The three of them arrived at Carnivean’s palace, in a small ante-chamber that Sandia had hidden in after Yunomi/Steele presented herself to the Demon Lord. Reaper carried Yunomi’s katana. They could hear the Demon revelry going on in the great hall. Cautiously, they made their way to a place where they could see what was going on. The scene was horrifying. Yunomi hung from the ceiling chain by her ankles, naked and bleeding from dozens of cuts and scratches inflicted by the cavorting Demons. She appeared to be unconscious as she slowly spun, propelled by the occasional poke from her dagger in Carnivean’s hand. Demons would casually rake their claws across her as they cruised by, sending her spinning a little faster.
Kane growled and started forward; Reaper held him back. “She’s all right, let’s assess the situation.”
Reaper listened closely to the conversations between the Demons, mentally counting the number in the hall.
Carnivean was continuing to question Yunomi, although she made no answer. Occasionally he would fling a bit of
brimstone at her, leaving a small burn. Kane could stand it no more, and growled, trying to pull away from Reaper’s
As Kane and Sandia made their way to their position, Reaper assumed his Lord aspect. He appeared
suddenly in front of Carnivean’s throne with a clap of thunder.
“My brother tends his own business. As I said, I have nothing to offer for her. She has chosen to leave my service, and I wash my hands of her.” With that, Reaper turned his back and stalked off. Carnivean stared after him, puzzled. Kane, however, was enraged. He rushed out of his hiding place with a roar, tossing Demons right and left. The Demon Lord was caught off guard, and turned to see what was happening. At that instant, Yunomi came alive, snatched her dagger from his hand, and opened up his huge girth with it. Carnivean howled, clutching at his spilling guts. Huena rushed to help him, and the two disappeared in a flash of light.
Reaper spun around, cutting the chain holding Yunomi with a lightning bolt. She fell to the floor, and staggered to her feet. Kane was fighting his way to her side, tearing at Demons with his bare hands, Sandia watching his back. Reaper tossed Yunomi’s katana to her, and she immediately put it to good use. The Thirteen were rushing to attack her and Kane, all but ignoring Reaper. He withdrew from the battle scene, catching Sandia by the arm and pulling her with him.
“They are in blood rage,” he explained. “They might hurt you by mistake. Stay here and watch.” Yunomi
and Kane were terrifying to behold, covered in gore and fighting like Hell fiends. Kane had taken on his battle
aspect, red leather armor protecting him from the Demon’s claws, his hair writhing like flames around his head.
Yunomi was naked, bleeding from the wounds inflicted by the Demons, her hair matted with blood. She had gone
into the circling crows defense, whirling through her opponents with slashing savagery. Kane was ripping Demons
apart, battering them with their own limbs. They found themselves back to back, surrounded by the remaining
Demons. Everything had come to a momentary stop. The Demons regarded their quarry cautiously.
True to Reaper’s prediction, Kane and Yunomi moved first, leaping out at the Demons with horrifying speed and sound. Caught by surprise, they fell back, and the slaughter continued. At last, all the Demons in the hall were dead, dying or fled. Kane and Yunomi stood alone, breathing hard and staring at the carnage. They looked at each other, then threw back their bloody heads and howled with victory, raising their arms to the sky. It was a chilling sight, and Sandia turned away.
Yunomi laid down her katana and retrieved her dagger, then began killing the wounded and cutting the
rings off the fingers of the Thirteen. Kane started dragging bodies over to the fire pit and tossing them in. He and
Yunomi looked almost like Ghouls, covered in gore and Demon stuff. They worked silently, Kane starting another
bonfire in the courtyard when the fire pit was full. Yunomi knelt in front of the fire, gazing at the rings she had
collected. One caught her eye, a plain silver band set with a velvety black stone. She pulled it out of the pile, and
slipped it on her left index finger. Reaper saw this, and approached her quietly.
