It wasn't like she had to patrol the Shining Needle Castle, but as Princess of the Inchings, Shinmyoumaru felt it should be a part of her duties. It was the home of her descendants, the fortress that they gained through the Miracle Mallet's power, the fruit of all their labor. It only seemed right that the heir be on the frontlines to defend it. Ready to protect what was precious to her. Ready to defeat any enemies that dare approach her people's haven. Ready to duel to the death with those foolish enough to challenge her!
Ooor just taking a quick stroll around the castle before calling it a night.
But she was ready for a scrap if one came! Sure, she was trying to work off a bit of energy before bed. Sure, she was going to get a quick snack along the way. Sure, she just wanted to do a bit stargazing while the sky was clear. But darn it she deserved it! She was a princess, and a princess deserved a bit of midnight fun and adventure before bed!
"I wonder if someone really will attack this place though?" She asked aloud. It wasn't like many people visited outside of Reimu or Marisa, and even then, it was rare. That celestial came around every now and then too, but someone coming in the middle of the night was unlikely.
As if answering her question, a voice hissed out from behind. Shinmyoumaru froze, just missing a glimpse of what looked like a horn disappearing into a nearby room. An intruder?! She was locked in place for a moment, the shock holding her down. Then, she shook her head and smack her cheeks before running off to the room.
It was empty, like most rooms in the massive castle were. Just a very large room with a few wooden weapons, a scroll at the end of it, and tatami floors. Nothing special about it. Save for the extra person inside. A girl, a small girl around Shinmyoumaru's tiny size. She had two horns, wore an odd style of dress wrapped in chains, and reeked of alcohol.
It was that oni girl, the one came to Reimu's shrine every now and then.
Her guard was up, immediately drawing her sword.
"Oni," She said curtly, adjusting her hat and focusing a glare. The tiny oni smiled wide in response, staggering to her feet.
"Inchliiing~" The oni slurred, stumbling toward Shinmyoumaru. She reached out her hand to grab Shinmyoumaru by the shoulder, but the inching stepped to the side, avoiding it. The oni fell flat on her face as she missed her grab, giggling. "Hehehehehe!" She picked herself, stumbling toward Shinmyoumaru again, this time successful in wrapping her arm around the girl. "Hey. Hey Inching," She said, her breath reeking of sake.
"What?" She pushed Suika off her, watching her tumble and rolled back on the floor. She clicked her tongue. "Why are you bugging me, Oni? This is Inching territory!"
Suika stayed on the ground a while longer before staggering back to her feet, pouting. "You're mean," She said. "I juss' wanna' play wit' ya'!"
Shinmyoumaru pouted in turn. "I'm not playing with an Oni!" She declared, pointing her sword at Suika. "Inchings and Oni are mortal enemies! Now go away before I make you!"
Suika stared at the sword, examining it as if it was food or a toy. Then, she looked around the room before giving a loud laugh and a smile. "Really? Then I know tha' perfec' game fer ya'!" She stumbled back to the center of the room, beckoning Shinmyoumaru to follow.
She did, slowly inching toward the center, blade in hand.
"What kind of game are you playing, Oni?"
The air chilled around the two. Cold sweat ran down Shinymoumaru's spine. Suika's drunken smile turned malicious.
Another Suika crawled out from the wall, just as tiny as the one standing before her.
And another Suika popped out of a tatami mat, standing next the Suika Shinmyoumaru was talking to.
Then the door behind the two slid shut with a loud clack, and Shinmyoumaru turned to see another Suika. Suddenly, several little Suikas came out, popping out from the walls and corners. Tens of little Oni. No, hundreds of little Oni came out of nowhere, and a thin veil of mist coated the hall. "Let's play 100-man kumite!"
Shinmyoumaru blood froze. As drunk and happy as the oni sounded, there was a deadly tone in her voice. Shinmyoumaru held her needle in front of her, stomping hard on the ground to force some courage into herself. "If it's a fight you want, Oni, it's a fight you'll get!" She declared, giving a small flourish of her sword. "I'll slay you just like my ancestors!"
All the Oni roared with laughter, a few tumbling and staggering toward her. "Try it, little warrior!"
Shinmyoumaru struck without hesitation, letting out a loud battle cry before stabbing one in the stomach with her needle. It went right through.
"Aaaaaah!" The oni screamed, bursting into a white mist, and drizzling Shinmyoumaru in the vapor. That was one defeated. The other Oni looked at Shinmyoumaru with surprise.
"C'mon!" She said, bringing her needle back up. "If that was it, then I'll defeat every last one of you at once!"
Every Suika pouted, all humming and growling at her proclamation. Then, one stepped forward. "Chaaaaaarge!" She swung a wild, drunken punch that Shinmyoumaru dodged and counter, stabbing her in the back of the shoulder and pinning her to the ground with her foot before stabbing her neck. "Aaaaaaah!" Another death scream, another puff of white mist, and another spray of vapor.
