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Friday, October 1, 2010

Chapter 7 - The End of Peace
Shin and Shingi ride back through the northern lands and Shingi says, "We aren't friends because of this."

"I know. Aurora had me ask you to come with." Shin replies.

"It was just like old times though." Shingi says with a grin.

Shin nods and they ride the rest of the way in silence.


Ta and his men are the first to get back home as well as the only ones who didn't lose a single soldier.

Lust greets them at the castle gates and gives Ta a big hug and kiss.

"You've been kissing someone else haven't you?" Lust asks.

"Your little potion worked better then expected." Ta says handing her the empty bottle back.

"So who did you use it on?" Lust asks.

"Lata and Siina. Lata mostly." Ta says while they walk back towards the doors.

"The one with the tongue?" Lust asks and Ta nods, "Didn't you sleep with her after one of Nara's parties?" Lust asks.

"That's the one." Ta says.

Lust stares at him for a moment before she says, "I want full details on what happened between you and her."

Ta laughs and walks inside.


A few days pass and Nara has made a full recovery except his horns haven't grown back. He walks through the halls and makes his way straight for the tower where he has another library. He grabs one of his books and flops down in a chair.

Hiding in the back of the library between two book shelves, Sephile holds her breath as she stands there. From her position she can't see Nara.

Suddenly she is yanked out violently and slammed against the wall with so much force that the 18 inch thick blocks in the wall move a couple inches.

"What are you doing up here?" Nara asks in pissed off tone with his hand wrapped tightly around her throat.

Blood trickles down the wall from a gash in the back of her head.

"Answer me." Nara says getting angrier.

"Just curious to see what was up here." She replies.

"Bullshit!" Nara says and slams her against the wall again, "I know what you have been plotting with Roswell since you first came here. Remember all those men you had meet you in that old building? I gave the word to kill them and burn it down. In this castle, I. KNOW. EVERY. MOVE. YOU. MAKE." Nara says looking deep into her eyes while squeezing her throat more.

Her eyes start to roll back into her head.

"From this day forward you are banished to No Man's Land. Along with Roswell." Nara says loosening his grip a bit, "Step foot into any other lands and I will personally tear you apart with my hands."

Sephile struggles for air.

"UNDERSTAND!!!" Nara says slamming her against the wall one more time.

"Yes." She whispers.

"What?" He asks putting his ear closer.

"Yes, milord." She says a little louder.

Nara lifts her up and tosses her out of the window.


Standing in the hallway below Roswell waits patiently for Sephile to show up. Her screams catch his attention and he watches as she falls into the courtyard.

He turns to run to her aid and sees Nara standing right there.

"Milord." Roswell says surprised.

"You and Sephile have been banished to No Man's Land for the rest of your lives. If you step foot onto any other lands then you will die by my hands." Nara says then leans in and whispers, "I know how to kill regenerates like you."

Roswell gulps and stands there nervously.

Koji lands next to Nara and Nara whispers something to him.

"Hai!" Koji says and leaps out the window into the courtyard.

Sephile is laying on her back, unconscious from the fall. Miraculously, she is still alive. Koji grabs her by her hair and drags her towards the stables.

Nara shoves Roswell out the door and he stumbles before falling into the dirt. Before he can stand a thick chain is wrapped around his neck. A couple stable hands drag out a chariot and Nara opens his book.

"Consider this your final gift from me." Nara says and reads a spell.

6 circles of flames appear and 6 horses come out. The horses snort fire and with flames as their manes and tails, they just ooze evil.

Nara glances back at Koji, who nods and whistles. Nara picks Sephile up by her hair and drops her face into the water trough. She coughs and pulls her head out.

"To show you exactly what I meant when I said I know everything you are up to." Nara says, "Allow me to introduce your group of followers."

Several guards lead every one of Roswell's followers out.

"Please have mercy!" One of the merchants says.

"Not today. Look, see that smoke?" Nara says pointing to the smoke billowing into the sky, "That's your shop."

