Lair of the Beasts

Demons 3
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In and Out of Dreams

The Almighty Disclaimer:  The title/term Jisrahu, belongs to me, the Astral Paths' are also mine as well, so please, no using them without my permission.  And just in case, everything I said from my first disclaimer applies here as well.            



Chapter 3: In and Out of Dreams

By SRSilverhawk

 Author's Notes:  1) I was originally planning on uploading both chapters 3 and 4 at the same time, but on realizing how long this chapter was alone, (the final ¼ of the chapter was long enough to be a chapter on its own!!) I didnt want to over-saturate.  Besides, now Ive got a nice chapter-long buffer to keep everyone happy while I write chapters 5 and 6.


                        2) There was something I noticed in the reviews for chapter 2 that I found very amusing.  No one seemed even remotely curious as to who the woman in white was.  Ill admit that while she doesnt play too much of a role in this story (Chapter 2 was pretty much her only appearance in this fic.), shes really important to a certain character in this story, even if they dont realize it yet.  



Now to chapter three



                'I see you, yet I do not see you.' The demon creature breathed.  She turned away and then carefully reached out and brushed back a lock of Asako's hair, 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 scintillating haze of cerulean light. Her red eye remained steadily calm, glittering faintly as it scrutinized the girls. Asako held her breath, staring soundlessly and unflinchingly back at the monster, undeniably, there was a look of confused uncertainty on her face, yet it held a glimmer of odd comprehension at the same time.

                'I know you are here,' she slowly said, 'because I can touch you.' The monster turned back, reached out and stroked Mayuko's cheek lightly with one claw tip.  The touch was as delicate as a child's kiss, but Mayuko could feel the wealth of power hidden 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?


                "And then Tora and Ushio showed up and picked a fight with her before she could say anything else."  Mayuko sighed, standing up from where she had been resting.  'It was still weird, I felt something move when she touched me.' She thought as she moved slowly through the sun-lit field, toward a small, stone-lined pool.  'But now I can't feel anything. 'Something I cannot see, but something I can feel,' what on earth did she mean, does she know what's happening to me?"  

                "Do you really want to know, little one?" A giant, booming voice asked, the sound seemingly coming from everywhere at once yet nowhere in particular at the same time.  Mayuko shrieked in frightened surprise and whirled around, trying to find the voice's owner.

                "Who who are you?"  Mayuko nervously asked, frantically looking around.

                "All in good time You did not answer my question, little girl." The voice answered. "And will you stop that!  I am nowhere you would see." The voice peevishly added.

                Mayuko abruptly stopped glancing anxiously around and sat swiftly down on the lush grass, knees drawn together, and eyes wide.  Up above her, the clouds rolled along, unconcerned by the worries of mere mortals below them; beside her the pool's blue waters bubbled blissfully away, and around her a soft breeze of wind blew, ruffling her hair and making the grass shimmer and dance around her. "What are you?" She softly asked again.

                For a time all was silent, and Mayuko thought the voice had gone when suddenly, "As I said, all in good time, little human, all in good time. Do you want to know what is happening to you? I would be more than pleased to tell you, it is very simple you know." The voice sounded smug.

                Mayuko didn't say anything at first, but finally she absorbed the voice's words and her curiosity won out. "Yes, yes," she suddenly blurted, "please, tell me, do you know what this is?"

                "You are changing.  And the reason you have been experiencing these visions and have gained the ability to see though things is because of me.  To put it lightly, I woke up. "  The voice sounded almost apologetic?    

                "You? Do you mean my seeings are because of you? How can that be?! I've never met you!?"

                "Heh. You have known me your entire life, and yet this is the way you say 'Hello', completely with disbelief.  With all that you have seen, I am surely plausible at least."

                "But who are you?"

                "I refuse to elaborate further on this for the time being.  You and I will meet face to face soon enough, and I can assure you of that.  Until then, there is one more thing you should know, Mayuko."   


                "You are dreaming."



Mayuko jerked awake in a cold sweat, her sheets twisted tightly around her.  Untangling herself, Mayuko sat up slowly and pushed her damp hair back from her sweating forehead. "But who are you?" She softly whispered. 'Was my dream real or am I going mad?' She fearfully thought.  

                ''It is more a question of what I am, than who I am, little one. The dream was and was not real, and no you are not.' The voice chuckled softly, answering all three of Mayuko's questions. 

"Who are you?  Please, tell me." Mayuko begged.

                "All in good time, little girl, all in good time." 


*              *              *


"Is there a problem, Brat?" Tora growled down at the lean figure, which rested against the wall beneath him.

"No, not aside from the obvious one anyway.  What was it? It reminded me of Rikone, that kistune from the Moon Truce we went to.  Was that thing some kind of pumped-up, freak-show kitsune?"  Ushio asked, his brow furrowed in thought. *1*

A kitsune?!! Tora hoarsely laughed, showing all his teeth in a dark grin. Boy. If that was a kitsune then I am a housecat.  He abruptly sobered. No. The orange feline-demon flatly said. No, that was no kitsune.  I am afraid I do know what it is though He trailed off.

Ushio frowned at the bakemono. Well, he impatiently said, tapping Tora on the nose with the point of the Beast Spear.  If youre so smart, then what the hell was it?

Tora jerked back from the Spear and growled down at the boy for a moment before he spoke again. "Its the only thing I never, ever want to fight again.  Things like her shouldnt even exist these days."


                Yes her, boy. Tora stressed. The fact that it is a her makes things even worse.  Shes a hellhound, and a tough one at that.

                Whats a hell hound?

                Not a hell hound, Brat. A hellhound, one word; this isnt the same type of demon that you humans call a hell hound.  Those hell hounds are just demonic dogs, what you saw this afternoon was a real hellhound, also called a Dog of War.  Theyre the demons that old legends were based on and they are much, much worse than any other monster youve dealt with before, boy.

                It cant be that bad, it didnt kill us. Ushio retorted.

