The Story Thus Far: Chizuru meets the swordsman Yukimaru and listens to his story about the Hyouden and similar cursed blades that are supposedly spread throughout the land. Seeking a way to break the curse of the swords, Yukimaru asks her for assistance, but concerned with her own goals Chizuru begins to decline. Before they can part ways the two are approached by an old man named Mochizuki who begs them to rescue his daughter who has been taken by a local gang. Unable to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the village, Chizuru decides to go along with Yukimaru accompanying her…

Chapter 5:

Aimoto the Blue

"This must be the place."

Yukimaru said quietly as he and Chizuru stood in the shadows. They were looking at a large mansion that had been built near the outskirts of the village. Outside the grounds were littered with trash and old food and the yard was overgrown an unkempt. Two large banners were hung proudly outside the main doors that were in much better shape than the rest of the place. Chizuru could only guess that the mansion must have been abandoned before Aimoto and his group look it over and made it their base. There were light coming from the windows of various floors showing that the place was indeed occupied though. And if that weren't enough the two guards stationed outside carrying spears said it all. Yukimaru scoped out the situation seriously before turning to Chizuru with his thoughts.

"It doesn't seem as if the place is heavily guarded. They must be confident no one would dare attack."

If Aimoto had such a hold over the village it would make sense he wouldn't be worried about the villagers staging an uprising.

"Or they're just stupid."

Yagyu quipped, sounding utterly bored by this endeavor.

"Just run in there and kill them all so we can get this over with!"

Chizuru sighed at his thirst for blood. Maybe that was possible for him but they didn't know how many people were in there and what they were running into. It would be best to play it safe until they knew exactly what they were dealing with. She watched as Yukimaru thought for a moment.

"Going in from the front would cause too much of a commotion. If it's a mansion I'm sure there's an entrance servants would have used. Hopefully it won't be guarded."

He gave a logical plan which caused Chizuru to tilt her head slightly. It sounded like he had done this before.

"Yuki-san."

He looked up as she called his name. Picking her words carefully, Chizuru began to ask a question that had been bothering her a bit.

"I thought you were trying to find a way to break Hyouden's curse. What does that have to do with this?"

The same could be said for her. She was using her uncle's actions as an excuse to act but it was a bit of a flimsy reason. Something didn't sit right with her just leaving things as they were when she knew there was trouble. Was Yukimaru the same way or did he have another reason? The white haired swordsman smiled at her gently as if the question were the easiest thing to answer in the world.

"Nothing."

He said simply. Chizuru thought that was it but he began to speak again, the peaceful look still on his face.

"Chi-san, the land is in a bad place right now. There's fighting and people are suffering every day. Why make things harder on each other? I seek to free myself from Hyouden's curse, yes, but that doesn't mean I can't help people I see are in trouble. If I die before I reach my goal I want to at least know I didn't waste my life, so why not spend my time helping others until then?"

She was briefly taken aback by his noble words. She searched his face for any hint of self-satisfaction or justification but could only see his honest smile. The desire to do well and help others…it reminded her of her father.

"Just like I thought; the boy is a moron."

Yagyu was of a different opinion, clearly not swayed by the young man's noble words. Chizuru wished he had a physical body that she could elbow right now, but she had to settle for simply jostling the sword instead. Though again she didn't know if that actually bothered him or not. Once she was done she turned her attention back to Yukimaru. Their meeting had been a little rough but now…she could see that he was a good person. Or at least a good actor.

"We should get going."

He said as he turned to lead the way to the back of the mansion.

"Whoa!"

Chizuru was slightly startled as the young man stumbled suddenly. It looked like he was going to fall but he managed to catch himself. It seemed like he had stepped into a pothole or something, his foot stuck in the ground. With a couple of pulls he managed to drag his foot free, though it was covered in mud and water. A puddle? It hadn't rained in days! She looked to the sword in his sash, remembering what he had told her.

"That's a pretty unfortunate thing to have, isn't it?"

She said with a mixture of pity and concern. He merely smiled ruefully as he tried to shake the mud off of his foot.

"I'm used to it."

Chizuru didn't know if that was supposed to be reassuring or not as Yagyu sighed.

