• Sensing the flames licking up at him, searching for those hands that itched for the sword at his hip, Hinska dodged the fiery birds swooping down at him. This job was turning out to be more of a challenge than what was expected, leaving him off-balance as the demons continued their graceful, aerial on-slaught.
    His main course laughed with acid in his rough voice. His servant stopping the attack for a final word from her master, allowing the majestic birds to land on her pale, marble arms.
    "You thought you could just come into my palace and disrupt its peace and just be able to walk away? I'm afarid not, young man. You were after my head, I'm sure, but I doubt you can get past my servant. She has killed many of your fellow brethern, also comming for the bounty.
    "But, I won't delay the enitable any longer. Wouldn't you like to see your friends again in the afterlife?"
    Bastian snapped his fingers; the memerised woman tilted her arms into the ebony sky, letting the birds scatter.
    "Your wrong, Bastian."
    Bastian frowned, wrinkles creasing his worn face. "And, how is that?"
    Hinska released his katana, his blue eyes, as wild as the sea, glared at his next victim. "I never cared about that excuse of a life, living by the ways of God, putting to rest those who are deamed worthlessly evil like a controled monk. I'm not here to collect your head for a reward, but to collect your head... for the fun of it. I fear neither man nor death. What does it matter when I have nothing left!"
    "Never before have I heard such brute, cocky words. Especially from such a young man!"
    Oichi waved her hand in Hinska's direction, leading the demons into battle. Hinska was ready though, rushing through the attacking birds as if they weren't even there. Two of the fiery birds slashed his boney back with their toxic-laced talons, forcing him to kneel, blood dripping from the shreaded skin, bleeding into his silky white clothing. Hinska beared his teeth in agony, exposing long, pearly fangs on either side of his mouth.
    He quickly recovered, jutting his sword into the breast of another bird. Oichi was about to send the next wave of attacks until Hinska's stong, hard hand gripped the collar of her kimono, slamming his knee into her stomach. Hinska left her on the frozen ground. Bastian, helpless and suddenly pale, spun on his heels, trying to run away from the demon.
    "Oh God, no!"
    Hinska ended it quickly, Bastian's last wailing scream, echoing through the golden halls of his abandoned kingdom. He breathed a sigh of relief, feeling the pain in his back. Relaxing aganist the shimmering wall, his pain slightly ebbed by the cool touch, Hinska closed his eyes, sheathing his sword.
    Oichi struggled upon her wiry elbows, peering up at the man across the room. Her eyes were suddenly unfogged; her body under her conrol once more. She slowly swept to her feet, feeling each of the glassy marble tiles as she made her way to him. Oichi knelt beside him like a shadow on the wall, reaching for his stained shirt. Hinska stopped her.
    "What do you think you're doing?" His eyes were a crimson, bordered by a hypotnizing violet.
    "You have to get the poison out, before it spreads too far into your blood stream."
    "Why would you want to help me?"
    Oichi stared at him, her short, red hair sweeping in a gust of wind. "You don't understand. I wasn't in control of my body when I attacked you." She looked away, embrassed. "Bastian had some way to control others... but he's gone now. Im finally free from his disgusting rule. All thanks to you. The only way I could repay you for saving my life, is for me to save yours."
    Hinska slumped forward, weary. Oichi's words rumanging through his blank mind. When was the last time anyone had touched him, let alone have a conversation with him outside of a battle? He was too tired to deny her, yet couldn't help thinking about the later consequinces.

    . . .