A look of horror comes over the merchant's face.

"The only question is should your family pay the price for your back stabbing?" Nara asks, "What do you think, Koji?"

Koji looks at the merchant who is crying at the moment.

"It would definitely set an example for the rest of the Demon Realm." Koji replies.

"Then its settled. They die at dusk." Nara says.

"All set milord." The stable hand says with a bow.

Nara wraps a chain around Sephile's neck and it's attached to the chariot. Nara hops into the chariot and looks back at Sephile and Roswell.

"This may be a bit bumpy." Nara says as Koji climbs into the driver's seat of a large wagon with the followers crammed into it. Each of them have been gagged and chained together.

Nara whips the flaming horses and they take off like a shot. Roswell and Sephile are dragged through the city streets at a high rate of speed. Koji goes through the city at a much slower rate of speed.

"Traitors against the Demon King." Reads the sign on both sides of the wagon.

The peasants start throwing everything and anything they can pick up. One peasant throws a large barrel full of animal intestines.


"It is really beautiful out here isn't it?" Silmeria comments on the countryside as she and Sessaru take their time to get back.

"Yeah. It has a mixture of all the other lands all rolled into one." Sessaru replies.

"Milord," A messenger says riding up to Sessaru, "Lord Nara wishes to speak with you at the crater."

Sessaru turns his horse around and rides with the messenger back to the crater.

The following morning, Sessaru and Silmeria ride up to the crater and spot Nara next to a raging river. Roswell and Sephile are trapped in the raging current.

"What's up, Nara?" Sessaru says.

"I got some demons that have decided to try and overthrow me. Actually, that was their plan but thanks to Sephile it has been found out." Nara explains, "I was going to banish them to No Man's Land but there have been some heavy rains up north and it washed away No Man's Land. So I was wondering if I can keep them in the crater that you so kindly made."

Sessaru peers down into the crater and ponders about it for a moment.

"Sure. I had no use for it." He replies.

"Excellent." Nara says, "Koji will be bringing some more in a couple hours."

Nara drags both, Roswell and Sephile out of the river. He stands them at the edge of the crater, where he unwraps the chains.

"Enjoy your new home." Nara says before shoving them in. They tumble and roll all the way to the center.

"Got tired of them?" Sessaru asks.

"Yeah, she kept spying on me everywhere I went. Like I wouldn't know she was there." Nara says.

Koji arrives shortly after and jumps off the wagon just before it goes into the crater. Everyone watches as the wagon and its passengers crash before tumbling to the bottom.

"I will remodel this so that they can't escape." Koji says holding the reins of the horses.

Surprisingly, only a few of them died.

"ROSWELL!" Nara shouts, "Congratulations! You are now Lord of this crater."

"So what are you going to do?" Sessaru asks.

"Probably stick around and watch them till Koji gets back." Nara says.


At a fighting school, along the borders of the Northern and Western Lands, a demon kicks down the doors and behind him the bodies of the students and teachers lay dead. He looks around his surroundings and clutches a bag in his hand.


Several days pass and Nara still sits at the top of the crater. The sounds of wagons approaching breaks him from his hypnotic stare at the center of the canyon.

"Finally!" He says getting to his feet.

Koji pulls up next to Nara and Kareen pulls up on the other side.

"Forgive me for taking so long." Koji says bowing.

Nara looks back at the twelve wagons full of demons.

"These are the ones who will make this crater almost escape proof." Koji says as the hooded demons climb off the wagon with a pick axe in their hands.

"And the other wagon has their families. That's what took so long." Koji explains.

Nara walks back to the last wagon and looks them over.

"How many of you know why you are here?" Nara asks and no one raises their hand, "Who here knows what your husbands and fathers have been doing as of late?"

They all look at one another then back at Nara.

"Lying will result in an immediate death." Nara says sternly.

"My husband wanted to help someone overthrow you." One woman says.

After a couple moments a couple others raise their hands.

"You and your family may hop off. The ones who had no clue may hop off as well." Nara says and only a couple families remain, "The rest of you should hold on tightly."

