(Author's Notes: This was my first fic focusing on Kouguni. I wanted to explore two characters who are relegated to the background and hardly acknowledged by fans at all. I've since developed their characters quite a bit – making them capable of actual love both romantic and familial, giving them some other good points, etc., but this I suppose is more in-character because they were hardly developed at all in canon.
I own no one here, I make no profit, I love constructive criticism, I wish more people would pay attention to these two. Or really, any characters/pairings at all besides Taishakuten/Lord Ashura, Yasha/Ashura, Bishamonten/Kisshouten, or Souma/Kendappa. This manga has many other really interesting characters, guys, many of which are far better people than the popular ones. Aguni and Koumokuten, obviously, don't fall into that category though.)
Her Master Is Beautiful
She loves beautiful things. The terrified screams of those who oppose her, the look on the faces of men as she uses them for her pleasure, the sparks of a burning city drifting in the air… yes, beautiful, beautiful.
Death is so beautiful. The expressions of realization, of shock, on her victims are so very gorgeous. She wields the power to take life over those pathetic fools who would oppose her master. The ring of steel in the air as more traitors die is a song – no, a fully realized symphony – to her ears.
And she is the maestro. Skilled in the art of conquest, of destruction, Fire God Aguni of the Westland is an inferno. This latest tribe cannot hope to stop her, they cannot hope to even flee her. If they run she will track them down and bring her righteous fury down upon them, because none must defy her commander! It doesn't matter to her that these sniveling wretches die for their queen's insult to Taishakuten.
No. Her master said, "Kill them all," so she will.
She sets a foot upon the head of yet another warrior, pressing down with her heavy boot. The man shrieks, the certain knowledge that he will die at the hand of this dark-skinned armored woman as his people burn alive leaving him a weakling, for all he has fought valiantly. She kills him with a single downward thrust of her massive scimitar, grinning.
Dominated men are beautiful. A strong, handsome warrior, cut down by her skill, makes her blood race, arouses her. Lovely, lovely, such agonized shock on their faces, and even more lovely a man used to please her. No pretty boys for her, only men. Other women may take young lovers and sigh at heartfelt expressions of devotion, but not Aguni. She sighs in joy as true men come undone beneath her, steely muscles straining as they surrender. The stronger they are, the harder they fall.
She looks up, noting that every single building is now aflame. Good. Everything will be burned to the ground, left in ashes, the bodies charred and abandoned to the carrion birds as a warning to those who would defy the powers of Heaven.
Fire is so very beautiful. God of Fire, wielder of flame, Queen of Pain… The smoke that rises from the remains of this pathetic tribe's dwellings dances in the air, sinuous and seductive. She takes in a deep breath, mouth open to let the taste of burnt flesh caress her tongue.
Ah, the fire. Burning white and gold and orange, black smoke billowing into the night. There is a terrible purity to fire: it destroys indiscriminately. So does she, she thinks with a cutting red smirk, as the last tiny pockets of useless resistance are stamped out. As she wields her flame, she is herself wielded. Sicced on her lord's opponents and gleefully slaughtering them all, she is a tool for dominion. She strides through the burning city, her soldiers bowing before her, speckled with blood and covered in soot.
"General Aguni, he is here," one informs her, his face mask singed and blood dripping off of his sword. "He arrived only a minute ago."
Her beautiful face lights up, looking around, but she does not see her master. And then…
"I think you've outdone yourself on this one, Fire God."
She turns at the voice and movement behind her: a man, clad in armor under long black robes, turbaned and with red hoops in his ears, dark-haired, dark-eyed, dark-hearted. He opens his thin-lipped mouth and compliments in that harsh deep voice, "Aguni. Nice job."
And here before her is the most beautiful thing of all. She kneels at the feet of her commander, head bowed because she is not worthy to look him in the eye.
"My master, thank you," she breathes happily. "I have done as you wished."
Lord General Koumokuten of the Westland inclines his head as his soldiers give the mercy stroke to the last of the traitors, murmuring, "Yes…you have, haven't you."
He smiles then, cruel and haughty, and demands, "Show me proof, Aguni."
"Yes, General Koumokuten."
She nods to her guards, and they pass her a large sack. She reaches in and pulls out three heads: those of the tribe's queen, her husband, and her young daughter. All drip dark red blood, beginning to congeal, all bear expressions of terror and pitiful tears in the child's case.
"They will give you no further trouble, my lord," the blonde smirks proudly.
