“I have walked the paths; the shadowed roads that led to terror’s breast.

I have plumbed the depths of Hatred’s womb and scaled Destruction’s crest.

For every secret left unveiled, for every power learned,

I’d sell the remnants of my soul, regardless how it burned.

And still I sought a higher wisdom few could have attained.

‘Though I found it, it would leave me - broken, damned and drained.

For now I find this power gained is more unto a curse.

My spirit burns with every spell and each irreverent verse.

Despite this strength and knowledge earned, I have paid a heavy toll,

Never should’ve traded power for my own immortal soul.”

Ancient Creeds and Old Wounds

Sadow treaded a sandy path that seemed to go on forever. His footprints would be covered seconds after birth. His long, white hair flowed with the sandy winds of the desert he was in. Suddenly, he stopped in mid-step and turned around, glancing suspiciously behind him. After a while, he grimaced in dismay "Could've sworn I heard-" He was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a blade rising from beneath him; a dark, straight blade made clearly for cutting, with it's form being cut in half and curved to the tip instead of straightened out. And arm, gripping the handle, followed suit and attempted to swing the dangerous device at him. Rolling back, Sadow unsheathed his own blade: Cerberus.

Sadow on guard

Luckily for Sadow, Cerberus was made for both stabbing and cutting, which made countering and penetrating enemy armour far more easier. Raising his blade in a guarding position, Sadow demanded "Who goes there?! Show yourself!" Rising from the sands was a man with pointed ears, pale-skin, red eyes, and flowing dark hair that rivaled his own. "Greetings, Yatsumaru Sadow." Sadow kept his guard up and asked carefully "Who are you and how do you know my name?" The man answered "I am Samigina, Great Marquis of Hell and documenter of souls who died with sin in their heart." Sadow raised a brow "A Great Marquis... And a documenter? So why is he here?" He asked aloud "If you document damned souls, then why are you hunting me?" Samigina answered "I have been sent here to collect your head, Sadow. And I'm afraid the situation is not negotiable."

At this, Samigina charged toward Sadow with his blade raised. He slammed it down hard on Sadow's, who retaliates with a knee to the gut. This sent Samigina backing away but keeping his blade at the ready. Sadow raised his hand in a scooping gesture and mustered his Toem energy to cast a Demonic spell. With two waves of his glowing hand, he sent 8 fiery daggers flying toward Samigina. Diving into the air and twirling his entire body around, Samigina extended the arm that was gripping his blade and deflected the daggers, each stabbing hard into the ground and evaporating into a gust of small flames. He landed on his feet and immediately noticed Sadow had disappeared. He looked around cautiously then noticed a rumbling sound followed by the ground below him shaking furiously.

Samigina in his defensive stance

Rising from the ground was a funnel of swirling sand with a sharp tip, like a drill. As it rose higher, it engulfed more sand to support itself. Revealing himself on top of a dune hill, Sadow slammed both of his palms onto the ground. This signaled the giant mass of sand to lean forward and slam it's tip onto Samigina. Holding up his own blade to block, Samigina gripped the handle tighter and braced himself for the hard impact of the sand. The tip slammed into the blade and dissipated into a cloud of sand around him, being cut in half by the deadly blade. Sadow grimaced "Tch... Clever bastard..." Jumping high into the air over the mound of sand that has, by now, buried Samigina, Sadow conjured a black, spikey bow and pulled back the crimson string, summoning a red energy-arrow. Releasing the string, he fired it downward toward the mound, causing a large eruptive explosion. Doing a backflip, Sadow landed on his feet and extended his hand in the direction of the dune-hill he was standing on. At his command, his sword flew over to him, the handle facing his hand, and he caught it.

3 streaks of green light flew from the ashy pile, toward Sadow. He guarded against each, but the impact knocked him back a few inches. Samigina rose from the pile atop a stone pillar with skulls engraved on it. Waving his hand repeatedly in Sadow's direction, Samigina sent several of the skulls tearing off the pillar and flying toward Sadow, who managed to slash each into pieces with ease. Smirking, Samigina did a backflip off of the pillar and, in midair, kicked it with both of his feet. It surged forth from the force and began to tip over, threatening to crush Sadow. Sadow, in turn, rolled out of the way only to be met by a series of slashes from Samigina. He guarded each, only using a single hand, which seemed to excite Samigina to put more pressure on him and increase the speed and force of his strikes. Topping his frenzy off with a hard slash to the side, Samigina was guarded against once more but managed to send Sadow to the ground from the strength he put behind the attack.

