“Ahhh,” sighed Fujiko dipping her feet into the water, not displaying concern if her denim white jeans got wet. “This is nice.”

“Yeah,” replied Aki, showing no concern at all as she jumped in, splashing a few of the others around them. “It was a good job they decided to fight to the death by the springs.”

“Please can you two be a little more serious here?” Otsune commented, currently sitting on a rock. Despite her comments, the girl also had her bare feet in the soothing waters, her hand brushing the water. “This is a fight to the death.”

Sakura sat quietly, yet closer to where the fight was going on more than anyone else. The twelve girl looked on worryingly, upset that this was all technically her fault- that she had been responsible for upsetting Natoko and instigating the fight. She wished there was something she could do to stop it, but knew it had gone too far now.

“Hey, you’re the one who didn’t bother ringing the police in the end, girl,” Fujiko pointed out. “And I’m sure nothing really bad will happen.”

“I didn’t ring because someone had Aki disconnect the phone lines for the dormitory. And then my phone went conveniently missing even though I always keep it on my desk besides my journals.” Otsune sighed in defeat and stared towards the sun. Midday has passed about ten minutes ago. No one seemed that bothered. “Are you really so bored that you’re going to run the risk of two idiots kill each other for your own amusement.”

“Well… yeah,” replied Fujiko, bringing her bottle to her lips for another sip. “Did you have anything better to do?”

Natoko stepped up to Sagara. Seeing movement, all eyes turned towards the two at the north end of the spring, where there was a small grassy area that looked like it had been perfectly designed by the Lord himself at the very beginning of time in order to have a meaningless brawl between two stubborn idiots.

“At least you showed up, I thought you might have hidden away.”

“Sorry to keep you waiting, though I was here first,” the second said. The supposed ninja had gotten changed from before, now looking actually less prepared for a fight to the death than he did before. Wearing a black cotton jacket that  would surely roast him in the current heat wave, the boy looked as if he were about to leave, a small leather bag slung round his shoulder.

“You don’t look ready to fight. Do you plan on running?” Natoko sneered, a mocking grin plastered on her face.

“No, I’m staying,” he said, looking confused for a second. “Why would I leave now?” Grimacing at the blasé response, the girl ignored the question, sliding the scabbard of her katana into her sash in preparation.

“Are you aware of the rules?” she asked as a mere formality.

“Rules? We’re just going hit each other until one of us dies, right?” Sagara said, placing his leather bag onto the floor.

“I guess that’s right,” she replied, feeling miffed.

The supposed ninja was grinning childishly. Kneeling down, he opened his bag, taking his eyes completely off his opponent. Stepping back at this action, the girl was appalled at his lack of respect, of just dismissing her like that, for whatever reason. Watching as the seconds ticked by, Natoko felt her grip curling round the hilt of her blade as he took his time, apparently searching for something. Her mouth started the fight.

“Enough of this. Begin!” she shouted, charging towards her opponent, unsheathing her sword and raising it above her head without a moment’s hesitation. Traveling the length of the small field, the enemy wasn’t even looking in her direction, still focused on getting something out of his bag, the swordgirl struck the ninja boy in a single stroke.

“Look out!” Otsune shouted out from the springs, unable to help herself, Sakura looking away in fear. From their position it was clear he had no chance of defending himself from that distance and Otsune was already standing to intercede. Her motion stopped when she saw that Sagara was still alive, holding the blade of the katana in his hand.

Her initial rage subsiding, Natoko focused enough to see what had happened.

“Wha?” She mumbled in shock, not expecting what she saw.

“What?” Sagara said with a grin. “You got a weapon, I don’t see why I shouldn’t.” Repositioning his legs, the boy stood up straight, pushing her sword back as he did so before knocking it away, iron clashing upon steel. Natoko gazed for a few seconds, keeping a firm hold of the blade, looking towards his right hand as the opponent kicked his bag away.