Nara motions to the driver and the driver starts to navigate his way down to the center of the crater.

"You all shall be given a choice since you were honest with me." Nara starts, "Your husbands are down there. You can either spend the rest of your lives with them here, trapped, or you may return to your homes." Nara explains.

No one moves.

"I will take it that you wish to not join in on your husbands' punishment." Nara says and they nod with tears in their eyes, "When the wagon gets back, you may go."

Koji marks off an area and the demons start digging. Within a few hours a decent section has been dug out.

"Looks good, Koji." Nara says with Kareen at his side. He wanders down to the center where he is swarmed by Roswell's followers.

"I thought my family was dead and here she tells me they are alive and just past that ridge." One merchant says angrily.

"Its true. They were the ones whom I gave a choice to. They chose not to have the same fate as you. The ones that were sent down here didn't." Nara explains, "This is what you brought upon yourselves. I am not to blame for this."

Nara pushes through the crowd and stands before Sephile who looks down at her feet like a scolded child.

"If you wish to point the finger of blame then perhaps you should point in her direction." Nara says and walks over to Roswell.

"Have you forgiven me yet, milord?" Roswell asks sitting on a large rock.

"Never even crossed my mind." Nara says and sits next to him, "I have a deal to offer you though."

"A deal?" Roswell asks.

"It's simple. Kill Sephile and you and everyone else may go home." Nara says and everyone looks at him.

"Kill her?" Roswell repeats.

"Yes. Kill the only woman who actually believes in you. The one who has stood by your side for centuries and probably the only woman who truly loves you. That's it." Nara offers, "If any of you kill her then the deal goes out the window."

Roswell sits there silently and thinks very long and hard about this. Meanwhile, Sephile stands there in shock from hearing the offer from Nara.

"I can't do it." Roswell says.

"That's the selfish choice but given the circumstances I can't blame you." Nara says and pats Roswell's shoulder, "Consider this your land. Let's see how well you handle your first actual ruling by yourself."

Roswell looks up and Nara walks off.

"How could you put her above all of us? I have a wife and young child back home." One merchant says grabbing Roswell by the shirt.

Roswell shoves him to the ground and grabs the guy by the throat.

"How dare you touch your Lord!" Roswell says and breaks the guy's neck.

"They won't last too long at this rate." Nara says to Kareen as he walks up to the crater ridge.


The following afternoon, Koji and his workers crawl out of the crater and admire their handiwork.

"Thank you. Your pay is in the wagons." Koji says and the demons leave with all but one wagon.

"I don't think they will be escaping anytime soon." Nara says looking into the crater.

In the center of the crater stands a mesa, that is a quarter mile high from a sea of lava surrounding it. From where Nara stands is an eighth of a mile to the center of the mesa that is over a half mile down. The mesa has been carved so that the edges are perfectly smooth and no cracks to grab on to.

"They would need someone's help to escape from this place." Kareen says.

"That's why I hired them." Koji says motioning to several wagons pulling up.

Dozens of mercenaries jump off the wagons and walk towards them.

"What is this job?" One mercenary asks.


"No luck, Milord." One merchant says and wipes the dirt from his face.

"Damn. We have been here over two months and still no luck with the escape plan." Roswell says.

"We had better think of something before we starve. The food and water supplies that Nara left us are running low." Sephile says.

"Well only about a dozen merchants remain so that has helped a bit." Roswell says with a laugh.

"Milord!" A merchant says outside the cave entrance.

The top of the mesa is now dotted with small caves they have made for shelter.

Roswell and Sephile emerge from their cave and use their hands to block the bright sun.

"What is it?" Roswell asks.

"Someone is standing up there looking down here." The merchant replies squinting to see better.

"HE JUMPED!!" Another merchant says.

A big dust cloud obscures the view of the person as he lands in the center of the mesa. A gust of wind blows the dust away and Nara is standing there. Everyone drops their weapons and backs away.

