Month: July 2015

Update

Chapter’s still not out, but I’m pretty sure I can say with confidence at this point that it’s going to be the longest chapter I’ve ever published for Goodfae, and that I really should’ve started writing it earlier last week than I did. I had no idea it was going to turn out this long though O_o

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‘Kay, so, el capítulo…

Was gonna have out on Monday, then on Tuesday, now it’s Wednesday, and I just keep finding things about it that I want to change or think could be better. That and it’s ended up being a lot longer than I thought it was going to be when I started writing it. Anyway, point is I’m taking my time to make it as good as possible for the release, but barring exceptional circumstances, it is reaching its inevitable completion and should be done today or tomorrow.

Also, blame spanish 😛

Tokyo Drift 4.7

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Kichirō straightened his tie.

“A clever feint, but not clever enough. You won’t be able to fool me or my brother like that. You see-”

“-our training has prepared us for that,” I said mockingly.

“-our training has prepared us for that,” Kichirō finished.

“Oh come on!” I yelled. “How?! How could your training possibly prepare you for that?! He’s blind and deaf!”

“Never underestimate the power of training,” Kichirō said. “But there is also a sixth sense you’re ignoring.”

“Eat me,” I said. “I’m a medium, I know all about this sixth sense crap.”

“You’re thinking of the wrong sixth sense then,” Kichirō said. “This is not one you have to be born with, medium. This is one that merely has to be opened. The eye of the mind that senses the flow of ki.”

“Ki?”

“The flow of energy throughout the universe. I believe Western doctrines refer to it as ‘mana’ or ‘life force’. Perhaps we would as well, had it not been for those damn Sadoyas…” Kichirō sighed, taking a deep breath and relaxing his clenched fist. “By sensing the flow of ki, my brother is able to see again, despite his blindness. He and I can sense the flow of energy through your muscles, as well as the intent and colors of the emotions behind them. We know what you’re going to do before you do.”

So he can predict our actions by the changes in our life force…

“This is such horseshit…” I mumbled.

“Hey, be nice Al,” Marq said. “At least they were kind enough to tell us that.”

I wasn’t sure if he was serious.

Then I saw something flicker out of the corner of my eye.

What now?

I looked out the window and saw the entire world shaking, like we were on a roller coaster ride. This being the kind of fucking crazy world we lived in, I immediately assumed the worst.

What is that? Spatial interference? Earth magic?

“Marq?” I said with maybe a little too much panic in my voice. “What’s going on outside? What are they doing to the train?!”

Marq spared a second to look and then clicked his tongue. “Damn. They’re going at it harder than I thought.”

“Who?!”

“Nayeli and Ren, Al,” Marq said like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Nothing’s happening to the train. The shockwaves are just shaking things up outside. We don’t feel it in here because the leyrails are insulated against this kind of thing. I told Nayeli to take the fight somewhere far away if this happened, but it looks like it wasn’t far enough. If we can feel it from here, that means that they must be seriously changing the landscape. I didn’t think it’d go this far…”

“You’ll find Ren is more than capable of keeping up with your little pet demigod, Marquis,” Kichirō said confidently. “She may be more powerful, but Ren is infinitely better equipped. And so are we.”

Marq smiled nervously. “Yeah, I noticed. That’s orichalcum armor Ren and Kichirō are wearing, isn’t it? How much did that cost you?”

“As much as it needed to,” Kichirō responded. “A few million dollars is a paltry price to pay for what lies at the end of our journey, although I doubt the Yamadas will be too pleased with us when they discover where their money’s gone.”

“Oho?” Marq said. “Robbing from the boss, huh? That’s ballsy of you, Kichirō. They’re not gonna take you back after that.”

“No they’re not. But we got what limited use we could out of the Yamada group long before we left for this little train ride. Once we’ve accomplished what we’ve set out to do, they can try to kill us if that’s what they want. I’m far beyond caring because it honestly makes no difference at this point. Our die was cast long ago.”

“Too bad you sacrificed your only allies for nothing though,” Marq said.