“A gauntlet?” Otsune said from the sidelines, looking just as surprised as everybody else. Even Fujiko and Aki had sat up at this, now paying attention like crows, the shiny iron fist reflecting the sunlight towards them.

“Well, that changes things slightly,” Fujiko said. “Looks like he stands a little chance now.”

“A little chance?” Otsune replied, sitting back down. “You forgetting how fast he won the first time?”

“Yeah, but Natoko’s really angry with him this time. He’s gonna get slaughtered.” Otsune wondered. He still had that goofy grin on his face. In fact she hadn’t seen it leave his face since this all started. It was standard for someone to be cocky before a fight, but that usually went out the window as soon as a fight started.

Natoko took a step back, bringing her sword’s hilt to the left side of her head, the long metallic blade arching behind her as she stepped forward on her left. Sagara remained standing straight, his metal clad fist poised ready at his side.

“If you think bringing that out at the last second is going to affect this duel, you’re wrong,” the swordgirl called out, holding her ground. “You should have hidden it for as long as you could.”

“Whatever,” Sagara said dismissively, “If it’s any consolation, I won’t attack with it. Humans can’t survive it.”

“Silence!” Natoko screamed out, stepping forward and swinging at the teen’s face. Ducking down to avoid the blow, the boy swept his left foot towards her in the same quick motion. Taking to the air to prevent being tripped, the girl came straight back down, her sword pointed towards the ground where Sagara was, the blade determined to stab him through the skull. He responded by leaning back, lifting his body onto his hands and hearing the sword thud into the ground without hitting him as a reward, an angry Natoko following it.

His arms still holding him up, a foot swung out towards her. Leaning forward a little to the left, the missing attack gave Natoko enough time to pull her sword out of the soft earth, using the hilt to block Sagara’s other foot as it came towards her at that same instant. The resistance of her blade causing him to lose his balance slightly, Sagara was forced to roll with it, moving away to stand back up and face away from her, covering his tracks for a few seconds by swinging a hook kick blindly behind him, the crooked leg making Natoko keep her distance as he used this momentum to swing round to face her head on. Only pausing for a second, Natoko was attacking as he caught sight of her, her blade swinging around to meet his body, which let the grass fall out from under him, quickly sitting down before immediately jumping up again and punching with his left hand towards her face.

Seeing this coming with little surprise Natoko’s body tipped out of the way of the uppercut just as his chest fell wide open to her gaze. Smiling at the irony of their position, the girl plunged her sword’s hilt into his abdomen, only wishing she could have risked taking the time to turn the sword around. Sagara exhaled loudly at the sudden intrusion to his lungs, causing his left leg to lift up in retaliation, slamming into her right thigh, knocking the girl down and allowing him to get away, his breath rushing to get back as much air as it could.

“Whoa!” said Fujiko, back at the springs, vocalizing what everyone else was thinking.

“I didn’t think Natoko was that fast,” said Otsune critically. The fight had been going for a minute now and only two hits had been taken.

“That’s weird,” Aki mumbled to herself, the others turning to find dark skinned girl staring at the fight as hard as she could. “She’s not fighting properly at all.”

“What’s that?” Fujiko replied, not sure if the skinny girl was talking to herself or not.

“It’s not Iai.”


“She’s just swinging the sword around. With her usual style, she sheaths it constantly,” Aki elaborated, although it sounded like someone else was answering the question, the girl’s voice distant as her mind was lost in the fight. Back on the battlefield both warriors were staring each other down, the skills of the other surprising each warrior.


Sagara charged towards the girl in front of him, the fist with the gauntlet on pulled back. Not actually expecting a direct assault, the swordgirl was a bit slow to react, holding her sword up high ready to strike down. Defending, Natoko swung to counter what looked like a tackle, but found herself cutting thin air, the intruder disappearing from her field of view, leaving a vacuum where he once was.

