Disclaimer: I do not own Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice nor do I own Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. They belong to their respective owners.
A/N: Right. I know that Kimetsu no Yaiba's first chapters take place during the Taisho era, but does anyone know when exactly? More specifically, was it before or after the First World War? I'm leaning towards before WWI at the moment.
For the record, the Divine Child of Rejuvenation will be referred to as Mikoto. Wolf and Mikoto returned to Japan roughly 20 years or so before the start of KnY's canon storyline.
So hungry. So thirsty.
Those were the sole emotions that kept pervading the Demon as it stumbled almost blindly into the quaint port town of the west.
Sweetness. O so sweet. So sweet that it was all it could taste and wanted to taste.
"There's a delicious smell in this town. I wonder why…"
Ah… that's right. There was a new arrival in this town, was there not? A woman. Not just any woman, though. A Marechi. No, not just any Marechi either. A woman whose presence was like the Buddha himself, radiant and tranquil in her demeanor as she cooked… no, as she crafted confections that tickled the very senses. Sweet little things that beckoned one towards it like a dream painted and presented by divinity itself.
"That girl at the teahouse…"
Saliva dripped like a fountain as a ravenous desire scourged the demon's mind.
"She's definitely a child of the gods! Such a rich sight… such a rich scent…!"
So beautiful that it wanted to rip it out for itself. No doubt that she would taste just as great!
"…If I were to consume that girl, then it would a pleasure beyond thought! Blessed is my Lord for sending me to this town!"
May it partake in this delightful night.
May it be cleansed by her blood.
May Lord Muzan reign supreme for his endless charity.
It was such an insignificant sound.
It was supposed to be insignificant.
But the fear that sprung within it was nothing less than visceral. The demon whirled and caught sight of a wolf. It blinked… no, it was not a wolf. Yet, that was exactly what came to mind as it beheld the waif walking far too calmly towards it.
"You… You are-!"
The ancient shinobi walked towards the aberrant.
"Is your intention solely to take, and only take?"
The wolf's gaze became colder than it could have as he caught the sight of saliva dripping from the Demon's mouth and made a noncommittal grunt. The demon again flinched at the sound unwillingly. But why though? Why was the man's presence so foreboding?
"You know what I am."
Images of a crimson, otherworldly blade slashing down seared itself into its mind.
Yes. The Demon knew now.
What was standing before it was the path to glorious pleasure! Its fear was swiftly abated by the prospect of rising higher than it could ever dream. No longer would it be held for the next hundred year as a Lower Moon!
And with that girl as well! Such joy!
"If I take your life! Then my Lord will rejoice! My position as an Upper Moon will be absolutely guaranteed! I will flay your flesh and make them ribbons as my prize!"
The wolf concluded with what could only be disappointment, "How pitiable."
That struck a nerve. The demon's hand went lightning-fast to the sword at his waist.
Strings violently pulled in the air. Before the Demon could finish drawing his sword, it was suddenly blind. Shurikens had been thrown into its eyes. Then, before it could finish its roar of pain, its mouth was shoved full of something with a sizzling sound. A second later, it detonated, rendering its head into paste across the walls and gravel floor. For a human, they would have been dead without doubt. For a Demon, however, only explosive concoctions containing wisteria could be fatal.
Regenerating as quickly as possible to find the damned shinobi, the Demon swiftly found his quarry jumping down from a rooftop with a small azure kodachi brimming with poison mist in one hand and a similarly azure axe in the bony prosthetic hand. Hate immediately consumed it and the Demon's arm reformed, drew its sword out and towards its back.
"ENSA NO KOKYŪ (Breath of Hatred)!" The blade tapped against its sheath, sparks forming from the minute friction. The sword became alight with raging flames. "First Form: Slaughter Sparks!"
The blade was swung violently, spreading the flames across the vicinity with its trajectory, towards the airborne shinobi. It watched the shinobi fly towards and into the fire with glee, eager to watch an immolated corpse tumble through the inferno.