"What are you doing here?" Sephile asks hiding behind Roswell.

"I have brought some food and water for everyone. Although I should just let you all starve to death." Nara says walking around.

"Thank you." The merchants all say together.

"We don't need your help. We are fine by ourselves." Sephile says still behind Roswell.

"As you wish." Nara replies and his book materializes in his hand. He reads one of the spells and a big poof of smoke appears.

Once it disperses Roswell and Sephile are the only ones who remain on the mesa.

"You are setting us free?" A merchant asks.

"Yes. You have suffered enough." Nara replies and heads towards the mercenaries.

"So we get paid and well fed to just sit around this crater and make sure no enters or leaves?" He asks.

"Exactly." Nara replies with a smile, "Why don't you take your men to the town for a few days. I'll watch them."


A few years pass and the demon from the fighting school emerges from the forest on the western edge of the crater. He catches himself and peers down to the lava below.

"Someone is over there." A mercenary says to another as he points to the demon.

"It doesn't matter. Let him look." The other one says and sits back down around the campfire.

The demon walks into their camp and looks around quickly before coming closer.

"What's down there?" He asks casually.

"Some demons that tried to betray the Demon King." One mercenary says putting some more wood on the fire.

"Really?" He says.

The two mercenaries eye the demon cautiously and before they can draw their weapons the demon puts a kunai knife into each of their heads, killing them.

As the sun sets several more fires pop up along the ridge of the crater.

"They could be very useful if the Demon King has them stranded on that mesa." The demon says and runs off into the darkness.

Camp by camp, the demon sprints through killing everyone before moving to the next. Within an hour all of the mercenaries have been killed and their bodies tossed into the lava below.

He gathers all of the rope from all of the campsites and ties the ends together making one long rope before securing it to a large tree. With one final recheck of the knots, he runs and leaps towards the mesa, a half mile down.

He lands and dislocates both hips and sprains an ankle from the rough landing. Roswell and Sephile rush out of their cave and see the demon writhing around on the ground.

"Who the hell are you?" Roswell asks.


250 years pass and Roswell and Sephile are living on the outskirts of a tiny village in the western lands.

"I wonder where he went?" Roswell asks as he and Sephile walk up a hill to their hut.

"I believe he said he was going to the Capital to recruit some more, Milord." Sephile says.

Roswell walks inside and stops in his tracks as Sephile closes the door.

"Welcome home." Nara says sitting next to their cooking fire, "Hope you don't mind I made some tea while I waited for you."

"Lord Nara." Roswell says nervously.

Sephile hides behind Roswell and shakes uncontrollably.

"No need to worry. I haven't come to kill you. If that's what I wanted you would of been dead a long time ago." Nara says motioning for them to sit.

They sit and Nara smiles.

"You two are looking good. No children yet? That surprises me." Nara says and Sephile glances down.

"What brings you all the way out here, Lord Nara?" Roswell asks.

"Just thought I would check up on my old acquaintances while I was passing by." Nara replies.

"We are just trying to live a quiet normal life." Sephile says.

"Uh-huh." Nara says and pulls out a scroll with about 500 names on it, "Is that why you have these people in your little network of information?"

Sephile's eyes grow wide as she reads the list.

"How did he get these names?" She asks herself.

"I will give you credit you have done well to keep a low profile. However, you have a long way to go before you could ever surpass my information network." Nara says.


The morning after they escape from the mesa.

"Lord Nara, It seems that a demon killed all of the mercenaries and helped Roswell and Sephile escape." Koji says waking Nara up.

"Wow, they lasted longer then I thought." Nara replies rolling over to look at him.

"Should I have them killed?" Koji asks.

"No. Let them go. With all this peace they could be just the thing to spice this up just a bit." Nara says, "Keep a close eye on their movements and your usual intelligence gathering will suffice." Nara rolls back over and drapes his arm across Kareen's stomach.

"Hai!" Koji says and vanishes.


"Thank you, but why have you let us live for so long?" Roswell asks.