Turning hastily to see an oddly angled punch coming from the only place he could be, Natoko stepped to the side at the last moment, seeing that her opponent was currently arched backwards, his entire body weight resting on one foot as the fist flew towards her. Missing, he lifted his body around the foot, swinging the same hand at her in the opposite direction. Dodging this, she brought her blade up, swinging it at his leg to remove it. This too missed, as the boy pushed hard on his planted leg and propelled his entire body high into the air, about twice as high as Natoko had earlier, like he was swimming in the air directly above her.

The swordgirl found herself blinded, intense beams surprising her retinas and causing her to squint just as everything slowed for a heartbeat. She saw the ninja silhouetted in front of the sun, appearing as nothing more than a black shadow. For a second she thought she saw spikes snaking out around his body, his gauntlet growing massive, a snake like creature coming from his other hand. Her eyes squinted as sunbeams surrounded him and time seemed to freeze as she locked onto her opponent, the abnormal shape above her catching her off guard.

The second passed, the air came back to her ears, telling her that something was falling towards her. Instinctively, she lifted her katana high into the air, panicking just enough upon when realizing it was his body tearing through the tip of her sword, cutting through his jacket like shredded paper and  falling to the floor besides her.

Just the jacket.

Glancing at the cotton top, she realised her mistake, craning her neck up quickly to see the rest of Sagara falling towards her, much too close to bring her sword back up. Swinging his body at the last second, the ninja brought his foot into contact with her face and knocking her back.

Given his position, the power of the attack was ruined by the odd angle at which he had decided to fall, the trick had still managed to give him time enough to get away.

Shaking her head from the attack, Natoko looked back over to where Sagara was on the ground. The boy had shifted his position to prevent landing on either the girl or her sharp stick and his hands hadn’t done a good job of protecting him from the several million feet thick solid piece of ground that they had just met. His chest had slammed into the ground and now he was just lying there, needing a few seconds to try and stop his heart from trying to get out of his chest.

“You should have landed on me, coward. It would have given you the advantage,” she stated, bringing her sword up above her head. “Die.” Bringing the blade towards his head, it hit resistance before it even got there, making a loud clashing noise before being repelled backwards. The shockwave was strong, but Natoko kept good hold of the polished steel, looking back down to see Sagara had rested his gauntlet on his chin, effectively blocking her blade.

“It’s not an advantage if I can’t do what I have to do,” he said calmly, his voice being muffled by his weapon. Trying to flip to the side, the girl’s sword was brought down upon him once again, forcing him to used the gauntlet to deflect her blows and trapping him there.

“And don’t you have to defeat your opponent?”

“No, that’s what you’re being made to do.” She snarled, taking the opportunity of his prone position to start reining down blows at him, swinging even wilder each time, aiming away from the only thing protecting the otherwise defenseless ninja. Each time, his prone position was giving him the perfect angle to block each blow, but his deflections were also causing her sword to lift back into the air with enough force to allow her to instantly bring the metal instrument back down for another fatal strike. Continuing the stalemate for eight more slashes, Natoko only stalled when she realized she had stopped breathing.

Seizing the moment, Sagara’s iron clad palm swatted her hands, both of which were clasping the blade tense enough to be bashed away. The advantage his again, Sagara right foot went to collide with that of his opponent’s. Given the clothing she was wearing, balance soon became her worst enemy, her body quickly dropping away from above, the other fist of the ninja shooting out at her, pushing lightly against her abdomen and knocking her backwards.

Her feet reacted quickly, readjusting the rest of her body to avoid meeting with the ground, even as her hands desperately tried to reach for the falling sword. Sagara’s feet sprung together to stop her, slamming into her midsection, sending her sprawling backwards, the precious air leaving her lungs as she fell back onto the ground in a heap.

“You’re fun. I like you,” Sagara panted out bluntly, taking his time to stand up. The final reverse kangaroo kick had caused Natoko to fall back about three meters, her chest wheezing in pain as she lay there.