What? I glanced over at Marq, never taking my eyes off of Yoshirō. What was he planning? Did he still have some surprises in store for us?

Kichirō narrowed his eyes. “And what makes you think that, Mr. Allesandri?”

Marq smiled his usual crazy smile. “Because we got something that’ll blow the socks right off of ya, you crazy, dumb bastard. I’ve kept it waiting in the wings for a while now in case of an emergency, and once I bring it out it’ll tear those little tin cans apart. Give up now, Kichirō, and I won’t have to use it.”

I smiled to myself. No way. The crazy bastard was gonna try to bluff us out of this situation. I couldn’t say it was the smart thing to do, but I respected the sheer weight of the man’s brass monkey balls.

Besides, I thought. It’s not like I have any better ideas.

Kichirō didn’t say anything for a while, like he was weighing the pros and cons, trying to see through Marq’s bluff. Finally, he said this.

“I get the distinct impression that you’re lying to me, Marquis.”

Fuck… I swore under my breath.

Marq frowned. “Oh yeah? And what makes you say that?”

“Because we’ve fought once before, and I know what you’re like. It’s your style to settle the battle in the first move. You like to open strong and finish things before your enemy gets wise. But…” Kichirō closed his eyes. “If you fail that first move, you’ll steadily lose steam until you’re all out of cards to play. That’s the type of man you are, isn’t it Marquis? I’ve seen it once already. Once we neutralized your vampire friend back in New York, you couldn’t stop us from getting away. Now that your first move is over, we’ve seen all the surprises you intend to play for us. So I think it’s time for me to show some of my own.”

Squares of brightly colored paper started dropping and fluttering out of Kichirō’s sleeves. Like they were possessed of a will all their own, the paper started telekinetically folding itself into tiny origami shapes, little cranes and birds mostly, hanging in the air free of gravity. Once finished, they gathered around Kichirō and oriented themselves so they hovered facing us, their paper beaks pointing in our direction.

“These were the tools I used to outsmart your men back in New York,” Kichirō said. “Do you know what they’re called?”

Marq grit his teeth. “Shikigami. They’re spirits bound to sheets of paper.”

A bright flash of light followed as one of the paper birds shot forth like a bullet, destroying Marq’s gun, and his hand too, if he hadn’t let go.

“Correct. I see you’ve done your homework, Mr. Allesandri.”

“Well, I briefly toyed with the idea of studying your school of magic, but after a while I decided it’d be more worth my time to learn more about demonology and mainstream Taoism. Let me tell ya, the lessons on feng shui did wonders for my office,” Marq snarked back, crouched behind what remained of his table.

“A pity,” Kichirō said. “Perhaps if you’d studied more you would’ve realized the extent to which you were unprepared for this fight. Now then, if there aren’t any more pathetic bluffs you intend to make-”

“Really darling, he has a point. I mean, what was the reason for leaving these back in the compartment? Dramatic effect?”

Two empty suitcases dropped to the floor like dice, their lids hanging wide open, and two 100-round drum magazines were jammed into place with a quick chack, the sound of metal grinding against metal. A sharp click-clack meant the bolt handles had finished sliding back, and then all hell broke loose. Without so much as a warning, Felicity opened fire with Tommies akimbo, shredding Kichirō’s familiars to bits as he jumped for cover.

She sighed, the smoke from the cooling gun barrels wafting past her hair.

“Such a pity I had to be married to such a useless man.”

Marq smiled. “Felicity, dollface! I knew you’d come! Your timing is impeccable.”

He pecked her on the cheek. She didn’t seem to react.

“Save your affections for the presses, darling. Here, I brought you what you asked for.”

Felicity handed him a black box about the size and length of my forearm, hand-included. Marq was grinning like a kid in a candy shop as he opened it, and what he took out of it was a gun the likes of which I have never seen since and had never seen before.