Readying a finishing strike, Samigina was caught by surprise by Sadow sending a streak of red lightning from his finger-tip toward his face. He tilted his head to dodge it, but was too slow to avoid being grazed across the cheek. The sands blowing on his newly-made wound didn't help the burning sensation, but he ignored it due to the adrenaline. Sadow quickly got to his feet and readied his blade for the offense. His cape flapped wildly as he charged, Cerberus' handle being held next to his head with his blade poised forward. Samigina twirled his blade before taking the defensive and guarding a series of fluent strikes delivered by Cerberus. Sadow smirked as Samigina looked a bit impressed by his swordplay. Managing to lock blades with him, Sadow asked "Your buddies in Hell sent ya'?" Samigina scoffed at this "Please... I came here simply to collect the precious bounty that has anchored your soul to Hell. Nothing more."

Maikun Yatsumaru

Sadow shoved Samigina back and prepared a hard strike. Samigina, however, fired a streak of red lightning from his fingertips toward Sadow, who guarded it. With time, the lightning caused Cerberus' blade to glow red, signaling that it had syphoned all of the Toem energy. With a single swing, Sadow deflected the last bit of red lightning forced at him. He then swung hard in Samigina's direction, redirecting a streak of red toward him. Samigina jumped high into the air to dodge and did a front flip downward with his sword outstretched to chop Sadow in half. It ended up banging against Sadow's blade, who followed it up by kicked Samigina in the chest when he landed. Having the wind knocked out of him, Samigina fell backward and staggered up to his feet. He clenched his teeth angrily from Sadow refusing to cut him down while he was open "Do you think you're some sort of saint?! You've sold your soul to us, Sadow! We own you!" Sadow smirked and looked at him with dark eyes "Then claim what is yours." Samigina bitterly charged forth with his sword raised, belowing a battle cry. Sadow did the same, and the two locked swords with Toem energy clashing against each other. The result was a torn battleground, made playground for these two knife-dancers of the abyss.

Yeshua Kawahiru

Flash from the Past

The Yatsumaru Family was a prestiged order built up of vluent fighters and prestigous politicians. Their bloodline was made famous by Sadow's ancestor, Maikun, who, along with Kawahirus, battled and destroyed the dreaded Mordred, who threatened to envelope the world in darkness and despair. Thus, the Yatsumaru and the Kawahiru were revered as the protectors of the world for many generations. However, it was labeled forbidden within the Yatsumaru family to delve into the power that Maikun was forced to use to stop Mordred. However, upon secret research within the deep labyrinths of the Yatsumaru families' personal library, Akihiro Yatsumaru managed to discover that power and wanted to learn how to use it. When told to forget about the power, Akihiro was further fueled to search for it. He had to consult the only person he knew he could trust with it: His own brother.

"Sadow... You must understand, if you think our swordplay is enough to defend this world you are mistaken. I have found a way to unlock our hidden potential, but first I must find out how." Akihiro smiled brightly with hope in his eyes. Sadow shook his head skeptically "Akihiro... If the family has labeled it forbidden then it must be for good reason." Akihiro frowned, displeased by his own brother's doubt "And what reason could that possibly be?! Their own fear of power itself?! Only irresponsible people misuse power. But we are different. We are Yatsumaru!" Sadow sighed "I'll help you only on the promise that you be careful, Akihiro." He nodded while smiling and wrapped his arm over Sadow's shoulder "I knew I could count on you, bro. You've always been there for me, and I promise I won't let this go unrepayed."

Unhatching the door to the restricted section of the library, Sadow and Akihiro tip-toed their way in with a single burning candle lighting their way. Sadow thought to himself uneasily "I hope this light doesn't give us away..." Akihiro pointed to a book shelf at the end of the hall, in the very corner of the room. Sadow shined the small light on the shelf as Akihiro skimmed through them, trying to find something relating to the forbidden art. Grabbing several books, Akihiro handed some to Sadow and said "Read through these... We'll share the candle light. And be quick about reading them, because we are pressed for time." After a few moments of summarizing each book, they were disappointed by the lack of anything relevant to their cause. Sadow set down the last book and sighed "It's hopeless, brother. They've obviously gotten rid of any way to gain that power." Akihiro scratched his chin in thought and began pacing the halls. Sadow followed after him but immediately spotted a small cabinet with a lock on it near a shelf. He whispered "Akihiro! Come here, I may have found something!" At this, Akihiro returned to him and they inspected the mysterious cabinet.

