The Bakeneko had a turn, a monster dog with teeth that could bite through steel, saliva that poisoned and a howl that brought the dead from the earth. I set fire to the dead and when the dog rose it’s head to howl again, I had a dagger ready in my hand and slice of its heads. The Bakeneko hissed, feline whiskers twitching as his monster dog’s heads fell, one by one.
The Futakuchi-onna; a pretty, demure lady with a gnashing mouth at the back of her head screaming foul insults in a steady stream, came next. Her story produced a worm of enormous proportions, eating its way through everything, including small youkai that happened to be in its path, its appetite absolute. Even the tiny teakettle Tsukumogami – a youkai that came to form when antiques surpassed a century of age – had a go. It locked me in a small storage room, one that had a visible shape but seemingly unlimited space and was impenetrable from the inside.
Each one spoke of stories more horrible than the other, each one came up with creatures that would have ravaged the city, caused mass chaos and panic. But every one of them I managed to defeat. I used everything I knew, all my tricks and a few cheats, everything I’d been trained to do and think. My clothes were torn, my face was bleeding, my ankle was lame and I smelled like burnt flesh. I wanted to collapse, let darkness take my conscious and never mind what they would do to my body. But somehow I kept myself upright, showing only exhaustion but no fear as their grumbling increased in volume.
Youkai fed on fear. The lack of it debilitated their powers and the creatures that continued to spring out of the fire like a Pandora-in-the-box.