I was sitting at this very table enjoying some tea when it happened. I had thought to spend a quiet evening in reading and contemplation, studying further the nature of the devils that sought to invade my beloved homeland two years ago and continue to crop up in its hinterlands from time to time. But it was not to be.
Hachiman appeared to me, just as he did years ago. As he did last time, he spoke not a word nor made any sound, but merely used his legendary katana to rend the very fabric of reality, opening a rift from my study to a moist, torchlit chamber somewhere. The air drifting from that passage had a very different feel to it, even from other basements and dungeons I’ve traversed. Though I did not think about it at the time (a tendency of mine that has been well documented), I am now convinced that I was journeying to another world, perhaps not even on the same plane as mine.
I buckled on what I could of my armour in as much haste as I could manage and took up my two swords: Kagenui, my family’s sacred hereditary sword now blessed with its own limited kami, and the divine katana blessed by Amaterasu that found its way into my possession in a time of great need. Wielding the favour of both of my patrons, I stepped into the rift.
And stepped out into a nightmare. The chamber contained several bearded devils — the shock troops of Hell itself — being led by a hulking creature that bore a small resemblance to the spawn of ogres and men, though that description is only the closest think I know to which I may liken him. Doing battle against them were a man covered in chains (who I knew immediately to be mortally wounded), a northern man who took great pains to avoid the devils and an Ipponese woman who I could mistake for no other than my friend Zane, though it appeared that, as I have come to expect, more time had passed for her than for me since our previous meeting.
Knowing that I was being granted yet another chance to purge fiendish influence, I threw myself into the fray. The man with chain armour would clearly not benefit from medical aid, so I pragmatically left him to his wounds and focused first and exclusively on the bearded devils. One after another, they fell before our combined might. Before I could reach the last one, it was felled by a warrior of diminutive stature who I had not noticed upon my arrival. Though it had some of the characteristitcs of less human creatures, it wielded a weapon as inimical to the devils as either of my blades and therefore must have been the agent of a great power of good, if it did not serve Amaterasu herself.
When he realized that his allies were nothing more than smoldering piles of sulfuric ash, the leader of the devils attempted to flee. His escape was blocked by the diminutive champion. They conversed in a language I could not understand, and for a moment it seemed that the evil warrior might lay down his weapon. He did not, however, and shortly struck down the tiny warrior. I, calling out challenges to him, charged alongside my one-time companion Zane to finish the battle. Though I have, for these past two years, sought to never take the life of a creature that I think could be redeemed, I do not regret my part in this man’s killing. When he turned to meet our charge in a futile attempt to reverse the fortunes of this battle, I saw in his eyes the devil-light that only a creature already claimed by Hell may bear. I doubt very much that his soul still resided in his body. All that was left was to purge the vessel of whatever fiend resided within it.
No sooner had he fallen than I found myself fading back to my study from the field of battle I’d been taken to. I gave Zane a salute with Kagenui, and she returned it with a katana I didn’t know she possessed. As I faded, I thought I saw the chain-man moving to my left, though I know this to be impossible unless the man fleeing the devils was a priest of incredible power. Though I regret that I could not stay and continue to do battle against fiendish forces in whatever place my friend was, I know that I have my own battles to fight and my own vigil to keep here in Ippo. I doubt not that we will meet again after she has prevailed over whatever challenges that other world holds for her.
Excerpt from the journal of Cyan Lightbringer, Imperial Champion and Devil Hunter