Devils in the Dark

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Later that evening, Sumiko and Chizuru found themselves guarding the front of the gate of Nijo Castle with Hijikata and several other Shinsengumi members while the Shogun rested within. Chizuru bowed to Hijikata after receiving her orders and ran off to spread the message while Sumiko remained behind with the others at the gate.

"Next shift watchmen, take the Hour of the Boar, please!" Chizuru called out.

"She seemed so hesitant to come at first, but she looks like she's enjoying herself," Sumiko commented, smiling, as she watched the younger girl disappear into the distant darkness further down the wall lined with soldiers. "Are you sure you don't need me to do anything?" she asked, glancing up at him.

"You are doing something," Hijikata reminded her, slightly chagrined. "You're standing guard, remember? Until your skills as a medic are needed, you're here for your muscle."

"Oh, right," Sumiko said, smiling wryly. Muscle? What happened to 'you're a girl, too'? "I guess I've just gotten used to having to do more running around whenever I—!?" Sumiko's smile fell as she suddenly whipped her head around to stare in the direction Chizuru had just gone in.

"What is it?" Hijikata asked, instantly on the alert after seeing the alarmed look on her face.

"This feeling... there's something dangerous down there! Chizuru's in trouble!" Sumiko yelled, taking off like a shot, without waiting for Hijikata.

" 'Oni'? A-Are you making fun of me?" Chizuru asked, staring up Kazama, the red-haired man who was with him on the bridge, and a tan man with purple hair who was holding a gun. They had just suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and now they were claiming to be demons? Who were these people!?

"Hmph. You don't know about Oni?" Kazama asked. He found that hard to believe. "Are you honestly saying that? You are one of us, Yukimura Chizuru."

"!" Chizuru gasped. "How do you know my name?"

"Your wounds heal so fast, how could anyone possibly think you a normal human?" the red-haired man asked, suddenly appearing behind her without a sound. Chizuru spun around, but he was already gone.

"Well, in that case... wouldn't it be faster just to prove it?" the man with the gun asked, aiming it at her from his perch up on the high wall.


"Oh?" the gunman said, smirking when Sumiko came running up and slid into place in front of Chizuru with her sword drawn, shielding her friend.

"Try it, if you think you can," Sumiko dared, glaring fiercely up at him. Chizuru gasped when he smirked and cocked his gun.

"Sumiko-san!" Chizuru gasped.

"Stop it, Shiranui," Kazama said as he stared down the girls. The gunman laughed and holstered his weapon with a shrug, thinking it was too bad, since it might've been interesting. "You sensed us from that far away, huh?" the red-eyed man asked Sumiko. "If didn't know any better, I might think you were the pure blood. It's a shame you're only half Oni."

"What?" Sumiko asked, furrowing her brow.

"Oi, Oi. Don't tell me you don't know what you are, either?" Shiranui asked. Were these girls dense or what?

"Hnh. I'm more surprised she wasn't killed at birth," Kazama said.

"I very nearly was," Sumiko replied grimly with a dark smirk, starting to feel pissed off. "An 'oni', huh? I suppose that might be reason enough for a mother to abandon her child. Not that I believe in that kind of thing."

"Ahaha! Can you believe this woman?" Shiranui asked. "The real thing is right in front of her, and she still has doubts!" The red-haired man was silent as he stared down at her.

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