Looking at her opponent, seeing the light smile on his face as he stared her back down.

Was he enjoying this? Before it had looked to her that he was merely fighting because he had been challenged, some chauvinistic attempt at not being beaten by a woman but now- that smile hidden under his unkempt beard, that perverted gaze that refused to look away from her. What was this? It felt like the world could explode and he wouldn’t notice, just to continue this fight.

She needed to end this as soon as possible.

Her sword lay on the ground below her, his back kick had sent her flying in its direction. It called out for her to grab it, Aki’s shouts accompanying it, warning her of the approaching ninja, charging flat out at her. With the same amount of speed that he had displayed earlier, she lunged for her sword’s hilt and swung it in the ninja’s direction, just catching his bare fist before her face.

A tremendous clash sparked across the area as sword hit gauntlet. The fingers of the iron fist now interlocked around the blade, pushing against it with just as much strength as she was pushing against him. Driving hard against him, she saw that same smile, mocking her with its simplicity, watching her fight with all her might while he was just testing her, watching her struggle just to keep him from pushing her own sword into her face. There was no way she could win like this. Being on the ground was a big disadvantage in itself, but he clearly had more brute strength than she did, and neither could generate any force. His face was getting closer. He’d end up falling on top of her at this rate, the bristles of his beard near her smooth cheeks again…

“No!” She wasn’t aware she was shouting, but it helped. Using every muscle in her body allowed her to get up onto one foot, she pushed against her blade as hard as she could, releasing all force and rolling back, her sword sliding through his fingers and out of his grasp.

Falling straight forward, the boy dropped his hands round to the ground, his back now wide open. Hopping forwards, she swung her katana down for the back of his head, missing as he lifted out of the way just enough to see the blade pass his nose and barely touch the tip. This time she followed through, keeping the sword in its same position she struck upwards, the small tip cutting across his chest, tearing through his thin shirt and taking skin and blood for its reward. The bastard was too fast. She should have cut through his entire body, but he had dodged again, this stupid blade hadn’t even carved into his muscles.

Jumping a step back, the boy’s foot unexpectedly cut the air in front of her face as he span round on his hands to stand back up, but she was slowly getting used to his tricks and wasted no time in stepping forward, moving the edge of her sword towards his abdomen. His iron clad fist dashing to block the blow, she recoiled from the impact, releasing a vengeful smile as she turned the force to swing at his neck, only to have it blocked again. Now they were both trapped, each recoiling the blast of the other’s attack to strike again and again, matching each other for skill and accuracy each time. At this rate, she would tire first, the abomination’s stamina was clearly better than hers. If only she didn’t have this pathetically heavy sword

“Enough,” she shouted, releasing her sword as his fist deflected it, using the loss of momentum to spin out the way and unleash a devastating kick to his groin, which took him flat to the ground. She hated to use such a tactic, but she-

Wait. Why had she used such a move against him? To attack the groin was shameful. An attack like that didn’t belong in her arsenal.

“You are a monster, Futabatei Sagara,” she called out, surprising herself. “An evil, despicable monster that deserves nothing more than to be released from this world.” What was she doing? Iziz was on the floor. Pick up Iziz! “I’ll destroy you in the name of all the innocent women your kind has plagued since you dominated this land, all in the name of soldier morale and cheap brutality.” What was she saying? When did she… She felt a cool heat. Were her hands on fire?

“Prepare yourself, Futabatei, for the Burning Waterball!”

To say her hands were on fire wasn’t quite right, it was more like the blood that had been boiling within her was now starting to steam and be released from her body, encircling her hands like some kind of cartoon energy attack. “The fiery water that you see will spell your death. It will wash away the evil of those whom it touches.” The energy in her hands pulse wildly. “I only hope it can purify the rotted corpse that holds your evil. ” The world in front of her disappeared; something was closing her eyes, now moving her hands. This was stupid. This guy was fast, he’ll hit get to us before anything happens.

