Authors notes: For all those who enjoyed my story Trickster Demon, I have a sequel! And here is the first chapter. If you have not read Trickster Demon, I recommend it, just so certain events and actions make sense.
This story has been in the works for some time, and been rewritten several times, but I felt it worked quite well as a direct follow on from Trickster Demon.
There are a couple of extra characters who belong to me, or history.
Disclaimer - I do not own Sengoku Basara, if I did there would be far more yaoi because as we know azureXcrimson forever!
Summary: After the feline mayhem, Masamune finally realised what he should have known all along, and now he has his very own tiger cub. However, keeping Yukimura is going to be harder than it looks as something from the distant past closes in on it's prey.
Rating: T - for lang, violence, some blood and gore, some sexual references
Chapter 1 - Engagement?
It had been a month since the 'kitten incident' as it was now being called, and Yukimura was returning to Kai. He had ended up staying with Masamune for a month, but both men knew he would have to return to Kai soon, or Shingen would come and collect Yukimura himself!
Yukimura was already missing Masamune, sleeping alone felt weird, there was no one to snuggle up to. The Tiger of Kai knew about the relationship, and he did not mind, though it was an odd relationship to say the least: Yukimura and Masamune still had their duels and their rivalry, though they were more careful, afterall, beating up your lover is one thing, actually killing him, that was something else entirly.
It was getting late, and the thick clouds were threatening to drench Yukimura so he quickened the pace, hoping to find somewhere to shelter for the night. One hill rose into the low clouds and he soon found himself surrounded by thick fog.
"What was that?"
"Bells, up here, must be a shrine."
The fog muffled the sound, but he suspected it was coming from his left and dismounted from his horse.
"Is anyone there?"
It was getting closer, he was sure of it, he lead his horse by the reins, towards the sound.
"Hello?" he called out a little louder, but there was no response.
Suddenly his horse screamed and bolted back down the hill.
"NO!" he shouted, "Come back!" his supplies were on the horse, he was still a few days hard ride from Kai, walking would take weeks.
He jumped, it was very close now, but in the dark fog he could see nothing.
It was right behind him, he spun round, but nothing was there.
"What's going on?" the fog was soaking into his clothes, making them cold and heavy. His eyes moved from side to side, trying to spot movement. He stumbled on a root and fell hard.
"Ow, huh, what's that?"
The fog had thinned slightly, allowing him to see the outline of a shrine gate, he headed towards it and found his horse.
"Huh, I thought you'd gone down the hill."
The noise was coming from the direction of the shrine, he was certain now. He tied his horse to the gate and took some money to give as an offering. He also took his spears, something about this place frightened him.
As he ascended the steps, the fog thinned until it was a faint mist. He could see the shrine buildings ahead, but they were old and delapidated.
He could see a small water feature outside the main building, a stream flowed over a minature water wheel which rang a bell every full turn.
"So that was the noise." he was a lot calmer now, and the shrine seemed to still have an intact roof.
He hurred down the steps to fetch his horse, before looking for a good place to camp for the night. He tied the horse to a post by the stream and let it drink its fill.
The mist was pretty constant around the shrine, getting thicker further away from the buildings. He wandered around for a bit, and found the actual shrine itself, the offering box was broken and he could see a couple of old coins lying on the floor.
"What happened to this place?" he aked out loud, feeling uneasy again. Other than the bell there was no sound, no movement, no life except himself.
"Haru koro no hana no en
Meguru sakazuki kage sashite
Chiyo no matsu ga e wake ideshi
Mukashi no hikari Ima izu ko"
"Hey, I know that song, but there's no one else here, is there?" Yukimura began to concentrate trying to find the source of the singing.
"Aki jinei no schimo no iro
Nakiyuku kari no kazu misete
Uurutsurugi ni terisoishi
Mukashi no hikari ima izu ko"
Whoever it was had a beautiful voice, but the song was such a sad one.
"Ima kojo no yowa no tsuki
Kawaranu hikari ta ga tame zo
Kaki ni nokoru wa tada kazura
Matsu ni uto wa tada arashi"
It was coming from where he had left his horse, but he had already searched that area and found no one. He reached the area the voice was coming from and froze, there was a girl sitting by the water wheel with her back to him, she was singing the song, but stopped at the end.
"Tenjo kage wa kawaranedo
Eiko wa utsuru yo no sugata
Utsusan toteka ima mo nao
Ah! Kojo no yowa no tsuki"
"Umm, are you ok?" Yukimura asked. The girl was wearing traditional Miko robes, and her long hair was loose and unadorned. She turned to face him, and it was all he could do to stop himself from screaming.
Her face was a torn and bloody mess, her eyes had been gouged out and her mouth had been cut so it was even larger. She seemed to stare straight through him even though she had no eyes. He was feeling sick; he wanted to run but his legs would not move; the mist was getting thicker again taking on a sickly purple hue; and there was a funny taste in his mouth, wet and metallic; he tested with his fingers and he saw blood.
