A white glow covered Yumi's body suddenly as the pressure in the air rapidly spiked. Distortions appeared around her as the energy build up grew towards critical mass. An explosion of energy ripped through the earth and all the surrounding area destroying everything it touched.

Her head turned sharply at the sound of something different in the noise of destruction. She disappeared and appeared at the sound swinging down her sword at the air hitting something. Out of the shadows popped the demon hunting her. "This game is over."

It was different from the others she normally saw and killed. This demon had more in common with Tokaromaru. They had a more human like appearance, though there were definitely aspects that were inhuman. A bit heavy on the eye liner that drew out their more feline features and pointed nose. She wondered which sort of cat like demon he might be. Not that it was going to matter for long.

Yumi swung again to bring an end to the demon finally close out the long battle. A white flash was all she saw, because the demon had somehow escaped her attack. She flipped her head around tracking the demon's movements now that she could hear him. 'I never heard him before because he was disguising his movements under mine… This one's smart…and dangerous…'

Dangerous was the key word as Yumi found a fist in her face only moments after she started to hear him dancing about. Lifted up, Yumi shot backwards over the ground, but not before leaving a counter buried in the demon's chest with her foot.

Flying backwards, Yumi focused her vision on her direction finding a tree coming up to her quickly. She grabbed out her hand letting her spin around the tree a few times to get her control back only to see the demon appear in front of her kicking her in the stomach. Rocks poked into her back as she laid in the earth from the hit. 'Damn, he's fast…'

The sniping had left her feeling a little dulled by her senses. It was repetitive and she had gotten the rhythm of it to a degree. However, the pace of the fight had completely changed, especially to one that she was a little more used to dealing with against demons. She could thank the two hits for restarting her focus and attention.

As the demon tried to connect his combo together, she flipped back out of the way with her power. His fist dug into the earth letting her spin around and grab his ankle to throw him into the ground. Even on his back, he countered with a knee to her arm fully negating the force. She exchanged repeated blows with him trying to crack his defense.

Nothing could breach his wall.

Flipping forward out of the small crater they battled in, the feline-like demon struck back with a grab hitting between strikes by Yumi when her offense had the most openings. Grasping her wrist, he flung her into the tree, breaking it half.

Yumi pushed back on the air with her telekinesis getting enough control back from the throw to grab his arm with her free hand. She pulled back holding onto the air to fling him into the earth, but he stopped landing on this feet. They landed together grappling and repositioning their stances trying to get the needed leverage for a throw. What Yumi lacked in finesse, that the demon clearly had over her, she made up for with her superior physical abilities.

They hit a stalemate unable to finish anything that they wanted to achieve. Each repositioning was fought tightly with their free arms. Heavy blows clashed together blocking their movements. Yumi played counter to his actions, watching closely.

Unable to break the deadlock, the demon kicked off Yumi's leg and separated them. He landed from a flip on his feet gracefully as she stepped back one foot.

The demon grinned with excitement. "You're definitely not like the rest of the Hunters that foolishly stepped into our territory."

'Not like the rest…' Yumi grimaced as she had to settle into the idea that this was not going to be a quickly won fight like the rest. "It was you that invited me here."

"Indeed your quickly acquired reputation has made quite the impression on our ranks."

"I'm not sure if I should be pleased by that or not."

"My Lord is very pleased. We do enjoy a challenge when killing humans."

"And what about dying to a human?"

"Never happens."

"Shouldn't say never, it has a habit of proving itself falsely used."

"A superstitious one, oh?"

"Just a fact that I'll be proving soon."

Baring sharp teeth, the demon deepened their grin. They looked excited, almost happy about Yumi's boasting. "A woman with guts. This will be fun!"

Chapter 403 – A Demon's Smile

The fight resumed with the same intensity as the demon jumped in with a flying kick. Digging through the earth a little with his attack, Yumi was able to side step the attack and counter. Her counter stopped short with a block by his hand. He flipped Yumi on her back as his foot rose up out of the earth to strike her spine. Rapidly summoning part of her barrier, she saved her back and slid off with her hand braced against it.

Tossing a white blast of energy at her feet into the earth, she increased her speed in her spin forcing her leg through his defenses and kicking off his feet. He shot into the air still barely feeling the damage from the strike, while Yumi blasted towards him with her telekinesis. She quickly caught up to him in the air hoping to have the advantage against him.

That advantage she should have had never revealed itself to her as he could counter her attacks just as well as on the ground. Blocks and deflects sparked off in rapid succession as she tried to get in as many blows as possible before he recovered. Yet, it became quickly clear to her that he had already recovered long before she even made the first strike.

Worse still, they were still flying through the air long after the momentum that she gave him ran out. He was flying under his own power. Yumi blasted him with her telekinesis away from her to get a moment to breath.

