The Curious Takahashis
By David Edward Nell
Hiroshi searched all the rooms in the house in a bid to find his daughter. She was missing, hiding somewhere. Then he remembered her old refuge she would always go to during her temper tantrums. So he went to the backyard. There she was on the roof's edge, swinging her legs.
“Come down this instant,” Hiroshi demanded. “Or must I use my sling?”
“Why can't I do what I want for once?” Mori whined.
“Because I say so.”
“I'll just stay here forever, then.”
“Listen,” he tried to reason, “some day you'll understand. But this is tradition. Every member of the Takahashi clan must shed fear to become Devil King warriors. Our services are in demand from all the bureaucrats of the lands. If you want to live here, you will follow orders.” A stomp asserted how serious he was.
“As if I care. I'll go to another clan,” she said. “Maybe I'll even get a boy.”
“No, you won't.”
“The nobles can get some other fools to do their dirty work, fools like you.”
“Where'd you learn to talk like that? Don't cost the family with your selfishness.”
“What family? Mother is dead, and you know why? Because of fighting. So stupid.”
Taken aback, Hiroshi turned away to sob into his hands. Mori kept on watching him, and couldn't anymore when the guilt ate into her. She leapt off the roof to comfort him, only to be pinched by the ear.
“Ow! Why be so cold?”
“Who's the fool now?” he said, dragging her to a trek on the main road.
“I can't believe you. This is embarrassing.”
“It's even more embarrassing for my blood to be so ridiculous. Who raised this coward? I've taught you much, Mori, and you knew of this day. Stop complaining and reserve your fight for the beast.”
“I hate you,” she barked in response.
“Anger is good. Harvest this emotion for the ritual.”
“What if I die?”
“The demon's chained.”
“I wish you'd be braver, and quiet.”
“There are other ways to shed fear, aren't there?”
“Now you're trying to play tricks. No, young lady, it's because of the Devil King initiation, which has been enacted for ages, that the Takahashis are a special breed.”
“Like drunk Uncle Ninawa?”
“Really, you deserve a smack. And he doesn't do that sort of thing anymore, okay?”
She smiled to herself, but lost it when the end of the road was reached and they were standing at the entrance of a cave embedded at the posterior of a small mountain. Quickly, he forced her in before she could object, and Mori wasn't sure how she was able to keep walking with those jittery legs. She couldn't see anything until her father lit a torch. Afterwards, she was staring right at the demon, and it at her. The horned beast was powerless, however, lying splayed on a slab of stone.
“I'm going to die,” she moaned.
“Arm your sword,” Hiroshi said.
Mori slipped out her katana. “O-okay.”
“One clean cut,” he added.
She raised the blade in the air as her father held the demon's arm.
“Right in the middle of the wrist,” he said. “Go on.”
She let out a scream. Her eyes went wide and primal. The sword came down, cut the air, struck rock, and the demon's appendage plopped off and rolled to her feet. And her trembles turned into giggles.
“Doesn't it bleed?” she asked.
“Evil bleeds only sin.”
“Little bitch,” the demon spat and stifled a laugh, “I curse you.”
“You can't curse me, monster. I am now your king, superior to the hellborn.”
Hiroshi rubbed his daughter's scalp, beaming proudly. “I knew you could do it.”
“Thank you, Father. So sorry for rebelling.”
“Don't worry. Aren't you glad it's over?”
“Very much so, but I realize this is only the beginning of my warrior days. I have to say, I think I've fallen in love with my sword.”
“That's my Mori.”
“Ha!” the demon said. “Silly girl, you will be as much a warrior as your mother is a corpse in the grave.”
Hiroshi threw the demon a strange look, as if to reprimand him. His finger went to his lip to hush. “Ignore the idiot,” he told his daughter. When he reached out to her, she resisted, and then it was too late. She wasn't paying attention. Mori unsheathed her katana again, positioned it by her hip at the ready, and charged. The blade cleanly pierced the demon's side, and retracted as quickly as it had entered. Blood began spilling on the rock.
The demon's voice changed, became a mortal's pained howl. “Enough...enough...with this act.”
“What did you do, Mori?” Hiroshi snagged the sword from her grasp, her mouth agape.
“Brother, just tell her the truth.” The demon pulled off its face, nothing more than a mask.
Mori fell to her knees, Hiroshi as well, in defeat.
“I'm so sorry, Uncle,” she said, breaking out in tears.
“No, don't apologize. This...this is your first kill as a Devil King. I am...honored.” Uncle Ninawa went pale and lifeless, loosing his last smile. And the father and his daughter wallowed in minutes of misery, mourning, praying for forgiveness. Finally, Hiroshi got up, and he was the only one with strength that moment. He touched his brother's face, covered those stunned, dead eyes, and saw the flask of Sake hidden on the other side of the rock.
- - -
Having spent years trying to evade the Equestrian mafia, David Edward Nell now writes from a nameless hideout in Cape Town, South Africa. By night, disguised as numerous pop culture figures, he can usually be found scouring the African plains for loving. Stalk him at http://davidedwardnell.blogspot.com, but keep this a secret.
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