It saw no immolated sack of meat fall through, only feathers black as the night sky. Its eyes turned out and about in confusion. A sharp whistle came behind its back, and it reacted.
Something was wrong. It did not know when it happened. It turned in the direction of the whistle, yet there was nothing. Another whistle. It swung in that direction. Nothing. A foot met the back of its head, and it was launched to the ground, where there was a green mist that clung near the dirt, stones, and gravel. The axe was flung and landed in front of it immediately, missing it by a hairbreadth, but the impact against the ground made it explode with light. It was blinding, but there was no pain that it had instinctively expected.
It did not waste time to get up and charge towards the wolf in view.
The Demon stopped without warning. It did not move. Rather, it was more accurate to say that it could not move. One moment, it had slashed towards the shinobi, blade ready to purchase through the wolf's neck. The next moment, it watched its arm fly away, blade still in its grip, as the wolf's prosthetic seemed to brim with pressure, and its body was decimated apart by a blaze of pressurized, sacred fire.
The Demon's flying eyeballs could only stare at the wolf, demanding to know what happened.
The wolf only gave a clinical statement.
"So it takes that long for Sabimaru to work."
It realized then.
It never stood a chance. It was defeated before it could even show the cretin what it could do. It fell without ever showing the full extent of its demonic strength. It lost every ounce of control before it could ravage the land with its hatred. It had not realized the same poison mist from that kodachi had surrounded it since the beginning as it fought the wolf. By then, the poison mist from that kodachi had made it into its lungs, made contact with its regenerating parts, and somehow rendered it incapable of healing and reopened all of its wounds, undoing all that had been healed. Then the axe came in, creating an effect that was unlike sunlight, yet so bright that it was revolting. They were compounding poisons combined together to create a more pronounced effect. The final piece was that vent that created the agonizing explosion, ripping its body apart without struggle.
It could not move. It could not heal. It could not abate the pain. It could not even die.
The wolf had sunken its fangs into its prey's neck. Its eyes, or what was left of them, swiveled to meet the shinobi's with resentful ire.
Whose eyes shined a faint red like hateful fire.
This was not the first kill this Demon had wrought in this town, Wolf observed.
The shinobi looked over his shoulder, over the smoldering cloth that managed to catch fire from the Demon's strange attack. Breath of Hatred? The name itself does not register to him, but the flames that came from it…
Joy derived from negativity. Gluttony elicited from debased fulfillment. Ambition, tampered by desire. Hatred, fueled by corruption. It was nauseating to feel all of those sensations melded together. It was like walking through the flames of war again. More specifically, it reminded him of the flames that consumed Ashina that fateful night.
…Correction. It was the exact same flame.
The Demon's eyes, long separated away from its bifurcated head, glared balefully at him. Its mouths – or what were left of them – attempted to spit venomous words at him. Even after being ripped away from the body, it lived like a separate entity.
Wolf picked up the flame-caked sword that the Demon had used in the battle. It appeared as an ordinary katana; plain, simple, and with little to no decoration, underneath the flames. Once he grasped the blade, he swung it with intent, acclimating to the demon's weapon. The fire dissipated… and the metal changed color. Once the common luster of steel, it began to be painted black from the base to the tip. A very strange sword, indeed.
But it was enough to compensate for lack of a proper sword.
"Kill you! I must, kill you! I will, K-KILL YOU!" The separate mouths spewed vitriol. "There are more of us, wretch!"
The shinobi sheathed the strange katana and looked at the horizon, just as the rising sun peeked over. It was almost time.
"No…! No! NO!" The Demon began to panic just as it too caught the sight of the sun. "You! Not now! Not yet! No-!"
Whatever sentence it wanted to finish, it gave a pitiful scream that died as quickly as it disintegrated into dust. The ancient shinobi walked away from the dispersing remains without looking back.
