RECOMMENDED FOR MATURE AUDIENCES
A hot river sprayed through my fingers and into the chasm bridging the skyline. Even at half strength my bounds traveled faster and farther than human or beast; so long as I did not hesitate or nurse my wounds too closely.
How could I have been so weak? Two hundred souls had been claimed as mine, only for the rest snatched by a pretender whose scars paled in comparison. Who did he think he was to usurp my holy quest?
Wounds wept through the hand squeezed against it, losing life to the gravel. The power of Dollkind burned at the flesh, pulling it closed, sealing it in my vessel, but not fast enough.
Every second was vital.
Tarred wings streaked toward the sky, and with it pulled a gust that knocked me from my feet. It’s scream tore through my ears, and a new layer of agony left other senses scrambling.
No, I had to be more than that; I had to be more than… him.
Silver shot after the bird on the back of a spear, snarling and salivating. There was no question that the Platinum Doll wanted the prize, but did he need it? Was he a slave to it as I was?
Damn the bleeding; damn the ice wave climbing my chest. Magic summoned blades into my grip and made them into limbs. My eyes fixed skyward, not to the creature but to a vulnerable corner waiting for victory.
I pounced and was in the air with wind whipping at my flesh. It had been scant seconds since they’d taken to the sky, but closing between them dragged eternally. Time slowed to a crawl as the Platinum Doll’s momentum waned.
My body continued at breakneck pace until finally, finally, I struck!
Long slashes opened his back; a wide cross stained with blood reached across his uniform. One turn was all it would take to plunge the knife into the center, into his heart, into his death.
The Platinum Doll twirled and caught my wrists, grappling with me as we plummeted. His grip was strong; stronger than I was after losing so much of my life blood, and with the ground pushing toward us he didn’t leave much time for us to end our combat.
“You don’t know when to quit,” he spat.
“You think I’m going to give up now!?”
His spear fell to the wayside, as did my own weapons. We locked, reduced to kicking and elbows; when I pulled him close I cracked my forehead to his nose. He bled and I grinned, perhaps hysterically so, but I couldn’t stop; his fury pushed him through the daze, and I had no time to gloat.
“Two hundred and twenty four evil spirits,” I seethed. “You have no idea how long it’s been… How hard I’ve slaved… The things I’ve done to get here!”
Yamaguchi rolled and planted his feet in my chest. With a push he released and flew away, scaling the walls of buildings as we cascaded to the ground.
I bounced from window to wall, letting the concrete take the brunt of my momentum. Were it only enough to keep from crashing, shattering cars and sending bystanders scrambling for safety.
Soon the dust cleared. Pedestrians had phones in hand to snap pictures; traffic police stepped from their podiums and urged the remaining crowd to step back. They too looked in horror as I lifted myself from the gore.
Amidst the gasps and the screams I heard his voice, booming from his perch atop a bus.
“It’s over,” he said.
What the hell was he…? Then, I saw.
The sky opened, swirling and hungry, drawing shadow and feathers into a place beyond knowing. I watched, just as I had hundreds of times before; the humans could not see, but Platinum Doll could.
His gaze rested on me.
My fists trembled. “What have you done…?”
“We aren’t the only ones fighting spirits,” he mused.
A figure appeared from behind him; another doll, larger than the two of us, dressed in black and gold. Her face was round, her lips full, as were her arms which could have crushed any man, even before her transformation.
“Score one for the Amber Doll,” she grinned.
Yamaguchi smiled at her, then down on me; like he was so much better. “I don’t expect you to understand, but this is something we’re doing together. Either we all fulfil the contract, or none of us do. You can join us, or you can stand in our way. It’s up to you.”
Two rival dolls in Tokyo! In just a few short nights the odds had turned. In my given state against Platinum and Amber Dolls I didn’t stand a chance.
I wiped away what blood I could and scoffed.
“You have no idea what you’ve done.”
The larger of the two leaned over her friend’s shoulder and sneered. “So what’s it going to be, greenie? Are you with us or against us?”
Stupid questions with complicated answers; they could not understand so early in the game.
I turned and peered to the moon. With one jump I was gone. They could have followed me, but they didn’t. If there was one thing I could count on it was their antiquated sense of honor, and the opportunity to lick my wounds.
To be continued…