                Of course she didnt, idiot! Tora yelled, he glared at the Spearbearer again then lowered his head to look him evenly in the eye.  She wasnt even fighting, she was playing with us. He growled.  I know how hellhounds fight, she was only playing. He softly repeated, lifting his head up again. He cleared his throat. The first thing you should know about hellhounds, Brat, is that they are the strongest type of demon in a group of demons called Hellbeasts.  The others are the hellcats, the hellhawks, and the dragons.  Its strange that one should show up like this.  From the talk Ive heard, not a single one has been seen for nearly three hundred years. He said in a tone disturbingly like that of Ushios history professor.

                So youre saying that lizard thing from this afternoon was a Ushio began.

                No.  That wasnt a dragon or a hellbeast I dont know what the hell that was. Tora cut Ushio off.  He looked down at one of his arms, You said that there was a girl there too, didnt you?

                Yeah, she was the one who stopped the hellhound from killing you. Ushio said.  And nearly broke my jaw at the same time. He mentally tacked on.

                She put me back together too. Tora said, his brow wrinkled in thought and his comment sounding more like a question.

                Yep, Im not sure how-

                Big surprise there. Tora smirked.

                Do you want to hear this or not!? Shut up! Ushio barked.

                Tora looked down at the Spearbearer, with an unreadable expression on his face.  After a moment he simply said, Go on. Then began to look his arm and hand over again. 

                Ushio looked up at the silent feline-demon. Hes quiet tonight, too quiet. She was wearing this glove on one of her hands, it had greenish jewels studded into the back of it.  Im not sure what she did, but she just said something to the hellhound and it immediately tossed you at her feet.  She kneeled over you, began to whisper something, the glove started to glow blue-green, she touched you with the glove and the next thing the girls and I know your body is putting itself back together.  Then she and the demon left.  I think you were awake for that.

                Tora didnt say anything for a moment, but looked to be completely in his own world, Ushio was about to poke him with the spear point when he suddenly said, What did the girl look like?       

                Ushio looked sideways at the orange bakemono then replied, She had this weird scar down her face, bout an inch and a half wide, from her hairline all the way down her neck; she looked like she was as old as I am, she also had dark hair, I think?  I cant really remember anything else. 

                Did she have a weapon- a staff, bow and arrows, a whip? The feline-demon asked with military curtness.

                Uh yeah, actually she did.  It was a sword; looked like it was pretty heavy, not light like a katana youd see around here though.  It had a wider blade and it had spines at the hilt.

                Shit! Thats just great, she works magic! Tora suddenly snapped, making Ushio jump back from the wall and land in a very ungraceful position.  She probably has that hound wrapped around her little finger. Tora then began to stalk off across the top of the wall.

                Wait a minute! What do you mean by that?!  Ushio demanded, running after the demon, which was ignoring him in favor of growling lowly to himself.  Ushio stopped him with the blow from the Beast Spear to the side of his arm, bruising the bone. Answer me!

                Tora yelped at the blow, and bared his fangs at the Spearbearer before growling out, Fine. Listen well, boy because I am only going to say this once.  Hellbeasts, and the hellhounds and dragons in particular, have a very high resistance to spells or sorcery.  Hellbeasts can walk right through your fathers seals without so much as flicking an ear.  The can control the elements, they can make earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, storms or blizzards happen with but a word.  They can cut you into ribbons with one claw-stroke, they can shift their shape, they can posses other creatures, they can hide anywhere and everywhere they are and I cant sense them no matter how hard I try.  They run as fast as the wind and are vicious beyond all reason and love nothing better than battle.  They hunt demons and monsters alike to kill them for the sheer pleasure of it.  He stopped and sat down again, his silver eyes seemed to pale a little and he looked down at the boy beneath him; he sighed.

You could never kill a hellhound, boy, regardless of the power in that dammed Spear, because you would never be able to touch it before it killed you.  They are the only creatures that I openly fear; and given a glimmer of a chance that hound would have killed me.  But no, a human stopped it.  A mere human girl stopped a creature capable of tearing your shrine down to its very foundation with a simple command.  A human has that much control over that force of demonic power, if that girl should lose her control the demon would run loose and it would kill anything and everything that crossed its line of sight.  Does that sound like a good enough reason to worry, Brat?  Or should I tell you about how they like to play with their prey before ripping it apart, while its still alive?  On the other hand, if you dont think the hound is enough to worry about, think about the person holding it.  If she can control a hellhound to the degree of calling it off of an open slaughter with a mere word, imagine what else she could have it do. Tora was breathing hard at the end of his speech, but, and this is what frightened Ushio the most, out of the memory of his words, it was like he had seen all of that mindless destruction before.       


The feline-demon and the junior priest stood together quietly in the darkness, the stars above their heads the only source of light.


                How do you know so much about them, Tora? Ushio finally asked, still shaken by the vivid description.

                I killed one once. He answered.  I know theyre dangerous because the one I killed, he very nearly killed me. I learned a few of their tricks that way. Others, I saw.

                How did you do it? Ushio asked, his expression clearly saying. If you killed one once, how come you got your ass kicked this afternoon? 

                It is not a kill I am extremely proud of, boy. Tora hotly snapped. The hound I killed was only a half-grown pup and an arrogant one at that.  All steam and fluff, but clever, very clever.

                How bad was it? Ushio questioned.

                It was only half my size, but it was fast and smart enough to rip my face, back, and sides open before I could think up a way to dodge.  I killed it only through luck and greater stamina.  The fur on its belly was thin, and I dodged or blocked its blows until I could get a few hits in.  The pup bled to death- but it never stopped trying to kill me. Tora said, his voice eerily subdued, looking out into the sky.  He sat still and silent for a moment before speaking again. The pup used tricks I would never have though would have worked together.  I learned that hellhounds like to lie in wait from him.  Theyre tricky that way.  They wait until you screw up, then youre lucky if you escape from their strike with your head still on shoulders. The dont really bite in a fight, they like to use their claws and their agility, they can bend like water but their bodies are hard-like metal and just as strong.  So they can simply charge you and touch you with their shoulder and send you flying.  They also have special abilities  Tora frowned, then looked down at the Spearbearer and asked, The hound this afternoon was red, wasnt she?    

