned its head, though it made no effort to stop its forward motion. Sssso thatsss where you hid my prey! It crowed.

Stupid girl. The furry demon angrily thought at the same time. And thus ends this game.  

                Thirty feet of purple snakeskin then shot over the crimson-white demon, leaving nothing but scarred earth in its wake.  The snake then turned and began to bear down upon the girls, venom dripping from its fangs. Hiding you in plain ssssight, the sssstupid bitch!!  Did ssshe not think that I of the Naga clan would not find you?!!

                Before a scream could escape the girls lips they were knocked flat by a titanic, hirsute, garnet shape that lunged across them towards the naga.  The serpent-demons fangs sunk deep into the soft nose of a giant garnet-red demon.  The new demon showed no sign of pain, but leapt backwards as the naga jerked back in surprise.  As it backtracked it grabbed both girls in its jaws.  The razor-keen, two-meter long teeth inside the demons mouth did not so much as bruise the humans soft flesh as it half-dragged, half-threw them into the suddenly open space behind it. 

                Athwart the original clearing again, the giant demon launched itself upon the startled snake demon.  As it charged, the naga recovered from its shock and its swift striking fangs found a second mark- this time it was the demons left foreleg.  A heartbeat later a flash of red light and a searing heat enveloped the clearing, and the naga lay smoldering in a pyre of demon-borne fire.


                Asako and Mayuko looked on the charred remains of the serpent with morbid fascination.  A sudden deep, earth-quivering growl wrenched their attention up to the demon that was suddenly towering above them.  Its eyes were glowing malevolent orbs of fire and ice as it stared down at them, its lips parted, revealing fangs that suddenly began to stretch out till the demon carried the merciless visage of a saber-toothed cat on its face. 

Along the top of its head between its eyes and running along the back of its neck to its shoulders was a tall, white ridge of fur, almost like a Mohawk.  Its face was marked with two triangular shaped patches of red that spread from the middle of the demons muzzle to end right behind its ears, the rest of its face was white with a blaze between the red leading up to its Mohawk.  Its neck was completely snow white, while its chest and belly carried only a thin stream of the color to its hind end.  Along its back two dark stripes on either side of its spine ran from the back of its shoulders to the base of its twitching lupine-like tail.

Its body was rather like that of a giant wolfs, but with forelegs that ended in three toed paws with a well-developed dew-claw quivering at the ankle joint of each paw.  The hind legs and tail were long but not at all to the exaggerated degree of the crimson demon the two humans had seen earlier.  The demon growled deeply again and fixed Mayuko with an angry glare, What was it about Stay still and stay quiet, that you didnt understand human? The demons voice growled out, its tone carrying, all rolled into one, the intense menace of an onrushing firestorm and earthquake.

                III didnt want the dog demon to get get.. hurt... Mayuko stammered, awed and terrified of the giant demon before her.  The demon seemed genuinely nonplussed by the girls honest response, sighing in a fed-up manner the demon lowered its head so that the humans could see its expression better and sharply said, I. AM. NOT. A. DOG.  The demon then threw its head back up and before the girls eyes seemed to have its skin literally ripped off, revealing light the color of fire and red sand beneath the fur and skin.  Starting at the white blaze on its forehead, the demons skin seemed to pull off as though flayed by some invisible hand, the shreds of skin dissolving away into the air before they touched ground.  As the skin reached the demons middle the two girls were suddenly aware that while the demons skin was pulling away from its body, it was shrinking in size and was changing in shape as well. 

The demons body was then suddenly enveloped in red-gold fire that gave off no heat and little light, the blaze abruptly compressed itself and from its core appeared the lean form of the first red demon.  As the girls watched in fascination, the fire started to flicker slowly away and fur began to materialize out of the empty air around the demon and wrap itself about the demons glowing form.  Beginning at the yashas claws, the pelt curled around and up her body until the crimson and snow yasha that had first leaped in front of a lunging snake-demon to save a pair of human girls stood before them again, an unreadable expression on her face.  Her entire transformation taking only seconds from start to finish. 

Ive never heard that one coming from a human before. The yasha sagely admitted.  The demon looked at the girls again where they sat and blinked, one eyebrow cocking up at the same time. How strange, she slowly said, then disappeared from sight.

Eeeep!! was all Mayuko and Asako could say when they suddenly found themselves literally nose-to-nose with the red yasha.    

I see you, yet I do not see you. The demon creature breathed.  She pulled her head back, reached out with one claw and carefully brushed a lock of Asako's hair back, all the while peering intently into her face. The demon's blue eye suddenly flared brightly, the dark pupil and clear white of her eye disappearing under a crystal coating of sapphire light. Her red eye remained steadily calm, the black pupil glittering faintly as it scrutinized the human girl. Asako held her breath, staring soundlessly and unflinchingly back at the monster.  She had a look of confused uncertainty written plain on her face, but still, there was a glimmer of comprehension underneath it all as well.