An octagonal barrel over a foot and a half long attached to a five-round cylinder the size of my fist, ending in a black grip and collapsible stock that looked like it belonged on a rifle. The body was gleaming stainless inox steel, and when Marq cracked it open I saw that the damn breech was break-action, not a rotating cylinder like most revolvers. Even the chambers looked like they were designed to hold fucking shotgun shells. Everything about that gun screamed long, hard, and made to penetrate.

“I call her the Waymaker,” Marq said. “She’s an 18mm bore revolver with a bagua barrel based on the eight trigrams and made from enchanted stainless steel that reduces the weight of the frame to 1/18th of what it would normally weigh. She fires unique, custom-made enchanted cartridges as fast as you can pull the trigger, and thanks to her break-action cylinder, she reloads in under 15 seconds, firing its next round with a new enchantment in 18 seconds. Designed her myself.”

“Speaking of which,” Felicity said, pulling out another smaller, thicker box while keeping one eye trained on Kichirō while the other looked at Yoshirō. “You’ll need these.”

Marq opened the box full of actual fucking 12gauge shotgun shells, each of them color-coded, and started loading them into the gun. First green, then white, then black, then black.

“You’ve got ten incendiary rounds, five shock, fifteen vortex, and twenty special rounds made from the leftovers of Mr. Wang’s new explosives,” Felicity said calmly. “Try to use them carefully.”

Marq pushed in a red shell and snapped the gun shut.

Kichirō eyed Marq warily. “I am impressed with the degree to which you feel you need to compensate for your inadequacies Marquis, but what do you honestly think a gun is going to-”

Marq lifted the gun with one hand and squeezed off a shot. Immediately Kichirō’s arm was surrounded by a sheath of high-pressure wind that moved so fast you could see it with the naked eye. The tiny ball bearings in the buckshot spun wildly within it like paper in a storm, shredding Kichirō’s right arm like a wind-powered blender. When it finally stopped, the blood-soaked little pellets dropped to the floor with a clatter, bent out of shape and covered in bodily fluids. Kichirō’s arm looked like a manticore had been chewing on it.

Yoshirō charged at Marq as he took aim again, shoving us and everything else that was in his way out of his way to get to him. Then suddenly Marq readjusted his aim and Yoshirō found himself looking down the wrong end of the massive gun just like Kichirō, the electrically-charged buckshot leaving the barrel faster than even he could hope to catch. It crashed into him like a cannon, electrocuting his entire body through the armor and throwing him into the air like a rag doll. He screamed unintelligibly with pain and anger, a sound like hot mud bubbling up through his throat.

Satisfied with his demonstration, Marq turned the gun on the suits, and blasted them with shells filled with the same ball-bearings that had been used in Mr. Wang’s explosives (for the record, I actually had no idea that was his real name). Each suit took one shell to chestplate, the one on the right receiving additional damage as some of the pellets strayed towards the shoulder joint. Orichalcum was a metal so damage-resistant you could drop a bomb on it and not even scratch it, but it stood no chance against projectiles that ignored the laws of time and space, let alone whatever puny alloy mortals could put in front of it.

The suits staggered as the buckshot struck, going straight through them and the wall behind them. Wind from the outside started pouring into the car from the tiny holes in the wall, howling like wolves, and one suit of armor lost an arm, the hunk of orichalcum metal dropping to the floor with a barely audible clunk. There were gaping holes in their chestplates where the buckshot had hit.

Wait… why were they bleeding?

We started hearing muffled groans coming from the armor. Not so much groans really as moans of pain, and finally there were some weird biting and licking sounds before a lycan’s head crawled up through the armor’s neck stump and started shouting at us.

“Stop! Stop! Don’t fucking shoot us!” the guy said in a cockney accent.

Marq and I both looked at each other and raised our eyebrows.

“.. who the fuck are you?”

“They’ve got us trapped in here! That maniac tied us up and shoved us in these suits of armor and… wait. You’ve never heard of me?”

We shook our heads. “Should we have?”

“… I’m Etsy Jones? Lieutenant of the Four Beast Gang’s Manhattan crew?”

Marq and I looked at each other. Sostene shrugged.

