The Demon of Kabuki Street

“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”

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Mallory
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Location: The Lyceum or Kabuki Street, most of the time
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Re: The Demon of Kabuki Street

Post by Mallory » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:53 am

April 15th, 2019.

It was not long after Saori returned to RhyDin that the delinquents first heard the screams of anguish from Three Foxes Court.

The voices' owners varied widely, some clearly redcap while others sounded more human, and often both could be heard at once. They always arose within earshot of Kabuki Street's sentry points, places where the gang expected trouble from Three Foxes Court and posted small groups of armed delinquents to keep watch. But by the time the screams were reported and backup arrived, they had always stopped.

And investigating their origin never turned up any more remains than pools of blood and clumps of hair.

But the fourth night that it happened, the anguished cacophony carried on through the sentries' call to Eri from their outpost down an alley near the Sunny Mart, and continued by the time she arrived. It sounded like a redcap and a humanoid man, both howling in pain, and no more than a block or two away.

The sukeban looked grouchy when she arrived, a red splotchy spot on her forehead hinting that she had been having a nap when the call came in. After conferring with the sentries for a moment, she was proceeding past the last of the chochin lamps and into Three Foxes Court territory without hesitation. The tap of the hobnails on her boots was in quick cadence, and she was eyeing the decrepit alleys closely and alertly while clutching a club in hand.

The man's wailing stopped soon after Eri passed into Three Foxes Court, leaving only the redcap, letting out a rising wail as it suffered. The horrible sound built in pitch as the sukeban neared it -- punctuated by a crunch when she came upon a narrow cross street.

There, in front of a partially collapsed and overgrown row of tenement houses, lay the bodies of the two victims, difficult to miss among the rubble as they writhed under the mass of ectoplasmic worms erupting from their torsos and consuming them.

Seeing the telltale signs of the ectoplasmic worms, Eri instantly became more focused on the surrounding alleys. Her head swivelled and her eyes searched avidly for some sign of a familiar adversary. After a moment, she started toward the collapsed ruin and began to search more closely along the street front.

As Eri’s head swiveled to scan her surroundings, something crackled in the air, a split-second hint of impending danger followed by a shadowy bolt that slammed into Eri’s torso, shocking her and searing where it made contact. A low, familiar giggle bubbled up from the darkness, evidently from a narrow gap that revealed the slick, rubble-strewn stairs down to a lower-level.

Shocked and dropped prone by the bolt, Eri was scrambling with her hands for purchase on the street surface the moment she heard the giggle. She was familiar with it, and even injured she was eager to rise and pursue the source of it. Nevertheless she was slow from the stunning and fell over at once upon half rising.

“Oh...” The voice cooed, as if a child had just fallen on the playground, then sucked in a wet breath as its owner slithered her way up the steps. The face of Kei Mori emerged partially from the darkness, tilting her head and pouting at Eri. “Such a clumsy little demon... too slow to protect her little friends...” She flashed her gray teeth in an ugly smile.

Eri showed her own grin, teeth stained a bit red from the injury to her chest that the bolt had inflicted. Her own giggle, somewhat unpleasant and unbalanced in its own way, sounded in the gloom of the dirty street as she lurched to her knees, then to a wobbly stance finally. “I’m comin’ to get ya,” she chimed in a jovial tone.

Another bolt rippled out of the narrow gap, missing Eri when she stepped aside, then continued through it and down after the priestess. Kei stood waiting for her at the bottom of the ruined stairs, letting out a delighted hiss as she drew a familiar knife.

Eri spotted the glint of the knife even in the gloom, and was in a hobnail tapping rush to close the distance quickly. Even in her fall and resulting struggle she had kept hold of the short club she held and now gave it a hissing strong swing directly at the priestess knife hand. Kei let out a startled yelp and dropped the weapon, and Eri followed the backswing of the length of wood aimed now at her jaw.

Crack! Blood streamed from the priestess’ mouth as her head snapped back with the blow, whipping her long hair. She let out a shrill laugh and started to break away with a shove, turning to flee, but the delinquent grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked painfully to stop her.

Kei wasn’t paying attention to the oni, though, as they grappled, but the eerie ectoplasmic glow emanating from the cracks in the walls as worms began to writhe through the gaps. Two swings from Eri’s club connected with her ribs, cutting off her mad laughter with a winded gasp, but the moment she heard the groaning of stone from the worms’ disruption?

The priestess disappeared, as did her summons; the widening gaps collapsed at once, bringing the rest of the building down after it with a terrible roar.