He reaches out, taking hold of the woman's head with golden-ringed fingers, and agrees in a very proud tone, "No they won't, Aguni. Well done."
"Thank you, Master," she says fervently. Yes, his praise is heady and potent… she has served her lord well.
She always serves him well. Vahyu and Varuna do not obey him like she does, Deva and Rudra cannot hope to beat her devotion to Lord General Koumokuten! No, she is his attack dog, his killer kept on a chain and turned loose on the world when it pleases him.
He gives her a predatory grin and the promise, "You'll be rewarded."
Yes, rewarded, given a gift, granted what she wants… to serve him in every way she can, to make her master happy.
Her lord is definitely not a handsome man, she muses as he takes her hard an hour later, but he is beautiful. His laugh as he kills his enemies is harsh and prideful, for no one must defy him! His slithering glide through the halls of Zenmi is that of a mamba, a venomous serpent, for no one can hope to run from him! His eyes, narrowed and pinpricked and as black as his soul, burn into hers, compel her to obey. Sorcerer, third of the Four Gods, lord of the West… hypnotic and strong. She met her commanding officer centuries ago and knew that here is someone she must obey.
Taishakuten is god-emperor, Bishamonten is the head of the Four Gods, but Koumokuten is king of his castle, his lands, and in the Westland he is the ruler. Zouchouten and Bishamonten (fools, both of them!) may let their subjects live as they wish, ruling more or less benevolently depending on which of them it is, but her master keeps a tight rein on his.
Humans are but amusing sport, his dungeons are always filled with traitors, and General Koumokuten allows her leeway to choose her next victims. "This one is strong, Aguni," he tells her often, suggesting a captured warrior. "Why don't you break him."
Breaking an enemy is one of the most wondrous feelings she has ever known. Torture at first, taunts throughout, a slow lingering death at last. General Koumokuten will watch, smiling slightly, and when her victim is dead he will take her in triumph.
"For all you control them," he will remind her as he makes her his, "I control you."
Yes, he does. He may have his pathetic, weak bitch of a wife, but Aguni will do anything for her lord! She does not care about his spouse, does not see her as a threat, because the Amazon does not love him and Koumokuten does not love her. Love is for mere fools, and she is not a fool. Lust is more powerful, her master is all-powerful. Power… the ultimate aphrodisiac, she grins as he makes a low sound of pleased enjoyment, black bangs falling into his eyes.
They began like this fifty years ago, on the warpath. Desire had been accelerating in both of them, and she had finally reached the point where something had to be done or she'd go mad. She knew without a doubt that he would accept her advances, for her appearance if nothing else. She's possessed of an exotic, almost savage sort of beauty: a long face with high cheekbones and narrow long-lashed eyes, those lips thin compared to some women's but crimson and expressive, her brows arched and darker yet feminine still. Her heavy breasts, her thin waist, her wide hips, her long sculpted legs… yes, she is built for war and sex in equal measure!
And oh, his own body… taller than hers by just a tad, those shoulders so gloriously wide, that physique broad with steel-hard musculature. She cares nothing for society's assertions that his face is ugly, she just finds it unique and perfectly fitting because it's so hawkish and sharp.
So she stalked into his tent one night, cloak-clad and grinning, and Koumokuten looked up from a scroll, having sent his guards away. He frowned in irritation as he snapped, "Aguni, whaddya want? I'm about to turn in."
"Master Koumokuten, I want to help you with that!" was her gleeful answer.
She ripped her cloak away, wearing only her loincloth and her boots, and he took his sweet time studying her bare form, his winged brows raised in pleased interest. Then he smiled, putting down his scroll and standing up.
"You do, huh? On three conditions: you don't tell anyone, you don't expect anything from me, and…" he reached out and gripped her strong arm, pulling her close to him, "…you make damn sure you don't conceive."
She eagerly assured him, "Yes to all of those, Master Koumokuten! My only wish is to please you when you want relief, and it will please me so very well too!"
She told the truth: she would not dare ensnare her master in an affair that would cost him social power. His position is far too important to endanger by a bastard, and Bishamonten would use such a potentially incriminating mistake against the Westland god in a heartbeat. But mere tent couplings, a commander and a beautiful subordinate in the dead of night with nothing more than sex… no one could fault him for that. It happens often, and Bishamonten's done it himself.
So Lord General Koumokuten smiled at General Aguni, a man with needs and his loyal underling who matched such needs, and purred, "All right then."