                At Ushios nod, Tora growled.  She is a fire-breather, when she roared the ground shook so I imagine that she also has an earth element, an interesting combination.  Tora curled his lip into a sneer. She was small too, shes probably only a pup herself.

                That was small!! Ushio exclaimed, that demon was nearly as big as Tora, and that was a small one!

                Tora glared, Yes, she was small.  They usually get to be twice her size... at least.

                What are we going to do about them, then?

                Wait and watch.  Hellhounds appear for reasons and I want to know what this ones up too, she wont be here for long though.  Ill be damned to the seven hells before Ill share my territory with a Dog of War.


                The junior-priest and the demon sat in the silence of the night; one wondering what sort of monster a hellhound really was, the other pondering over the best way to kill one without nearly dying in the process.


                By the way, boy, Tora broke the silence with a sly grin on his demonic face. Just how are you getting on with that Jade Fox these days?




                Hmmm So thats what else well be dealing with. A crimson and white shape softly said as it sat, perched upon a closed gate, watching the boy chase the feline-demon around the courtyard with much cursing and many threats of bodily harm over some kitsune or another.  They wont be as much of a problem as I originally thought. Invisible and inaudible to both the demon and the human in the soft moonlight, the figure turned and leaped off the gate, and with no one the wiser vanished into the darkness of the night. 


*              *              *


                There is a time between late dusk and true evening when the wall between certain dimensions in certain places becomes very thin.  A time, every day, where, if one knows how to look, the dark little creatures of nightmares could be seen slithering through to this world.


                The entrance to a deep labyrinth of underground tunnels in the island nation of Japan was one of those certain thin places.


They were gathering.  Dozens of them, moon-bright against the starry evening sky.  Large, grotesque specters that haunted the night, hunting for anything unwary enough to fall into their grasp.  To one sensitive set of nostrils, they stank of wrongness, of decay; they struck a deep chord that terrified, yet infuriated the observer. They gave her an intense urge to give in to the bloodlust that screamed from within her, to go and destroy them, but at the same time gave her the desire to take to her heels and flee for her life.  It was only until she had finally followed the Jisrahus advice and tracked them was she finally forced to admit that there were more of them every night, and that they seemed to be gathering for some nefarious purpose.


The one called Oma Yzenth Slifrah knew how to watch, but had finally found where to watch.


That the nights were still cool helped her some, it kept any other creatures that could have interfered at bay and out of her way.  She was armed against the early spring chill by a short-but-thick coat of fur that covered her entire body, even the spaces between her toes were snugly protected, but her clawed hands were unaccustomed to treading such rocky ground and the scars that cut across her face and chest, marking where bullets had once struck her, tingled painfully when the weather cooled.  Both aches wreaked havoc with her already taut temper.

She looked over at the specters again, from the cover of the rocky wall where she stood hidden by the shadows and her own demonic power.  She lived to hunt them; they were what she was born for, to kill them.  The situation was becoming intolerable. They were here and they must be driven out, it was as simple as that.    


As if the passage through dimensions had weakened them, they were dim at first, invisible to the average creature, human or demon.  To the pair of silvery eyes that watched them, they were quite visible, faint, but very visible.  Their edges trailed off into thin wisps of smoke.  They came in thousands of shapes, no-two alike: from translucent, amber, fish-like snakes with their frilly fins and serpentine heads, to the pale, pearly-white, wraith-like phantom dogs with their forked tails and blood-red eyes, to the opaque, deep-black insects, worms and beetle-like specters and a hundred other hideous forms.  They were all wrong to Oma.

Tonight she would hunt around here, destroy the wraiths before they could have to chance to regain their strength and pose a real threat to even her.  The dark, starry night was perfect for hunting, she decided. It was so dark that it pressed against her pelt, midnight-black against coal-black in the chilly spring evening.  With delicate, deliberate steps she soundlessly made her way down the side of the cliff, stalking her intended victims. 

She saw her prey as motion first, soft light against the star-speckled darkness.  As her eyes adjusted to track the specters she became aware of what type they were.  A pack of phantom dogs. fifteen theyre still weak.  I can take them all. She calmly thought to herself.  She was already downwind of them, and started approaching nearer with extreme caution.  Soon their scent came to her, cool, mossyand indescribably evil.  She put one clawed hand forward onto the carpet of dying plants, and shifted her weight forward slowly to that hand, taking pressure off of one hind paw at the same time.  Be careful, make no noise We dont know how well they can hear. An inner voice rumbled deep in her mind.  The dogs couldnt smell her, she had rolled in too much damp earth beforehand for them too; couldnt possibly see her, her coal-black back and sierra-brown underbelly broke up her outline so that she looked like a shadow and not a real creature; only the sound of her approach or her silver eyes could betray her now.

She pricked her cropped ears and narrowed her eyes, suddenly wary.  She froze. The demons had started to move about.  Time passed.  She felt the wind shift through her fur, it didnt betray her; it would no longer serve her but it did not warn her prey either. Be easy be still. Theyre coming to you now.  The pack of demon hounds moved as one now, and began to move past her hiding place.  They paused and began moving off in separate directions.  Now or never Lets begin, Dark Hunter Another voice resignedly said in Omas mind.  She dared a slow step forward, then another one, and another.  Twenty meters, then nineteen, then eighteen, then seventeen; Almost close enough, sixteen, fifteen, fourteen; They are unaware, get closer, thirteen, twelve, eleven, ten, Gods, but were almost on top of them, nine, eight, seven, six, five. There, now they cannot escape.  In her mind she played out her strategy:  They will hear me when I break cover, this is certain, they might try to flee so they will probably go in that direction.  She soundlessly compensated for the sharp angles.  Her muscles coiled, her fur stood on end, obsidian-black claws smoothly slid from being semi-retracted to their full length, her eyes began to glow

Then: all around her was air.  Her immensely strong hind legs and back propelled her forward into the mass, straight as an arrow she flew into the center of the pack.  They did not run, not immediately When she broke, they turned toward the noise, and on sight of her, their red eyes glistened with hunger, then upon realizing what she was, then then, they ran.