"What's. . .going. . .ack. . .on?" he coughed and gasped as he felt his lungs tighten.
What's happening, why can't I breathe, what is this place?
As darkness clouded his vision, he vaguely heard the sound of breaking pottery, but there had been nothing that could break out here. He could hear shouting, but it was too muffled to make out, and then the rush of wind and the clash of metal. Something pulled him along the ground away from the noise and deeper into the fog.
Is this some kind of Demon? Am I going to die? Masamune, Oyakata-Sama, Sasuke, father, no, I can't die, no, wake up, I've got to wake up.
There was silence, he could not feel his body and his mind was numb. He was sure he could hear something, something calling out.
"Wa. . . up. . . ki. . .an"
That voice, it's familier,why do I know it?
"Wake . . . Yu. . .cha. . ."
No, it couldn't be, could it, but this place, it's not safe!
"WAKE UP YOU PART KITTEN IDIOT!"
"Hime-sama, I don't think you need to be that loud."
"Shut up Saizo and keep making that antidote."
Antidote, ugh, my head hurts, I'd better wake up before she kills me.
"Ahhh, what happened?"
"Eh? Kiri, why are you here, it's not safe."
"Obviously, you nearly got killed by some ninja poison, baka, luckily I'd been sent to drag you back from Oshu, or you'd be dead now."
"Why, I was heading back anyway, Oyakata-sama knew that."
"It was father who sent me, you're getting married."
Yukimura wondered if running away was an option, his father was not going to like the news about Masamune.
"Ok, who is she?"
"The look on your face says it all, you've already got a girlfriend."
"No, not a girlfriend."
"I'm gonna kill that one-eyed pervert." Yukimura's sister muttered under her breath.
"That's a bit over the top Hime-sama."
"You're supposed to help me with those things Saizo, that's your job."
"No, my job is to protect you and keep you out of trouble, which normally means keeping you as far away from Oshu as possible, but no one else was availiable to do this errand." The ninja said quietly.
Like Sasuke he was one of the Ten Braves Yukimura employed, only the two ninja did not get on. Saizo was slightly taller than Sasuke, and had a similar build. He had short silvery hair which was always messy and fell over his forehead as bangs. His eyes were inky black and never revealed any emotion. Any other features were always hidden behind his clothes and a mask, he wore baggy black pants; black tabi; a black shirt;black arm guards and a black face mask which covered his mouth and nose. Kirigakure Saizo was an enigma to most people, the only three people who had any real knowledge of him were: Yukimura, his employer; Kirihime, Yukimura's sister (Saizo was her bodyguard) and Kakatura Kojuurou (neither would admit how they knew each other, they just did).
"Saizo, what happened up there?" Yukimura asked.
"It was a ninja trap, quite well set up, various hallucinogens to disorientate the victim, then a poison to kill them."
"Only you two showed up."
"Yes, they weren't difficult to beat, and I made sure Hime-sama was protected from the poisons before letting her go in to pull you out."
"Ok, but my horse?"
"It's fine, the gases only affect humans, afterall a horse has value." Kirihime said
"I don't think they were after the money." Saizo stood up, hand on his weapons.
"Stay down, both of you."
Yukimura hugged his sister close to him; he was still numb and stiff, he was currently useless in a fight.
There was a rush of movement and several black feathers scattered around them. Saizo was fast blocking the attack and countering in an instant. Soon all Yukimura could see were flashes of light created by sparks flying of clashing weapons.
"Ok, this one is good, Saizo normally would have won by now." Kirihime said calmly.
"Yeah," he was still groggy, and unable to stand, all he could do was keep his sister close.
"Who's that?" Kirihime asked as a figure began to emerge from the fog.
"I should have known he would be involved." Yukimura gasped, trying to stand.
"Who is he?"
"Matsunaga Hisahide, he's dangerous, get out of here."
And leave you, not a chance, I can fight too you know."
"He's dishonorable and plays dirty."
"I noticed." Kirihime was standing up and drawing her weapon.
"I was expecting the Tiger cub, but not his sister as well, which would mean the ninja is Kirigakure Saizo and not Sarutobi Sasuke."
"What do you want Matsunaga?" Yukimura asked.
"I thought that would be obvious Tiger cub, I'm after you, so girl, stand aside, my business is not with you."
"It is now you've said that." Kirihime said, drawing the bowstring back.
"I wonder how much longer your ninja will last?" he taunted.
"Longer than you I'll bet, EMBER RAIN!" She let loose a single arrow into the air, which exploded and showered hundreds of flaming arrows around Matsunaga.
"The Phoenix Tail bow, an interesting choice of weapon."
"For someone who collects all these antiques you're eyesight is pretty off, this isn't the Phoenix Tail Bow, it's far more powerful than that - Spark Shot!" This time the arrows were not flaming, but in fact bolts of lightning.