No one else is granted such an honor. Vahyu might have done it willingly, vain little catamite, but Koumokuten despises homosexuality. Varuna would stare cluelessly, stupidly. Deva and Rudra would tremble in fear, but Aguni begs her master to make use of her. He is her deity, her reason to live, the focus of her existence. Serving General Koumokuten, wiping out resistance against him and pleasing him with her body, is more of an honor than if Taishakuten had granted her dominion over the Eastland.
Now, when he leaves her half an hour later without a word, pulling on his robe and stalking out bareheaded, she sighs languidly and stretches her sore body. Pain is good, only the strong can endure pain. Even the weak can inflict it. Of course inflicting pain is enjoyable, and only an imbecile would lie awake at night and feel sorry for doing so. But for all the joy she derives from inflicting pain, enduring it is a source of pride.
She has walked through fire, she has been stabbed and slashed and bitten by poisonous fangs, she has been hurled to bare rock from a height… and she has taken it all without complaint. She has been tempered by it, strengthened, her skill heightened to be ready to use in General Koumokuten's service.
He could tell her to kill an entire tribe all by herself, and she would. He could order her to take on a Guardian Warrior, and she would throw herself into the fight. He could say to her, "You may never touch me again, Aguni," and she would nod and stay back, because her master must have his way in all things.
His daughter is an asset to him, she knows. But Tamara is like her mother: a spoiled, whiny brat who thinks the world revolves around her. Stupid girl, because the world revolves around Koumokuten! Tamara is given her way so she will obey her father without question, and to make her shut up and leave him alone. Jewels, fine clothes, servants and the finest vocal coaches around… she is easily bought and indeed loves Koumokuten, thinking he loves his child as well.
Truly, sometimes he does not even like her that much; he rolls his eyes as Tamara begs him for yet another boon. Yet Tamara, when strategically wed, will give her father an advantage over his rivals. If he has his way, Lord Koumokuten will use her to control Tenou. Not Taishakuten, of course not that, because her master is not stupid. But when he is father-in-law to the prince, that arrogant Bishamonten will not dare send spies after Koumokuten! He will take control of what he can, and Bishamonten and Taishakuten, one day, may fall as a result of Queen Shashi's machinations.
And then General Koumokuten will rule. Shashi is but a manipulative former human, and with a wave of his hand Koumokuten could destroy her, even if she does kill the god-king through treachery. Tenou is but a pushover boy and no threat whatsoever, for all his prowess on the sparring grounds. Skill at sparring those who are too intelligent to attempt to truly hurt him means nothing, absolutely nothing when sent against a battle-hardened general with many worthy opponents dead by his hand!
Even if only Bishamonten falls (which is much more likely), that will give Koumokuten more power. He will head the Four Gods if that is the case. Jikokuten is long dead, and though they say there is a new one Aguni does not believe it. Zouchouten is not as strong as his Western counterpart, falsely barbaric and possessed of a conscience, silly man! Ha… his flawed logic and moronic feelings will hold him back, and Master Koumokuten has no such qualms.
"You know, Aguni, sometimes I think Tamara isn't truly mine," he murmurs to her one day as he watches his daughter stare longingly at Prince Tenou, a lovesick expression on her face.
"My lord, your wife would not dare –"
"That's not what I meant, idiot," he snaps in a whisper. "It was an expression. Her mother raised her, and I stood back and found her annoying until she was a young woman, and still do some of the time. My point is she doesn't understand politics like I do."
Aguni nods fervently. Koumokuten is a genius at gauging currents of influence, at lying with a straight face, and she tells him with much fervor, "Master, she is a fool."
"Don't insult my darling Tamara," he warns her sarcastically. He gives her an evil grin as he continues, "Goodness knows Aguni, my sweet daughter must always have her doting father near to protect her, and her husband simply must let her do that."
Yes, manipulative, power-hungry, uncaring what his own child feels… Koumokuten would make a fine god-king, Aguni often thinks. Taishakuten is emperor, but so distant, really. He sits on his throne and sends his Four Gods out to kill for him. Perhaps, she wonders, he is losing his strength?
Possibly. Lord Yasha, Guardian Warrior of the Northland, lives still after defying him. Bishamonten has not brought him to heel, but maybe General Koumokuten will, she thinks hopefully. Yes, if her master sets out to kill Yasha, the other man will be but a smear of blood on the ground!
And weeks later, Koumokuten informs her, "Aguni, I've been commanded to wipe out the rebels."