Akihiro inspected the lock and nodded "This one's tough. We'll need an expert lockpick to get this open." Sadow shrugged "Or find the key." Akihiro smirked and chuckled slightly "As if we'd ever find that." Sadow shrugged "I may know a good lockpick. I'll see what I can come up with." Akihiro smirked and patted his brother's shoulder "Alright." The next day, Sadow entered a back-alley and found exactly who he was looking for: the thief, Arastralia. She smirked while filing her nails, noticing Sadow from the reflection in a puddle on the ground. Sadow greeted warmly "Ara-a-a~ Just the lovely lady I was looking for!" She raised a brow while keeping her devious smirk on "What is it this time, Sad...?" Sadow leaned agains a dumpster and smirked while flipping a tooth-pick into his mouth "Right to the point, I like that. I really do. Basically, Akihiro and I need an expert lockpick such as yourself to open a doozy of a contraption. Think you can help us out?"

She laughed "It'll cost ya'." Sadow grimaced "Come on, Ara... Can't ya' cut me some slack since we're familiars?" She shook her head "Usual price. 300 gil. No less." Sadow groaned and reached into his pocket. Handing her a bag of money, he complained "You're killin' me, dear." She fluttered her eyes apologetically and placed the bag neatly in her pocket "Alright, let's see this big-scary lock." That night, Sadow, Akihiro, and Arastralia met in the library's restricted section. Having located the cabinet once again, Arastralia began picking the lock. After what felt like ten minutes, a click was heard signifying the lock had been opened. Twirling her tools on her index finger, the lock fell to the floor with a clang. Hurriedly, Akihiro scrambled the doors to it open and rummaged through the books inside. Only one did he find what he was looking for. A grey book marked FORBIDDEN. Dusting it off a bit, he opened it and began reading. After a while of waiting, Arastralia finally complained "How long is this gonna take?! Just summarize it, artard!" Akihiro smiled with bright eyes "Right here! It states the ingredients to summon the beings of Ultimate Power!!"

Throughout the week, Akihiro and Sadow collected ingredients for the ritual. They met up in their quarters, where the ritual was being prepared. Akihiro's excitement gleaned in his bright, blue eyes. "We're almost ready, brother. Just a little more-" He was cutoff from their father and uncle bursting into the room and restraining them. The father yelled "Are you daft?! What on earth do you think you're doing, boy?!" Akihiro clenched his teeth "Something you were too weak to, father." At that, he kicked a pot of boar-blood onto the chalk-drawn pentagram. Red smoke fumed out of it and shrouded the room. Before long, the sun had turned black along with the clouds, the sky turning a bloody red. Everyone looked around fearfully as their father exclaimed "No!" Akihiro's eyes widened as his father released him in sheer terror. The floors became covered in a black liquid, accompanied by red eyes opening and staring up at them intently. Sadow was released as the two adults backed away toward the door. It abruptly slammed shut, the father shrieking and desperately trying to open it.

Amon, King of the Northern Regions of Hell

"IT HAS BEGUN!!" A statue of a black, horned beast rose from the floor and lit aflame with life. A larg mass of flesh slid out of the wall with a putrid odor and a round stomach lit up to reveal bodies screaming for help inside. It chuckled delightfully in a deep, sadistic voice. Sadow covered his eyes from the fright but felt a tapping on his shoulder. Turning his head, he was horrified to see a red eye staring at him, held aloft by a white tentacle. A mouth with rows of sharp teeth formed on the cieling, smiling down at the helpless humans before them. A deep, echoing voice rung out once more "Greetings, descendants of the one known as Maikun. Long ago, your ancestor called upon us for aid in combating a dangerous threat to your world. What does your bloodline require this time? What dark threat dares to challenge the almighty Yatsumaru family?" Akihiro shakily answered "N-N-No threat... Just..." The bulgous creature answered for him "A lust for power?" Akihiro shook his head, trying to control his immense fear. It smiled with gaping fangs at him "Excellent! Most excellent! Though, surely you have a tribute?" Akihiro asked nervously "...Tribute?" The statue answered "Indeed. A tribute, a sacrifice in exchange for our most gracious offerings."

Remunerations Paid

Sadow slashed toward Samigina's head, who ducked to dodge the sharp blade. Aiming a slice to his legs, Samigina was disappointed by Sadow jumping over him to dodge the attack. While in midair, Sadow saw an opening in Samigina's defenses and took it. With a twirling slice, Samigina's head went flying as Sadow landed on his feet. The armoured body clammered to the ground as the head landed hard near Sadow. He smirked down at the head and walked over to the body, which was still tightly clutching the sword. He picked it up and slashed at the air, opening a rift in time and space. Tossing the sword into the separate reality, Sadow closed it by sheathing his sword. "Excellent. Almost there, brother..."