“Aw come on, I’m the Tyke of Times Square! The Downtown Dog!”

“Never heard of you,” all three of us said in unison.

Another head popped up out of the suit next to him.

“Oh for fuck’s sake, Etsy! Stop waving your cock around and ask them to help us!” said a swarthy feline.

“Right, right…” Etsy said. “Well um, you see, the thing is… we didn’t actually think we were gonna get shot at when we said we’d help him. We didn’t know what was going on between you two! He just asked us if he could stay at our place for a while, and then we said we’d help him out with whatever the hell this is, he knocked us out, tied us up and shoved us in these suits of armor! We’re innocent, we swear! Just please stop shooting us, it really hurts!”

Marq raised an eyebrow. “We never said you were guilty of anything.”

The two lycans gulped.

Marq turned to Kichirō, who was clutching his shredded arm.

“This all true, Kichirō?”

The yōkai tamer grunted painfully, his breathing jagged and heavy. “Yes. It’s as he says. We brought them here as a last resort, a deterrent in case we couldn’t handle you, and to absorb the bullets. Well, Marquis? Will you really be able to shoot through them? Risk causing a gang war between the Allesandris and every lycan in New York City?”

I looked at Marq. “What do we do now?”

Marq sighed. “What do you think?”

There was a boom as Marq shot the last of his rounds into Etsy’s suit, causing it to burst into flames.

“We keep fucking shooting them! I don’t care who they are, if they’re with Kichirō, then they’re already an enemy of the Allesandris!”

“You asshole!” The suit yelled in return.

“Al!” Marq said as he cracked open his gun. “Cover me!”

Believe me, I was going to, but when I looked back, I saw Yoshirō struggling to get up, and that gave me one hell of a good idea.

“Sorry Marq!” I yelled, jumping over an overturned table. “Sostene, you’re it!”

I tagged out, slapping him on the back as I rushed past him. My knife was gonna be crucial for this. That, and my last bottle of yagé.

I still had a chance. While his nerves were still fried from the electric shock, he’d be too slow to dodge, and I could get a hit in. One hit was all it would take, and it didn’t matter if I got knocked out of the fight doing it. If this was the best I could do… well that was enough. I guess I’d have to settle for only taking out their second-best flunkie.

I dribbled the hallucinogenic brew over the blade, and then poured the rest into my mouth. I sprinted towards Yoshirō, knife hand outstretched.

Aim for the shoulder joints…

I didn’t have much time. Just as Yoshirō started to find his footing, I thrust the knife. Lazily, sluggishly, Yoshirō twisted his shoulder so the knife missed the joint, and slid off the orichalcum plating in a shower of sparks. Then, he grabbed me by the neck and lifted me into the air.

We looked into each other’s eyes. The look in his said, Too slow, white boy.

Mine said, Fuck you.

Struggling for air, I spat the yagé into Yoshirō’s eyes. The effect was immediate.

Yoshirō dropped me like an entire sack of hot potatoes, and started rubbing at his eyes, roaring incoherently. Tears fell down his cheeks.

Kichirō’s eyes widened. “You… What have you done?!”

“Heh. Stings, don’t it?” I said, my own vision getting blurry. Crap. The yagé was already diffusing into my bloodstream. Cheek tissue and gums are notoriously thin, so it wasn’t surprising. In a few minutes I probably wouldn’t be able to tell mushrooms from mayflowers.

Yoshirō only responded by roaring, a scream so furious he sounded like an animal. He began clawing at his eyes, digging and gouging, and when that didn’t work, he started ripping away his armor, trying to fight off whatever he was seeing.

His armor was filled with nothing but bones.

I couldn’t believe it. Inside of the suit there was nothing but a thinly muscled skeleton with diseased, rotting organs attached, seemingly as an afterthought. There was no skin, at least not around his chest cavity, and his ribs were just hanging out for everyone to see, a cage holding his organs in place while his entrails flopped around his legs. What the fuck was keeping him alive?!

