RECOMMENDED FOR MATURE READERS
How to describe the smell of demonic flesh…
It goes beyond anything that a human might experience, lower than the most wretched depth of disgust. To call it a feculent odor of maggots rotting under the sun would cannot begin to convey the vileness. The aroma supersedes your senses and claws at your gut, washing over your pores, and covers you with filth that can only be cleansed with fire.
Imagine the way my stomach churned as the crow spirit flapped its wings in my face, filling the air with its scent. I launched away from the swipe of its talons. Had I not the composure of a supernatural being I might have doubled over and wretched instead of rolling to safety.
I reclaimed my footing and launched back, flinging twin blades. They flew over the expanse between us; one lodged itself under the demon’s wing, and the other in its neck.
The chasm between doll and foe snapped shut and I clung to its feathers, pulling out handfuls of the tar-coated quills covering its hide. With every ounce of strength in my body I fought to hold on against pecking, clawing, and jerking of gravity as our combined weight pulled us from flight.
My body took to the air seconds before impact, leaving the crow to shatter its beak atop the lonely Tokyo skyscraper. I glared as it whipped around, shards of bone and cartilage falling from the ring of its maw; the demon’s deafening cry a pathetic challenge to finish that which I had started.
My daggers returned to hand, drawn by will, and were thrust down with my fall. A deathly glare jutted to the top of the blade, determination driving for its heart.
Just as I was to land the killing blow a flurry of feathers swirled like a tornado. They whipped at my face like raining glass. The cuts were superficial, but numerous enough to put me on the defensive. No, I would not let it take this victory from me!
When my feet touched the concrete the beast was gone; I was alone with its stench burning in my wounds. No amount of soap could strip it from my skin.
My nails shredded through my gloves and buried into fists. I was seething. Somewhere in a million lights a foul spirit was nesting and licking its wounds. Next time it would be prepared and I – I would be a mark short until I next caught its scent.
The voice of the wolf echoed in my skull. “You were careless.”
“Careless!?” I let out a shriek and threw myself to face him. “You don’t get to tell me about careless, not when you’ve been picking up street urchins and turning them into gods!”
Grenier licked his nose and sat. His golden eyes, usually so sharp, eased under a heavy brow he could not be bothered to lift.
“One would think you were afraid of a little competition,” he said.
I scoffed and lay against a wall. “Punk transvestites are the least of my problems,” I spat. “My issue is with the number of evil spirits that will be snatched up before I can reach my goal. It’s going to slow me down, and you’ll be the one responsible.”
The wolf lifted his head and perked his ears. “Oh, is that why you failed to capture your prey?” The mutt didn’t laugh, but his eagerness was close enough.
“Keep pushing. See what happens.”
“Emerald Doll,” he said, “your anger betrays you. Life rarely moves to a set schedule, especially when it comes to things beyond your world. You would do best to keep your mind off other distractions and set them on your goal.”
My wounds had closed, but were still dripping. The scent of crow left me wanting to gag.
“Is that what you tell Yamaguchi Genkai?” I said.
“The Platinum Doll is an agent just like you,” said Grenier. “No more, no less.”
“You didn’t need another agent.”
“There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy,” he continued. “Hellish things doubly so. I would be failing my station if I were to employ just one doll. You were aware of this.”
He was right; I couldn’t be the only one of my kind forever. That would have been too easy.
Grenier arched up and peered into the night with keenness nipping at his heels. He set one paw forward, and allowed himself to be drawn by a force unseen.
“What is it?”
“Business that does not concern you,” he said. The wolf bound into the shadows, flying through the sky and dissipating into clouds…
…in the direction of the docking yards!
I was on my feet in an instant. My cuts were clean, my uniform was restored, and I was ready for another fight.
To be continued…