"I can already tell this is going to be a pain in the ass…"


Yukimaru's intuition proved correct, and from their position from the shadows the outline of a door was visible. There were no guards stationed in the back and it looked as if the door hadn't even been used for a while. Not wanting to take chances they remained still and watched the door for a few minutes, making absolutely sure no one would be coming around to patrol. When it seemed clear they slowly slunk out of the shadows and approached the entrance quietly, weapons gripped tightly. Chizuru was finding it surprisingly easy to follow the young man's lead even though she hadn't really sneaked around like this before. Maybe she was just a quick learner.

Sliding up beside the door, Yukimaru gave her a brief nod before gingerly reaching out, trying to open the door. After a few pulls it seemed jammed, but after an especially strong tug it slid open, a dull sound ringing out for a brief moment. They paused, holding their breath and gripping their weapons even tighter. They were expecting to hear the sound of someone's footsteps hurrying around back to investigate, but the only thing that penetrated the night was the sound of the wind and crickets. Letting his breath out slowly Yukimaru nodded again although his body was still a bit tense. Checking inside carefully he confirmed that no one was waiting to ambush them before heading inside.

Even though the lights had been left on in the bottom level, it was empty. Not a soul could be seen, but there were still remnants of the fact that a large group stayed here. Mostly garbage, leftover food, and other unclean things were littered all over the floor. Chizuru was sure the previous owner of the place would weep if they could see the mess that had been made in here. She walked lightly, careful not to step in any of the disgusting objects strewn about and trying to make as little noise as possible. There were sounds coming from upstairs and that sounded like where the bulk of the group would be. She didn't think Mochizuki's daughter would be on this floor seeing as how there were no guards or personnel around except for the two outside.

"Let's look around."

Yukimaru suggested just to be sure, apparently having the same thought she did. They split up to explore the various rooms on the first floor.

It was a fruitless search, and aside from more dirty rooms nothing was found. Meeting back by the stairs again Yukimaru looked up, not needing to say the obvious.

"Let's go. Keep your guard up."

He cautioned as they began to ascend the stairs quietly. If someone was going to spring an ambush, this would be an ideal place. If they could get them trapped on the stairs then they would be severely disadvantaged, especially at such close quarters.

"Be careful, puppy."

Yagyu warned though she couldn't tell if he was really concerned for her or not. Still, she gripped the sword in case she needed to use it suddenly as they walked.

Thankfully, they hadn't been attacked. Upon reaching the second floor it seemed just as dead as the first. The noise they were hearing from down below previously was now much louder, seeming to come from a central room down the long hallway. It didn't take a genius to figure out that's where the group was. Whatever they were celebrating they were so into it that they didn't even bother to set up proper security. Bad for them, lucky for her and Yuki. It would be foolish to check out that room first so that only left the hallway and rooms around the corner. It was amazing how easily they had gotten this far without running into trouble.

"If it was going to be this easy you should have asked that old man for way more money!"

Yagyu sounded disappointed. He was probably hoping they would have run into trouble by now so she would have an excuse to fight. She would like to avoid drawing the Muramasa again so soon if possible after what had happened last time…

Feeling she'd have to deal with that when the time came she began to turn the corner but stopped suddenly and jump back as Yuki held an arm up to stop her. Signaling for her to be quiet and follow his lead he leaned slowly around the corner leaving room for her to look as well.

Down the hall, stationed outside of one of the doors, were two more guards armed with weapons. They hadn't looked as if they had noticed the pair, eyes focused front although their faces looked a little sour, most likely because they were missing the festivities in the other room. Withdrawing from peeking around the corner Yuki faced Chizuru, keeping his voice low.

"I'd say that's our best bet, hm?"

He said quietly, indicating that that was the most likely place to search. It was the only door that was being guarded meaning there had to be something of importance in there. He peeked quickly around the corner again, getting a good look at the men. They were big but not to the point of being huge. Even though they had weapons on their side their hands were hanging lazily beside them, not prepared to draw at the first sign of danger. Their guard was down and they didn't look very experienced, probably still novice level. That was all Yuki needed to know.

"I'll take the left one. Cover the one on the right."

He stated casually and then, with a quick look at Chizuru, he barreled around the corner. Chizuru didn't move at first, surprised that the young man had sprang into action so suddenly.

"What the hell are you doing, puppy? Go!"

Yagyu's voice spurred her forward. Slowing the lump in her throat she moved quickly to follow Yuki's lead.

