Karasumori Hyouji left his home early that morning, following a letter that he'd received in the dead of the night. Accompanied by a throwing knife. One that he knew very well, even. The way it was worn out, but still completely deadly in the hands of the owner, the way it reeked of blood but was completely clean. The Shiftry wrinkled his nose at the familiarity of it all... He had thought that the owner would be dead by now. What with his rushing into battle one after the other without a plan.
He may be good at what he does, he may be the genius of the battlefield, but nobody's perfect.
The happy little signature at the end of the letter prove him wrong, though... Dead wrong... The letter was of invitation. Invitation for him to meet the writer of the letter in the woods deeper inside the Hollows. Hyouji intended to not go, but due to the nature of the writer of the letter he tucked in his gi top, he decided against it. Sighing, he picked up his priest staff, put on his tengu geta, pulled the wooden tengu mask he always wore on and started towards the meeting place that the person he was to meet indicated in the letter.
Something didn't feel right though... There was a strange feeling that he was experiencing... Was this what they called 'feeling your heart sink'? Hyouji didn't stop to ask if that were the case. The golden hoops on his staff jangled as he struck it against the ground with every step he took, and soon, the tengu-like man found himself in a sea of green, carefully treading on the soft ground. He didn't like the looks of the place already. He resorted to walking on roots to avoid sinking into the ground due to the height of his geta, and stopped walking suddenly.
Sitting before him on a large tree root was a familiar-looking traveller, donning a graying, well-worn green travelling cloak with a wide-brimmed straw hat pulled down to conceal his face. The gauntlets he wore were a dead giveaway, though, and Hyouji wondered just waht the large bundle in the other man's lap was. It looked almost like another person. Hyouji frowned at this, he wasn't interested in what the other man was holding, he was more interested in what he wanted to say.
Crossing his arms over his chest, the Shiftry leaned against the tree whose root he was standing on, and finally addressed the other man, whom he recognized to be a Gallade,
"I haven't got all day, speak up, Kakeru," his tone was cold, mainly because he never wanted to see either Kakeru or the older man who was their companion back when they were mercenaries.
The traveller chuckled at the fake priest's tone, "Hyouji... We haven't seen each other in forever... and that's how you greet me?" he tilted his chin up to look at the Shiftry, those bright crimson eyes boring into Hyouji's steel-gray ones, "I was hoping for a warmer welcome."
Hyouji shrugged, "I had plans for today, until you decided throwing your letter at me in the middle of the night was fun. Now I'm groggy, more than a little annoyed and basically not in a very good mood," the tengu-like man's words came out naturally. It wasn't like he was used to hiding things from Kakeru. In fact... When they were younger, Kakeru was his best friend, someone he used to observe due to this strange 'truth' he kept telling Hyouji.
"Only the strong are fit to live. The weak ones deserve to die,"
That was the 'truth' of life that Kakeru knew, the one he grew up with, and believed whole-heartedly, almost religiously. Hyouji used to be impressed to see how much bloodshed Kakeru could cause, how lives mean so little to him. But ever since Azusa died because of him... he had thought it was disgusting. Sure, he can't back down from the fact that he enjoyed hurting people himself, but now... After meeting the people that he did, playing a role he didn't think he'd fit into well... Feeling things he'd never felt before...
Bloodlust was no longer in his dictionary, unless it meant he was protecting someone...
The Gallade let out a small humming sound, shifting in his seat and cradling the bundle in his lap, "Ah, is that right. Apologies, then," of course the apology wasn't sincere, "Anyway... I know you don't like wasting time, so I thought I'll just tell it to you straight."
Hyouji tilted his head slightly, waiting for an answer from the assassin with the boyish smile. And deep down, he wished he hadn't come after all.
"I finished the job you didn't manage to a long time ago."
The Shiftry's ears perked up at that. What didn't he finish? Did Kakeru kill Azusa's murderers? But... Kakeru didn't know about Azusa's death. He never told anyone about what happened to her. The Gallade smirked at the confused look on Hyouji's face. He knew the perk of those ears, the tilt of his head, well enough to not have to guess. That stupid mask was always in the way... Kakeru moved his hand, pulling at one edge of the cloth on the bundle in his lap. Hyouji frowned behind his mask. So it WAS a person... But who--
The fake priest's eyes widened behind the mask when Kakeru pulled the sheets away. Cradled carefully in his arms, looking as if she were asleep was Oboro. Kakeru had taken the time to clean the blood that was visible on her skin, but the usually calming green kimono she wore was dyed red with what he knew was blood.
His heart sank, and he felt his knees go weak for a moment there. He couldn't breathe. The one person whom he had asked for forgiveness for what he's done, and the very one who had given it, even if she was reluctant to do so, was gone. The woman he couldn't bring himself to kill because he had suffered a similar loss that she did... Harukumo Oboro... was dead.