                I know you are here, she slowly said lifting her black-taloned hand up again, because I can touch you. The yasha turned slightly, reached out with the hand, more than capable of, from what the girls had seen, of crushing them with the effortlessness of a soap bubble and stroked Mayuko's cheek lightly with one claw tip.  The touch was as light as a child's kiss, but Mayuko could feel the wealth of power beneath it. But there is something else there, something that I cannot see, but oh something I can most certainly feel. Her voice sounded almost hopeful?

                The demon set her clawed hand back on the ground again and dipped her head to stare levelly at both girls. How very odd indeed. The demons blue eye suddenly darted over to look to the side, then with a tone that brooked no argument she said, When I get ready to jump, get as far back as you can, as quickly as you can.    

                GET AWAY FROM HERRRAAUURR!!! A ferocious voice roared from the trampled forest.  The yasha leaped up and sideways as a bolt of white lightning dug a groove in the earth she had been standing upon a split second before.  Mayuko and Asako leaped back the moment the red dog-like demon had tensed and were spared from the resulting lightning explosion, looking up Mayuko saw only the orange-red blur that was Tora go streaking by, fully intent on battle.

 Tora! WAIT! Mayuko yelled, attempting yet again to keep the crimson yasha from being mauled to death by an angry demon.     

                ASAKO, MAYUKO! Are you okay?!! A new voice yelled, both girls looked in surprise as the long-haired form of Ushio Aoutsuki stood before them, eyes hard with concern and anger, the Beast Spear toning wildly in his hands.  Before the girls could get on their verbal feet again the Spearbearer was gone, chasing after the roaring, swearing ball of fur that was composed of two demons trying manically to rip each others throats out.


                Tora leapt straight for the yashas throat again, but only caught dirt in his claws as the yasha leapt nimbly away from him, reaching out to claw him across the face as she did so.  Before the cat-demon could recover the yasha hit him hard in his side, snapping ribs and sending them both tumbling end over end.  Tora regained his footing and slashed at the yashas belly, only to have his claws go though her as she made herself incorporeal to escape the blow.  Her black talons in turn, neatly severed his wrist from the rest of his body as she passed through him to reach open space on his other side.  Once in free space again the crimson demon leaped a distance away from the raging tiger, turned around to face him again then roared, a furious, bubbling howl that made the ground quiver and birds and small mammals three miles away flood into the skies and dive into their burrows in utter terror.

                In the blink of an eye she and Tora were upon each other again, like two whirlwinds of fur and fury.  They met, reared and snarled, slashing at each others faces and necks and clawing furiously in the mad frenzy of blood-mania.  Tora harmlessly catching thick fur in his claws, while the yasha raked gaping wounds in the cat-demons chest and shoulders.  Tora, in pain-blinded instinct, suddenly dropped down and dived for the other demons hind legs, with the hope of breaking one between his now-bloody jaws.  He missed his crushing hold by mere centimeters, but scored his first real hit by ripping away the skin from the inside of one hind leg.  Down the injured limb ran bright, scarlet blood staining the fur an even darker red.

                That miss was a costly error for Tora.  For the yashas top fangs had grown out again, and flashing in the afternoon sunlight, had sought and found the back of his neck.  The yasha seized him from behind, just below the base of his skull and immediately proceeded to lock her jaws and grind her teeth down, with the full intention of crushing his spine between her clenched jaws.


                And then the cavalry for both sides came in.


                Ushio raced towards the hissing, roaring, cursing tangle of demon with the full purpose to cut down the demon that had dared get close to his friends.  The Spearbearer reached the pair just as the red yasha caught Tora by the back of his neck; leaping high into the air, Beast Spear singing, Ushio swung down and sliced the red demons head from her shoulders Or at least thats what he had in mind.  Ushio, his senses so totally focused on the yasha, never knew he wasnt alone in the sky until a roundhouse kick caught him in the side of his face and sent him flying, away from the battling demons.

Crashing hard to earth, the Spearbearer lay stunned for a moment before he could pick himself up to face his new opponent.  Just as he lifted his head, he caught sight of Toras bulk flying past him, the torn monster hitting a tree a few feet back.  Snarling with fury, the demon staggered to his feet again and flew at the yasha, who just let him come at her and easily flipped him into the air again.  Ushio was about charge the red yasha again when the earth beneath his feet suddenly crumbled and he fell.  He felt the tip of a sharp sword prick his throat.  Looking up, he found himself staring up into the face of a girl his age. Later on, Ushio would not remember any of her features save one, the thick rosy scar that stood out like a brand against her skin and ran down the left side of her face from her hairline, through a cold, calculating eye, and down her neck, till it vanished beneath the collar of her jacket.