"That's simple. You two haven't posed a threat to me." Nara replies.

"You said you were going to kill us if we left that crater." Roswell says.

"I know but watching you two slink around and keep a low profile has been quite amusing. Besides you two spent a long time in that crater. I think you served enough time." Nara says.

"What do you mean we pose no threat?" Sephile asks quietly.

"You don't possess the ability yet to even get pass my front gates let alone kill me. With this list of demons I wouldn't even have to get my army involved. Besides, all I have to do is give the word and all of them would be dead by dinner." Nara says confidently.

"You are good but there is no way you can beat Lord Roswell." Sephile says.

"You have quite the mouth on you. Perhaps I should remove it for you." Nara says shooting her a look, "Roswell lacks the battle experience to take me head on. He is a linear fighter, meaning he fights only one way, where I am an adaptive fighter and fight each battle differently to achieve the same goal."

Sephile slides closer and more behind Roswell.

Everyone is quiet for a moment before Nara speaks again.

"Roswell, maybe if you honed your fighting skills you could beat me in a few thousand years when I am dying from old age." Nara says standing up, "Till then you two should pop out some kids to continue your quest for the crown." Nara pats him on the back and turns straight into the blade of sword that pierces his throat.

The demon stands there holding the sword while staring straight into Nara's eyes.

"And who might you be?" Nara asks in a whisper.

A smile creeps across Sephile's throat as she watches Nara's blood flow from the wound.

"Shear." He says, "You aren't the one I am hunting. Your eyes are all wrong."

He tenses up and slowly turns his head to look over his shoulder and straight into the emotionless eyes of Shin.

"Remove your sword from his throat and you shall die quickly." Shin says pushing his sword into Shear's back a little bit.

Nara backs away and the sword is pulled out.

"It's alright Shin. Let him be." Nara says rubbing his throat.

Shin sheathes his sword and Shear does the same.

"Haven't they shown up yet?" Ta says walking in.

Shear looks at him intently for a few seconds and shakes his head before having a seat.

The three Demon Lords all leave and Sephile turns to Shear.

"How the hell did he find us? You said this place was far enough from the city that no one comes out here." Sephile says to Shear.

Shear rubs his eyes and leans back in the chair.

"Relax they don't suspect anything." He says and Sephile throws the scroll at him.

"Nara knows everything. He has a list with everyone on our side." Sephile says.

"That's odd. He has the two that I just got today on here." Shear says.

"Then they must be spies. We should have them killed for betraying us and leaking information to the enemy." Roswell says.

"This doesn't feel like a betrayal. I bet this is Koji's doing." Sephile says.

"Who is this Koji?" Shear asks.

"Nara's silent right hand. He does all of Nara's intelligence gathering and other odd jobs." Sephile explains.

"Think we can get him on our side? Someone of that caliber would greatly increase our chances of success." Shear says.

"Not a chance. Koji listens only to Nara." Roswell says.

"He is perhaps more of an obstacle then Nara or the other Demon Lords." Sephile says.

"How so?" Shear asks.

"No one knows what he looks like. In all the time we were in Nara's castle we only saw him twice. Koji has to be our top priority. He must be the first to go before we take out the others." Sephile explains.

"Sounds fun." Shear says, "I knew freeing you would be worth while."

Laying absolutely silent and motionless in the shadows of the ceiling, Koji watches and listens.


A few hundred more years pass and the Demon Realm has been at peace for so long that the population has increased substantially and its starting to put a strain on the natural resources.

Nara sits in his library with Ta, Sessaru, and Shin.

"It's the same in my lands. Food is running out." Ta says.

"And its all Lord Nara's fault." Shingi says walking in, "While his intentions were noble they also had a negative effect. Since there are no wars, then everyone lives long natural lives."

"I never thought of it that way, but you are absolutely correct." Nara says.

"So how do we reverse this problem?" Sessaru asks.

"Have you ever been to the Human Realm?" Nara asks.


Back in Roswell's village a large spider runs across the fields and Kogamaru is right behind it.

