Zyrkana watched the guard patrolling the grounds with a smile, her long tongue licking her fangs with relish. Her third eye revealed his aura. Weak, she thought. He won't be a problem. She leaped off the building she'd been sitting on and landed in a shadow without a sound. The oblivious guard didn't hear her blade unsheathe, didn't even know there was an intruder until her short sword was through his throat, his lifeblood spilling on the dirty pavement. As he gurgled his last she lapped the blood from her sword, sheathing it with an almost careless gesture.
Savoring the coppery taste of human blood, something she hadn't had in a very long time, she sauntered over to the wall of the compound. The human mage who'd summoned her had ordered her to kill the lord of this house, but hadn't said anything about the rest of its inhabitants. She began thinking that the debt she'd pledged to aid that human's family all those generations ago wasn't such a bad idea after all. At least she'd get to have some fun tonight, if only for a short while.
The compound's outer wall was state of the art, riddled with sensors that would detect anyone trying to scale it. It was higher than any human could jump, but Zyrkana was no mere mortal. Coiling her powerful legs, she sprang up and over the wall, landing in the garden. Taking cover behind a bush, her three eyes glowed as she inspected the grounds.
There were various guards in the garden. This one spares no expense, she thought. She figured that he was expecting an attack, but perhaps this was just garden variety paranoia. Crime bosses couldn't afford to be complacent, after all. Taking a closer look, she saw that the guards were equipped with the latest N-23 scanners. Their night and heat vision capabilities might cause her some trouble, but she doubted it.
Slinky as a cat, she crept out of the bush and towards the house. She evaded the guards, ducking behind trees and shrubbery as she went. A smell invaded her nostrils, and she stopped near a babbling brook at the center of the garden. It was sweet, and so different to what she usually smelled in the underworld. She lifted one of the lotus blossoms in a delicate hand and inhaled deeply, savoring the scent as much as the blood of the guard.
Just because she'd been summoned from hell to kill a man didn't mean she couldn't take a few moments to enjoy the small pleasures of the material plane. A smile touched her lips, and she sniffed again, letting the blossom fall back to its place. Feet shifted behind her, and she whirled, her eyes slits. There was a gazebo that the brook wound around, and up the structure her gaze traveled.
Atop the gazebo stood a figure in a flowing white robe. It was male, and her aura sight revealed that he was human as well. There was a sword at his hip, and lightning in his eyes. He stared down at her furiously, with great contempt, and said, "Well, well, well. What do we have here? Come by to enjoy the gardens at night?"
Zyrkana grinned at him, showing off her daggerish teeth. He was taken aback at this, and saw her for what she was.
"We don't have flowers like this where I come from," she said. "It's nice to experience true beauty once in a while. And who are you?"
"I am Kazan, and I guard this house, creature." He sneered down at her. "You would do well to leave before I am forced to make you."
"But these flowers are so beautiful," she said. "It would be a shame if I left without taking time to truly enjoy them."
"If I draw my sword," he gripped the handle, "then you will die here. You will never see any flowers again."
"Such boastful words for a human."
"What are you, thing?"
"So rude," Zyrkana pouted. "I'm a simple demon, here to kill the master of this house. Will you stand in my way?"
At her words Kazan's eyes widened, and he took a step back. He was the greatest swordsman in Shindatoshi, but he had never encountered something like this before. Against humans he had no equal, even those wielding guns. He had killed entire squads of enforcers before they could get one shot off. But against something like this, an actual demon from beyond the veil...
"I'm afraid I must. I have been hired to guard this house, and I cannot let you accomplish your task while I yet live."
"Then I'll just have to kill you," she said, grinning up at him.
Her hand flashed, a blur of movement, and Kazan spun out of the way. Not quite fast enough, the throwing knife had grazed the side of his head, leaving a red trail through his hair. He put his hand to the wound and saw blood on his fingers. Had he been half a second slower that knife would've been lodged in his eye socket. He gave a grim smile and looked down at the demon woman.
"So that's how it's going to be."
It wasn't a question.
Zyrkana giggled, taking a fighting stance. "It wouldn't be fun, otherwise," she replied.
He jumped down at her, unsheathing his blade and striking in one fluid motion. A normal man would've been cut in twain, but she simply wasn't there anymore. Another giggled sounded from behind him, and Kazan turned to see her crouched in a fighting stance, short sword drawn. She bounced on the balls of her feet, her clawed hands twitching in anticipation.
"You're going to have to be faster than that," she said, and dove in for a strike.
Kazan twisted, deflecting the blade and slicing out with his own. The demonic ninja bounded away a few feet, anger in her eyes. She felt her side, a thin gash along her ribs was leaking grey fluid. Her eyes glowed red, and she licked the blood from her hand, prehensile tongue playing over her fingers seductively.
"You're faster than you look. What was your name? Kazan? I want to remember you after I kill you."
"That's the name, but I'll not fall here, demon. I will, however, leave one of the lotus blossoms you like so much on your corpse when I leave you dead here. I could do no less for the first worthy opponent I've faced in years."
He rushed her, blade flashing in the moonlight. A flurry of cuts drove her back into the brook, water splashing around her feet. She parried each one, and Kazan began to feel she was toying with him. By the gods, she was fast! As he was distracted by her swordplay, her foot shot out and caught him in the inner thigh.
With a groan of pain he went down on one knee, and a second later her fist smashed into the side of his head. He fell upon the rocks in the brook, spitting blood from a split lip. His vision was blurry, he couldn't remember if he'd ever been hit that hard. Her foot splashed in the water in front of his face.
Looking up, he saw her grinning, her glowing eyes looking like cauldrons of red hot coals. She bent down over him, and reached out to caress his face. Leaning closer, her tongue darted out and licked his cheek. He grimaced at the touch, and her fangs flashed.
"Sorry, Kazan," she said. "It looks like you just weren't fast enough. You can die knowing that you were more fun than any fight I've had in at least two centuries."
Die? he thought. We'll see about that, you monster!
Without warning, his sword shot up and embedded itself in her gut. Pain etched itself across her face, and her free hand grasped the blade. Kazan twisted his arm, and cut deeper. The blade sank into the flesh of her hand as well, and her gray blood began to run down the blade.
As it did, Zyrkana saw that it hissed and spat along the shining metal. This sword is holy! she thought. She coughed, and Kazan withdrew his blade and whirled to his feet, taking a defensive stance. Both were breathing hard, and Zyrkana's free hand clamped over the hole in her gut. She straightened and faced the swordsman.
"Behold, demon!" Kazan shouted, drawing the attention of the other guards. "By the power of the gods I banish you back to hell!"
As the men with guns ran in, Kazan's blade flashed in a downward strike. Zyrkana's hand flew to her belt, and an explosion spread smoke across the brook. When the wind cleared it, the demon ninja was gone, her escape too fast for Kazan to follow.
If you enjoyed this story, you can find many more like it on my Original Fiction page, or in the anthology Darkest of Dreams from DimensionBucket Media on Amazon. You can also find more of my work at my website, jimfear138.blogspot.com, including my weekly podcast and audiobooks I've produced. You can also throw me a tip if you like at Ko-fi.