“By the way,” another said said, sounding exactly like hers. “Don’t think your speed will help you. There will be no escaping it, since it will follow your every move.” The voice boasted its claim, her anger releasing the fire from her hands and out across the field.

Natoko didn’t know what was happening. Whatever it was, it felt as fantastic as it was sickening.

Sagara couldn’t currently see the grand splendor of the Burning Waterball that Natoko had set upon him to reduce his body to ashes and wash away his evil, since he was running away from it like a coward. He was, however, assuming the giant, impeding, incinerating wave of burning water was coming his way. It was only instinct that caused him to jump to the side at the last second, avoiding the red heat, watching it flow past him by a few inches before continuing its rampage.

The rampage didn’t last long, and they both watched as the streaking wave traveled about ten feet, before merging back into itself coming straight back at him. It was becoming clear to the interloper that Natoko’s threat wasn’t just a boast and the ninja ran for it, heading for the nearest entrance back to Heavenly Springs, crashing through the changing rooms and down the corridor.


Sprinting down the passageway of the East wing of the Heavenly Springs dormitory for girls, Sagara heard a large smash behind him, the Waterball wasn’t as polite as he had been and was not using the doors as a guest should.

Unsure as to what to do to avoid it, he just kept running. From what he could tell, it was going to keep causing damage until it hit him. Turning the corner, he saw stairs and bounced up them as quick as he could, hoping that it couldn’t follow his ascent.

Ignoring what was ahead of him, he took a moment to look behind. This time the fire was being polite enough to glide up the stairs, rather than crashing through the roof above them, although it could have been argued that it was still being a little rude to singe the steps like it was doing. Pacing through the corridors of Heavenly Springs, seeing one or two girls rushing back into their rooms at the sight of madness that appeared before them, Sagara turned his head back around only to see a small blond haired girl in front of him. Reacting as best he could, he flipped over her, her small height allowing him to do so easily as he continued running for his life.

Hearing a loud profanity behind him, he turned to see the girl enveloped by the shockwave, hitting her at around the same speed of a charging bull, the Waterball barely noticing her as it went through the little girl and out the other end, apparently leaving her none the worse for wear.

Sagara continued to grin as he went up another level looking around for something.

Back at the hot springs, the group had got up and walked towards Natoko, who was currently standing still with her eyes closed, her sword down to her side.

“Is it over?” Fujiko asked, unsure of how she currently felt about the situation. It was fun earlier, but then she had, in the true spirit of buddy movies, assumed that no one was going to die except the black guy. There was also the issue of her friend gaining the ability to generate a large ball of elemental energy and directing it at the new guy, which should have been causing her more alarm than it currently did.

“It soon will be,” Natoko said calmly. “He is still running from it, but he has no chance of escaping.” After a brief pause she opened her eyes and looked up to the noises coming from the dormitory. “I knew he was a coward.”

“Wha… a coward?” Sakura asked. “But he fought you for ages.”

“Cowards run, Sakura. Cowards always run in the end. You would do the same.”

“But you gave him no choice but to run, you said that thing would kill him. You would probably do the same thing in his situation.”

“Silence!” Natoko shouted, shocking everyone to silence. Sakura squirmed back and even nearly fell over. “Do not even think of comparing him to me. How dare you turn against me after all I’ve done to protect you?”

“Turn against you?” Otsune repeated, looking at her dorm mate in shock. “What are you talking about, Natoko?” Genuinely concerned for her friend, the student reached out to the swordgirl and was met by her sword instead. Falling back, Otsune looked to see that the blade had cut her jacket across the zip. Looking up at Natoko, her concern was quickly replaced with arrogant anger.

“What’s the hell’s wrong with you?” she shouted angrily as she stared the sword down, the look on the swordgirl’s face even angrier than hers, like she had been betrayed by her friend in exchange for a barrel of monkeys.