Oh, such joy as she has never known sweeps through her at this! Yasha will fall, Lord Ashura"s child will fall, and she will serve Lord General Koumokuten well by killing them for him. He will take their heads to Taishakuten, and the god-king will owe her lord.
"My master," she breathes ardently, "tell me where they are and I will destroy them for you."
His reply dashes her spirits violently: "No, Aguni. Varuna'll kill 'em. Two people? Even as a Guardian Warrior, Yasha can't hope to defeat an entire unit."
Varuna?! Varuna is a pathetic worm!
"But my lord –"
He holds up an imperious ringed hand, stopping her short with, "You'd be overkill, Aguni. Why expend my best warrior on such a small problem?"
Her spirits soar: praise from Koumokuten! Now she sees. He is so right that her talents would be wasted on such an insignificant "challenge."
"General Koumokuten, I understand perfectly. Lord Yasha is but one man, like you said," she smirks ferally.
"Exactly, Aguni. Exactly," he purrs with a self-satisfied nod. "One. A mere Guardian Warrior. And," he smiles, a near-demonic expression, "my forces'll succeed where Bishamonten failed."
"Indeed, my master!"
Rivalry, distrust, manipulation: all of these splinter the Four Gods. Bishamonten sends spies to watch the others' movements and keeps many secrets. Koumokuten schemes for additional power, and that idiot Zouchouten keeps to himself and longs for his Guardian Warrior. Still, Aguni admits mentally, perhaps the General of the Southland will not have to be removed at some point to make way for her master's plans. They do not spy on each other, both hate that whore Shashi, and Zouchouten does not tell Koumokuten, "Stop your experiments on live subjects." No, he pales and looks sick but says nothing.
Because General Koumokuten is lord of his lands. He fears and serves the god-king faithfully and would never dare disobey him, but at Castle West he comes into his own –
"Aguni, tell me now," he is saying suddenly, and all her attention turns immediately to him, "if Varuna fails, and Vahyu too… what would you do?"
Her answer is immediate, she does not need to think on it at all.
"I would destroy them for you in a heartbeat! None can be allowed to oppose you," she vows, her eyes burning with fervor.
He gives her a proud smile and chuckles, "Good answer, Aguni. My personal attack bitch."
She nods, hard and over and over, and proclaims, "General Koumokuten, I would die for you!"
"Yes, you would. Maybe one day you will, maybe not," he muses in a whisper. "But you'd do it smiling, I'm sure. And why's this, Aguni?" he prompts, grinning now.
"Because, my lord, you are so beautiful!"
He blinks at her, surprised, and mutters rather testily, "That's a new one."
"Lord General Koumokuten," she tells him, kneeling once more, "your power is the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen! Your strength is a hypnotic beacon! You are my master!"
He gazes at her for long moments, then laughs contemptuously, a dark sound: "Damn, have you fallen in love with me, Aguni? 'Hypnotic beacon'? You sound like a dumbass romance epic."
"My lord, if you wanted me to, I would love you if I could," she informs him as she raises her fire-colored gaze to his. "I would make myself weak for you, and never pick up my beloved sword again if that was your desire."
She shakes her head as she tells him, "I live for you, General Koumokuten, because you are my commander and master, not as a woman lives for a man! My loyalty is much stronger than such weak things!"
"Good, good," he sighs with obvious relief. "I don't want you to follow me around like an attention-starved animal."
"My lord, I would never annoy you," she assures him honestly.
He studies her again, then lifts a hand and rests it on her shoulder as he agrees, "Well said, my Fire God. I know you won't. And for that…" He laughs, harsh and self-satisfied, the sound echoing off the stone walls, "you'll be rewarded."
Ah, her master, she thinks as she is pressed to the stone and panting, has no weaknesses. He is strong. He is cruel. He cares only for himself and is incapable of love. And because of such traits, Lord General Koumokuten is the most beautiful thing in the world. Ruthless. Lusting for power. Destroying innocents with glee.
Yes…she thinks, groaning his name, my master is beautiful.
(AN: This one makes it even funnier, in my mind, that in the very next and humorous fic I wrote Koumokuten and Aguni are completely infatuated as fellow scary people, but of course still very nasty to other characters. That's the beauty of fan fiction and AUs in particular: I can try out numerous characterizations to find one I like the best. These days my Kouguni characterizations are between "Her Master Is Beautiful" and the "Someone Like You" pair of fics, but leaning closer to this one because they have to have some deep, disturbing darkness to them.)