"The Copper Phoenix exists, and you can use both aspects? How?"
"Long story, and you're not going to find out from me! Firestorm Arrow!" It was a single powerful shot, which would have hit had Matsunaga not dodged.
"Nice try girl, but you are out of your league."
"I wasn't aiming for you."
"Those buildings are full of explosives right?"
The force of the explosion threw Mastunaga to the floor and Kirihime took advantage and unleashed another Ember Rain.
"Damn, Saizo!?" Kirihime yelled as Kotaro Fuma deflected all the falling arrows before retreating with his master.
"Sorry, the explosion separated us, I couldn't reach him in time."
"Are you both ok?" Yukimura asked from a prone position, the explosion also knocking him to the ground.
"A-re a-re, I should have known something like this was going to happen."
"Sasuke? Why are you here?" Yukimura was confused.
"Long story, Ueda isn't safe right now, your fiancee isn't exactly human, and wants to eat your soul on the wedding night."
"How do you know all that?" Kirihime asked.
Saizo just looked at him.
"She's a demon with some fairly distinctive facial marks, only members of your family can't see them."
"But since you're not a blood relative. . ."
"It was fairly obvious, I did a little digging and there she was, repeat offender and all, sealed away by Sanada Yukiteru around a thousand years ago; she comes back every so many generations and goes after all unmarried sons of the head of the household."
"So what do we do? Should Yuki-chan marry someone else?"
"Doesn't work, now she's back, one of two things will happen, one she eats your soul, or two she gets sealed away until next time." Sasuke said.
"What about something a little more permenant?" Saizo suggested.
"Do you know how to kill a demon?"
"She wouldn't be the first I've killed."
Sasuke muttered under his breath, Yukimura caught the words "arroagnt" and "Iga" and shook his head.
"Where is she now?" he asked
"Waiting for her fiancee to turn up, she thinks she's safe."
"So keeping Yuki-chan away from Ueda is important, from what I could see the ceremony was going to start the moment he got back home."
"So where do I go?"
"I'm going with you Yuki-chan."
The two ninjas looked at each other, both realising that she would not be deterred and the likelyhood was that they would be sharing each others company for a while.
"I'm not sure that it's such a good idea Kiri."
"Well it's obviously dangerous."
"And? I can beat Nobuyuki anytime, and I'm almost as good with a spear as you."
"I don't want anything to happen to you."
"And you think sending me back to where that demon is is a good idea?"
"So it's settled, I'm going with you."
"Now back to the original question," Sasuke said, "where?"
"Hmmm, Oshu." Kirihime said.
"And given what happened the last time you were there, are you sure that's a good idea?" Sasuke said to her.
"Given what a certain pair have apparantly been up to in the last month, I think he'll overlook it."
Sasuke groaned, he should have known Kirihime would have found out that relationship.
"Well we have at least three weeks before Hime-sama tries to kill everyone again." Saizo said quietly.
"Hey, I'm not normally that bad, Nobuyuki should know better than to provoke me at that time."
"I don't want to know, do I?" Yukimura said.
"Probably not." Kirihime said. "And since we know where we're going, we should go."
"What about sleep?" Yukimura asked.
"Fine, Saizo, Sasuke, you two figure out who's keeping watch." Kirihime said.
The two men tensed, realising they were expected to have an actaul conversation.
"Kiri, you know how that will end." Yukimura moaned, "and is it safe to set up camp here?"
"Probably not, if the wind changes we'll get covered by those vapours." Saizo said.
"Didn't we pass that abandonned shack just along the road?" Kirihime said.
"I saw that as well, looks ok for one night." Sasuke said.
The four of them slowly headed off down the hill until they found the shack.
"It's been used recently, by someone with money based on the ash, it's camphor, still some scent lingering."
"Probably Matsunaga, it's about the right distance away from where we encountered him."
"He was behind the explosion?" Sasuke said.
"Yes and no," Yukimura yawned as he set up his bedroll, "He did put the explosives there, only Kiri set them off."
"His face when I told him what I'd been aiming for."
"You know he's one of the few people you would get away with killing." Sasuke said.
"I'd guessed that much, anyway, since you two only talk when you have to, I'll flip a coin, this side, Sasuke does first watch, the other side, Saizo does first watch, ok?"
There was no reply as both ninja were sizing each other up, Kirihime just ignorned them and flipped the coin, ah, Saizo, you're on first watch."
"As you wish, Hime-sama."
"Suck up." Sasuke muttered.
"Sasuke?" Kirihime's voice was dangerously cold.
"Oh, it was nothing, don't worry, everything will be fine."
Yukimura was too tired to care, he will still feeling the effects of the poison and just wanted to sleep.
"Oh yeah Yuki-chan, I've been meaning to ask, where'd the ears and tail come from?"
"Left over from The Kitten Incident." Sasuke explained.