“I thought you would agree with me, Otsune. I know he did something to you in those springs. Something wrong. I can sense the perverted nature around him. I thought you would want me to kill him, but instead you protect him. Could it be you liked it, what he did to you back then?” Shuffling back, Otsune lay there as she saw tears dripping down the girl’s eyes, backing away as she failed to predict what her ‘friend’ was going to do next, the others equally as confused. “How could you? Why are all women like that? All sluts and whores, willing to allow the males to do what they want. You’re all like that, all of you.”

No words came from anyone at this point. Everyone was too taken aback. They certainly hadn’t been expecting to be called whores.

The group hovered around her, some of them jumping in their boots when she clutched her sword tight. Fujiko thought she was actually considering killing them all for their so-called betrayal. Otsune found herself getting ready to run.

That was when the foot hit her fast and hard, causing Natoko to fall to the ground before anyone could see what was happening. Turning back, her face plastered with red shock, she saw her assailant standing in front of her, wearing a mask of anger few had ever seen on the girl’s face.

“Aki?” This time it was Natoko who didn’t know how to react. Lying there, she watched as the girl walked up to her, looking like a strange menacing schoolgirl, ready to pound her into submission.

“You get out of Natoko right now,” the younger girl shouted, her words bewildering everyone around her.

“What?” Otsune said, moving over now trying to stop Aki from doing something stupid.

“You’re not Natoko. Go away.” Aki looked angry and hurt, Natoko the same. Both looks changed a second later as Natoko’s features twisted in contempt, slapping the girl before she had time to react and knocking her to the floor.

“Smart girl,” Natoko said calmly, “but far too late.” Lifting her sword into the air, intending to strike the girl down, intending to strike them all down, she only stopped when she saw Aki’s face, switching from a look of anger to one that was looking behind Natoko’s shoulder and into the sky.

“Everyone get out of the way.”

The crash of expensive windows came from above, stopping everything as all eyes turned upon it to see Sagara falling out of the building. Only there for a second longer, his forward momentum tossed him off and threw him as far as it could. A few meters behind him, everyone saw the gust of steam that was the Burning Waterball, still chasing him as strong as ever. Flying off the roof, slashing in various directions but still keeping its whole as it bounded off the roof without the same concern about gravity that Sagara’s body was currently having, the water followed its target.

Everyone scattered save Natoko, even Aki quickly getting up to make a dash for it. The swordgirl merely stood in disbelief at Sagara’s presence, surprised that he was still alive and currently falling towards her like the giant boulder. He was on top of her in the next second, throwing her to the floor and crashing them both into the ground and pinning her arms down. “Except you. You stay here.”

“What are you doing?” she cried out. “Get off of me… Not again.” Struggling fiercely, the girl could do only that. He was simply too heavy for her.

“In a minute. In a minute. I just have to let this thing hit all three of us,” he said calmly, nodding his head backwards in the direction of the sky. Picking up on this, Natoko looked behind Sagara to see the flaming ball of blue energy coming towards the both of them. She started struggling again, as hard as it was futile.

“No please, not again…” her eyes welled up with tears, as she pushed against him as much as she could, a prisoner trapped.

“Ah, don’t strain yourself,” he said, squatting over her like a frog ready to jump. “I’ll be off you in a moment, demon.”

“What? How did you?” she cried out, as the blast of cool water cascaded over her, slamming into the ground at around the same time the ninja bounced away. Like her very skin was burning, the girl screamed loudly, convulsing as her body began to steam, shuddering violently and clawing away at the ground like she was on the verge of a cliff. The blast of aquatic energy was gone as quickly as it had appeared. The girl still shuddered on the floor, straining her arms like something was holding her down, crying out as water began to eject from her lungs.

Even with her actions earlier, Aki was already running up to help her friend, only to be stopped by Sagara’s hand as she got close enough..

“Don’t,” he said, now appearing serious. “Just wait.”