They ran just in the manner Oma had anticipated.

Her lethal claws killed two instantly, black blood sprayed from their bodies as they disintegrated into dust, which soon blew away on the evening wind.  She spun sharply to her left and lashed out with her extended fangs, laying another dog open from its cheek to its side, it would bleed to death in a matter of moments.  Four phantoms rallied behind her and attacked en masse, leaping for her unprotected back. Omas sharp ears pivoted back in time to hear them bunch and leap.  Her eyes glowed white with raging energy, Shadow Run! She cried, calling and releasing a surge of her elemental power, her shadow spread out behind her, crackling with energy; it rose up and enveloped the dogs, snuffing their lives away in an instant.  The shadow took on a life of its own and spun around, lashing like a bolt of black lightning and ripping through a trio of ghost dogs that attacked Omas right side, while Oma herself leapt forward and caught the hindquarters of a fleeing dog with one set of claws; drug it to earth and clawed its spectral body open in one slash.  The remaining four dogs whirled and ran into the dark night, intent on fleeing and setting up an ambush for the black and brown predator.  Only three made it to the edge of the wood. 


Now the hunt had become a game of mutual stalking.


*              *              *


                In calm moonlight the wind blew, stealthily, silently.  It whistled through leaves and blades of grass, ruffling them with a gentle caress.  In a small tuft of grass blades a hare lifted it's head, sniffing delicately at the passing wind, ears flicking back and forth, searching for any sound amiss.  Hearing nothing, the hare went back to its tranquil feeding, all was right in the world.

A soft crunch of damp grass caught the hare's attention, stiffening and perking it's ears, it listened intently trying to find anything, lest it could mean danger.  Hearing nothing once more, the hare began feeding once again.

The hare paused, sat up and began to scratch carefully at it's belly, calm and at peace.  A faint patter of footfalls was the only warning the hare received and as it lifted it's head up it saw a furry blur of scarlet and snow speed toward it, almost like at had appeared from a beam of moonlight.  The hare leapt as it was struck and rolled away, the red and white shape didn't even pause, it just kept moving, and the shadow of crimson motion disappeared into the moonlight from whence it came. 

Come morning, a lone jogger would make his morning run through that patch of green grass and would find the hare.  He would pause and observe the hare for a minute before shaking his head and moving on.  However, he would spend the rest of his morning pondering over what could take the head of a full grown hare off of its body with such neat cleanliness, yet cauterize the stump of neck perfectly at the same time.  




Moonlight glittered along the iron fencing enclosing a large manor house; a swift shape sped across the manicured lawn. It began to slow and finally paused for a moment near the front of the house.  The shape rolled it's head to one side and studied the figure sitting upon the roof of the building, the vulpine form grinned wolfishly for a second then vanished from sight.


"Bee in your bonnet, Kid?"  The vulpine shape asked, expertly hiding her amusement at the girl's reaction to her sudden appearance.  Nimbly dodging the singing strike of a razor-honed dagger, she reared back and faded out.  Reappearing again on the girl's other side she put on her most apologetic face, ears a droop, eyes downcast, she sniffed sadly and said, "I'm sorry, didn't mean to frighten you, Cy. Mon ami." It was a flawless act but for two things, her voice gave her away completely, sounding completely shameless and her smug grin didn't help matters either.  The earrings in her right ear clashed softly together, making soft laughter of their own.

"Damn it to hell and back.  Dont do that!" Cy barked, re-sheathing the sword she had reflexively pulled back into its scabbard on her back, the dagger still in hand. Bloody hellhound She gruffly sighed.  Sitting down again she looked closer at the hellhound's contrite expression and idly added, "Do you know you look like a dog that knows it's in deep trouble when you put that face on, Vix?"

Vix snorted and shook her head and neck briskly, clearing the penitent look from her face and settling her fur back into place. "Chère, you be so cruel to moi, you know." She said with a heavy Cajun accent. "Vix.  Stop calling me by that name, I despise it." She spat, her accent changing to an unaccented English dialect. *2*   "My name is Ranno and you will address me as such.  And Im not a dog." She growled, pinning her ears straight back, tucking her chin into her ruff and cupping the fur forward into a halo-like collar the color of fire and ivory around her head.  She looked surprisingly like an affronted rooster. 

Cy watched the demon's display with barely a bored blink, "You hate it except when we have company, non?", she said with a slanted eyebrow and evil twinkle in her brown eye.  Ranno abruptly stopped her annoyed fluffing and blinked, Cy nearly lost her momentum at the look of upset worry on the hellhound's face.  Knowing what the hellhound was thinking, Cy apologized by quietly saying, "I wouldn't tell anyone your whole name. You do know that, don't you?"   

"I can only trust that you won't." Ranno quietly said, turning her head away to look over the landscape.


Hellhound and human girl sat quietly together like that for a minute or two, letting the night pass them by.  The hellhound calmly watching the cirrus clouds drift past on the horizon and listening to the faint, sleepy trilling of a nightingale seven miles distant.  The girl looking up at the stars, finding Orion and his dogs Major and Minor and listening to crickets' chirping chorus in the courtyard.


"The stars are beautiful this time of night, aren't they? Cy said by way of easing the palpable tension in the air, slipping her dagger back into it's case on her calf at the same time.

"Yes, they are." Ranno answered, her image faded and disappeared. Abruptly, she reappeared on Cys right. "What did you want to talk about?"


"I know you came up here to ask me about something.  What is it?"

"I wanted to ask you about two things."

"Then ask, so we can both go on with our lives." Ranno testily said.

"Remember this morning, when you dealt with the weasel?" Cy inquired.