Yuki was upon the first man like a flash, bringing his fist up and cracking it viciously under the man's jaw. The guard spun from the impact and hit the wall before slumping down completely out. The other guard barely had time to babble something out that sounded like a mix between a curse and yelp before noticing that Chizuru had moved in front of him. Her hand went to the Muramasa's hilt but she stopped before drawing it, hesitation on her face. The guard stared at her blankly for a second, stunned by the sudden appearance of the two.

"What are you doing?!"

Yagyu demanded as the man began to recover and reach for his own weapon. Chizuru gritted her teeth as she made a decision. She pulled the still sheathed Muramasa from her obi and swung the hilt upwards, catching the man in the chin. She wasn't as strong as Yukimaru but from that angle and with the Muramasa's help the man was dealt a hefty blow that knocked him out cold. He stumbled backwards before hitting the wall and sliding to the floor silently. Chizuru lowered the sheathed sword as she tried to control her breathing. She had stopped herself from drawing the cursed blade, but Yagyu wasn't happy.

"You stupid girl…"

The voice began to growl. Yukimaru stepped in before the spirit could go off though, unknowingly saving Chizuru from a verbal thrashing.

"Nice job."

He said with a smile. Whether he had noticed her hesitation and wasn't saying anything out of politeness she didn't know, but she was thankful he didn't mention it.

With the guards down Chizuru returned the Muramasa to her obi. She wondered if she would even need to unsheathe it at all tonight. Given how inexperienced this feared "gang" was she didn't think so. Making sure no reinforcements were coming Yuki pressed his ear lightly against the door that had been guarded, trying to listen over the noise down the hall. After a moment he withdrew his ear, looking at Chizuru.

"There are people inside."

He informed her. Glancing at the door again, he stepped back and allowed Chizuru to take his place in front of it.

"You speak. They might be afraid to hear another man."

He said while turning to keep lookout down the hall. He thought hearing a woman speak would have less of a chance of startling whoever was in the other room. Chizuru supposed that made sense. If they had been treated roughly by men they might not respond to a male voice. Kneeling down she placed her ear to the door carefully before calling out in a low voice just barely loud enough for whoever was on the other side to hear.

"Hello? Is anyone in there?"

It felt like a foolish thing to ask but after a moment she heard shuffling on the other side of the door. A small voice cautiously responded to her.

"W-who is this?"

The voice was small and scared but definitely belonged to a young female. It appeared they had picked the right place. She looked up to Yuki and gave a brief nod before addressing the girl on the other side of the door again.

"Are you Mochizuki's daughter?"

She asked. At the mention of the name the voice on the other side of the door gasped.

"You know my father?!"

The young girl couldn't keep the excitement and surprise out of her voice. Chizuru gave a sigh of relief. So they had found her and it seemed she was safe.

"Yes, he sent us here to bring you back. Hold on, we'll have you out soon."

Chizuru reassured the girl. She had expected her to be grateful but when she spoke again there was a hint of unease and reluctance in her voice.

"W-wait! I just want you to tell my father something for me…"

Chizuru raised a brow. Couldn't this wait? She'd be able to tell her herself once they got her out. Before she could ask what she meant, Yuki spoke in a serious tone.

"We should hurry up. Things are going too smoothly…I don't like this."

The look on his face was different from his usual gentle one. He seemed to be dreading something.

"H-hey!"

As if on cue, a voice hailed them from down the hall. A man stood there, a look of shock and confusion written on his face as he saw Chizuru and Yukimaru at the end of the hall. From the flushed look on his cheek it was clear he had been drinking in the next room. He had probably come out here to fetch some more booze or food, and his timing couldn't have been worse. Clicking his tongue, Yuki gripped his weapon and dashed down the hall, gliding down the long passage unnaturally fast. The man was a fair distance away, however, and not even the white haired swordsman could reach him that quickly.

"H-HELP!"

The man managed to shout out before Yukimaru was upon him. Gripping the Hyouden, Yuki yanked it out of its sheath, the long blade glittering in the light for a second before moving in a flash. With both hands Yuki swung the blade in an upwards arc, slicing the man deeply from his waist all the way to his shoulder. The thick, crimson liquid spilled forth, seeming to freeze in the air for a split second before falling to the ground like heavy rain. It had all been over in a flash. Yuki furrowed his brows at the blood around him.

Despite his quick response Yuki hadn't been fast enough to stifle the man's warning. There was a lull in the noise that was in the other room, the men inside having no doubt heard the shout of their comrade. Sheathinghis weapon again, Yuki clenched his jaw before turning to look down the hall at Chizuru.