Finally Yoshirō stopped tearing himself apart, his armor, or should I say his container tattered and ripped apart in places, his chest plate dangling loosely on one side, revealing his insides. He just stopped, his hands covering his bleeding eyes. I held my breath. Something was wrong.

Slowly, Yoshirō lowered his arms and hung them at his side, his head tilted back, his blind, bloody eyes staring up at the ceiling, at nothing. For a second, I truly believed he’d just killed himself. The stupid bastard had just destroyed his iron lung.

“Yoshi…” I heard Kichirō whisper.

A long silence passed where the only sound was crackling of the fire and Etsy’s hoarse cries. No one spoke. Then there was a sound that everybody heard.

Metal squealed as Yoshirō tried opening his mouth, forcing apart the steel face mask with his jaw until it shattered, the edges around his mouth jagged like teeth. Black mist like smoke started pouring out of the armor’s every crevice, and his eyes started sizzling like fried eggs, burning from the inside out. He tipped his head back and screamed, a sound that was part pain, part rage. No, now that I think about it, it was more like a roar.

Thinking this had to be the part where I started tripping fucking balls, I looked to Marq, looked to Kichirō, someone that would be an anchor of sanity to remind me that this nightmarish vision of Yoshirō was just a hallucination, but they were both dead serious.
“What the hell have you done…” Kichirō wheezed.

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Chapter Progress

Iiiiiiiit’s… almost here! I’ve just about finished it, there’s only a few hundred more words to go. I should be able to finish it sometime tonight or tomorrow, so expect the new chapter to be up on Monday. In the meantime, I have delivered on some of the other things I promised. Renovations to the blog are underway! You may have already noticed the new menu option. It’ll take you to topwebfiction.com, where you can show your support for Goodfae by voting for it on the monthly polls! I’m also in the middle of adding more links to the sidebar (so you can visit things like Goodfae’s page at Web Fiction Guide if you haven’t already or don’t know where to find it) and expanding my page advertising other serials with descriptions and that jazz so I can give my fellow WordPress authors the credit they’re due!

The biggest change by far though is the one I’m most excited about. It’s been a long while since Goodfae started, over a year now (yay!). So I thought it was only fitting to finally give it its own trope page on Tvtropes. You can find it here. The page is still under renovation and it’s pretty basic, so it may be a while before it’s properly indexed and filled out. For those of you who are members of Tvtropes, feel free to edit it as much as you like! For those of you that aren’t, I strongly advise checking it out anyway. It’s a great site and a lot of fun, provided you don’t get lost for hours reading all the articles.

That’s all I have to say, really. New chapter should go up tomorrow after my spanish exam, so look forward to it! If you any questions or comments about the page or these new additions to the site, or just about anything in general, please say so in the comments. Good night everyone!

Update

Hey guys! Thought you might be confused since there’s no new chapter up yet and there wasn’t one last week either (because ‘murica), so I just wanted to let you know there’s still gonna be a new chapter this week. I’ve just started my summer spanish class is all, so things have once again gotten a little busy for me. In the last week I’ve had to juggle spanish homework, the 4th of July, getting ready for my dad’s birthday this week and preparing an internship application for a local publishing company, which includes a revised resume and cover letter, a letter of recommendation from one of my former professors, and a book review (so you know, I had to read the book first in order to do that).

It’s been busy is what I’m trying to say. No worries though, chapter’s coming! I can’t give you an exact date or time right now, but it should be sometime in the next couple of days.

Bonus Interlude (Ren, pt.1)

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It was a curious sight, Ren admitted. An oni in full armor and an axe-wielding woman in a party dress standing on top of a train as the wind blew past them. Not something you saw every day.

“Are you sure you wanna do this?” Nayeli asked.

“Absolutely. Is my job to protect Kichirō from people like you.”

“Really? Cuz if that’s all you want you could just give up and I’d take you out for ice cream or something some place far away, promise. We could talk about boys,” Nayeli quipped sarcastically.

“No,” Ren said. “I want to fight you. Fighting strong people exciting to me. Makes me feel alive. Is what I live for.”

