Death by Ex-Girlfriend: War Cloud
With Amaterasu's blessing, Tsukiakari and Bishamon, archenemies for centuries, were finally going to have their duel.
Osamu, Tsukuyomi, Amaterasu, Uzume, the Shoku Twins, and Izanami all gathered at the foot of the hill Heaven's village was built upon, in the open meadows of swaying susuki grass. Each of them stood shoulder to shoulder together, standing a good distance away from Bishamon and Tsukiakari.
"You will have a great deal of things to explain to me later, Izanami." Amaterasu said, the wind furling her raven hair.
"That makes two of us." Izanami hissed.
Amaterasu scoffed as she crossed her arms. "Uzume, go and tell them they can begin whenever they like."
Uzume bowed before sauntering down the meadow. "Right away."
Osamu's ears caught the faint sounds of gasps and whispers at the foot of the hill. He turned around, seeing the multitude of gods in pristine, white robes and masked shrine maidens gathering at the bottom of the steps leading to the village. He saw reflections of concern on the faces of the male gods and terror on the mugs of the youthful shrine maidens. Mixed in with the symphony of gasps and gossip, some of the gods shouted in support of Bishamon, calling on him to prove his might against Tsukiakari, a princess turned traitor to Heaven.
"Crush her, Bishamonten! Do it for Oyamatsumi!"
"That witch killed my friends! Destroy her!"
"Don't you dare lose against that traitor, Bishamon!"
Osamu completely understood why Tsukiakari seemed to enjoy herself so much during the initial assault. He saw for himself how much her fellow gods loathed her, none of them knowing that she was the ultimate victim in Bishamon's schemes during the Warring States.
"And so we have an audience..." Tsukuyomi groaned.
"The gods acquired their fondness of bloodsports from you, Tsukuyomi." Amaterasu mocked. "The sins of our fathers live on like phantoms, don't they?"
"I see you still haven't forgiven me." Tsukuyomi replied.
"None of us have. None of us ever will." Amaterasu said, garnering the brief gazes of Tsukuyomi, Izanami, and the Shoku Twins. A short quietude settled between them.
"What about you, mortal?" Amaterasu asked.
Osamu recoiled in surprise. "Me? What about me?"
"Do you have anyone you cannot forgive?" Amaterasu questioned further.
Osamu took a second to get over the initial shock of Amaterasu herself speaking directly to him. "Just Bishamon. Maybe if he had changed since his time in the Warring States, I would've forgiven him for what he did to Tsukiakari and her clan. That wasn't the case though. He's still the calculating monster he was back then."
"I'm sure the audience behinds us feels that way about Tsukiakari." Akatsuki surmised.
"Well they're wrong!" Omagatoki protested. "All of this is Bishamon's fault, not Gekko's!"
"Everyone will harbor their hatred and justify it within themselves." Amaterasu said. "It's almost shameful that we gods are no different from humans in that regard. Izanami created Death and Tsukuyomi showed us the joy of violence again. Those two things met like a spark to oil. We had no hope of overcoming ourselves when we realized our hatred could be actualized."
Uzume approached Bishamon and Tsukiakari as their mediator. "Amaterasu has given her blessing. You may begin your duel. Let me remind you both that this duel is not over until one of you is dead. The god that dies here will not be reincarnated, no matter the amount of prayers they receive from their followers. The only real rule here is not to destroy any more of Heaven's property."
"Fine. I understand." Bishamon growled.
"That's what happens if I lose. What about if I win?" Tsukiakari questioned.
"In the event of your victory, Tsukiakari, you shall be welcomed back home. You will no longer be considered a stray goddess and we shall remove your charge as a traitor." Uzume explained. "I can make no promises about your reinstatement as Heaven's heir, however. I'm afraid that decision rests solely on Amaterasu."
"That's good enough for me. I accept the terms." Tsukiakari said.
"Well then, I shall get out of your way. May the righteous god win." Uzume said with a bow before walking back to Amaterasu.
Left alone with enough space to fight, Tsukiakari and Bishamon drew their blades as they stared the other down, the wind combing through their hair and the susuki grass at their feet.
"Anything you want to say to me before I kill you?" Tsukiakari asked.
"I'd do it all again." Bishamon mocked. "Heaven is where it is now because of the Senkumo clan, and should you win, you'd reap the reward of the lives I sacrificed. You'd be sleeping on a bed of their bones."
"We were so close, Bishamon." Tsukiakari growled. "We could've revolutionized Japan and the very concept of nations. A stratocracy where every citizen is part of the military, a nation that also serves as its own business...it was perfect. We could've ended the abuse of soldiers and civilian lives. We could've uprooted the corruption of the central government and the shogunate. Little did we know that our own master embodied the very corruption we sacrificed everything to fight against. Orphans that had lost everything in the Onin War flocked to you to give them purpose and you whispered lies in their ears like the serpent you are. You were no different from the daimyo that destroyed their lives!"
Tsukiakari tightened her grip around her blade's mantle. "When Ebina was mortally wounded, you had us put her down. When you ordered us to continue fighting against the Ouchi clan, despite our forces being ill-equipped, Katsumi was killed in action. When Taeko threatened to reveal your secret, you killed her child and locked her away when she turned into a Mu-Onna. And by the time the war was nearing its end, you killed everyone that remained because you didn't need them anymore. Inori, Chiya, Goro and so many more people...all of them died at your hand."
"Like I said, I'd do it all again."
"I want you to remember their names today. I want you to remember their faces when I kill you." Tsukiakari declared.
