Written by David Newman
Onikage was appalled. On a professional level at least, having died and gone through the depths of Hell itself few things could physically disgust him, after all he had perpetrated a lot of hideous acts himself before he died – indeed that was the very reason he had died in the first place and then gone to Hell as well. But there was no excuse for sloppy guarding especially in a Lord’s palace, although from his point of view the ability to saunter in with ease was a good thing it bothered his notion of the proper order of things. Suddenly he broke a guard’s neck. With minimal effort he shot forward one hand and grabbed the guard at the nape of his neck, where the spinal cord connected with the base of the skull, with a savage ninety degree twist of his wrist and a shattering crack he held a putrid mass of rotting meat. He nonchalantly threw the fresh cadaver into a shadowed stone alcove in the cold wall and skipped onward.
There’s nothing like violence to improve a guy’s mood he thought with a chuckle. Spider-like he stalked through the darkened and all but abandoned halls, crawled across the rough wooden walls and impassive cold stone. Clambering silently across the low ceilings when the situation required it. Suddenly he reached the stairwell and sprinted forward with a ravenous eagerness to finish his business and be relieved of the responsibility to conduct himself with maximum stealth and minimum bloodshed. It wasn’t the excessive stealth, if there were such a thing, he had a problem with more the lack of body count, as he was now dead however the need for stealth was more out of sentimentality and his sense of drama rather than out of fear or necessity and he did enjoy killing people so very much. Suddenly a lone guard walked up the stairs from a lower level interrupting Onikage’s reverie in mid run, it was too late to dodge out of sight so he chose to go straight through the boy. He lashed out a right hook that crushed the vertebrae in the boy’s neck and dropped him to the floor with a shattered spine and the ability to stare down his own back with lifeless eyes. Oh well, shit happens Onikage thought while grabbing the new corpse and slinging it over his shoulder like a broken rag doll. He crept through the next rooms with a diligent care and attention to every slight movement and petty sound. He reached his target, the room above Princess Kiku. He rested his load and new companion on the floor, twisting the head back so it faced him, so that the corpse could watch as he poisoned his former charge. Onikage lay prone along the floor and slid a thin steel wire down through the gaps in the floor boards until it hung just slightly above Kiku’s slumbering form, and he applied a black vial to the other end and watched the thick poison dew slip slowly across the cold steel arc. A droplet accumulated at the tip of the wire and hung precariously above the child’s open mouth and it descended with stomach churning languidly and splashed upon the girl’s face, an unconscious reaction of licking her lips occurred and Onikage smiled, What a good girl. He slung his new friend over his shoulder again and launched himself from the nearest window, he landed with a soft wet thud and a minimum of displacement of the impacted ground- an impressive feat due to the heights and weights involved but nothing more than his usual abilities were being displayed. He swaggered brashly out of the gardens and into the surrounding desolate woods. The dead body swung in a arch as it lay jack-knifed of his shoulder – this one would go in his collection…..
But play time had ended and it was time for work once again. He didn’t as much walk to the temple but as all good ninja should he merely appeared as a shade within it’s confines still IT could feel him coming IT could always feel him, or anything else coming for that matter and the huge stone slab opened in perfect synchronisation with his leap towards it, allowing him an instant decent into the very depths of his master’s new lair.
The gateway, it was a huge cylindrical pit of granite with a web-like and fragile metal grating floor which barely contained the lava beneath it, acrid fumes of Sulphur and brimstone choked the air from it’s violent bubbling mass. Around it at each corner stood four huge, multi-armed statues of obscenities to creation, false gods and mockeries to the sanctity of life. But the centre of attention, the point of interest was imbedded cruelly into the northern wall, a huge gold, gilded and circular gateway. Within it’s boundaries hung a pool of bulbous and grotesque greens, billowing, ebbing and flowing with a malignant air. Upon the sharp ripples shapes and forms appeared, thousands of hands and faces pressed against the liquid membrane trying desperately to claw and force their way through. The screaming and horrific faces were so twisted Onikage couldn’t tell whether they wished to enter this world or merely escape the other, neither did he care.