"Damn, they'll be here soon. I'll lead them away; you rescue the girl and get out!"

He yelled his instruction quickly, the sound of footsteps from the men in the room rising to their feet already penetrating the air. He gave a regretful smile as he looked down at the Hyouden.

"I should have figured you wouldn't make things easy."

He said with a sigh.

Giving Chizuru one last glance, Yuki darted around the corner just in time to see the rest of the gang busting into the hallway. There were a few shouts followed by the sound of many people descending the stairs. Yuki was leading them outside and way from Chizuru so she could escape. He'd manage himself once he was sure he had their full attention. There were some more noises downstairs, the sound of doors being slammed, and then, silence.


The building stood eerily still as the majority of its residents headed outside. It seemed the coast was clear for the moment. Chizuru was alone in the hall. Everything had happened so fast and she could only hope that Yukimaru would be okay.

"Don't worry about that boy. You have other things to deal with."

She nodded. She still had to find a way to get Mochizuki's daughter out. Turning back to the door she began to look it over to see if there was any way to force it open without a key. As she searched she heard the voice of Mochizuki's daughter again.

"Please, listen to me…"

She said in a sad tone. Chizuru thought it was because she was scared so she began to search harder.

"Don't worry, I'll get you out!"

She promised. There had to be a way to open the door!

"What's going on here?"

A deep voice spoke from behind the girl and she froze momentarily. Turning around, she was faced with a rather large man standing at the other end of the hallway. The man was big, almost to the point that his head touched the ceiling. He had a bald head but a thick beard and eyebrows, dark black like ink. The tip of his nose was rosy red, a sharp contrast to the dark eyes that stared angrily out from under the thick eyebrows. He had no shoes on and was dressed in a lavish yukata with a long robe draped over his shoulders, and although it couldn't be seen from the way he was facing, the symbol on the back matched the same ones on the banners outside. Around his neck was a large pair of japa mala which strangely seemed to fit with his bald head and looks. With heavy footsteps he made his way down the hall as Chizuru stood up slowly. This must be Aimoto.

The large man stopped a few feet from her, looking at her with curiosity.

"A girl? What are you doing here?"

He asked in a strangely calm voice.

"Be careful, puppy. I'm sensing something weird from this guy."

Yagyu warned in a serious tone. Aimoto's eyes went to the door Chizuru had been standing by, his eyes suddenly lightning up with understanding and amusement.

"I see…you came to rescue those girls, is it?"

He asked. Girls? So there was more than one in the room? Chizuru said nothing but gripped the Muramasa tightly. Aimoto threw back his head and laughed, the loud sound almost shaking the hallway.

"So those spineless villagers sent a girl to do things for them! How amusing!"

He wiped his eye with one of his thick fingers before looking at Chizuru again. His eyes went to the blade in her obi, thick eyebrows rising in interest.

"What's this? That's not an ordinary blade you carry…I can sense endless anger and hate coming from it. Where did you get such a thing, girl?"

He demanded. Chizuru didn't answer, merely stepping back protectively as she looked for an escape route. If she had to fight this man she didn't want to do it in this cramped hallway. Aimoto laughed once more.

"Not answering? No matter…I'll just deal with you like I did those other girls!"

As he spoke Chizuru watched in surprise as the man's skin rippled. His muscles bulged outwards under his robes and his skin squirmed like it was alive before setting into thick wrinkles. His skin began to darken until it was a dark blue color and as the final surprise, his eyes got closer together into they melded into one large orb which opened up and looked at her with hunger. Chizuru gasped at his transformation.

"A Demon?"

"An Aobozu…no wonder I felt something strange. Be on guard, puppy!"

Chizuru faced the true form of Aimoto as he grinned wickedly, ready to advance on her…


Outside, Yukimaru had his own problems to deal with.

Surrounding him were nearly two dozen men, each one a little dangerous looking in their own right. Not all of them were carrying weapons, however, meaning they either hadn't been smart enough to bring them along or that there were very few people in the gang that actually had some knowledge of swordplay. The ones that were armed held their weapons at the ready, shifting uneasily as they watched the strange intruder. Despite the overwhelming odds, Yuki didn't appear worried in the slightest, standing loosely in the middle with his sword still resting at his side. Maybe if they had been more prepared, maybe if they had been better organized, he might have shown slightly more concern, but as it was, he didn't feel as if he were in any immediate danger. Right now the most important thing was drawing their attention long enough for Chizuru and the girl to get away.