Finished with words, Bishamon and Tsukiakari took their stances. Osamu, Izanami, and all of the gods of Heaven watched with bated breath as the wind began to howl. Tsukiakari tightened her grip around her blade, the very same one that Isabella gifted to her over a year ago. She closed her eyes as if she were meditating, or perhaps even praying. Bishamon made the first move, speeding towards her like a bullet fire from a gun. Tsukiakari blocked his horizontal slash with her blade, but was knocked far back by the power of his momentum.
She went flying through the susuki fields, but quickly regained her posture as she slid backwards on her feet. Bishamon was already speeding towards her again, prompting her to duck rather than block this time. She then leaped away from Bishamon as thunder boomed in the sky, followed by a blinding flash of lightning that crashed down upon her opponent. Bishamon was veiled by a wall of smoke from the lightning strike, but the wind quickly whisked it away. He knelt on knee with his sword held over his head, having narrowly blocked the lightning strike. His sword glowed orange with heat, slowly cooling down and returning to its normal color.
"Same old tricks, Gekko?" Bishamon mocked.
The wind gathered and swirled around Bishamon's blade, the strengthening air pressure slicing the susuki grass around him with the same lethal precision as his sword. He swung his blade three times, sending three waves of this lethal wind flying towards Tsukiakari. Her eyes followed the trail of splitting susuki in order to track the trajectory of each wave. One sped towards her from her twelve o' clock, another at her two, and the third at her ten. She stuck her blade into the ground, using her powers to command the ground to rise like am earthen wall, shielding her from the wind.
The earthen wall protected her from the three gusts of pressured wind, but it completely crumbled after taking all three hits at once. With the wall gone and Tsukiakari able to see in front of again, she saw Bishamon right in front of her, speeding towards her with a sword attack yet again. She had no choice but to block the attack, absorbing the force of Bishamon's momentum through her arms and shoulders. This time, Tsukiakari held her ground and wasn't propelled backwards. She held steady and stopped Bishamon right in his tracks, locking blade with her former master.
Bishamon's sword lit up with an orange glow as it began to absorb more heat from Tsukiakari's blade. Her sword seemed to carry all of her seething hatred and fiery contempt for the man that ruined her life. All of it transferred over to his sword, drawing an amused chuckle out of him.
"After all this time, you're still so self-righteous." Bishamon scorned. "Ebina? Mayumi? Taeko? What about Ichiki? What about my children?"
"You took everyone I loved from me!" Tsukiakari roared. "I only returned the favor!"
"So you don't regret murdering them? You don't regret mutilating my wife and burning my children alive?!"
"I'd do it all again!" Tsukiakari smirked, flipping his words back on him.
Tsukiakari pushed Bishamon back and raised her sword skyward. Thunder rocked the canopy of dark clouds in the sky as Tsukiakari summoned forth the rainwater stored within them. A tornado of swirling rainwater crashed down upon Bishamon, enveloping him completely. His cheeks puffed out as he held his breath inside of the waterspout. His orange-hot sword hissed and clouded the tornadic waterspout with steam.
The waterspout suddenly blew apart into millions of water droplets, freeing Bishamon from its watery grip. A gust of wind combed through the susuki surrounding him like an invisible scythe, indicating he had simply used the air to blow apart the waterspout from the inside. He landed on his feet, couching water out from his lungs as he stared daggers at Tsukiakari.
Izanami nervously gnawed her nails the whole time. She could hardly tell who was going to win the battle. Both Tsukiakari and Bishamon were far out of their prime. The fight Izanami was witnessing didn't even come close to the intensity of the first death match the two gods had after the destruction of the Senkumo clan. Izanami herself knew that, but she still couldn't help but feel maddeningly anxious.
It looked to her like Tsukiakari was starting to run out of ideas. Outclassed in speed and strength, she had to rely on lighting and water magic, as well as her own reflexes and luck. Izanami thought back to the time she fought Tsukiakari after she nearly killed Yoko, confirming that it was the same back then as well. Close combat, which used to be Tsukiakari's strength, had become her weakness in the centuries since her time as a war goddess. Izanami knew that if she could see that gaping vulnerability, Bishamon could definitely see it too.
"Come on, Gekko. Come on..." Izanami muttered.
Tsukiakari raised her sword again in an attempt to summon her lightning dragon, but Bishamon was quick to react. He sped towards her, forcing her to block his incoming attack. This time, her arms gave out under his momentum.
Her guard broke, leaving her vulnerable to attack. Bishamon slashed her across the chest, leaving her with a bleeding gash that stretched from her left breast to her upper right shoulder. He slashed her again as she attempted to block with her bare arms, cutting open the underside of her left forearm. Tsukiakari fell to the ground, her blood soiling her black robes.
Izanami slapped her hands over her gasping mouth as the audience of gods behind her erupted into a mixture of cheers and jeers. Osamu, Tsukuyomi, and the Shoku Twins watched with widened eyes as Tsukiakari suffered her wounds.
Uzume turned her head and closed her eyes, hardly able to watch a second more of the fight. Amaterasu was the only one that remained calm, eerily so. She kept her eyes trained on her wounded daughter, knowing full well she was about to be killed.
"You know..." Bishamon said, catching his breath. "You've still got your old fight in you, but you've lost your grit. I still remember our first fight. You were a woman possessed. You were even willing to launch an attack that would've killed us both. That's how powerful your hatred was. You're soft now."
"Yeah..." Tsukiakari groaned. "I've got an overbearing grandmother, a brave, selfless man, and his loving ex-girlfriends to blame for that."
"This match is over, Gekko. It's all over."
Tsukiakari laughed as she winced in agony. "It wasn't supposed to go like this. I was certain I could beat you. Well then? Go on. Put me out of my majesty, your misery."