“Uh-huuuuuuh…” Nayeli sighed, and grabbed the handle of her axe from the back of her dress. “Alright, I guess we’re doing this then.”

“Yes,” Ren said, brandishing her spear. “We are.”

The two demihumans faced each other atop the train, their eyes never leaving one another’s. Their white-knuckle grip on their weapons was absolutely unbreakable. Neither one of them dared to look away in fear that they would give their opponent a chance to make the first move.

Ren smiled. This was how a battle between two warriors should be. Simple, and threatening, like a lump of sharpened steel. None of the arrogance or fancy politics that dominated Kichirō’s world. No talk of principles or ideals. Just the clash of two indomitable wills, showing their respect for another in the vital, focused art of combat-

Is she looking away from me?

Ren stared dumbfounded as the demigoddess casually broke eye-contact to look out on the forest like some sort of sightseer, sticking a finger in one of her ears and twisting it around like she had nothing more important to do than scratch some itch in her inner ear. She flicked away a wad of greasy yellow earwax and returned her gaze to Ren, looking utterly bored.

Ren returned the gaze in kind, her furious expression making the demigoddess uncomfortable.

“….”

“…. So is there any place in particular you wanna do this, or-”

“Here is fine.”

Ren dashed forward, the wrapping on her spear blowing away in the wind as she struck the first blow. Her naginata clashed against the rough slab of rock her opponent called an axe, sinking only a few millimeters into the handle. The entire train shook instead. Ren clicked her tongue in annoyance. Hyper-dense, huh?

The demigoddess looked at her, annoyed. “Well that was rude. I only have one of these things, you know. You gonna pay for this later, or are we gonna have to cut that out of you too?”

“You assuming you’ll win?” Ren said, smiling. “Arrogance. We killed demigods before. Kichirō much better at what he does than your boss. And I no-”

Still locked blade to blade, Nayeli’s feet left the ground, her lower body twisting around and driving a powerful kick into the tiny oni’s side, sending her flying into the distance.

“What’s that?” Nayeli bellowed. “Sorry, I couldn’t hear you!”

————-

What incredible power, was what Ren thought as she soared through the air like a bird. Or a bullet. Landing almost fifty kilometers away, she crashed into a thick thicket of trees, coughing up blood. Her vision spun dizzily. She was much, much stronger than Ren had expected. The last time she’d been kicked so hard she couldn’t see straight… that was more than a decade ago, right? Was she sure she wasn’t more of a monster than she was?

Ren looked around. It was hard to tell what with being in a crater where everything looking like she’d just gotten off a nasty bender, but… was this a forest?

The demigoddess landed a few feet away from her, still holding her axe.

“Sorry about that, I lost control there for a second. I get a little fucking touchy when people talk shit about my boss,” Nayeli said with an air of disinterest. “It won’t happen again, I promise. I’m impressed though, I really meant to kill you with that. They build them tough where you’re from, huh?”

Ren laughed. “I am oni. We do not die so easily. Something we have in common, I think.”

“Don’t build ’em very tall though, apparently,” Nayeli said derisively. “Or curvy. That a part why Asian girls don’t have any tits or is that just an oni thing?”

Ren instinctively clutched her chestplate, her red face becoming imperceptibly redder. “Really?! You bring that up now?! Not everyone can have boobs the size of Mt. Olympus, god-girl! Besides, they just get in the way!”

Nayeli snorted. “Yeah, whatever.”

She reached down, and tore a slit in the leg of her dress. Then she undid her ponytail. “Ready to rumble, shortstuff.”

Ren looked around. Now that her vision had settled, she was sure of it.

“We shouldn’t be here,” Ren said, a note of concern sneaking into her voice. “This an Arizona national park. We can’t destroy this. We fight here, maps will need to be rewritten.”