"Yes, the bastard bit me; I remember."

"You said that what we're after doesnt kill it's victims the way the weasel did.  Call it dangerous curiosity, but what exactly is it we're after?  We've been at this for a long time, and it's just been nagging me forever" Cy inquired, feeling quite fortunate to find her demonic companion in such a talkative mood this evening.  It was rare that the red hellhound would stay in a conversation, much less volunteer information.

"I wouldnt call it dangerous curiosity, you want to know your enemy, that's good and it shows you're serious about this." Ranno looked towards the girl and nodded.  "Anyway, first off, what we are after are called vengry. They ar-"

"Ven-gry?" Cy rolled the odd word off her tongue, disliking that way it even sounded. 

"Don't even begin to ask me who named 'em that, Kid. I don't have the foggiest clue.  All I know is that's the name demons like myself gave them a long time ago, but as usual, you humans have dished out a few names of your own to them.  Ven- "

"Names such as?" Cy cut in, readjusting her position so she could watch the hound with one eye.

"The names vary from place to place: in South America they call them Chupacabra, in the Mediterranean they're called Stymphalian Birds, around Europe, Ireland and Scotland they're called Kelpies or Ech-Ushkyas, those are all I can think of off the top of my head." Ranno calmly remarked, ticking names off on one clawed hand.  

"If they are all called vengry, why do other people have so many different names for them?" Cy queried.

"It is very hard to describe a vengry to someone who has never seen one before; they look different to everyone who does see them.  For example, to you, one particular vengry might look like a demonic snake or rat, but to me it could look like a demonic wolf or even a human, it can really vary.  So different people describe them as best they can and so different names pop-up in different places for that reason." Ranno replied.


"But on to what vengry can do and why killing them is a service to the world in general."  Ranno quipped.  "Vengry are to monsters, what monsters are to humans.  In other words, they are a monster's monsters, but they can and do feed on humans and other animals. 

"Vengry feed on the very energy that keeps a monster or demon alive and they tend to torture their food while they eat it too.  For humans and animals it's even worse, vengry are apt to eat only the essence of a demon, leaving an empty, mangled husk behind.  For non-monsters they devour both the essence and the soul, then they posses the body, and then go hunt up more victims.  They also attack quickly, usually getting within three feet of one can enable it to 'jump' onto you and touching one or a creature possessed is out of the question.  So as you can see, they are not a pleasant lot." She concluded, turning her head away again.

"That explains a lot." Cy leaned back and thought hard for a minute, and then suddenly said. "New question!"

"Didn't think the silence would last long." Ranno jadedly said, turning her head back to her unwitting protégé.  

Cy ignored the hellhound's comment and went on with her query. "If vengry can attach themselves to a demon or human with but a touch, how can you slice straight through them with your claws and fangs and not be attacked?"

"Would you believe that's because I'm really, really fast?" Ranno innocently asked.

"At least I'm trying to be serious." Cy snorted.

"And you're saying I'm not?"

"You're not being serious now." Cy grumbled.

"Tchaa.  It's a hard question. But there is an answer."


Ranno thought for a moment before slowly starting, "My kind, the hellbeasts, could fight them and win because we were a very different sort of monster than the ones we've been dealing with lately.  We could kill vengry and they couldn't seriously hurt us back.  I make an exception for the two instances of possession that I know about and the nasty poisonings you and I have both had.  I don't know exactly why that is though." She admitted. "But as you humans say, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.'"


"HmmYes, I said earlier that they could possess, remember?" Ranno asked, amused. "Don't tell me I'm going too fast for you, Kid." 

"Don't worry, you werent and I won't.  What do you mean by 'possessed'Vengry can possess monsters?"

"Yes and no.  They can possess monsters and demons but they usually don't, because when they attempt do it to regular creatures of that nature, it usually kills the demon.  The body a vengry possesses must be alive during the possession process, after that, the vengry keeps it alive with its own power. The only creatures I know that could survive the initial take-over were hellbeasts, humans and regular animals."

"So what were the two that were taken-over?"

"One was a hellhound, the other a hellhawk."

"Who were they?" 

Ranno grinned slightly at that, the pointed tips of her dual fangs just showing from underneath her lip.  "If I tell you who they were, you'd better not say I'm lying and shrug me off.  Deal?"

"Deal I guess."

"Where are you in that book of Greek myths you got a few weeks back?"

"Read it all the way through twice. Why?" Cy asked, completely missing where this was going.

"Do you remember the part where what's-his-name, Herk-something-" Ranno stopped, thinking.

"Hercules?" Cy volunteered.

"Yeah, him.  Do you remember when he was sent to fetch the dog of the underworld, Cerberus?"

"You're kidding!"

"Nope, Cerberus was real."

"But he had three heads!"

"Your point is what exactly? Humans often have children who are separate but together, as do other species.  Why should we be different?"

"Three heads, Ran.  C'mon, three"

"So Cerberus was an extremely odd case, but he did have three heads and two tails as well, if I remember correctly."  The hellhound paused a moment, as if she had just noticed something.  "Please don't call me Ran either" Ranno directed a pointed glare at the girl.  "Now getting back to the subject, he was one of two who were possessed by a vengry."

"He isn't still alive then, is he?"

"Certainly not! He died twenty millennia or so ago, killed by a merciful hero, so the story goes." Ranno brusquely said.

"Ah, I suppose that's a good thing then.  Who was the other one, the hellhawk?" Cy coaxed.

"I wouldn't claim to know the other as well as I would know Cerberus-" Ranno paused at the confused look on Cy's face and hastily added, not-quite-yelling, "-OH, COME OFF IT! I'm not that old dammit, I meant know him as I would another hellhound, not someone I personally knew You take me entirely too literally sometimes."

"I wasn't thinking of that.  Something else occurred to me, go on."