Looking down to her friend, who was still going through her little fit, Aki watched, almost mesmerized, seeing blue and red steam coming out of Natoko’s mouth in little puffs that made it look like her friend had smoked something beyond merely illegal was smoking. It oozed out slowly at first, drifting upwards as a haze, but then the girl starting choking actual fluids out of her mouth. Sagara’s hand had to tense up over her shoulder to hold her back, and Aki saw it all began to flow upward as a mini waterfall, the water magically started to rise out of her mouth and began merging with the form that was building up just a few feet above her mouth.

As the last of the liquid coming out of her mouth joined the spherical object above her, the ball of steam and liquid began mutating, pulsing solar flares of water as it grew larger, forming the shape of a woman.

Like a badly carved statue, its features were very slight and it was only the small curves on what had to be her chest that proved her gender. She, if it could be called that, seemed to be failing to form any legs and instead grew a little tail as the liquid trailed off. As the form completed itself, it stared at the group staring right back at it for a few seconds, before turning towards Sagara.

“Bastard! Ho…h-how?” she asked, her voice like a hissing crone, giving the impression of throat cancer. “How did you know…”

“I could see it,” he replied simply. “She had two spirits.”

“What?” the creature shouted, scaring a few of the others, who were not fully sure what they were looking at. “You saw….”

“I wasn’t that sure at the beginning, but creating a big ball of energy like that from nowhere was sort of a big giveaway.” He looked back to his unconscious opponent on the floor. “Although the purifying thing was hers I think. Would you have been able to do that?”

Growling at this, they all watched as stream rose from the spirit’s body, as if she was boiling herself just by getting irritated. The rest of the group had found themselves slowly walking closer, entranced by what was before them. Most of them had never seen anything like this before, the only thing coming close being the strange noises they occasionally heard at night that were not telepathic ghosts. It was hard to judge if it was dangerous or not, and most found themselves looking to Sagara for some sort of clue. Sagara was being calm, but it was becoming hard to tell if that was dangerous or not either.

“Wh-what is it?” Otsune asked, before remembering her manners. “Who are you?” Hesitating, the creature floated a bit higher, keeping its distance.

“I… was once called Naomi. Anything else is none of your business,” the creature replied sullenly. It was looking around, seeming to have little idea of what to do next.

“She’s a water spirit,” Sagara said, not looking away from the creature. “They’re able to possess humans. She took control of your friend here.” He hesitated for a second, looking at her through his green eyes. “But she’s also human. That’s weird…”

“Took control…how?” Otsune asked, more concerned for the potential danger that whatever concerns Sagara was having.

“I don’t know,” Sagara replied with a shrug. “But it makes sense. The human body consists of around seventy to eighty percent water. If you were to control that, you could take control of the whole person. Everything that they do would become yours to affect, and they may not even notice you’re doing it. Since she’s 100% water, it would have been child’s play to make herself part of a person.”

“So that’s why?” Aki mumbled, kneeling down to her friend’s body. “Amazing.”

“Huh?” Sagara said confused, also with how Aki had walked around him without him noticing to kneel down to the slowly breathing body of her friend.

“Earlier, Natoko came in soaking wet, yet it hasn’t been raining for the past few days,” Aki said. The smile was on her face again. She knew her friend was better now, though she didn’t currently look it. Sagara said nothing, probably mentally cursing himself on how he hadn’t realized it himself.

“She should have been paying attention, the stupid bitch,” Naomi said, still hovering above them all.

“Hey,” cried Otsune. “What right do you have insulting-”

“If she hadn’t been so angry,” the water spirit interrupted. “Then she would have noticed that there was only one rain cloud above her, just a few feet above her head. But she was so angry after losing to you so easily- it was, as you say, child’s play to possess her after she let the rage take control of her.”

“And… what are your own ends?” Otsune asked, feeling a bit scared of the whole situation. She felt amazed at how everyone was remaining calm, the only other person to seem worried was Sakura. Everyone else just looked interested.