Looking over as one of the man stepped forward, Yuki studied the bold one for a moment. He was a bit bigger than the others, a sword held in his grimy hands. It was gripped nicely and the way he held it suggested he knew how to use it to some extent.

"Who the hell are you and what are you doing here!"

He yelled at Yuki, voice rough and heavy. For a second Yuki wondered if this man was perhaps the "Aimoto" that was leading them but he shook the thought away. Leaders usually weren't bold enough to show their faces first preferring to let their subordinates do the talking instead.

"I have no intention of introducing myself to you."

He answered with a smile as he turned his body to face the man, still seeming relaxed.

"If you still wish to speak, however, I will let my blade do the talking for me."

Of course his taunt only served to fuel the man's anger and with a growl, he rushed at the young man, murderous intent written on his face. He had barely lifted his sword in the air when he stopped suddenly, a look of shock replacing the one of anger as he looked down. A huge gash had been cut across his chest even though it looked like Yukimaru hadn't moved at all. Looking up again, arms still in the air as if to strike, he took a few steps backwards before falling to the ground, his life snuffed out like a candle. The sudden death caused the other men surrounding Yuki to shuffle, taken aback by the quick event. Focusing their eyes from their dead comrade the young man they watched as he took a stance. Feet spread slightly and planted firmly, eyes closed with his right hand on his sword's sheath while the other was on the hilt.

Again, another man stepped forward, this time approaching from Yukimaru's side. Thinking he could catch him unaware, he darted forward and raised his weapon to strike. Just like the man who fell before him, right as he reached the apex of his swing, he was blown backwards by Yuki's blade, a long cut going through his abdomen. Bringing the now bloodied sword back into position, Yuki assumed his stance again, waiting for the next man foolish enough to step up. Had he wanted to he could have simply broken the stance and rushed the men himself, but he held himself back from doing so. The main goal right now was to hold their attention long enough for Chizuru and Mochizuki's daughter to get away, not to cut them all down. Although in theory if they were all dead, there would be no worry of anyone pursuing them. Still he wanted to give them as much time as possible.

By now the men were getting a bit more uneasy having seen two of their comrades already cut down so easily. There was a bit of jostling and murmuring before finally, three men stepped forward. Figuring they had safety in numbers they were going to rush Yuki before he could swing his blade again. Still looking unconcerned as they stepped into the circle, Yuki readied himself once more. The three men who had challenged him seemed wary, unable to decide who should go first. They wouldn't have to choose. Yuki suddenly eliminated the need for a decision. Kicking off with his right foot, he charged the trio suddenly.

"Eternal Snow Style: Sudden Blizzard!"

Before their weapons could be raised, with one mighty, horizontal strike, the Hyouden's cold blade cut across all three, their blood mingling in the air before they departed the world of the living and returned to the cold earth. The circle that had surrounded him had jumped back, now completely on guard as Yuki assumed the stance again after shaking the blood off his blade.

Facing the men again, Yuki waited for his next victim to become brave enough to challenge him. His blade didn't thirst for blood like the Muramasa, but he had no problem spilling it if necessary…


Aimoto, now in his true form, continued to chuckle at Chizuru as he looked down at her with his one eye.

"You shouldn't have helped those villagers, girl. They sent you to die!"

He laughed in a deep voice. Chizuru furrowed her brows. So Aimoto had been a Demon the whole time, but something didn't make sense.

"Wait!"

She said as he started to step forward. Perhaps to humor her he actually did stop, looking on with amusement as she spoke with a confused expression.

"I heard that you protected the village from Demons and bandits. Why would you do that if you're a Demon yourself?"

She asked. It didn't make sense why he would set up this façade protecting the people instead of outright attacking them.

"That's not important, just focus on killing him!"

Yagyu tried to remind her, but Aimoto laughed again loudly.

"You really don't know anything, do you girl?"

His words made her blink again. Seeing her confusion only caused him to laugh more before speaking.

"We're entering a new age. As you silly humans fight with each other and employ us Demons, you're only sending yourselves further to ruin! Once you feared us but now you hire us as warriors, paying blood and sacrifices for our services. Even once someone wins, then what? Japan will be a land of death and destruction that only we Demons can survive in!"