There was a silence in the air as the Oni watched Shinmyoumaru. She pulled her sword out of the tatami and swung it down, a line of wet water splattering and staining the floor. She let out a breath, tossing the bowl cap on her head aside. It'd only get in the way. Then, she let out another loud battle cry, bring her sword back up. "Next!" She ordered. "Who wants to taste the Princess's wrath next!"
And the oni came, responding with their own battle cry in kind and charging.
Two at once. Both cut down in a single slash.
Three more came. Shinmyoumaru kicked one in the shin, then stabbed the Oni in the stomach when she dropped to her knees, getting another scream and puff of mist. The second one punched her cheek and made her stagger back, but pushed forward, shoving the Oni to the ground and stabbing her neck, earning another scream and puff of mist.
Third one headbutted Shinymoumaru and tackled her to the ground, pinning her hands down.
Several tiny Oni piled atop her. Putting all their collected weight onto her. Shinmyoumaru could barely move under the pressure of the oni pile, and the pile of Oni laughed and giggled, smothering the Inching with their weight.
Then, a muffled hiss came out from the pile.
Slowly, the pile collapsed on itself, the onis stumbling over each other as the mound shrank.
Then, Shinmyoumaru burst out of the pile with a roar.
"I won't looooose!" She didn't wait for the Oni to collect themselves, charging into the drunken pile of oni, slashing like a mad. Several screams erupted as each oni as they burst into mist.
At this point, only about 20 remained. Shinmyoumaru was panting, her kimono drenched and heavy with vapor and sweat, but she had bested 80 of the horned beasts. One of the oni smiled. For a moment, she looked sober. "Hehehe~ Not bad kiddo," She said. "But can ya' take on tha' resta' us? Ya' got 20 more ta' go."
Shinmyoumaru frowned. She was tired, drained from the intense battle, and her body was wet and heavy from the mist and vapor, but she rose her sword all the same, forcing a smile.
"The Inchings have triumphed over the Oni before, and I shall repeat my ancestors' history by defeating you!" She proclaimed. "As Princess and Descendant of the Inchings, I'll win this night!" She puffed out her chest, proud of her speech. The oni only looked at her with drunken focus, swaying from side to side.
"Huh… that so?" She slurred out. "'Kay then, I'll go all out then!" One of the oni ran toward her, Shinmyoumaru moved out the way, but-
"Guh!" The oni rammed her outstretched arm into Shinmyoumaru's neck, knocking her down. Another oni hopped atop her stomach, knocking the air out of her. And one more grabbed her by the legs and slammed her into the floor.
"Hahaha! Nice try kid, but tha' Oni are tha' toughest youkai 'rou-!" The oni was stabbed through the heart and puffed away into mist. Shinmyoumaru leaned against her sword, using it as a prop to stand up.
She let out a loud battlecry, charging into the remaining oni, slashing and stabbing away. Screams pierced the air as the oni turned to mist. Some tried to tackle her down. Other's tried swinging their fists, but all were cut down with Shinmyoumaru only taking a few bruises to show for it.
Finally, there was one Oni left. She was smiling wide, giggling, clapping. "Nice, nice! Yer pretty good, Inchin'!" She staggered toward Shinmyoumaru, holding out her gourd. She was offering it to her, likely a sign of respect. "I'm Suika~" She slurred out.
Shinmyoumaru stared at the gourd, then at Suika before taking it and taking one big gulp of the alcohol. It burned her throat and made her dizzy at the taste, but she didn't stop. After fighting through so many Oni the drink was welcomed. She drank and drank, but the gourd didn't lose weight or content. After the seventh swallow she stopped and handed the gourd back, drunk and dizzy. "Shinmyoumaru…" she slurred, earning a laugh from the oni.
"Yer a good drinker, Shinmyoumaru! Ya' got a lotta' guts!" Suika took a swig of her gourd, wiping her mouth. "Ya' ready ta' finish this?"
Shinmyoumaru nodded, raising her sword. She could barely see Suika through her slow and drunken mind, but she felt a lot better now. "Y-Yeah…" She said. "I'll show you an Inching's power!"
Both let out a loud cry, charging at each other.
Shinmyoumaru's sword reached Suika's chest first, but Suika's fist still knocked her to the ground. Both fell to the ground with a thud, Shinymoumaru's sword sticking out of Suika's chest. Then, Shinmyoumaru heard a loud poof. She had survived. She had won.
She staggered to her feet, looking around. All the mist was gone after she defeated that last oni. She puffed out her chest with pride. "Hah! No oni can stand before the Princess Shinmyoumaru!" She declared. She walked about her castle triumphant, celebrating her victory.
And then fell flat on her face, tripping over her bowl cap and too drunk to do anything but sleep.