“Onikage. You have returned to me!”
The voice thundered through the gate, the water rippling with resonance at the voice.
“Of course, with my tasks completed and preparations complete.”
“Excellent, your proficiency pleases me.”
“As always I live to serve your higher plans.”
Onikage had always adopted a smirk and a melodramatic manner of extreme obsequiousness as it suited his role and the circumstance.
“I have a final task for you before my second coming, I wish you to take control of a strong hold on the edge of Lord Gohda’s land.”
“As you wish.”
“A separate band of my demon ninja will attack Gohda’s stronghold itself and take his precious daughter, thus ensuring no annoying interference while my second coming occurs and my strength is fully regained..”
“A most excellent plan, it is a tribute to your magnificence my lord.”
“Observe the second coming of the King of Hell!”
A tremendous quake shook the rock walls at their core, scoring thick lines alone their rigid contours and throwing shards of stone into the fiery fluids below, Onikage by comparison stood as powerful and strongly rooted as a great oak, the flaming stone lighting his face blazingly with thick, strong shadows and shining his bleached snow hued face and body a crackling red and umber image. A huge white light burst forth from the gate blasting Onikage’s shadow grotesquely magnified and emphasised upon the opposite wall. A figure glided malevolently forward, rich golds and deep crimson robes shone brightly and fluttered sweetly in the eerie air, his huge visage brought a deadly still with him, calming the tempest of struggling figures and forms in the liquid as he passed. A golden crown, twisted and ornate sat upon his regal head. A gigantic cleft serpentine blade was clasped in one hand, the other by his side twisted into multiple dagger-like claw. His demonic eyes devoid of feeling or pity burned with soul intensity, more souls than any mortal vessel could bear. His shadow drew closer and crept over first Onikage then engulfed his huge impression upon the wall. It was shifty and irresolute, flickering into different shapes and forms, tearing outwards with tentacles and whips, lashing out with claws and scythe like talons, huge heads and teeth burst forward grinding against the air and light, while his solid form was a icy constant, sharp and solid as tempered steel. His face reflected the horror and glories of Hell itself, He was it’s embodiment and yet He was forced and constrained into a single vessel to take physical form and enter the world. His massive frame tore fiercely through the gate with ease and his blood red lips breathed Earth’s air once more. His movements were slow and snake-like, his being crackled with energy and fire.
Onikage grinned madly at his master, but now a little matter of violence and death forced him to leave, he bowed out of his master’s presence and scurried along and over the pit’s deep walls. He was soon out of the temple and at the gates of Gohda’s outer most stronghold. He was accompanied with a legion of demonic ninja, vastly inferior to him in his own estimation and more for spectacle than anything else. He pushed the gates inwards and charged briskly forward, the flickering lamp light and his down cast face, made abrupt shadows that heightened the inhuman angles and moulding of his face and emphasised the blood shot intensity of his demon eyes. He surprised the first two guards with a savage ferocity that tore them to pieces as his fist splintered bones and his feet crushed cartilage until both broken men lay with their bodies scattered over the bridge in grim and painful poses of agony and shattered carrion meat. His troops flooded along the path way as the alarms were called and the battle was met, the soldiers grossly unprepared and equipped to fight foes of such strength. Onikage split from the main troops as they smashed berserkly through the soldiers ranks and scaled the damp, moss hewn walls into the main tower. He encountered a young soldier, an inexperienced child of a man in the gardens outside the castle, he batted the sword stoke out of his way as if it were a fly and grabbed the body by the throat and crushed the windpipe briskly. The boy gurgled a deep bubbling sigh through gore and icor. Onikage looked down and at the crumpled mass and stared for a moment at the katana, he shrugged his shoulders, thought just like the old days and picked it up before entering the castle walls, the clamour of battle and the dizzying stench of death permeating the cold, still morning air. He burst through the main entrance room with a new sense of aim and intent, he slashed the first guard remorselessly across the stomach splitting his spear, his armour and stomach in two and causing his innards to erupt onto the floor and the cleft corpse to fall back still choking it’s life out of it’s throat, he brought the sword in a slash to other side with a ascending trajectory that accumulated with the complete decapitation of a second victim. He drew the sword back to him in a thick gleaming arc until the haft rested in his unencumbered palm at which point he thrust both arms and sent the sword straight through the chest of a third guard, stabbing the heat and pinning the body to the wall.
