This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locals is entirely coincidental.
Asharath, the Demon Hunter, dodged left when the Kura demon lashed out with its tail. After fighting in a secret war for the past thousand years with Kura demons, he knew how to handle them.
“Come on, you bastards. Could you at least make it challenging? Every time, it’s the same damn fight. My wife gives me a better workout than you.” Ash yelled at the Kura demon. It roared before attacking with its spiked tail for the millionth time.
Kura demons looked like six foot tall dogs, with spikes running down their backs and glowing red eyes, with razor-sharp teeth and claws. Their putrid green skin and acid spitting that smells like rotting flesh. The smell alone was overpowering to humans. Ash didn't notice the smells anymore. Their tails were used as weapons. The scar on his right bicep was a reminder to avoid those at all costs. The demons were created by Malicore, the progenitor of all demons. Fortunately, Ash had killed him long ago. Eventually he would kill all the demons as well. With that happy thought, the Kura demon struck out again. “The tail again? You fuckers are so predictable! Tail, claw, teeth, tail, claw, teeth, you should try something new for once.” Asharath deflected the tail strike with his enchanted katana, Storm Bringer.
Ash jumped, flipping onto the creature’s spiked back, stabbing his katana blade straight through the tiny brain. The demon screamed into the cold, New York winter’s night as it disintegrated. Asharath used the melting demon as a springboard and sommer-saulted through the air to land silently in front of a second Kura demon.
The demon roared, blasting Ash with it’s foul breath. “Shut up--you overgrown bitch,” Ash whispered, deflecting another claw swipe. “People are sleeping.” Ash shook his head as the demon bellowed again.
Kura demons were pack animals. They traveled in packs of three. Except lately, packs up to six kept showing up. He didn’t know why the packs were bigger now, or what changed. Asharath didn’t like the increased numbers at all. Something was different from the past thousand years.
It didn’t matter. His mission was clear: hunt down the demons and kill them all. One, three, six--didn’t change that he would send them back to Elysium, Medeenah’s version of Hell. That was his duty and his destiny. He would always be--Asharath: Demon Hunter.
The demon roared again, spitting acid, which Ash deflected with his enchanted blade. When the Kura demon swiped with its razor sharp talons, Ash jumped out of its reach. The Kura demon slammed its tail into the ground, and then slashed again with its claws. This time Asharath brought Stormbringer down and sliced through the entire arm. It landed with a thump on the grass, useless and melting.
The demon’s shriek echoed through the early morning quiet of Central Park. The high pitched sound, pierced Ash’s ears like grinding metal. The demon opened its impressive jaws to bite its attacker. Ash jumped on its back. “Shut the fuck up!” His voice echoed with the demon screams throughout the park. Ash reached under the monster’s head, splitting the throat from ear to ear. Another demon melting into dust as Ash walked away. No muss, no fuss. Tidy demon clean-up, without witnesses or evidence, only Ash kept track of the kills.
“Dumbass demons, can’t shut up and take it like a man.” Asharath muttered to himself readjusting the cross around his thick neck on a light silver chain. Keeping a silent promise to his older brother.
The attacks were becoming more frequent. Some even in broad daylight. This was the sixteenth attack this month. One almost every day. Ash needed to know why they were being so bold.
Central Park was one of his favorite places, except for the demons. Luckily, it was past midnight and no one was nearby to hear the fight. Kura demons reveal themselves right before they attack. As Demon Hunter, he could see them even while they were cloaked and invisible to humans. Being the son of Gods had a few perks.
Ash didn’t have time to figure out their reasons now. When the third Kura demon screamed, before attacking. Leading with its gaping mouth and razor sharp teeth, the demon charged Ash, slashing the air with its tail.
Ash flipped backward to avoid the spikes. “Enough!” Ash bellowed. With his left hand, he gathered his lightning--summoning it through his body and into his sword. When he released the energy, a blast shot straight into the demon. A wave of divine lightning reduced it to ashes in seconds. Maybe that was why he liked the shorter version of his name so much. It was what he left in his wake: ash. Demon ash, specifically.
Ash sheathed his sword and walked away, barely out of breath. Dammit, this was my scheduled cardio. These shitheads just screwed my whole day. He would just have to workout again later.