She hovered in the air a few meters away from him as he landed safely. 'He's easily matching me with everything that I'm throwing at him. I thought him being a sniper that he couldn't handle himself in a melee fight. But he's just as good, why did he even start sniping me from a distance if he was this skilled? It seems pointless…'

"It's rare to find a Hunter with flight. But don't stop surprising me now! I want to see more of what you can do!" He charged in after Yumi resuming the battle in the sky. His attacks came in faster than before as though he had been holding back on her. She struggled to keep up with each blow. Previously, Yumi managed to keep him on more on the defensive with her leading the attack. Now with the tables turned, she started to see how different in ability he was from her.

Knocked back, her body flew down towards the earth. 'Damn, he's getting better the longer the fight drags out… He's even tougher than Tokaromaru!' The ground came up rapidly on her back. Her head tilted back from the hit could see it coming. She still had enough control to stop it from happening. Though she had to fly back up to direct her speed away, unable to stop. 'I can't make a swift kill, he's too fast for that…'

While she cursed the battle she was forced to fight, the demon flew over to her. The distance closed in an instant as he disappeared from her sight. She turned around expecting a rear attack only to get flanked. A partial deflection protected her and knocked her back as he appeared below grabbing her leg and throwing her down to the earth.

A crater carved out her landing spot followed by him charging down at her. It was fortunately not enough to slow her down, leaving her only momentarily stunned. Yumi rolled out of the way of the flying punch as the demon dug through the hard stone beneath the earth. She grabbed the demon's leg and threw him across the crater. Her follow up failed to connect as he already recovered from the throw.

Floating upside down in the air, the demon stared back at Yumi still grinning with excitement. Annoyed, she threw a punch at his face which he blocked. He returned a punch that she dodged and countered. Their stalemate began to approach again with him fighting her upside down with the same level of skill as before.

The stalemate did not last for long though as the demon had the advantage over Yumi. He pushed her back in the exchange step by step with her losing ground. She could not keep up her defenses as she lost her offense. Blocking with her arms was not fast enough.

A powerful punch smashed through her crumbling defenses throwing across the crater into the earth. Clouds of debris coughed up around her impact.

It was not working. Everything she tried could only barely keep up with him. Yet he showed no signs of weakening. 'Just how strong is this demon? I thought that Tokaromaru was one of the most powerful, but I'm really starting to question what that even means anymore.' She pulled herself out of the impressed her body created. 'He's not even using his fire attacks anymore, it's purely a melee. Something that I have clearly less experience at than him. After this is all over, I need Yuki to train me.'

Yumi stepped out of the smoke and disappeared into the air with trails of smoke following her for as long as it could before she fully lost her wake. She smashed into the crater next to the demon blasting out smoke in all directions.

Listening out for his movements, she immediately moved to counter the demon. She struck hard against him. He could only partially disperse the force of her punch. Waves of force rang out from her blows as she jumped around in the gray veil that hung over them. 'Glad I've gotten used to listening for the demons in the dark. I'm so used to them getting the jump on me with them knowing where I am, that my hearing's gotten better… Still this won't last…'

The screen already began to fade away. Wind played only a small role in it. Yumi's fierce attacks swept it away faster than the wind. And she was getting back to the same spot where she began. Unable to land a fully decisive blow to end things. He managed to stand up to her blows and began to even out the fight with the penalty for him gone.

He pinched her forearm between his elbow and knee halting her assault. Unable to pull out, she twisted her body around throwing up her leg, which blocked with his forearm. It was not enough though to stop her telekinesis shooting the demon back into the crater.

Catching her breath, she found her body feeling the fatigue, something that she had not noticed from before. 'I didn't realize how tired I am… I need to find a way to end this now!'

The demon laughed, amused by the situation. Yumi brought him continued entertainment in the fight. "So you're someone used to fighting in the dark. Is that a talent honed while hunting?"

"You're enjoying this."

"It's a good fight, why shouldn't I enjoy it! A worthy foe is the ultimate reward for a warrior."

"I've no interest in providing you with any reward. I'm just trying to kill you and move on!"

"A fight to the death brings out the best. Nothing is more fun than seeing everything put on the line and pushed to the edge. Knowing how far those limits can be pushed."

Yumi did not understand such things. She could not find that sort of joy in fighting. Not like Seiji, who enjoyed the fair fight on equal grounds to see who was the best. All of her fights had death on the line. There was nothing fun to find in a battle to live. It was meaningless to her. She just hoped that she could win before she completely ran out of energy. This was not even the last demon she had to face.

"Judging by the smile on your face, you know what I'm talking about."

She recoiled back. "What are you talking about? I'm not!"

"You've been grinning ear to ear for the last few minutes."

"I haven't!" yelled Yumi, trying to deny it. Yet she sadly felt it in her face. There was something about what the demon said was right. She was smiling, but she did not know why. 'I can't be… Why? How? When…'

Screaming to the sky, a white glow surrounded Yumi as she regained her composure of her face. She could not let it go on any longer. That much was certain now. Particles in the air began to gather around her hands. "I'm ending this now!" As her anger increase, the strength of her attack rapidly grew with the light completely whiting out her form. A beam of energy shot out from her position casting a thick white light over the demon as he was not left with much time to react.

To be continued…