Chizuru flinched at his words. Not because they were surprising but because there was one person responsible for starting this; her uncle. He had started using Demons in his army first and the other warlords soon followed suit. If Japan were heading towards destruction then it was his fault!

"But why pretend to help these people! What good was gained from that?"

He still hadn't answered her question fully. Aimoto stopped laughing to look at her with his single eye.

"Helping them? All I did was disguise myself as a human and scare off some stray low level Demons and then they came to be requesting my aid! I figured why not? Here I could stay away from the fighting while living how I pleased. The villagers gave me money and when they couldn't pay I would just take their children to feed on. No one cares about a place like this!"

Chizuru's blood chilled at his words, a cold fury seeping through her body.

"So he's just a coward taking advantage of the situation. Human or Demon it doesn't matter; there will always be people like this."

Even Yagyu sounded a bit disgusted. At least he didn't hide his wickedness behind a false mask. Chizuru was still shaking with cold fury as she spoke in a low voice.

"For what reason…?"

She asked again, though it sounded like she was just mumbling. Aimoto laughed.

"For what reason? Stupid girl! The ones who hide in the shadows and strike when people are at their weakest are always the winners!"

As he laughed something inside of Chizuru snapped. Those words…his actions…pretending to be good only to snatch away happiness when people thought he could be trusted.

It reminded her exactly of her uncle.

"Enough talk! I'll look forward to devouring you!"

Aimoto said as he stepped forward. Raising one of his massive hands he brought it down crush the girl.

"Get out of the way!"

Yagyu shouted as the giant's hand came down. But Aimoto's eye widened as Chizuru suddenly vanished from sight.

"Demon Sword Style: Ghost Hunt!"

He gave a cry as he was suddenly slashed across the chest, stumbling back slightly. It hadn't been a deep enough wound to finish him off but he was still bleeding and in pain. When he looked up from his wound he saw Chizuru standing silently. The Muramasa was held in her hand and her head was down slightly, making her bangs obscure her face.

"I knew it. That's an evil blade, girl. Hehehe…do you think a mere human has the power to wield it? You'll be no better than us Demons!"

He shouted mockingly. Chizuru didn't say a word for a moment, but then her voice leaked out slowly.

"…I'm okay with that…If becoming a Demon is what I need to do to stop people like you, then so be it. Because you…are the worst type of person!"

She looked up with such intensity that even Aimoto felt his body freeze for a moment. The girl's eyes had taken on a red light and a sinister aura seemed to swirl around her, emanating from the sword. Yagyu chuckled.

"That's right, puppy! Give in to the Muramasa and cut loose! Let out your hate and anger and kill everyone!"

He urged her on, but instead of ignoring him like usual the girl snapped.

"And you shut up! And stop calling me puppy!"

Aimoto looked confused as she yelled at the blade but she paid him no attention.

"I'll use the Muramasa if I have to, even if it means becoming a Demon! But…I won't let it control me! If I have to kill, fine! If it needs blood then so be it! But….I'll decide who I kill! I'll make this blade my own to get my revenge, even if it means I have to surpass you as the Oniken!"

Her shout echoed through the hall as she pointed the tip of the blade at Aimoto. Yagyu was silent for a moment before his low chuckle came from the sword.

"Well now, puppy…You continue to surprise me! Very well! Show me that hate and determination! Surpass me if you can and make the Muramasa yours! I look forward to seeing what you can do! Kill all who stand in the way of you and your revenge! Crush the world with your own two hands!"

The spirit laughed maniacally as Chizuru panted with adrenaline. Aimoto roared, angry at being injured.

"I don't know what you're rambling about, but prepare to die!"

He shouted as he moved forward, raising both hands. The end of the hall was behind her and she had nowhere to dodge. She couldn't block the attack either. In this situation…what would the Oniken do? She closed her eyes as she searched the knowledge in her head in a split second. Every one of the Oniken's techniques had been implanted in her mind the moment she made a contract with the Muramasa. She just had to sort them out and make them her own! Her eyes snapped open as she finally came across the technique that would work.

Chizuru brought the Muramasa up quickly. Holding it upside down so the bladed edge was facing up, she placed her right palm against the flat of the hilt as she help the blade with her left hand and pointed the tip at Aimoto. Before his hands could come down she rushed forward, the blade piercing his abdomen. That didn't seem like enough to stop him but that wasn't all! Mustering all the power she could into her legs, she bent her knees before leaping upwards, holding onto the sword tightly. It cut through Aimoto's flesh during her ascent, right up to his eyeball which she split in half as he screamed in pain. The jump carried her over the giant and she landed behind him in a crouch. Still crouched down as the sword absorbed the Demon's blood into it, she spoke the name of the technique solemly.