“Yeah yeah,” Nayeli said dismissively. “Look, I don’t like beating up other demihumans. Makes me feel like a bad guy. I’m a good girl, you know? So are you sure you wanna do this fight? Like, really sure? Here, tell you what. If you wanna fight me, how about put one hand behind my back and swing my axe one-handed? That way nobody gets hurt and-”

Taking advantage of the opportunity, Ren once again lunged at the demigoddess.

“Hey!” Nayeli shouted. “Are you even listening to me?! Be fucking nice!”

The two of them locked eyes and weapons, demihuman against demihuman, polearm against polearm. They disengaged, the air crackling between them. Ren swung her spear, and distant trees cracked in half, sliding apart like cut vegetables. Nayeli did the same in return, except when she did it, it was the hills that were cut apart instead. A small cut opened in Ren’s cheek as she dodged the glancing blow. So this was the difference in their power.

This is bad. If things continue like this, then I won’t be able to reach it in time. I have to move things along here.

Ren thrust the spear towards her head, trying to end the fight immediately by destroying her brain. Nayeli lazily tried to parry it, pushing it to the left so it’d just miss her face, but when the spear passed, she felt it cut her. Actually cut her. But the blade had never touched her. She’d cleared it by centimeters at least. Blood dripped down her face in the exact same spot where her glancing blow had struck Ren.

Nayeli’s expression turned sour. It was the same look she’d had fighting the homunculus in Central Park. Her eyebrows twitched as she narrowed her eyes and sighed, pinching her brow.

“I knew it. I fucking knew it. No way I could get a break. Alright, so what’s this then? What did you do? Peel my skin apart with your mind? Put a spell of shared pain on me that rebounds your wounds back to me? Does that spear cut through time and space to deliver wounds that’ll never heal? What is it?”

Ren smiled.

“You know what this spear is? It a replica of Tonbogiri, spear of Honda Tadakatsu, so sharp it cut things without touching them. Edge so thin it’s invisible, yet harder than steel.” She withdrew the spear, allowing the light to hit it so that the demigoddess could see her own blood hanging off the invisible edge of the spear what seemed like inches from where the blade should have ended. “Sharpness decreased by more than a thousand, but it still carves the atoms off your bones. Sharpest blade there is besides original.”

The small red oni spun the spear, Nayeli’s golden-red blood sliding off the surface of the blade like grease.

“How about we go back now?” Ren intoned threateningly. “You come with me or-”

But the demigoddess seemed unconcerned. In fact, she seemed delighted.

“Oh, is that seriously it? For real? Thanks for telling me how it works!” she said, smiling and laughing. “‘Bout time I got a fucking break! Here I thought you might’ve had some sort of crazy-ass superweapon that like, reverses the order of cause and effect or some shit, but really all it is is just a sharp stick! Now I know I can stop being so careful!”

Ren growled. “Why you…”

But there was no time to finish that thought. Nayeli rushed towards her like a freight train moving at light speed. Her speed was overwhelming!

Ren quickly brought her replica up to guard as Nayeli swung her axe down on her with her left-hand, shattering her bones, her footing and everything else in a five-mile radius. Hills turned to dust and trees blew away like sheets of paper in the wind.

True to her word, Nayeli handled Ren’s spear one-handed, catching her by surprise by forcing the spear towards the ground with her axe and slowly overpowering her. Finally, she pushed aside the naginata altogether and rammed her fist into Ren’s face, punching her so hard she bent backwards and fell flat on her back with enough force to collapse the ground into an enormous crater, deeper than the Empire State Building was tall. Blood spurted from Ren’s nose like the magma that seeped out of the violated earth in tiny rivulets. If this kept up, she might just carve out a new caldera. And Ren would be the shovel.

But still, she could feel it. The desire to win coursing through her veins, the determination succeed. She was an oni. It was in her blood. As she becomes stronger… so do I! I can take the punishment!

Willing her destroyed arm to move, Ren took advantage of Nayeli standing right over her and plunged the spear straight into her stomach.

I’ve got you now, god-girl. There’s no way you’re walking away from this. This spear is going straight through you!

That was Ren realized… it wouldn’t.

