Part XVIII – The Peach and The Void
“This is insane,” said Monel.
As they slowly trudged through the forest, Monel ran the point, leading them forward.
“It’ll be fun,” said Momotaru.
“I think my sister may be right, my liege,” said Kya. “Why would you go looking for trouble in this most dangerous of places?”
“Plus it’s night time,” said Monel. “The light of the moons is obscured by these trees and the eyes of nocturnal creatures work best in the dark.”
“Well I wanted to explore this new country,” said Momotaru as he turned around, “but someone wanted to get a cab. Now I seek adventure against a worthy adversary in order to vent.” With a resigned huff, Momotaru lowered his head. “Let’s head back to the city. We’ll make a camp around the wall and wait there until morning.”
Though Momotaru’s head was down as he walked towards the edge of the forest, he saw a glimmer of red flash into the dense brush of the forest.
“What was that?” asked Momotaru.
“What did you see?” asked Kya. She stopped behind him. Her body was tense. She relaxed as she flowed into a defensive stance.
The three other sisters ran towards the two of them. The sisters formed a defensive perimeter around Momotaru.
“We can’t let you leave now,” said a disembodied voice grating and raw.
Red eyes sparked into existence in a nearby thicket. Another pair of red, glowing eyes appeared. Then, as if it were a domino effect, dozens began to pop into existence deep into the forest. Decomposing flesh and a strong undertone of iron wafted through the air.
“Run,” said Kya.
The group sprinted towards the forest exit and the demonic Ura that lived in the forest gave chase. The Ura had long sharp teeth that acted as syringes. These pale, blood sucking creatures moved faster than humans, even humans that had honed their body into weapons through years of training. One of the creatures got in front of the group and leapt.
Monel, who ran in front of the defensive formation, struck first. She threw her arms out straight and with a flick of her wrist sent small steel needle streaking into the demon’s forehead. In a matter of seconds she was able to penetrate the brain and sever its link with the spinal cord. The Ura hit the ground in a heap before rolling to a stop and the group was forced to leap over the body. Glowing red eyes continued to close in around them.
A pair of Ura sprang out from a dense patch of bushes. Kya, whose duty was to protect one side of the defensive formation, pulled a pair of daggers from her waist. With a twisting maneuver, she sliced into the throats of the two Ura. The snarling creatures tried to cover the gushing wounds. Without the human blood that flowed in them they would not be able to sustain their current forms. Smoke rose out of their pale skin as it turned dull and grey until evaporating away completely, leaving piles of white ash on the forest floor.
Distant rays of light shone through the canopy by the exit. Before they could dive through and out into the vast and vacant plain in front of the city, the Ura surrounded them. The demons stood between the humans and the safety of lights.
“What are your orders, Kya,” asked Chyntel, the youngest of the twins.
The assassin sisters formed around Momotaru as if a compass.
“Stand back ladies,” said Momotaru as he gently pushed past Monel who stood in the northern position of the formation.
“Like I’ve said before, we would be poor bodyguards if we didn’t lay down our lives to protect you,” said Kya. She reached out with a hand and grabbed Momotaru’s shoulder.
“The reason I choose you all to accompany me as bodyguards,” said Momotaru as he turned to face Kya, “is because I needed people at my side that were my equal in fighting prowess… well, almost my equal.”
Recoiling like an injured snake, Kya looked at her liege lord with a raised eyebrow and her head held askew as if she were questioning his sanity.
Momotaru walked several meters in front of the sisters. His sword held lazily by his side, the tip centimeters from the dirt. For the sisters watching, the wind seemed to slowly pick up and swirl around the man. It was as if a small tornado had surrounded him and he stood at its center. The air circling in his immediate vicinity seemed to draw what little light remained towards him. He turned to look over his shoulder. The sisters were taken aback. His eyes were completely black.
“When I give you the signal,” said Momotaru. “Head straight for the exit and don’t look back. I will follow shortly.”
One of the creatures came forward. It towered over Momotaru by meters. Its glowing red eyes stared menacingly down at Momotaru. “You will never leave this place,” it said.
With the slightest movement of his arm, Momotaru seemed as if he had barely lifted a finger. Like the flash of a lightning bolt he struck out with his blade. The creature had been about to speak again. Now it was frozen, except for its eyes which had widened as it realized something was wrong. As the Ura reached for his head, its body slid apart in halves with the sickening sound of mush sliding down a wall. The halves hit the ground with a thud sending dirt and dead leaves wafting into the air before settling back in silence. The only sound left was the light breathing of the Ura and the humans alike as they watched in astonishment.
“Go, now!” shouted Momotaru.
He sprinted forward to engage the Ura who were caught off-guard. The black adamantite and carbon steel blade that Momotaru wielded struck with the speed and precision of a serpent. This single fang was all he needed to slice the heads from a row of stunned Ura. Four Ura corpses hit the ground in a heap and their comrades sprang into action. Some of the creatures tried to chase after the sisters who were only several steps from escaping the thickets and brambles of the nightmarish forest. With his dark eyes drawing in more energy from his surroundings, Momotaru was fueled with high octane gas. He leapt from opponent to opponent striking them down mercilessly. Heads, along with other body parts, flew from the scrum that had tried to surround and overwhelm him.
A scream caught Momotaru’s attention. He watched in horror as his female companions were assaulted by the brutish Ura. One of the twins was carried away by several Ura who quickly disappeared into the dense foliage of the forest.