Shear watches as Kogamaru chases the spider all over and finally catches it. To his surprise the spider acts more like a scolded dog then a spider. Shear walks out and the spider growls at him. Kogamaru glares at the spider and it stops.

"That's quite impressive. Perhaps you would like to join me." Shear says.

"I'm listening." Kogamaru says.

Roswell and Sephile return from the village and are surprised to see Shear have someone over.

"Allow me to introduce the future Lord of the Southern Lands, Kogamaru." Shear says.

"Kogamaru? I never thought you'd betray Ta. Weren't you best friends from childhood?" Sephile asks.

"We were but that is all in the past." Kogamaru says.

"Ta is completely unaware of his hatred for him so he is still living in the castle." Shear explains with a gleam in his eye.


5 years pass and the 4 Demon Lords return.

"Those creatures were sure interesting." Shin says.

"Very." Sessaru adds.

"But thanks to them we have solved our food shortage." Nara says.

Kareen bursts in and slams the door behind her. She pushes against the door and is breathing hard.

"She went in here. Break the door down." Someone says on the other side of the door.

Nara grabs Kareen from behind and puts his hand over her mouth. Kareen freaks out and struggles to get free for a second before Nara whispers into her ear.

"What's going on?" He asks.

"Someone is after Koji and somehow they knew you weren't here so they launched a full scale assault on the castle to find Koji." Kareen explains.

"His name is Strake and he is a long time rival of my family. Like me, he comes from a long line of intelligence gatherers. Only they do it for money and have no honor. They will sell their intel to whoever will pay." Koji says from the rafters.

"So go kill him." Nara says.

"First I have to find him. He is better at concealing himself then I am. I am a master of disguise but haven't reached his level of hiding yet." Koji replies, "If you could draw him out then I will kill him."

"Sounds good to me." Ta says popping his knuckles.

The door breaks open a dozen soldiers run in with their captain leading the way. Kareen lays on the floor with her eyes closed.

"What I am about to do to you will be totally worth this invasion." The captain says and removes his armor.

Kareen opens her eyes slowly and blinks a few times.

"Milord?" She says.

Before he can respond Nara's hand comes through his throat splattering his blood all over Kareen. Four of the soldiers drop to the ground in half with Sessaru standing behind them smiling at his work. The remaining eight soldiers fall to the ground in small pieces with Shin sheathing his sword behind them. Sessaru stares in amazement before glaring at Shin with jealousy burning in his eyes.

Blood sprays everyone and Nara drops the captain's crushed head to the ground.

"Shall we welcome our guests?" Nara asks with an evil grin.

Ta rushes past Nara and pounces on a group of 4 soldiers. He rips them to shreds and laughs while they scream for help. Ta stands up with their still beating hearts in his blood soaked hands. He offers them to the other Lords and they shake their heads no. He shrugs and devours the hearts.


On the very outskirts of the city Shear sits with Roswell and Sephile in a tea house.

"This was truly a great plan." Roswell says.

"How did you find this guy?" Shear asks.

"Everyone has enemies. The trick is to find them." Sephile replies.

A decapitated body crashes through the roof of the tea house followed by several decapitated heads.

"What the hell?" Roswell says wiping debris off of himself.


Within moments the castle has been cleared of the invading force.

Ta is covered in blood from head to toe while Sessaru has some splatter on his clothes. Shin walks out of a room without a speck of blood on him.

Ta and Sessaru watch as blood flows out of the room on the floor. They look inside and blood is everywhere.

"How the hell did he do that?" Sessaru asks.

Ta just shrugs as he spots someone running towards them. He runs and jumps, driving both knees into the soldier's chest. As they fall, he puts his elbow through the metal helmet and deep into his skull. Sessaru just shakes his head at his friend.


In the courtyard, Koji stands across from a man dressed just like him. Nara sits on the steps and watches with great interest. Shin, Sessaru, and Ta join him as the two spies circle each other.

"This job should of gone to my family." Strake says.