"Demon Sword Style: Banshee's Wail!"

With a heavy "thud!" Aimoto's body split into two and fell behind her. She stood up slowly before returning the Muramasa to its sheath and turning around, the red light gone from her eyes.

"Superb."

Yagyu said simply, voice coated with dark amusement. Chizuru was turning out to be an interesting girl indeed.

With Aimoto dead she stepped past his body to go back to the door leading to the room Aimoto's daughter was in.

"It's okay. I'll get you out now."

She said gently, a contrast to her hate filled voice from moments earlier.

"Did you kill him?"

The timid voice asked. She gave a nod even though it couldn't be seen.

"Yes, you don't have to worry anymore. You'll be able to see your dad again."

She thought that would bring the girl joy but instead a sad voice came back.

"Thank you, but…it's too late for us. Please tell my dad that I love him. I have to go now."

Her words were confusing. What was going on?

"Puppy…"

Yagyu's voice came out in a low warning as Chizuru began to push against the door. It gave some resistance at first but after putting more force into it the door swung open suddenly. Chizuru stumbled into the room…and paused as what she saw.

"W-what…?"

Her voice came out in a low whisper. In the dark room she could see the bodies of several young girls…except they weren't moving. Their skin was gray and wrinkled like they had been decaying for days. There was no doubt that they were dead.

"Aimoto must have fed on their life energy and sucked them dry. They were dead long before we got here."

Yagyu provided an explanation in a blank tone. Chizuru couldn't believe it.

"But…she was just talking to me! How…?"

She had definitely heard a voice. So how could they all be dead?!

"Who knows? Maybe her spirit couldn't pass on before telling someone to let her dad know what happened? The world is full of strange things, puppy."

His spirit was trapped in a sword, he should know. Chizuru pressed her mouth into a thin line as she looked around. One of the corpses, the one closest to the door, didn't seem to be as decayed as the others. Reaching down she took a comb from its still silky hair before looking it over. She didn't know if this belonged to Mochizuki's daughter…but she would have to tell him either way. Silently she pressed her hands together in prayer before leaving the room and the corpses behind.

"Hey! You're still here?"

As she walked outside the building she was greeted by Yukimaru who rushed over to her with a concerned look. She said nothing as she walked past him.

"Chi-san? What happened? Where's the girl?"

His questions went unanswered as Chizuru stoically made her way back to the village.


Chizuru lay awake in her futon, staring up at the dark ceiling of the room. It had been several hours since they had returned from Aimoto's mansion and she was still thinking of the events.

Upon getting back to the village they had found Mochizuki waiting for them eagerly. She had handed him the comb, which he confirmed was his daughter's, before telling him what had happened. The old man had paled at the story but had wanted to go confirm things himself, so he had gone to the mansion with several other men who had lost their daughters to the Demon in disguise. Their reactions were as one would expect upon finding out such a thing. After much anger and tears they decided to burn the place down after retrieving the bodies and giving them a proper burial. Mochizuki had still allowed the two to stay the night, as per their agreement, even if they hadn't rescued his daughter in time.

"You were able to pass on her message and let her spirit rest. So for that, I thank you."

He had told her through his tears. His grateful face made her frown. She had killed Aimoto but didn't save anyone. The last time she felt this powerless was when her uncle took control. It made her sick. In the morning she would leave. She had to hurry up and put an end to her uncle's reign as soon as possible.

Putting an arm over her eyes she tried to sleep. The Muramasa was lying on the floor next to her within hand's reach. She had remembered what Yagyu said about letting it get too far away from her. The silence of the night kicked in and she felt the fatigue and drain of using the Muramasa catching up wither. Yagyu said she would get used to it eventually, but right now it still made her feel tired after wielding it for so long. She just wanted to sleep…

Just as she was drifting off her body went rigid as she felt a cold presence. Someone else was in the room with her. Despite her exhaustion she sat up quickly, hand reaching out for the Muramasa. Instead something cold wrapped around her wrist and she found herself staring up into a pair of red eyes.

"Shhhh. Calm down, puppy."