Rannos eyebrow hiked up at the teen and she regarded her for a minute, but then she shrugged noncommittally and continued on. "The hellhawk was a Chinese entity the locals would call a 'Shang Yang' or  'Rainbird'.  Rainbirds could draw water up from anywhere and direct it wherever they wanted, and--"

"And could predict floods and were thought to be the messengers to the Rain Dragons that lived in the clouds." Cy finished, a look of calm reminiscence on her face.  

My, my, you have been doing your homework, haven't you?" Ranno chuckled.  "Correct.  A Rainbird was all those things, but you forgot one little detail, Kid.  All Rainbirds have only one leg, that's important, don't forget it.  Anyway, that Rainbird's name was Gin Reinumou; he caused some nasty floods before he was killed. I believe it was a dragon that got him.  That's all I know about 'im."

He was like Bhearak, the old Jisrahu, wasnt he?  They could both direct water Cy trailed off after she realized the name she had spoken.  I Sorry Ranno, didnt mean to bring her up-

Dont worry about it. Ranno sighed. Bhearak Vishka Clisker, the old Jisrahu, the steel hound.  She chuckled softly. Yes, she could control water.  Hell, short of a draekon (A creature of my own creation [a water-element class dragon].) she could control the water element better than anything. The red hound proudly growled.  She paused and, for a split second, a grim, feral snarl played across her features. Damn you, Sibas. She softly whispered.  Rapt in her own thoughts, the hellhound didnt see the girl beside her draw her sword again until a glint of starlight flickered off the blade and caught her eye.  In the space of time it would take one to blink an eye Ranno was twelve feet away, her collar bristling, her eyes ablaze and terrible growl emanating from her jaws.  What the hell do you think youre doing, you arrematao bochinchera!?!     

Im gonna pretend like I didnt hear that last part Ranno. Cy said with a dangerously cool tone in her voice. And stop having such an attacked-party complex, you know Id never stoop to those tactics.  I have another question for you, now get over here before I call you.

Ranno flinched at the implied threat, the girl would not lower herself to lopping her head off while she was thinking, but she would gleefully consider dragging her all over the place by her name if she refused to come on her own. How the hell did she ever figure out my name in the first place, I sure as hell never told her?  Ranno glared at the girl and muttering unpleasant things about humanity in general, paced back towards her original spot on the roof, beside the girl.  She stopped short by five feet and sat down again, still glaring.

Cy ignored the hellhound as she looked her sword over, noting the spiny hand guard with its jewel studs; the hard, brown, two handed leather grip; the long, double-edged steel blade with its runic scribing running down its length  She stopped and inspected the dark brown gauntlet on her right hand; the gloves fingers stopping right behind the first joint of her fingers and thumb; somehow, her palm was free while all across the back of her hand the glove covered her like a thick, soft, suede-like second-skin.  Along the back of her hand and up her wrist, blue-green jewels glinted in ancient symbols of power.  The glove stretched away from her hand, enveloping her arm in dark leather before it stopped, midway between her wrist and her elbow.       

What is it? Cy cryptically asked of the hellhound, a note of something close to fear in her faint whisper.

The sword or you?  Ranno softly said, her surprise-anger having disappeared entirely.  Despite all her efforts to do otherwise, in the short two years they had been working together, she had developed a sense of kind compassion for the girl.  She wasnt sure what bothered her more, the fact that she felt for the girl or the fact that she liked it.

Both. Cy said, lightly tracing the jewels in the hilt of her sword with one finger.  

To explain the Tevriyre blade, I must explain you first. Ranno stated, at Cys nod she continued. You are a sorceress, Cy, and a damn powerful one at that. Ranno paused to loose a small laugh.  Sometimes I wonder who that dragon was, and when he stepped into your family.

                Pardon? What dragon? Cy incredulously asked, her voice high.

                Didnt you hear me, ami? Ranno queried, amused, completely expecting that particular reaction from the human, but entertained all the same. I said you are a sorceress. Ranno looked the girl over with one eye, her blue eye. You dont realize what that means, do you? She dryly asked. 

                Cy shook her head; all the time wondering where the hell the hound was going with all this.  (Sorry, bad pun.  Couldnt help it!)

                I suppose I could have told you what you are earlier. Ranno distractedly said. But I knew it would only be a matter of time before you asked me on your own. Ranno yawned, turning her head away to one side and making sure to keep her fangs covered as she did so. Do you know what makes a sorcerer, Kid?

                The same thing that makes a witch or a wizard, Im assuming. Cy defensively answered.

                A common misconception. Ranno calmly acknowledged. Witches and wizards used to exist as well, but they dont anymore.  The ability for humans to harness that kind of power is long gone.  Sorcerers, however, do come about every now and then-

                Wheres this going Ranno? Cy asked, her earlier trepidation replaced with impatience.

                And here I was trying to flower it up for your benefit. Ranno snorted, her temper beginning to fray. In a nutshell, sorcerers are born not made, no human, regardless of the amount of time, patience or the resources they have can ever become a sorcerer unless they are born that way.  A wizard, or a witch for that matter, is simply a human who has learned to control the finer points of their own personal power through study or meditation.  They werent born with magic singing in their blood, you are.  That is what makes you a sorceress instead of some overly smart punk kid, who happens to read too much for her own good. Ranno cut her eyes at Cy for a moment before continuing. 

The magic that makes a sorcerer comes from dragons blood, and the only way to get that blood into a human is to have a dragon take a human form and take a human lover.  I imagine that at least thirty-five *3* of your generations ago, a dragon found something he liked in your family line and decided it would be fun to dally around with them for a while.  The hellhound suddenly smirked. Or he could have just gotten drunk, and made a one-night stand, whichever makes you happy. 

Cys eyes widened a bit at the hounds particular choice of words.  In less than six months after she had been loosed upon the world again, the red yasha had fully assimilated the finer points of modern American English and Spanish dialects.  Even more astounding was that she used what she had learned very eloquently and never failed to cause her desired effect, right from the beginning; even against some of the more aggressive trash-talking demons theyd had to deal with.  Im a dragonCy softly said, her statement sounding more like a question.

