Yay! I have decided 1. Not to rechapter the book until I’ve actually finished the story. and 2. To keep Kesshen’s name. This seems like a no-brainer situation but I’ve thought a lot about both. By the way, there are captioned words below. I debated including them at all instead of just the captions. The issue being that some words are Japanese and some are Chinese. It’s by design. Initially, I didn’t want any of the words to be real, but I had trouble finding a script font that didn’t have actual characters in it that looked appropriate.
The man seemed to call at her, but they couldn’t truly see him. He was covered head to toe in black strapping. The bits of skin that could be seen between the strapping was also black as pitch. It was arguable it was even skin as some of it seemed to bubble over the edges. It stood like a man but lurched as if he was only recently and hastily put together.
“What the fuck is that thing?!” Ben barked, instinctively putting himself between his friend and the assailant.
Ally shrieked and swung her sling bag at him. It fell just shy. She was a terrible throw. She was also a bit of a disorganized mess and its pockets were left open, spilling the contents all over the grimey cement.
“Okay, what was that,” Ben resigned.
“Me defending myself?”
“Why do you have so much shit…”
“WAIT MY PHONE WAS IN THERE!”
The bandaged man looked down, eyes bloodshot and faded. Amongst the general purse litter that was now strewn before him was a small statuette. It almost grinned or at least made the attempt. His hand cracked and grew extra, distended fingers and then sharpened into claws. More of the bubbling, leathery hide grew over them.
“We’re going to die!” Ally screamed.
“We’re not going to die!” Ben screamed back, though he really wasn’t convinced.
“Dammit, someone help us!”
The statuette started to shake and burst open, barely able to contain the energy inside. What came out was wild. A cloud of plasma and arcing lightning tore through, throwing itself against the wall, bouncing once it hit. It stretched and squashed, trying to produce a form.
No, all it could do was scream and howl, fighting itself.
妖怪 [Demon!] The curse sounded like it came from the assailant, but it never spoke. Instead the words flew through the air and shook through them.
It was enough to get the burning cloud’s attention. It stopped its thrashing and turned its attentions to the shambling, bandaged attacker.
食尸鬼[Ghoul!] the cloud shot back, the curse trembling through them through the same unearthly plane. The cloud shot forward, shifting to a pure and blinding flame, torching the body and consuming it the moment they touched. During the short moment it took to burn the man away, Ally and Ben could feel the ravaged howl deep in their cores. When the shambling mess was gone, ash flying away on the wind, the howl dissipated. Even the fiery cloud seemed to calm.
Ally and Ben both had to catch their breath and try to make sense of what they had just seen. A man, or something vaguely resembling one, had appeared out of the sky. Then, some kind of fire fell out of her purse and burned him away. And now that same fire was simply sitting there, resting.
Ben was looking for a way out, back to a reality he understood.
Ally was entranced. “I…” she whispered, “I’m gonna touch it.”
The latest in his friend’s idiotic ideas was enough to snap him out of his panic. At least, he could shift his panic to something more manageable. “Are you insane?!”
“Too late,” she said as she reached forward and opened her palm as if to warm it. The cloud tightened and rolled towards her.
“Ally!” Ben hissed, “That thing is going to kill you!”
“No… No it won’t. Will you, big guy?”
The cloud loosened in response and slowly moved to meet her hand. The colors calmed and started to shift, gently this time. When it touched her, it was warm and inviting. It even felt relief. After a long, quiet moment, the cloud began to change. It stretched out in some places, tightening in others. He could feel a body coalescing for the first time in an eternity. His summoner had finally given him a form.