If one Demon could use this Breath of Hatred, then others could as well. The thought… bothered him more than it should. It would also mean that something had happened these past centuries, and his ancient mind raced to many conclusions, none flattering nor assuring.
There was much work to do, and much info to process.
…Not once, did his attention waver from the presences watching him. One retreated the moment the sunlight reached their supposed locations. Curiously, the remaining one was not of these so-called Demons. Rats? He looked in the general direction of the latter for a deliberate moment, then returned home.
Urokodaki had watched the Demon get butchered with ease. "Butchered" was the most accurate word possible, because there was no inglorious battle nor was there even a semblance of struggle. He had quite literally watched a Demon get methodically taken apart like a cattle sent to its slaughterer. And the man had not even used a Nichirin blade, but an assortment of tools that he may as well be likened to that of a butcher.
It was intriguing as much as it was concerning. Intriguing, in that there was one outside the Demon Slayer Corp who could slay demons. Concerning, because he was not sure if that same one was a bigger "Demon" himself. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately depending on perspectives, he could not recognize who the Demon was due to the many deformities that marred its face and body, but he recognized the haori underneath the bloodstains and the Nichirin blade it used.
The Demon was once one of their own.
He watched the stranger pick up the aflame, unblemished Nichirin blade with the bone-like prosthetic. He watched the blade blot black as it was swung expertly and was shocked that it even reacted. He felt pity at the Demon that used its final moments to spit and curse at the stranger, only to die to the rising sun.
…Then without warning, the man with ashen hair stared at him with disinterested eyes. He knew where he was. The Water Pillar felt himself tense stiffen under the stranger's scrutiny. What was this feeling of discomfort? It was unlike the bloodthirst of the demons he had been tasked with and unlike the dread that was instilled into him by the hellish training regimens he had been subjected to.
It was as if he was being looked at by a predator.
…But then the stranger broke the gaze and walked away. Urokodaki noticed how slow the man was walking away, almost as if allowing – or even welcoming – the Water Pillar to follow him. Was this a test? A bait?
Nevertheless, it was indisputable that the ashen-haired man in the likeness of a rōnin knew something about the unknown Breath. The Water Hashira had arrived in time to hear the Demon utter the words, 'Breath of Hatred' before it was defeated.
It was enough to report… and perhaps, investigate this mysterious man.
He gave an abridged report to his Kasugai Crow and sent it to his fellow Hashiras and the Boss.
…Then trailed after the Demon's killer.
Mikoto's current condition did not allow her – and by extension, Wolf – the luxury of travel, otherwise they would have gone to the capital city by now. There were conflicting thoughts about whether the two wished to begin returning to the place they began their journey or not, but eventually, they decided that once Kuro returned to their fold, they would make their decision then. So for now…
The first thing the two of them did within their first week back was set up shop.
It was a simple teahouse that served simple snacks and drinks. Just as Kuro wished so many years ago.
It struck a strange, suspicious image at first. A young woman seemingly in the middle stages of pregnancy acting as the delicate proprietor of a teahouse, while a destitute-like vagabond served as a silent security/waiter. Rumors spread quickly and the locals were quick to visit or observe the new shop in town. Who were these two newcomers? What was their story? Did the vagabond kidnap the fair maiden and force himself on her? Was the fair maiden the last member of a murdered clan and the man her remaining guardian? Were the two of them in an illicit affair that led to them fleeing from two feuding families?
Wolf personally did not care for the rumors, while Mikoto deflected them with a gentle smile that neither confirmed nor denied them.
Eventually though, the initial rumors dispersed and they became a common and welcoming sight for the locals, Mikoto more so than himself.
The snacks served at their shop were simple, yet they held a distinction none could decipher. So delicious with each bite from the confections that it compounded. A mere bite seemed to reinvigorate even the most fatigued farmer, even going as far as improving their quality of life. When asked what her secret was in creating these confections…
'Rice is precious.'
