He soared through the shadowed forest, dipping below branches and rising above the tangle of underbrush. He heard his pursuer crashing clumsily through the trees behind him and cracked a smile. His speed had given him an advantage.
As he swerved to the right to avoid an oncoming tree trunk, a shock warped through his body as a hard blow was delivered to the back of his head. The word around him blurred and tilted. Wh-
He plummeted into the undergrowth, twigs and thorns scratching his face. He tried to take flight again, but his wings felt like lead.
The air was driven from his lungs as he landed on his back on a smooth stone. As his eyes fluttered open, the pale moonlight that filled his eyes for an instant was blocked by a hideous, snarling face. A clammy hand reached out with extended claws to swipe him up, his pale green eyes burning into his captive's indigo ones. "Found you~" he mused.
"What is it... that you want, Nagaharu?" the smaller demon growled, his chest still heaving to regain the air that had been forced from it.
"You should know that at least, Eishun." Nagaharu hissed, his grip tightening on Eishun's magenta cloak. "Now, make this easy and tell me. Comrade to comrade."
Eishun cracked another smile. "You think we're still comrades? Go back to drinking yourself stupid, you gutless coward."
Nagaharu let out another furious hiss, extending his gleaming claws to slice open Eishun's shoulder. Eishun bit back a cry of pain as a scarlet spot began to spread across his cloak.
"I'm not gonna show mercy again, Eishun. I'm not that kind of guy." Nagaharu snarled. "So tell me now, where is the spear of gold?"
"And I'm not the kind of guy... that would ever tell you." Eishun retorted, his voice tight with pain. "Not even if death itself was in my face."
"This is gonna make things a looot harder, y'know? Oh well. I don't care." Nagaharu said with a shrug before his green eyes flashed. "Die." And with that, he swung Eishun downward, making his head collide with the stone with a jarring thud. Nagaharu stood as blood began to pool beneath the younger demon's head. "He's a goner now. Bet you wish you were a human or animal now, hm? Then this would've killed you instant- Gah!!" The scaly demon let out a choked cry as the tree behind him seemed to reach out, grabbing him by the shoulders. He was dead within seconds, a second limb sprouting to pierce through his nucleus.
Eishun's eyes fluttered open, the scent of blood overwhelming his senses. Though he'd have the last laugh, Nagaharu was right. He was a goner. And he had never even gottem to apologize to Harue.. He could feel himself reverting even now, allowing him to guess what he'd be in his next life.
His long, ebony hair was falling out, becoming so short it stuck out in wisps on his head. His claws, too, were shrinking. Heck, he himself was shrinking. Eishun swore as the realization hit him harder than the blow that had ended his life.
In his next life, he'd be human.
Eishun is dead!
Five Months Later
January 4th, 1903
Eishun is dead! Eishun is dead!
Night was approaching, and the citizens of Yamagata were preparing for slumber.
Just outside the town, under a small stone shelter, was a man looking to be in his early twenties knelt before a gravestone, his eyes closed solemnly. Sitting on his lap and supported by his left arm, was an infant with black hair, looking to be half-asleep.
After a few moments of silence, the young man stood, clutching the baby tighter. The little one gazed up at him with a half-lidded look.
"Time to go." The man said, unsure of it was to the infant or himself. Nevertheless, he turned towards the town and trekked towards it just as it began to snow. After crossing through the silent town, he reached a dojō, hidden in a circle of bare trees.
After stepping up onto the wooden platform, the man reached out and slowly slid open the door. Inside, sitting at a small table, was a man and woman, both looking to be in their mid forties, and a boy, looking to be about nine or ten.
The middle-aged man studied the newcomer intensely with dark eyes. "Reizō?"
"Hirotaka." The young man acknowledged with a nod. "I'm in your debt, right? I have a proposition."