He grabbed another sword from a dead grip, and burst into the next room, there was nothing but a cowering servant, he dropped his sword from it’s expectant perch and kicked him in the head, splattering the brains, blood and bone against the wall in a volcanic blast pattern, after all he was an innocent there was no point in being cruel. He run through the segmented rooms in a desperate search for victims. He came to the stairs upon which three spear men stood, crouched and brisling with their weapons, a perfect choke point for defence. He smiled and dropped the sword, they laughed nervously affected deeply by his inhuman gaze. He walked forward slowly, they thrust forward all aiming at his heart. He kicked the left and centre speaks away with his left foot and stepped inwards knocking the right spear away from him with his right hand. Then it drew back and grabbed the pole just before the blade and he rammed it forward and up into the guard’s chin, knocking his head upwards and exposing his throat which then he perforated with the haft of the spear. He was now too close to allow the spears to be any use against him for the remaining guards, one retreated desperately in fear and the other drew a dagger in desperation and lunged forward. Onikage caught the dagger wielding arm as it plunged clearly and obviously downwards towards him with a single hand and kicked the guard in the torso, making him recoil in pain and injury, he continued his grasp and back fisted the man in the jaw with his other hand, although unnecessary he brought the hand back and straight through the head of the guardsman atomising his face and showering him, the walls and floor with torrents of blood. The final guard ran up the stairs in total horror at the bloody and demonic visage before him. Onikage gave chase in delight, he could taste the fear as he bounded towards him as he attempted to climb the steps of a central column. The guard suddenly reeled back with an arrow piercing his heart. Onikage was at once stunned and disappointed, he stepped forward and hear the high pitched whistle of an arrow in flight and caught it in mid flight flying directly at his forehead. He cast it down and walked forward only to be accosted by the archer.
“You shall die to day, demon beast!”
“really? By you, little man? I think not.”
The archer loosed a deadly arrow that wing savagely towards Onikage, he danced away with a chuckle with only moments to spare.
He jeered with relish. More arrows shot towards him and he continued his little dance increasingly infuriating his opponent to the point of utter hatred, the arrows now flew wildly and with disgust.
Onikage dashed forward with immense speed and stood in front of the archer before he had time to draw the bow with his next arrow . Onikage pushed him and tore the quiver from him as he smashed into the far wall, Onikage threw a volley of arrows with his bare hands and succeeded in pinning the crippled archers body against the wall, he sent a cluster into the man’s torso, managing to miss all vital organs and fatal spots, he then left the man to die, slowly draining of blood. He reached the top of the castle that was now his. He was then attacked by a large samurai, a huge man of great strength, in no way comparable to Onikage’s but an amusing adversary to occupy his wait for the ninja’s to finish their work in the surrounding grounds.
With no sense of urgency he stepped forward, he feared nothing but boredom however boredom with easily alleviated by random acts of violence or even carefully orchestrated acts of premeditated brutality. He easily ducked and jumped, and rolled and dived and blocked the sickled slashing’s of his enemy’s blade, he covered the entire distance of the pavilion with his movements and then stopped with closed eyes waiting the final blow. It came without remorse. It sailed past his pallid form and imbedded into the wooden pillar behind him. He cracked his neck from side to side, the bones crackling as they knocked against each other. He smiled sweetly, and pity entered his eyes, it was the actions and image of a forgiving soul but upon his features they mocked the samurai with a vicious spiteful nature. Without warning the lightning kick came crashing, breaking the still silence with a blur of malicious motion it brought blood to the warriors lips that careened down his face like a crimson snake. His other leg came crashing into the samurai and finished it with a mighty smack, the man was knocked from the tower and pirouetted and rolled with graceful frailty before bursting like a rotten floor upon the unfeeling stone of the floor. The smile enlarged and erupted with pleasure at the cascaded body floating upon the pool of it’s making.