“Wha-… what?” she said weakly. The spear had struck her, but she was having trouble getting it to go any deeper. The Tonbogiri, the spear that was supposed to be sharper than anything in this world, was stuck barely six inches inside her. She hadn’t even reached the other side! What’s more… she couldn’t pull it out!

What the hell?!

“You said you’ve killed demigods before, but you mustn’t have killed very many,” Nayeli said, the smallest trickle of blood lining her lips. “Otherwise you’d know that shit like this… isn’t going to fucking work on me!”

Grabbing the spear by the shaft, she kicked Ren in the gut so hard she vomited blood and let go of the Tonbogiri. With the spear safely in her grasp, Nayeli clenched her abdominal muscles and shattered the spearhead while it was still inside. Then she snapped the shaft into two worthless pieces.

She looked down at the hole in her stomach, pulling back some of the fabric of her dress.

“I’ll pull this out later,” she said, like she hardly cared about the incredibly sharp pieces of metal lodged in her. “Did you really think that’d work though? If you really knew jack of all fucking shit about killing demigods, you’d know that you’d better do it with magic. Words like monomolecular, subatomic, q-blade… those things are worth less than crap. None of them can kill me. You wanna cut a demigod? You better bring a sword made by God Him-fucking-self. At this rate, I’d say that rat-fuck Mickey was smarter about killing me than you.”

The oni sputtered, blood filling her lungs.

No, it’s not enough. It’s still not enough. But I’m almost dead. At this rate, I might not be able to do it before I bleed out. I thought I’d have at least a couple of minutes. We onis are supposed to be hard to kill, dammit! Is this girl…

Ren looked at Nayeli, bitter, angry, respectful fear in her eyes.

Is there any part of this girl that’s really human?

“Last chance to do the smart thing and give up, shortstuff!” the demigoddess said. “Just say the word and I can take to the hospital. I’ll swoop in and scoop you up in my arms and take you away, your knight in shining armor! Though I guess your boyfriend wouldn’t be too happy about that, would he?”

The demigoddess mocked her. Ren got up, her body held together by almost nothing but willpower. She smiled in absolute defiance, as if every movement was a curse on Nayeli.

“That all you got, bitch?”

Nayeli stared back, confused but annoyed.

“See, I don’t get you,” she said plainly. “I don’t get this right now.”

Sticking her thumb out, she gave it a lick and rubbed it on the cut on her cheek, the cut disappearing almost instantly.

“I keep trying to be nice to you and give you a fighting chance, but you just gotta go and keep pressing my fucking buttons. I’m trying to be merciful here. Why don’t you just show a little bit of fucking appreciation?”

“I never ask for your mercy,” Ren replied sharply. “I going to beat your ass just fine without it. Besides, it disgraceful for me to accept charity from my opponent. I no fucking think so.”

“Yeah, but it’s smart.

“Then I guess onis stupid.”

“Very, very, very stupid.”

Ren laughed, even though it caused her pain. “I say the same thing to him once.”

Nayeli frowned. “Well, sayonara compadre. Can’t say it’s be fun.”

Putting both hands on her axe, Nayeli swung, opening the tiny red oni girl up like a gutted fish. She collapsed into an unrecognizable scarlet heap, the blood that matched her skin so well soaking into the pulverized ground like fresh rain.

Nayeli sighed. “What a fucking joke. Not even a good one either…”

She started to walk away, a visibly bad taste left in her mouth.

“Did I say I was done with you yet, you fucking bitch?”

Nayeli looked back in surprise. “Oho?”

Ren stood up, a red vial clutched between her teeth. She tipped her head back, and then spat out the empty vial. Her wounds had healed.

“Phoenix yolk,” she explained, unfastening her shattered armor. “Good for one use only. Heals all wounds. No lasting effects like ambrosia, but better than nothing. We always carry some in case of emergency.”

The armor fell away, revealing nothing but a tiger-skin loincloth and a bandolier of the same red vials. There was a large iron club strapped to her back. Ren hefted its weight with meaningful familiarity.
“Now I show you how oni really fight.”

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