That was the fair lady's reply. A simple sentiment, yet with profound effect. It made the snacks all the more enticing, all the more delicious, and tied with the fair lady's hospitality and demureness, it earned the two many loyal customers.
And with so many loyal customers, it was not long before word spread beyond the quaint port town to the capital city. Stories of her heard and told from the ears and mouths of gossipers and brokers alike quickly became tales of a divine child serving snacks that contained the gods' favor.
And words, no matter how benign or malicious, invited guests of all nature.
A recent example was the being Wolf had dispatched only hours earlier.
Wolf split the last set of logs behind the shop and prepared for another session of carving. There was no real motivation behind it, simply a hobby that he found a certain solace in. Just as Mikoto tended to the shop and found her peace there, he found woodcraft to be acceptable for passing time. Of course, he would still help the shop if she required his presence but otherwise, he mainly focused on protecting her and keeping an eye out for those with malicious intent.
As he began woodcarving with his lone arm, the prosthetic placed away to ward off questions from the locals, thoughts ran through his mind. Many had already become aware of her presence. Now, he learned that the flames of Ashina still burn. How did it make its way here? More importantly, why did it persist even now?
Chisel met wood, and the flakes did not answer his questions. Chisel continued to meet wood, and the wood slowly became a statue of the Buddha. Unlike the statues that the Sculptor carved, it lacked the wrathful expressions that adorned the statues in nearly every corner of that dilapidated temple back then. For now.
Perhaps the answers would come to him sooner than he thought? As he carved, he looked up and continued to chisel. It was not meant to be a sign of mockery, though perhaps it felt like so. It was just, too easy to find people who were not shinobis. Perhaps they could control their presence by breathing like the elements of nature, but in the end, they were not the elements themselves.
After the third time he turned his head up, the presence finally revealed itself. He noticed the tengu mask first. It was hard not to. Then he noticed the fluidity of the newcomer's movement, like water ebbing and flowing from a waterfall to the quiet stream underneath. Like water, he landed without resistance and like water, he rose like tidal waves, ready to consume and destroy.
Not rats, Wolf quietly concluded.
"You knew we were here."
"You kept quiet, but you knew."
Wolf did not reply to the accusation, choosing to remain silent. He owed nothing to these strangers, so there was little need for him to speak. Two more appeared behind the tengu-masked one, either tired of feeling they were being mocked or tired of hiding. Wolf gazed at the new company, studied their inquisitive gaze and glare.
The older of the two was middle-aged, but it appeared his instinct had not left him yet. His hand was constantly near his blade, always ready to draw. He reminded Wolf of the imminent thunderclap during the times the clouds conquered the sky. Strike without warning, and disappear as quickly.
The glaring one was very eager, brimming with life like that of flames. The intent to destroy was tempered behind his eyes, always searching for evil to destroy with immense force, like flames scorching its target until not even ashes remain. Blaze with purpose, and flicker away when done.
"Urokodaki." The tengu-masked one introduced himself.
"Kuwajima." The middle-aged one followed.
"…Rengoku." The fiery-tempered one said with hesitation.
"I am sure that you have questions," the one called Urokodaki said.
"…" Wolf saw what he wanted to see and returned his attention to the wood held by his feet.
"We have questions too, as well as some requests. So if possible, we would like to exchange questions for answers."
"I'll take your silence as a yes." he said in response to the silence, save for the continued carving sound. "We can start with you."
"What is the Breath of Hatred?" Wolf asked immediately.
"Ah." From the masked man's reaction, as well as the other two, he had not been expecting that question. "That… we cannot answer."
"Yet." Kuwajima seemed to construe his remark as disappointment and interjected. "We can't answer it yet. But if our questions are answered, then we might be able to."
"Why are you being so difficult?" Rengoku decided to ask, making his irritation known.
"Is that one of your questions?"
"It wasn't. Calm yourself, Shinjuro. I believe I know who we are speaking with." Kuwajima peeked at him with one eye. Wolf caught his eyes traveling momentarily to his stump where the prosthetic usually was. "You… you're a shinobi, aren't ya?"