At six-foot-four, two hundred and eighty pounds, fighting demons kept him in shape, he didn’t even have to workout, he just liked it. Asharath kept his black hair cropped short to avoid the demon acid and bile. Same with his goatee that he kept trimmed and neat. Being a god, Ash was blessed with thick muscle. His arms and legs were twenty six inches in diameter. His wife picked out the black leather jacket that hung open, exposing the lightning mark between his bare six pack abs. A scar from before he arrived on Medeenah, that glowed slightly. Ash never wore a shirt when working out alone he got too hot, his normal temp was 101, but it was just the power radiating from his body, he was never cold. but he did wear shirts when sparring with Ryu in the dojo or in the city but they were always black.
He chose dark clothes, black tees over black jeans and black boots. It made his cleaning bill lower. Something he learned quickly during his first few years. He wore a white shirt for one day and swore he never would again. Gods didn’t have cleaning bills or cleaning for that matter. But he was here, on Madeenah, not in the High Heavens. Ash learned to adjust, things change, they always had throughout the centuries and they always would.
A mountain of a man, he curled himself inward, making his appearance less threatening as he moved through the alleyways. Stealth was just part of who he was, moving with the skill of a martial arts master back to his home and sanctuary.
Zachariah, Senior Demon, second in command to Malicore, slammed his fist into his apartment wall. The Demon Hunter decimated three more of his dwindling legion of demons.
“Damn it, Asharath. You’re killing my army faster than Malicore can replace them. I will make you pay for this. I swear by the power of darkness you will pay!” Zachariah’s dark voice boomed out to the empty room. He was forced to beg Malicore for more demons. He hated all the scraping and bowing Malicore required every single time. Another item on his long list of curses against Asharath.
Especially, since his mission was to keep the Demon Hunter busy. Distracted, while Zachariah completed the spell that would release Malicore from the Neutral Zone, and bring him to Medeenah.
Asharath awoke with a start. His brow drenched in sweat, his arms shaking, his heart pounding in his chest. “What the fuck?” He sat up, reaching over to the button that would project his image to Kimiko in Japan. Ash hoped she wasn’t at work, since Japan was fourteen earlier than New York. It was already mid-afternoon in Tokyo.
“Hey, sweetheart. Am I interrupting anything?”
Kimiko jumped, startled by Ash’s voice. She had been alone in her office doing paperwork. The last thing she was prepared for was Ash to suddenly appear in front of her. She checked her watch. He should be sleeping.
“Ash-san, you should not surprise someone while they’re working.” She scolded him, still holding her hand over her racing heart. She was annoyed by the interruption, but mostly concerned for her husband. He never did this. When she stopped long enough to study his familiar features, Kimiko could tell he was upset, and slightly looked confused as well.
“What is wrong, my Ash-san?”
Ash didn’t answer immediately, just closed his eyes, letting the pain and fear wash over him. No one else ever saw this vulnerable side of him. Only Kimiko. “I don’t know. I was asleep and then these images kept returning inside my head. Does that make sense?”
“Images in your mind while you’re sleeping?” Kimiko stepped closer to the holo-image, wanting to comfort him.
“Yes. Only quick flashes of them.” Ash tunneled his fingers through his short hair. The thick black strands contrasting with his olive skin.
“That is dreaming. Humans do it when they sleep, almost every night. It’s how they work through problems with their subconscious.” Kimiko tucked a loose wisp of her own hair behind her ear.
“It’s never happened before. I don’t like it. Especially if they’re like this one.”
“Tell me about it. What has you so worried?” Her voice low, calm and soothing, would be a balm to his agitated thoughts.
Asharath took a deep breath, organizing his thoughts for Kimiko. “I was sitting with my parents, in the High Heavens. We’re talking as if we had always done so.”
When Kimiko nodded, he continued. “My father wanted me to learn how to fight and control the lightning in my veins. I was young--maybe eighty or so..” At Kimiko’s gasp, he stopped. “I know that’s not young to you, but for us--for Gods--it’s different. We count eons not years.”
She nodded, waving her small hand for Ash to continue.
“He said, as son of the god of lightning, it was my duty to use my powers wisely.” Ash let out a quick chuckle. “We started with hand-to-hand, then moved on to target practise. First the targets stood still, but eventually they moved.”
Kimiko’s brow wrinkled in confusion, but she stayed silent.
While I was practising, two men arrived. I remember my dad called out to greet them--Malicore and Zachariah.” Ash paused and shook his head and he paced in a circle. “This is where it gets really confusing.”
