“Extraordinary,” Mikoto breathed. “You opened a gateway to another world.”
“And as you can see, I was punished for my arrogance. This darkness around my hand festers like a disease, constantly feeding and driving me into the shadows. When I stand in the sunlight, I feel like dry tinder about to burst into flames.”
“Well, it seems I was wrong to label you a demon. Is there any way to undo this curse?”
“I fear not. This curse is slowly spreading from one part of my body to the next. As for the final outcome, my body...
Beneath the blood and dirt, the soft edges of her face drew a contrast to the ferocity in her eyes. There was a powerfully seductive quality about her smile that made the hairs stand up on the back of Shindara’s neck.
She wore a distinct breastplate made of black leather scales and metal, not unlike the “do-maru” of the lesser samurai. A skirt of iron plates was laced to her belt and her arms were wrapped in chainmail. Indigo blue silk was a prominent element in her armor, whether it tied the shin guards around her calves or strung together the p...
Shindara panted for breath. He was kicked in the ribs and dragged to his feet. He winced as fingers coiled around his throat. A demonic face peered back at him through the smog, scarred with deep ridges and furrows. As his pain subsided, he realized the face was wrought of metal, not flesh. The red mask was carved in the likeness of a demon or “yokai.” Fangs curled and protruded from the mask in an unnerving snarl.
Two pronged horns jutted from atop the man’s helmet. His narrow face was completely concealed except for his eyes.
Shindara couldn’t comprehend how the samurai reached the city as swiftly as they did. He ran through the temple compound, calling out for Aya.
His love had to be somewhere among the refugees seeking shelter. Damn Priest Kobo for not bringing her soon enough. If they outlasted the siege, he vowed to kill the monk himself.
“Aya!” he screamed.
Arrows arched over the walls and the monks before Shindara writhed and crumpled to the ground. He tumbled down the stairs as a second and third volley followed, blanketing the steps outside Nigatsu-Hall.
The samurai were locked in battle with the warrior monks of Nara. Shindara was stunned by how well the monks were faring. That is, until he realized the Taira samurai were unarmed.
They couldn’t raise a sword or bow in their defense, otherwise they surely would have. Shindara’s masters were butchering the Emperor’s messengers at their doorstep. Those who weren’t quick to flee were forced to their knees and beheaded.
Once more, Shindara’s hand drifted to his sword. He often watched the monk soldiers train in the temple courtyard, so he knew how to h...
Shindara awoke with a start, staring wildly into the depths of the forest. The senseless void from his nightmares was replaced by the brilliant canopy of trees. A grey thrush twittered in the low hanging boughs. Sunlight splashed across his face from his perch in the knotted branches. His back rested comfortably against the trunk as fiery leaves spiraled past him in their serene dance. He vaguely recalled climbing the tallest tree in the forest and drifting off to a restless sleep.
A feathered breeze ruffled his hair, stirring sensations in his h...
A dull ache stirred in the back of Elijah’s head. He opened his eyes and saw only blackness and a mesh of wire netting. A bucket smelling of waste had been deposited in the corner of his chain link enclosure.
Melancholy, gray light filtered into his prison through the grated ceiling. A fan spun overhead, warping the room into a melting pot of shadows and light. Through the flickers, he saw that his clothes had been stripped away.
Elijah felt panic for the first time in months. He tried to clutch his chest as an outpouring of pain set in. The handcu...
Vivian, Camilla, and Elijah whispered amongst themselves at the edge of the group. A guided tour of Bohnice’s psychiatric hospital cemetery was an unusual departure from the nights spent at the Toxic Mistress. That is not to say that Vivian wasn’t intrigued by the paranormal enthusiasts checking their equipment and setting up fixed cameras at points of interest.
The epicenter of activity centered around their tour guide, a delightful man named Hassan Sumbal. A headlamp was affixed above his forehead, allowing him...