The next few moments were a blur to him. One moment, he was standing there, dumbstruck. The next, he had drawn the hidden blade inside his staff, a katana with a thin blade that gave very clean cuts, but at the same time was brittle if he didn't handle it properly. The blade was swung in Kakeru's direction, who simply leaned sideways to avoid the swipe. The Gallade rolled the rest of the way, bringing Oboro's dead body with him as if she were a puppet of his and stood up, watching the Shiftry's confused expression, wondering to himself just what he was doing. The assassin himself couldn't help but feel confused over the sudden assault,
"What's the matter, Hyouji?" he asked, a little concerned, "I thought this would make the perfect present for you for when I move into the Hollows," the Gallade wasn't smiling, but he raised a brow, wondering what explanation the Shiftry may have for this. Weren't they friends?
"What's the matter...?" Hyouji echoed, wondering what was wrong himself for a moment before glaring at the Gallade, "You've killed someone who meant something to me, THAT'S WHAT!!" he bellowed, lunging towards the young man with Extrasensory to hold him down, his other arm swinging the blade down on the Gallade.
Kakeru felt the weight of Hyouji's powers on him, frowning at the headache it gave him. However.. He's taken this attack more than enough times to be able to withstand it. Taking one heavy step forwards, Oboro's body carefully draped over one arm, he ducked under the next swing of the blade and brought a fist up to the obviously angered Shiftry. His punch connected with the older man's chin, sending him reeling back from shock.
With the weight of Hyouji's attack off of him, the Gallade placed Oboro down near the tree root as if she were still alive, and raised his arms slightly. The sound of his bone blades pushing out of his elbows were eerie, a sound that Hyouji was accustomed to, but still felt a shiver down his spine as he grabbed the 'sheath' of his blade to use as a second blade, or a mace.
"Someone who meant something to you..." the Gallade frowned, processing it before a wide grin spread across his face, "Aaah~ I see, I see... I made you hurt. That's why you're angry, isn't it?"
His only answer was a Focus Blast to the chest. Kakeru gritted his teeth, biting back the pain as he was forced backwards several steps. He couldn't use Psycho Cut on him, as the Shiftry could nullify Psychic moves against him and doubled over slightly. Damn... that stung. The angered Shiftry stepped in at that moment, prepared to finish the young man off when Kakeru lunged at him before he could move away.
A strange energy glowed around the Gallade's form, and pain washed over him through every blow of Kakeru's Close Combat. Each blow was stronger, faster, till he was leaning against a tree while Kakeru treated him like a punching bag, never letting up to allow him to breathe. Hyouji could feel several bones crack, blood surging through his throat and leaving his mouth, he barely noticed Kakeru slipping in several slashes on Hyouji with the Shiftry's own blade.
The final blow knocked the wind out of him. Several ribs have broken, he couldn't feel one of his arms, probably dislocated, his leg was hurting him something bad, and his whole body felt like it was going to break down the moment he touched the ground. Oh wait. He didn't touch the ground. Kakeru had grabbed his throat, lifting him clear off the ground that way, and all the Shitry knew was that he couldn't breathe.
"I'm disappointed, Hyouji..." Kakeru said gently, looking into those glazed gray eyes with his cruel blood-red ones, "I thought you could entertain me longer..." he squeezed, and Hyouji could feel his eyes roll to the back of his head. Kakeru tilted his head, amused by this, and placed his free hand on Hyouji's cheek.
Hyouji would have attacked Kakeru if he had the energy to. He would have retaliated at the feel of those fingers brushing against his skin, and shortly after that, his fingertips brushing against his eyelid. Panic surged through him. His broken body wouldn't move no matter how he tried to, his being unable to breathe was gradually being a bother as he couldn't speak either, and above all...
Kakeru had intended to see him squirm, to see him so... weak. Something Hyouji had never allowed the insane young man see. It was also apparent.. that Kakeru didn't like Hyouji anymore. Kakeru would only hurt those he didn't like, or if they were his targets, after all...
The Gallade chuckled, almost giddily at the strained sounds that Hyouji was making. His unbelievable weak pleas for the younger man to stop. It was surprising how he could still let out that choked cry while Kakeru gouged his eye out. The Gallade smirked, watching the pain surge through the priests body till he pulled the eye out and dropped the Shiftry unceremoniously on the ground,
"You were fun when you were stronger, Hyouji. Give me a good fight next time, I want to take me time with you..." Kakeru's words promised Hyouji an agonizingly slow death as he turned around, picked up Oboro (presumably to bury her at last), and left the scene.
Hyouji lay where he was discarded, unmoving. The pain was too much for him to bear... and the world had swirled into nothing.