Kane rested his hands on Yunomi’s shoulders from behind, towering over her and glaring at his brother. “Back off, it belongs to her. You did no fighting, brother, the rings are ours. You tricked us into doing your dirty work, now leave us to our rewards.”
“Vengeance is your reward. I did you both a favor, letting you kill to your heart’s content. The shadowstone is not for you, it’s too powerful.” He took a step toward Yunomi. She and Kane immediately went into their fighting stances, willing to do battle again for the ring. Reaper backed down. He would talk Yunomi out of the ring later. He turned and stalked back to where Sandia stood, taking all this in.
Several things had become clear to her over the past hour. Kane was a creature of chaos, as was Yunomi.
They were not to be trusted, they were too dangerous, although Reaper was continuing to manipulate them both
with relative ease. It was also apparent that Kane would risk anything for Yunomi, that he loved her with all his
being. Sandia decided at that moment that the Kane that she loved was not the one she had seen tonight, and it
Yunomi had knelt again in front of the burning bodies. Kane had finished his work, and knelt beside her. They both stared into the flames, trying to regain control of themselves from the chaos. Kane had put the rings in his pocket, but Yunomi still wore the shadowstone. The toll the torture and the battle had taken on her was soon apparent. Her head dropped to her chest, and she started to fall forward. Kane caught her, and stood up with her in his arms, intending to return to Dark Side. Reaper appeared out of the shadows and walked toward them, his arms outstretched to take Yunomi from Kane.
Kane shook his head. He didn’t trust his brother at all anymore, and was not about to give Yunomi over to him. Reaper stopped, and spoke to his brother in an almost gentle voice. “Please, Kane, let me take her home,” was all he said. Kane cocked his head in puzzlement. He had never heard Reaper ask nicely for anything. Confused, he stood quietly as Reaper took Yunomi from him. The Dark Lord turned and disappeared, leaving Kane exhausted and bewildered in Hell. Shaking his head, he bent to pick up Yunomi’s dagger and sword, then he too returned to Dark Side, to try and figure out exactly what had happened.
Reaper carried Yunomi into the bath house at the Badlands mansion, and gently began bathing her wounds. There were many, but none serious, and they healed quickly. Using the soapy water, he tried to get the shadowstone ring off her finger, but it wouldn’t budge. Smiling ruefully, he realized it was now like her other jewelry-none could take it from her, in life or in death. She would have to give it freely. Well, he would work on that later.
Kane returned to the empty row house he and Sandia had shared. There was a brief note on the table, asking him not to look for her. It seemed she had made the decision for him, that he would stay in the City near Yunomi. His relationship with his brother was another matter. Reaper had tricked him into losing control, letting him and Yunomi destroy the Thirteen, thus freeing Reaper from any repercussions. It had been a brilliant plan, but Kane hated being used. And Yunomi had paid a high price for her part in it. Kane wondered how much of the plan she had known, how deeply involved she had become in Reaper’s plotting.
Days later, Kane had grown bored, and decided to go to Casino el Camino for a beer. He sat at a dark table near Reaper’s, unsure of his reception. Laura came over and brought him a pitcher, then sat with him for a while. Reaper and Yunomi rolled in late, apparently in good moods. “Kane!” Yunomi shrieked when she saw him, and ran over to give him a huge hug. Reaper smiled his sinister grin, and extended his hand. “Come sit with us, brother,” he offered. Kane shook his brother’s hand, and joined them at their table. Yunomi held his one hand in her two, smiling happily. Kane was glad to see that she still wore the shadowstone ring.
Reaper began talking to Kane about his latest obsession, a book of forbidden knowledge supposedly hidden near the border with the Human Realm. As he rambled on, Kane glanced over to see Yunomi watching them both, a calm, loving expression on her face. He sighed. Reaper and Yunomi were his family now, no matter how much he mistrusted them. In spite of himself, he began listening to Reaper’s proposal on helping him find the book. Well, at least he wouldn’t be bored in their company. Kane sighed again, and squeezed Yunomi’s hands, returning her smile. This was going to be a very interesting family to live in.
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