"You are only interested in the financial gain. You are an honorless spy." Koji says.

"So spies fight with words?" Sessaru asks.

"I wouldn't know. I have never seen Koji fight one on one before." Nara replies.

A large cloud of smoke surrounds them and completely blocks everyone's view. It's absolutely quiet from inside the smoke. The smoke finally disperses and both Koji and Strake are laying on the ground. Strake sits up and laughs at his victory over his rival. His laugh turns to a cough and blood comes out with each cough.

Strake looks at Koji who hasn't moved and falls over. Koji rolls over and slowly gets to his feet. He holds his side and blood drips through his fingers and onto the ground.

"That was very impressive." Ta says still covered in blood.

"You should really let someone look at that." Shin says as Koji stumbles towards them.

"No. I am fine. I have a job to do." Koji replies.

Nara stops him and shakes his head.

"Forgive me." He says and right hooks Koji, "Get Aurora here."

Shin runs inside as Nara carries Koji inside.

"You two can find the rest of the invaders." Nara says to Sessaru and Ta.


Roswell stares at the heads before him.

"These are Strake's men." Sephile says stunned.

Suddenly the wall collapses and Sessaru and Ta are standing there.

"Roswell, buddy." Ta says walking over the debris towards him, "I see you got my gifts I sent you. Wonderful."

Sessaru stands there with a wild look in his eyes and Shear stares at him with such intensity that everyone senses it. Before Shear can attack, Nara walks up and Shear holds himself back.

"Very clever, Sephile." Nara says, "I knew you would become a great planner one day."

Sephile just looks at him with a confused look on her face.

"That was a compliment. The proper response is a thank you." Nara says.

"Thank you." She replies hesitantly.

"I believe this is yours." Nara says and tosses Strakes body at her feet, "Your plan was well thought out and well executed. Koji is dead because of it. Congratulations." Nara adds with a slight bow.

Nara walks away and Sessaru follows.

"Ta?" Sessaru says.

Ta turns and notices something sticky on the bottom of his foot. He glances down quickly and sees a spider web before chasing after the others.

"Kogamaru is involved in all this somehow." Ta says to himself.


A week passes and Shear and Roswell are still celebrating their victory while Sephile sits next to the fire lost in her own thoughts.

"With Koji gone we can continue with our plans." Roswell says excitedly and takes a swig of his drink.

"What is it?" Shear asks.

"Something doesn't seem right. Why would he tell me that Koji was dead?" Sephile asks.

"We watched Koji go up in flames at his funeral." Roswell says.

"Maybe I am just so relieved that I can't think straight." She says.


Nara sits quietly in the darkness of his library deep in thought. Kareen enters with a tray of food for him.

"You alright?" She asks and Nara doesn't reply.

She sets the tray down before sitting on his lap and holding him tightly in her arms.


The following night as Roswell, Sephile, and Shear sleep peacefully in their beds, a horrendous stench blows into the hut. Shear wakes first and sees a large flame dancing through the window. He wakes the others and runs outside. Sephile and Roswell are out the door in a flash.

Standing nearly 50 feet high and 10 feet wide is a pile of burning bodies. Their screams fill the calm night air.

"It can't be?" Sephile says and rubs her eyes.

"What?" Roswell asks.

"I thought I saw someone near the base of the flames." She replies.

They all turn back and walk straight into the table. To their surprise their hut has been reduced to a pile of smoldering ashes.

"When the hell?" Shear asks.

Sephile picks up the scroll on the table and watches the names of her intelligence network disappear. She screams in pain as a kunai knife enters her thigh with a note attached to it.

Shear removes the knife and Roswell reads the note.

"It is impossible to kill a shadow with darkness." Roswell reads aloud.

"What does that mean?" Shear asks.

"Koji isn't dead." Sephile says gritting her teeth in pain, "He did all this to show us a portion of what he is capable of."

"You mean he set up five hundred demons like firewood and while we watched them burn, he burned down our hut without us knowing?" Shear asks and Sephile simply nods.

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