"Haven't your kind been gone for a while now? Since the Edo era, if I remember correctly? How have your clan managed to live that long now?"
"Well, keep your secrets, I suppose. Our next question. Who is the Lord you serve?"
"I cannot say."
"…So you DO have a Lord. Is it the fair lady in the front?"
"How long have the Demons been here?" Wolf candidly ignored the question for his own. The three Hashiras suddenly noticed that throughout the questioning, he had not stopped chiseling until the lady was mentioned. Looking at the shinobi again, they noticed that his eyes were now fully focused on them. They appeared dull, yet there was a certain sharpness in them that was hard to ignore.
"For a while. Activity began to spring upwards after your arrival, actually." Rengoku Shinjuro answered, "So, you'll have to forgive us if we're suspicious about you."
Kuwajima continued, "Urokodaki mentioned something interesting to us. May we see the sword you attained?"
The unfinished sculpture was placed aside as the shinobi walked into the back of the shop. The three did not wait long, as Wolf strode back out with a certain sword in hand, along with the prosthetic back on his left arm. He did not comment on their inquisitive expressions, only drawing the sword without hesitation and holding the blade out to see. "What is this blade?"
The black Nichirin Sword relayed their attention from the bonelike prosthetic.
"It's a Nichirin Sword. It's designed to slay demons." Urokodaki answered, features ever hidden behind his mask. "And it reacted to you and turned black, despite being owned by another before."
Wolf made a noncommittal grunt and gave it a test swing. He took a breath in, committed to a stance, went through a kata from the school of Ashina, smoothly switched to another kata, and sheathed the sword all in one motion. As the Nichirin Sword clicked shut, he expired, releasing his breath slowly and held the blade back up to study it.
For the old shinobi, it was a moment to get used to the sword's weight again.
The same could not be said for the three watching. For an instantaneous moment, what the Hashiras saw was different. One expiration, and they were assaulted by a sweet scent that did not belong in this world. It took moments for them to realize that it was coming from the shinobi, whose action had merely been to breathe. It took a few more to realize that they were no longer the only company.
The sweet scent disappeared, and the shinobi stopped to attend to the proprietor. Urokodaki, Rengoku, and Kuwajima blinked at the new person and found themselves entranced once more. None of them had taken time to look carefully at the lady who had been attending the shop, so when they finally did…
It was the same feeling they felt when they first met the Boss, yet it was dissimilar in the sense that the Buddha and the gods were not quite the same. She did not look any older than the Boss himself. Like the stranger, her hair was stark white but while the shinobi's hair was reminisce of ashes long burnt out, hers was like fine snow shining under the winter dawn.
"Mikoto. Is there any problems?"
"Not at all. I smelled something sweet and came to see if there was anything I can help with."
They blinked when she smiled gracefully at them. Then they saw the way she breathed as well. It was similar, if not the same, as the pattern the shinobi Sekiro was breathing when he performed his katas. However, unlike the shinobi, the lady was doing it naturally, unconsciously, as if it was the way she had breathed since she was born. She was clearly pregnant, yet the image she gave did not strike them as a pregnant woman at all. The fact that she smelled that sweet scent as well meant…
They realized as one that things have become far more complicated than they appear to be.
"Are you Sekiro's guests? Please, come inside. I'm sure there is room for us to accommodate."
A/N: Hopefully, this arc will be the only time I use OCs in this story.
Little to show here since it's been a while since I updated any stories, but I hope I can show more soon. Also, holy crap, 'Long May the Shadows Reflect' is complete nuts. How does anyone survive in that mod?
And yes, that is my excuse for not updating my stories for a long time. Totally legit. It's not like I'm pissed that I keep getting my ass handed to me by the new minibosses every single damn time. Not at all. I hate those curses, damnit.
Next up is Dark Slayer DxD.
P a treon. com (slash) DarkAkatsuk1