Asako and Mayuko wasted no time in tackling Ushio as tried to slash at the girl with the Beast Spear; the girl blocked his blow easily with the blade of her sword and skipped back, turning her head to look over at the yasha, who was currently juggling Tora, with calm amusement.

Ushio stop!! Asako yelled in his ear as she held him, keeping him from leaping into an attack.  She saved us!!! As she yelled, she pulled his head around to see where the pile of charred flesh that had been a naga still smoked. 

Ushio froze and stared open-mouthed at the ashes and then at the girl whose back was still turned to him, in the background Ushio could hear Toras roars of pain as the yasha continued to slowly play him to death. Who the hell are you?! He demanded. 

The girl turned back to stare down at him from the scarred side of her face for a moment, ignoring his question and saying instead, "You had better call of your housecat junior, before Vix puts him out of commission permanently."

Ushio only stared at her, speechless with confusion and anger. 

She frowned at him, No? she said, then turned and said something to the sporting yasha in a language neither Ushio nor the other girls understood and almost instantly Tora landed heavily at her feet, having been thrown again by the crimson demon, a moment later his severed hand joined him on the battered turf.  All human eyes rested on the torn and bloodied body of the thunder-demon, as he lay, barely conscious on the short grass.  The red yasha calmly sat down and began fastidiously cleaning Toras blood and fur from her own coat and claws, completely ignoring her own wound, the humans and her demonic chew-toy.


With a soft chuckle, the girl looked down at the fallen monster and quipped, What a lousy fighter. Shrugging, she kneeled down beside the demon and lifted up her right hand; the hand was clad in a dark-brown, fingerless gauntlet, studded across the back and partially up the wrist with light sapphire-jade gems, each one the size of the girls thumbnail.  The girl looked down on Tora for a moment, closed her eyes and started to whisper softly under her breath, as she did so an aura of blue-green energy started to emanate from her gloved hand.  The girls eyes snapped open and she pressed her hand flat against Toras shoulder, the energy from her hand suddenly swept out and enveloped Toras body in a greenish haze.  The deep rakings along his body began to seal themselves, his hand began to reattach itself to his arm and the sounds of shattered bones realigning and mending themselves could be heard.

Shes shes healing him. Mayuko whispered. All of them watched as the girl lifted her hand from the demon, stood up again, slid her sword into its sheath on her back and strode towards the yasha without a backwards glance.  The girl and the demon began speaking to each other in whispered tones, the girl nodding at times and seeming to ask a question or two of the yasha.

Toras sudden cough drew Ushios attention away from the two in the center of the clearing, still hacking the cat-demon snarled at the two females in the middle of the clearing, dragged himself to his feet and made ready to attack them again.  Ushio hit him between his ears with the Beast Spear to make him stay put, You shit-headed baka, he fiercely whispered, she just saved your fuzzy ass.  Knock it off or shell kill you! 

The girl had turned her head at the sound of the demons cough and turned towards the little group again, Vix tells me that you were only trying to defend those girls. She pointed at Asako and Mayuko with her chin. Because of that well let you off easy this time.  If it happens again, there will be no mercy, from either of us. The girl then turned again and walked out of the clearing without another word, the yasha narrowed her eyes at the group as though saying, She spared your lives from me today. Then the air around her body shimmered and she vanished from sight.


  Ushio looked over at the smoking remains of the snake-demon and then at the two girls beside him. Tora, he slowly said as he picked himself up. I think weve got a little competition.


*              *              *


Authors Endnotes:


1) Gomen for not being able to post this a lot sooner, but between my computer crashing on me (meaning Ill have to rewrite all of my chapters [Damn it all!! I was up to chapter six too!]), my connection breaking, a mountain of paperwork to go through and dealing with other things too numerous and irritating to mention, has made my muse just go crawl into a corner to wait out the storm. (Honestly, shes such a wuss when it comes to sticking around in stress-filled situations.)   Ill post chapter three as soon as I get it typed out again.  Just please be patient and R&R this for the time being.  Thanks!!


2) Heres a definition of the non-English words used in this chapter:

ami: friend in French.

cher: A short way of saying dear in French.

yasha: A female demon in Japanese.


3) This goes out to all my reviewers:

ShiTora: Well, theyve met and the boys have gotten their collective butt kicked, hope you liked it.   

ShiTiger: Sorry to disappoint, my demon isnt male.  But I guess she does seem a bit like Tora at times.

Jessiy Landroz: Was this long enough, the third chapter will be longer than this I think.  And as you can see Tora and Vix probably wont get along. -_^.  Im also still working on artwork if youre still interested.

Shi: More will be revealed about our new team in chapters three and four.  Answering the questions of What are they doing? and Why are they doing it?

Ysabet: The second bakemono did appear here like I said it would, (Hint: It was the dog in the alley with the gray eyes) but I go into greater detail on that one in later chapters.