No, youre not. Ranno corrected. The dragons blood has been burned out of your veins by time, and your human ancestors, but your magic has not.  You are not a dragon, but you still have a dragons magic and thus you are a sorceress.

                Okay, Im a sorceress.  But what does that have to do with the Tevriyre? Cy asked, looking down at the blade on her lap.

                Do you know what the sword is, Kid? That sword was crafted by powerful human magic and will only allow itself to be handled by a human magic-user.  You are a sorceress; therefore it will only allow you to wield it, it has bonded itself to you and you have bonded yourself to it. Ranno carefully explained.

                What do you mean by bonded hellhound? Cy warily inquired, her gloved hand tightening of its own will around the swords hilt.

                Your sword is a proverbial living weapon and its magical power has twined itself around your own, you share each others power and it is strengthened by that sharing.  Once a weapon of that nature chooses its bearer it cannot be handled by anyone else without it's chosen ones explicit permission.  The Tevriyre will remain bonded to your hand until your death; only then will it allow another magist to wield it.  You already know you how to work with that thing in your hand, you can summon it to your hand if you lose your grip and throw out your power through it.  The sword is also your gauntlet as well-

                You lost me Cy ruefully interrupted.

                Where? Ranno sighed.

                Right about where you said, You can summon it to your hand if you lose your grip and throw your power through it

                In other words, the sword helps you channel your power.  You already had the latent ability; that was with you when you were born. The sword just lets you be aware of it and focus it.  Ranno paused, her jaws tightened, she turned her head away to look over the horizon and she snorted some air roughly through her nose.  A not-so-subtle signal that Cy recognized as the hellhound treading on a topic shed rather not.  I surmise that it was also that latent power that let you break my seal and release me. You wanted me free so I could do a job for you and the Tevriyre reacted to your power and dropped the spell that held me.  As for summoning the sword, Ive seen you do it.  That happens when you lose your tactile contact with the hilt.  You can call it back into your hand, you dont have to go and fetch it, it comes back to you at your command.

                Oh that makes sense. Cy bluntly said, nodding comprehendingly. 

                Thats all you can say? Ranno abruptly exclaimed, if nature had made it possible, she would have sweat-dropped right then and there. Oh that makes sense? She perfectly mimed Cys blunt statement with the unnerving gift of voice mimicry she had.

                Cys eyebrow twitched, Dont do that! Its really, really weird to hear my voice come out of you.

                Ranno said nothing more, but she smirked.

                Cy snorted and slipped the Tevriyre back into its sheath.  She looked down at the gauntlet on her hand and forearm.  Alright, she testily said, what was that next bit about the gauntlet being my sword?

                The sword marked you. The hellhound stated with finality.

                Elaborate The human directed.  

                From the six hundred years that I was sealed with the Tevriyre sword was through my chest, I learned a few things about it.  The Tevriyre marks its bearers with its jewels, which are the source of its power.  Therefore, the Tevriyre jewels are the sword, the blade itself is a physical sword but the jewels are whats really giving it its kick.  However, without the sword the jewels wont work, and without the jewels the sword ceases to be. Ranno stopped to consider what she had just said.  She shook her head and simply said, Its as confusing as hell trying to figure out how it all works, so leave it at this: the blade is the sword, but your gauntlet is the sword as well, all because of the gems.  Do you understand?

                Cy was silent a moment, then she nodded and agreed. You were only sealed for five hundred and fifty something years. She could not help but add.  She lifted up her bejeweled hand. But why did the sword chose this as its mark for me?

                Five hundred fifty years is close enough to six hundred to call it that. Ranno sharply retorted. From what I picked up from it, the sword chooses different markings for each different bearer. This time it chose as it's mark an image of a studded leather biking glove it singled out of your mind.  It reproduced the image, tweaked it to its own desires and attached it to your arm.  The gauntlet also protects your arm, nothing will ever damage that right arm of yours, keep that in mind.  You dont have to be so cautious of it like you would your left.  That gauntlet is part of you now; you will wear it on your arm from now until the day you die of old age, or unless I or another demon gets to you first.

                You always were one for happy endings. Cy sarcastically said.  She sobered, then thought for a moment. What are we going to do about that group from this afternoon?

                I looked into it already; the females will not be a problem.  The boy and the felidae might pose some slight difficulties for us. Ranno reported, she slipped on a Cajun accent.  Jus leave dem to moi, ami.

                Thats good What about that pike the boy had, I felt power coming from it? Cy asked.  Its not even in the same league with the Tevryire, but Id think twice about jumping it.

                I have heard of those kinds of weapons before. Ranno answered.  They are called Kemono No Yari Beast Spears.  They are powerful weapons, but the boy is unskilled.  He didnt have spear training before he received his weapon.  He didnt have the advantage of formal fencing and saber lessons the way you did.

                Whoopee guess Ill have to thank my parents for ditching me at those many camps. Cy said, a note of indifferent irritation quite clear in the inflection of her voice. one of these days, anyway maybe.  

                At last count youve been to what, eight? Ranno queried, flicking one ear forward, making a game of irritating the sorceress.

                Ten actually. Cy said with little emotion.  I can shoot arrows with the best, I know twenty-two different kinds of knots, I know basic combat tactics, I can damn near take a persons head off in fifteen different ways with my knowledge of the Ninjitsu martial arts, you know Im really good with a sword and my daggers, I excel in all my studies, I speak and write four languages fluently.  I can do nearly everything but kill and skin an angry bear with my bare hands and a head cold.  Even my tutors and instructors couldnt believe how good I was.  I had one professor who was convinced I was cheating at everything, made a right nuisance of himself trying to catch me.  I eventually caught him trying to set me up, I made sure he was sacked, of course.

                All that and youre only in high school? Ranno teased.  She chuckled at her own joke, then turned reflective, That was probably your talent manifesting early by having you excel at nearly everything you did.  It was all your effort, but you had some serious help, even if you didnt realize it.     