Kimiko smiled, but wisely waited until he was ready.
“They took my mother captive and threatened my father. Malicore said--‘It’s time to make you and your bitch pay for banishing me to Elysium.’. When I summoned my lightning to attack, they conjured their own powers, and the next thing I know, an explosion blinds me and I’m falling.” Ash stopped pacing to face Kimiko. She could handle his fear and his doubt. “It felt like forever that I was falling. There was this searing pain, right here, on my chest.” Ash pointed to the lightning scar, pulsing with a faint glow. “I looked down and there was a brand, a glowing burn on my chest. The scar already forming. When I finally landed, I crashed into Madeenah so hard it left a crater behind. My lightning power was surging, completely out of my control.” Ash ran a shaky hand over his jaw, drawing in his first deep breath since waking.
“I must have passed out.” He shook his head to clear the last of the dream images away. “When I woke up, Stacey was standing over me. I’ll never forget what she said. Almost as if she was casting a spell or reciting a legend.”
“‘Created by the gods and marked by lightning.’ You are the one we have been waiting for. The one that will forever be known as ‘The Demon Hunter.’”
Kimiko walked over to the holographic projection of her husband, wrapping it in a hug. Even when just a projection, she still held him close. That was his beautiful wife.
“I’ve never dreamed before, Kimiko. Not in all these years since I’ve been on Madeenah. Why now?”
“I do not know the answer, but I do know I will always be here when you do.”
Ash held his wife’s image close, breathing in her sweet perfume that reminded him of cherry blossoms.
“I don’t feel worthy or like the son of the gods.. I have strength and power, I didn’t earn. I wasn’t trained to use them properly.”
“You earned them. You prove your worth as the son to the gods and the Demon Hunter, every day for the past thousand years. Humans have inner demons, fear, anger, hatred, self-doubt, and jealousy. They fight and conquer them every day. But your demons are real. You don’t stop, or give up. You never let being the son of the gods make you arrogant or evil. You face and slay demons in real life.” Kimiko paused, catching her breath from her passionate tirade. “Don’t forget that--because I won’t!”
When the fire still hadn’t returned to her husband’s eyes, Kimiko decided to pull out the big guns. ”You’ve earned those powers, my Ash-san. No one is more worthy than you. You always do what is right, sacrificing yourself to put others first. Being the Demon Hunter was the mission and purpose given. One you’ve accepted. It is who you are. Most people live their whole life not knowing what their purpose is-- never finding it. Some resent it or rebel against it. Yet you don’t, because you’re a man of honor. Plus, you’re the only one who can truly kill those ugly dog-creatures.” Kimiko felt a shudder race over her body just thinking about the Kura demons.
Asharath gathered her close, wanting to kiss her slowly and thoroughly. “My father would love you. You remind me so much of my mother, Malita. I think that’s why I never married before. I was waiting for you. I saw her strength, kindness and loving spirit inside you. That’s why I asked you to be my wife. My life began the moment I found you.”
“I also taught you how to fight properly, and use that katana.” She laughed, punching Ash lightly on his chest.
Ash laughed, remembering the barbarian he had been. His Scottish Claymore and wild haymaker swings. He was a lumbering fighter until she taught him Bushido and the power and peace in Martial Arts.
“You saved me from a life of servitude. Before you, I would be a Martial Arts teacher, until I was married, then had children. It would have been a good life, boring, but not this life. I wouldn’t trade being the wife of the Demon Hunter, for anything.”
“I know you love children, and would be a good mother. I’m not sure I can offer that. My parents were gods--I have no idea if we can procreate with humans. Or, if the fall from the High Heavens changed me. I know some memories are missing, and my powers lessened. Is that enough for you?”
“Ash-san, I love you. You’ve given me what every woman wants--a life of excitement and adventure. You’ve exposed me to new worlds and offer unconditional love. No one has ever loved me the way you do.” Kimiko let tears slide down her cheeks while she went on. “Most marriages don’t last, yet we’ve been married a hundred years already, and we still act like newlyweds! Be happy with what we have. Whatever happens or not will come whether we worry about it or not.”
“I love you too, Kimiko. Now, get back to work.” Ash whispered in her ear, slapping Kimiko on the hip before he stepped away.
“I will, but if you have another dream, you will call me.”
“Always, my love.” He ended the call. Kimiko and her office vanished. Ash went back to bed, his sleep undisturbed by dreams.