“My ends?” she said, anger dripping from her liquid mass. “Revenge.”

“Revenge?” Otsune repeated, ignoring Fujiko’s small scoff of laughter.

“Revenge against all the men of this world. All those that have treated women with contempt and tried to control us just for their petty lusts. Centuries ago, I was made a geisha at an early age.” Her voice fell shrill and hard to hear from below. “My father thought it would be great for me to work as a servant girl for a local feudal lord, but the monster had other, more sickening plans for me. I was only thirteen when it happened. All for their petty lusts.”

“What happened?” Fujiko asked. It sounded like the spirit was crying as it told its story.

“None of your concern,” the water spirit shouted, suppressing everyone. “I shouldn’t have to speak to ignorant morons like you, who let men live with them, lust at them, rape them!”

“That’s enough,” groaned Sagara, his voice loud enough to prevent her from continuing. “Sheesh, if you think they’re ignorant you should try and tell them, not insult them like this.”

“You dare?” the spirit growled, beginning to rise higher into the air.

“Or maybe even open your eyes ears and listen for yourself instead of falling into hate,” he replied calmly. “Whatever your problems in the past were doesn’t explain nor forgive why you possessed this girl. Not to mention that I’ve never lusted after or raped anyone… At least, I don’t think I have.” Naomi looked at him angrily before responding.

“I needed someone like me, someone who hated men too.”

“Natoko doesn’t hate men…” Aki started, the spirit scoffing stopping her words.

“She certainly doesn’t harbour any good will towards them. I can sense her feelings even now. She doesn’t know that many and those she does know she dislikes for some reason or another. But hatred wasn’t necessary to possess her, I only needed anger and a strong body.”

“Well, now you don’t,” Sagara said simply and with a grin. “So why don’t you get out of here.”

“What?” the spirit said surprised.

“Well we certainly don’t want you around here, and if you’re not a demon, I guess I’m not supposed to handle you. Though I am confused as to what you even are.” He seemed bemused for a moment, honestly uncertain. “I can’t just destroy an angry spirit that’s having trouble confronting traumatic experiences it faced in the past. That’ll get me in a whole world of trouble, especially with my mom.”

“Sagara, I don’t think you want to be annoying an all powerful demon,” Fujiko said quietly.

“It’s not a demon. Natoko would be dead otherwise,” Sagara replied smiling. “It’s just a spirit, and certainly not all-powerful. We both know she can’t possess anyone for a short while. Basics rules of Kotodama.”

Growling once more, the spirit began rising up into the air, clearly intending to leave, knowing it had been defeated. Looking up, it was almost hard to see her with the sun in the way. She called out to them one last time.

“I will return, male. I may not be able to have my revenge on the one who ruined me but I can on you. You will see me again. And you will pay for this humiliation with your life.”

“I’ll look forward to it” Sagara replied, waving, appearing completely unconcerned. “See ya around.”

After this it went quiet, it took some of the group a few seconds to notice she had gone. With the sun obscuring their vision, they hadn’t seen her flying off.

“See you around?” Otsune repeated, with a glare in her eyes to the naïve boy.

“What?” he said defensively. “It was a good fight.”

“Where’d she go?” Fujiko asked, blinded by the both the sun and her squinted eyes.

“Probably to a source of water. She can’t last that long outside, especially on a hot day like today,” Sagara said, walking up to Natoko and picking her still unconscious body. “Come on. Let’s take her to her room.”

“Will she be okay?” Aki whimpered quizzically, looking like a mewling cat.

“She should be fine,” Sagara replied in a reassuring way. “She’ll need a lot of water though. The spirit probably took about six pints with her.”

“I’ll go get some,” Aki said, dashing off ahead, grabbing a hot springs bucket as she did.

“Not too much.” Sagara shouted after her. “Just a cup for now.” The rest of the group followed quietly behind as they re-entered Heavenly Springs, the battle over, but with many questions remaining, probably to do with how corny the spirit was being.