A demon, approached him from the stairs and he knew the castle was his, now he would only have to wait for the all soldiers’ and ninjas’ to arrive and concentrate their attention upon him and of course their way the matter of torturing any survivors….
The soldiers came and went, with little event of note, a lot of death of course but no challenge or worthy opponent, no interest or risk, the hopeless desperation of it would make them come, they have to, I have so much fun prepared for them. Yes they had came, the shadows of the castle crept and was swarming with steel.
He watched from his perch on the tower, as the dark figure leapt, crawled, rolled and stalked his prey, became vague and distant even to Onikage’s heightened senses, dispatched emotionlessly and with great efficiency. The boy was good it’s a pity he didn’t enjoy his work in the same way Onikage did, such a level of appreciation is rarely found and almost never in those that it’s befitting to, always to the thugs such a beautiful gift goes. Oh well all the better for me then he thought and continued his watching and waiting.
It was time. The infiltration and kidnapping while now of taken place and the Azuma ninja is not even here now, well I’ll wait, what the Hell, everyone here is expendable and I am quite happy to spend some time enjoying a good fight.
He watched the shade glide into the tower walls, a sluggish trail of bodies receded behind him. Onikage closed his eyes and cocked his head in the breeze, the sounds of footsteps and muffled screams echoed faintly in his head, an ethereal sensation of awareness buzzed through his being as he tracked the ninja’s bloodily silent progress. His eyes burst open and the battle now began…
“You have done well to get here.”
“Lord Mei-oh would be so impressed.”
“So, Onikage, your lord Mei-oh’s behind all of this?”
“What does it matter?”
“By now your lord Gohda’s castle will of been breached and you will die her.”
Swords, fists, feet, knives, and grenades all flew in multiple directions as the battle was joined in a frenzied outburst of violent activity. Hooks, sweeps, fly kicks, roundhouse, side, front and turning kicks all lashed out wildly. jabs, hooks, kidney punches, uppercuts, and back fists swung out towards swerving viciously at flesh and armour. Rikimaru froze suddenly and Onikage leapt to take advantage, His jump was dodged easily and he was set upon by a flurry of sword strikes stabbing, arcing, swinging, slashing, and stinging towards his flesh, the steel ripped gashes and wounds up the ashen flesh dripping thick gore from their cruel sanguine mouths.
Rikimaru stepped forward to finish the opponent but was struck abruptly with a swift kick to the jaw which he was only just able to roll with to avoid death, he staggered to his feet and saw as Onikage put a small cup to his lips and revitalised his broken body with the elixir, he watched in horror and anger as the wounds were scabbed and cauterised by their own flesh and the bleeding stopped, he stood his momentary emotions crushed with a cool, cold logical stare. A dashing slash swiped over Onikage’s flesh grazing him, he kicked outwards in retaliation but the ninja was ready and ducked it easily swinging his sword back over at Onikage in a malevolent swing that bit deep into Onikage’s arm, A violent torrent of adept tearing strikes rained down, and where answered, blocked, retaliated, countered, pre-empted and resisted as the two ninja’s fought coldly across the pavilion, each gaining and losing the upper hand with a determined fervour. All their skills, tricks, tactics, experience and knowledge were utilised to gain a moments advantage and desperately keep hold of it. Suddenly a single proficient attack broke past Onikage’s guard. The strike managed to tear through his giu and Onikage felt it break the ceramic casing of a smoke grenade secreted their, he grabbed his chest and crushed it between his hands, exploding in a cloud of dust. Rikimaru ran forward but found no trace of him,
“What? He’s gone!”
He cursed and returned to report his successful recapture of the castle. Onikage laughed to himself from the top of the tower, the boy was good but no where near perfect. He stood and ran silently across the tiles and jumped swan diving straight into the stone floor below, He got up and raced back to the temple to await their final encounter…..
Fade to black.