"Yagyu…"

The man smiled down at her as he held her wrist. Somehow he had manifested outside of the sword again and had a physical form. She could see his sinister grin even though his body seemed to meld into the darkness.

"Aimoto seemed to have a good deal of power stored within him. Must have been from sucking out all that life from those girls."

He chuckled, causing her to frown at his nonchalance towards the girl's deaths.

"Let go of me."

She demanded as she tried to pull her wrist free, but his grip was too strong and she was too tired. Not paying her attempts any mind, Yagyu began to speak.

"You impressed me tonight, puppy. Never have I heard anyone say they'd surpass me before."

He referred to her words from earlier. Many people had boasted about defeating the Oniken, but never surpassing it. For that would mean becoming far more evil and bloodthirsty than him, and many would never walk that path. But Chizuru had stated it so strongly, without a hint of doubt or hesitation. She was willing to go that far for her goals. His grin widened.

He wanted her.

"I don't think the Muramasa could have been found by anyone better. I'm quite lucky indeed."

He said almost in a soothing voice as he pressed Chizuru's arm down gently, yet still held it firmly so she couldn't get free. She glared up at him, still remembering what he had done last time he had manifested. His touch was every bit as cold as he leaned over her.

"Hey, puppy…I really would like nothing more than to stain you in my color right now."

His other hand slipped the covers to trail up her thighs, causing her to shudder. But she didn't let her expression break. She continued to glare up at him with an angry expression.

"Don't…call me puppy…"

She had to suppress a gasp as she felt his hand pressing between her legs again. This man…she would not lose to him.

"I'll make the Muramasa mine and I'll surpass you. Just wait."

She promised again. Her words caused Yagyu to smile as he pulled back, his touch suddenly gone from her. She sat up as the man stood, going over to the window to look outside at the moon. With his back turned to her he spoke.

"I look forward to it, puppy. Rage at the world that wronged you. Crush it with your own two hands! If you truly mean to surpass me…then prove it!"

He turned to look at her, his red eyes flashing in the darkness. There was silence as the two stared at each other, Chizuru refusing to back down.

Yagyu. The Oniken. What had happened to this man to make him hate everything so much? She would find out even if it meant forcing him to tell her one day. But until the day she could surpass him she needed his help.

There was a beat and suddenly the man was gone, most likely back into the sword, making everything seem like a bad dream as she sat in the darkness alone.


Youkai appearing in this chapter:

Aobozu: A demon that takes the form of a Buddhist monk with blue skin and one eye. It is said to kidnap children, but not much else is known about it.


Japa Mala: Buddhist prayer beads


Techniques appearing in this chapter:

Demon Sword Style: Banshee's Wail: A technique in which the user dashes forward quickly and impales their target with the tip of their blade before jumping upwards, using the momentum to cut the target in half. Generally used against larger and slower opponents.

Eternal Snow Style: Sudden Blizzard: A technique in which the user steps forward quickly while drawing their blade swiftly and delivering a strong, horizontal slash. Capable of taking down multiple targets at once if they're lined up.


A/N: Wow, I did not mean for this chapter to be this long! It was actually longer but I had to shorten some stuff because I didn't want it to drag on. Seems like it did anyway, but I hope you liked the action at least! x_x

The next chapter might take a little longer since I don't write as much on the weekend. I'm also having trouble deciding on where to go next. I still have my first draft from this from years ago but I might change some things. After this, Chizuru and Yukimaru end up traveling together and end up in another village where they are drawn into another problem. The issue is that the "episode" doesn't really serve to add much to the main plot in the long run. It gives another look at Yukimaru's personality but it's not some development that wouldn't come up later anyway. So I have two options: Go ahead and write it out or skip it and go right into the next thing planned.

The next thing planned would involve more about the cursed blades and would introduce another character (who happens to be my favorite character) who would be a part of the main group. This would streamline the plot so I could get into more action sooner but I don't know if people would want it to move that fast.

So I'll ask those of you reading for your thoughts. At least I assume people are reading. Some more reviews would help, just sayin'. But as long as at least one person is reading and being entertained I'll keep going! Should I go ahead with the "filler" so to speak or get on with the main plot? To make things easier I'll include the two chapter titles if that will help.

"The Phantom of Utsonoya Pass"

OR

"Mizukume of the Fox Clan!"

Which one sounds more interesting? Let me know and look forward to next time!