((Adapted from play with Eri!))
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Mallory
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Re: The Demon of Kabuki Street

Post by Mallory » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:27 am

Eri was unconscious but breathing, her sturdy oni body healing the worst of the harm by the time Riho and Saori managed to pull her from the rubble. There was a swarm of delinquents along the block, providing security as Mallory and one of the handful of physicians the gang trusted checked on Eri and stabilized her.

The witch had managed to maintain stoic calm through all of this, but was sniffling as she prised something from Eri’s fingers and moved as far from the others as they’d let her, crouching on the edge of the street. She was moving her left hand, cradling something there and murmuring as she cast a spell... and as soon as she was finished, she called out with an unmistakable quaver in her voice: “Saori.”

The elder Maeda sister was covered in dust and looking on as the physician tended to Eri, but when she heard the witch’s call and saw her holding something in hand she moved over with swift steps to see. “What is it?” she asked in a low voice, pitched so the others would not hear.

“Kei Mori. The woman who... killed her,” Mallory said, a stream of tears falling unbidden at the words. She swallowed, swiping her right arm across her eyes, and pointed with her left hand — dripping blood and clutching several strands of dark hair. “Less than half a mile that way, east-southeast, somewhere above ground.”

The witch tilted her horned head back at Saori, her tearful eyes belying her fury. “I want you to kill her, Saori.”

The half oni’s head turned, unerringly looking in the direction that Mallory had spoken, jaw clenched from the moment she heard the name of the woman who had previously gravely injured her sister. “Just me,” she said solemnly, turning and moving in a line with a long stride to the east-southeast.

((Adapted from live play with Saori!))
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Mallory
Seasoned Adventurer
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Posts: 432
Joined: Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:25 pm
Location: The Lyceum or Kabuki Street, most of the time
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Re: The Demon of Kabuki Street

Post by Mallory » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:35 am

Just a couple of blocks from the site of the collapse stood what had once been a bustling marketplace. Its fountains were now choked with mushrooms, and dozens of vendor stands rotted in place. Iron gates had been erected at every connecting street, and iron stakes driven in wherever they could find purchase in an effort to ward off feral fae, but the result was that no one came to the marketplace.

No vendors, no customers, no snarling redcaps.

No one but a priestess singing gaily among the ruins.

The elder Maeda sister moved through the ruins with a great deal more stealth than Eri would have, soft boots making barely a creak as she picked a slow and cautious path through the rubble. She circled wide but was drawing inexorably closer to the singing. As the sound got closer, she drew the daito from the saya stuck through one of the looping leather belts around her waist. The fine Takamine blade gleamed even in the muted light, and once held aloft the engraving on the side of the blade was clearly visible - a maneki-neko on both sides along with a name, ‘Lucky.’

“Lucky, Lucky, poor unlucky,” the priestess sang, her form emerging from the shadows that were rising in a rippling ring around Saori. Her eyes held a sadistic gleam as she twirled the butcher knife in her grasp. “Has Saori come to die?” she cooed.

Saori advanced at the same pace, the sword raised. “My father told me once, ‘Whatever you fight about, be willing to die over it or don’t fight at all.’ One of us is about to anyway,” the half oni replied in a steady tone. The low creak of boots sounded again, this time as she broke into a sprint toward Kei.

Kei trilled a delighted laugh, blurring through the shadows to the left as she taunted, “Silly clumsy dead demon,” and began a brutal swing to catch Saori...

But from the blur of motion as she ran, the taller Maeda sister was clearly also the faster one. Not only unnaturally quick, but her direction changed to attack when she closed in from an unexpected angle. The lucky sword hissed as it sliced the air on a diagonal from the right.

Kei’s cleaver caught Saori in the side, but the strike was far less grave than the deep slash of the sword across her torso. The priestess gasped out a laugh, swaying on her feet as she tightened her grasp on her weapon. “My blood... you should have just asked if you wanted a taste...”

The priestess vanished, reappearing in the shadows behind Saori, hissing out a rapturous breath as she started a mighty overhand swing. Saori’s eyes slid to one side as Kei vanished, and she said in her usual somber tone, “Omae wa ashita mou nai*,” just as she turned at the hips and propelled the blade in a high level slice.

The slice stopped Kei before her blow could fall. A final smile twitched at her bloody lips, then her head slid off of her neck and tumbled to the ground, the rest of her crumpling after it.

The flesh was not still for long. Worms, pale and shrieking, burst from her flesh in a wave, scouring her body clean and leaving only her head behind when they faded.

Saori stood over the fallen form for a moment, still and thoughtful. At length, she gave the blade a flick and took a folded furoshiki from her pocket to wipe it clean. Once it was returned to the saya she reached down and retrieved the severed head, holding it by the hair and turning to depart, leaving the ruined marketplace emptier than she’d found it.

*“You have no tomorrow.”

((Adapted from live play with Saori!))
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