That night, Kazan meditated in the garden. He sat in the gazebo, the moon shining bright overhead, and thought about what happened last night. The wound on his head had quit throbbing, and his concussion had passed. He was as fit for a fight as could be asked.
And yet, his mind was troubled.
That woman, or demon, had almost killed him. It had been so long since he'd been in actual danger in a fight that he'd forgotten what the sensation of fearing for his life was like. But there was something more to it.
As he sat and thought, waiting for an alarm that would surely sound, he was more honest with himself than he would be with others. That demon had been alluring. Beautiful, if he was being truthful. On top of being the first real fight he'd had in almost a decade. And the way she'd touched his cheek. It was almost like the caress of a lover...
He shook his head and took a firmer grip on the sword laid across his lap. He could not forget his duty, if the sacredness had gone out of the task. Here he was, Kazan of the Shining Blade, reduced to being muscle for a crime boss. The blow to his personal honor was so strong he considered just letting the demon past next time. Truly he had fallen far since his days as a young warrior.
Starting, Kazan pulled his pocket watch out of his robe and checked the time. He had been meditating for longer than he'd intended. As he stood, he looked out over the gardens, amazed at the tranquility surrounding the place he'd come within an inch of losing his life.
But something was wrong.
The regular patrols should've passed this way minutes ago, by his reckoning. Maybe they were off smoking again, taking too long on their breaks. This is no time to get distracted, he thought. Stepping out of the gazebo, he went off to find the guards who should've been roaming through this area.
After a few minutes of walking, he encountered nobody. This was very odd, and he smelled trouble on the wind. Along with a sharper scent. Looking down, he saw a stain on the grass. He bent over to inspect it, and noticed that the grass itself was tramped down, and it looked like feet had been dug into it. The stain was blood, it was unmistakable. He followed the bends in the grass over to a group of shrubs, and peeling back their branches his eyes widened as the color drained from his face.
There were four dead men concealed in the bushes. Their wounds were grievous, dealt by a blade that had found the weak points in their kevlar as though it might not have been there at all. Their guns lay in a pile near them, discarded like children's toys.
He straightened, ready to cry out, but felt a blade at his throat. Stiffening, he grimaced and put his hands up. "So, you did return."
A giggle sounded behind him, and he felt hot breath on his ear as his attacker spoke.
"You had to know I'd come back for you. You were so much fun in our last encounter, I had to try my strength against you again."
He grinned ruefully, keeping his hands away from his sides. "Well, you've got me now, little demon. What do you intend to do with me?"
The blade scraped at his stubble, and he inhaled sharply, anticipating the cut that would end him. To his surprise, she spoke again.
"You're fun, Samurai. I wish all my opponents could be like you. But perhaps that would diminish how special this is."
"I'm here for your boss, but I would love to have more fun with you. Unfortunately it's going to have to wait. More's the pity."
Kazan's head was grabbed and twisted, and he felt his lips meet the lips of the demon ninja. Her two eyes were closed, but the third was open and staring. He felt as though it were boring into his soul.
Her soft kiss left him aghast. This was the last thing he'd been expecting. He was sure his life was over, but now... Kazan was at a loss. She pulled back and smiled, staring into his eyes like they'd just woken up in bed together. She spoke, and as she did he noticed a tingle in his mouth that was quickly working its way into his extremities.
"Don't worry, this poison won't kill you."
At the word 'poison' he tensed and gave a strangled cry. His body wasn't obeying his commands. He felt his limbs locking up, stiffening, and as he fell he knew in that moment that he was dead.
"You'll just be paralyzed for a little while. It wouldn't do to kill such a fine warrior with such cheap tactics." She reached down and brushed her fingertips on his lips as she whispered, "And such a handsome one, too."
Straightening to her full height, she stretched and looked down at him. "You'll be fine in an hour or so, Samurai. I just needed you out of the picture so I can kill your boss. After that, we can have our fun together. But I have a job to finish."
Kazan railed against his failing limbs, but it was no use. He was disabled, and forced to lie on the grass where she'd left him as she ran off into the night to commit her evil deeds. He cursed himself for being a fool, and languished as he waited for the poison to wear off, if it even would. After all, could he trust the word of this demon woman?
Zyrkana ran off, smiling to herself as she wiped the poison from her lips. That had been easier than she thought it'd be. Men are all the same, she reflected. But she couldn't help remembering the feel of his mouth pressed to hers, how good it had felt, how close his body was, and how long it had been since she'd met a man like him.
She shook off her frustration and turned her gaze to the house itself. It had occurred to her that a powerful and influential crime boss might have other safe houses he could go to, but she chose to trust in the arrogance of mortals. After all, if he was somewhere else, surely he'd have his best warrior there to protect him. Dead giveaway.
Making it to the side of the house without incident, she saw that 'fortress' might be a more accurate descriptor. The place was massive, and well secured. The entrance door had a hand scanner, but she'd thought ahead for that. Reaching into a pouch at her belt that was dripping red fluid, she removed from it a human hand and pressed it to the scanner. The device beeped, and the door slid open.
Zyrkana discarded the hand, she wouldn't need it anymore, and it fell to the boards of the porch with a dull thump. Creeping inside, she found the shadows plentiful and stuck to them. The average human wouldn't be able to see her there, but unfortunately for her these humans were augmented with high technology, so she took extra care to tread silently.
Outside, thunder rumbled, and a light rain began to fall.
Down the halls she slinked, avoiding the occasional guard. Jaren had given her enough vids to watch of Boss Mai. She had his aura memorized, and her third eye guided her through the house towards his bedchambers like a panther stalking its prey.
At last she found the door, and discovered it was guarded. She expected as much. Leaping up to an overhead beam, she padded towards the guards. When she was above them, she dropped in between the two. Her blade flashed, and the humans went down clutching at their throats.
Not having the time to relish in the smell or taste of freshly spilled blood, she slid open the door and entered the dark chamber. There on the bed lay Boss Mai, she knew it was him from his aura. There were no guards in the room, so she stalked over and planted her feet on the bed above him.
He started awake, his jowls quivering as he beheld the vision of hell standing over him. Her short sword flashed in the candlelight as she raised it high, then plunged it down, pinning the fat pig to the bed.
And oh, how he squealed. The sound was as sweet as a symphony to her ears, his struggles like a mouse trying to escape a cat. She didn't care if it drew in the guards. Her job was finished here. Except for one thing...
As he struggled, he knocked a candle over onto the floor. It rolled along the hardwood until the flame began licking at the bedding. Zyrkana raised her sword and her tongue lapped at the blood trickling down it. She spat, the taste was foul. Flicking the rest of the sickening liquid from her blade, she watched the flames engulf the bed, quickly spreading to the wall hangings and ceiling. The smell of the body was like a roasting animal, and she she exited through the skylight.
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.