                You honor me. Cy said.

                Tis only the truth. Ranno casually replied, with a small shrug.  Getting back to our subject, the boy is not a serious threat.  His spear is powerful but requires a long range to work effectively.  Stay in his guard and one is quite safe.  The feliedae on the other hand will require more caution.  I have seen his type before, hes a lightning element, territorial too; I can ground him in half a second.

                Thats good. Cy nodded, she closed her eyes and rubbed the bridge of her nose with one hand.

                Im not going to be around here tomorrow. Ranno said out of the blue. 

                Cys head abruptly jerked up, What? What do you mean by that!?

                Ranno was vaguely amused, Relax, Kid Im not going to go gallivanting off like I did a little while after you freed me.  Im the new Jisrahu remember?  I do have that job to do, and I have been neglecting it for some time now, I also have to go check on a few things.

                Cy loosened up, but didnt relax completely. When will you be back?

                Probably by tomorrow evening if everything is in order and I find what Im looking for quickly.  Wednesday evening or Thursday morning at the latest if I get held up in this, that or the other.  The dog will probably come with me.

                I remember when I used to have a dog. Cy, wryly-if a little sourly, observed.

                You still have a dog, she replied.  Omas just not your average dog anymore.

                The understatement of the evening, ladies and gentlemen.

                Its getting rather late you know. Ranno lamely said, mentally kicking herself for walking head-first into that obvious one-liner.

                I can take a hint. I leave you in a minute. I take it youre not going to tell me what youre looking for, are you?

Non, dat be for Ranno to know an Cy to figure out, neh? The red hound smiled, ears sitting cockeyed.

                Thanks for talking to me tonight, Ranno.  I enjoyed it. Cy said, one corner of her mouth tweaking up in a lopsided grin.

                Thou art welcome. Ranno responded in an old English accent, some of the tension in her neck gone. Watch thy back tomorrow, lest thou be axed.

                Siempre. Cy stood up and stretched, then left the same way she had come.  Namely, by weaving multiple perch spells to jump down, in steps, to her bedroom window from the roof; she carefully slipped her window open and disappeared inside. 

                Ranno remained on the roof, watching the stars and reviewing the conversation with a rare emotion: Content happiness.


                I ought to slip into something more comfortable. Ranno said a little while later to the now- empty air.  She concentrated, her eyes suddenly brightened and glowed, then the skin and fur that made up her white markings was ripped away, her black facial stripes and fiery-red fur following shortly after.  She blazed like a raging pyre for a moment before the flames began to die and fur wrapped around her form again.




            She sat for some time, feeling the late evening breeze ruffling through her fur, watching a pair of moths flutter about then be snatched up by swift-winged bats.  She unsheathed the claws in her front paws and looked down at them with a critical eye.  All eight claws were as sharp as fishhooks, black as spilled ink and as delicate and narrow as slivers of glass.  I have a job to do, and its time I finally got to it. She gently said, retracting her claws and looking up into the starry night sky again.

                Thirty minutes later, on a sudden whim, Cy walked over to her window and looked towards her grandfathers rock and water garden.  Faintly, she could just see the silhouette of a hellhound standing motionless upon the largest boulders in the garden; the hound watched her with glittering eyes, the rings in her ear twinkling softly.  The hounds tail flicked at its very tip and its ears twitched minutely, the gold hoops clicking together gently.  Cy knew how to read the yashas signals and she read them well.  See you soon Ranno, she quietly said.  I hope you find whatever it is youre looking for out there.

                Cy yawned suddenly, and she turned away from the window to hide it.  Turning back again a second later, the red hellhound, the new Jisrahu, was gone, having vanished into soft moonlight.



*              *              *



Author's Chapter Endnotes:


                1* Many thanks goes out to the queen of Ushio and Tora fan fiction, Ysabet, for letting me use one of her original characters (Rikone from A Truce of Moons) in a conversation between the boy-priest and his demonic familiar.  If I were you Id go read A Truce of Moons after I finish this if I hadnt already done so, that fic was and still is really cool. 


2* Vix prefers for Cy to call her by her true first name, Ranno  (she has three names total).  She considers the 'pet' name (Vix) Cy gave her to be extremely foolish but she tolerates it when they are in mixed company, she believes that it is best if others did not know her by any of her true names, as she can be controlled through her name (Something that Cy has a knack for doing at the drop of a hat.)  Arcane lore and languages are her hobbies and she speaks and curses very fluently in a variety of dialects in both English and Spanish and a little in Cajun French and some of the Native American tongues; she also knows choice phrases in a multitude of other languages but is not fluent.  She is so fond of flaunting her tongue prowess that she sometimes will switch languages mid-sentence to annoy whomever she is speaking to.


                3* According to my calculations, thirty-five generations for Cys family is about 700 years or so- one generation on average being about 20 years long.


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

kitsune: A fox in Japanese.  However, here it refers specifically to the fox spirits that one finds fairly often in old Japanese folk tales.

mon ami: my friend in French

moi: me in French.

chère: dear in French.

non: no in Cajun French.

Chupacabra: Literally, goatsucker or sucker of goats in Spanish.

Ran:  Cy has a tendency to shorten names for her convenience; in this case Ran is short for Ranno.  While it doesnt mean anything in particular in this sense, in Japanese ran means orchid.

Shang Yang: Rain Bird in Chinese.  I think?

Gin Rein'umou: Literally, Silver RainFeathers in Japanese.

arrematao bochinchera: I cant actually translate this one without going over my rating; I will, however, tell you two things, its Spanish and if you say it to a woman (or a man for that matter) youre liable to end up with at least a broken nose and, most likely, much worse.

siempre: Always in Spanish.


5) This goes out to all my reviewers:

ShiTiger: Toras gonna get his butt kicked plenty of times before this fics over.  Its strange though, I love him to death, yet I think nothing of having one of my OCs beat the living daylights out of him.

Jessiy Landroz: This one was way longer that chapter 2, no? There will be more ahead.soon.