Kisaro almost wanted the Majo to attack. The waiting was somehow worse, what with the mound of bodies heaped before them - and the corpses were no illusion. Kisaro could find no fault with their appearance, and the stench of blood and death was impossible to craft by mere illusion.
Which could only mean one thing - the Majo had attacked, and they had left no survivors.
Rage burned within Kisaro's eyes as they stopped before the corpses. The Majo - witches - were the most detestable of creatures; the lowest of vermin; the cruelest of monsters. When they attacked, Kisaro would show them the very same mercy they had displayed to the villagers.
Stepping forwards, Kisaro muttered as quietly as he could into the ear of his nearest companion,
"It's an ambush. Be ready, and pass the message."
For a moment, the man's face displayed his shock, but he quickly mastered the expression and told the next person. Kisaro glanced around, his eyes searching for anything that could signify the beginning of an attack.
"SCATTER!" Raiyo's command echoed through Kisaro's ears as his friend grabbed his arm and jerked him forwards. A fireball incinerated the ground on which they had just been standing, and the heat wave swept over them in an empowering tsunami of calefaction. Instantly, Kisaro was judging the direction of the fireball, his feet carrying him towards its source.
He had to stop the Majo. They deserved nothing kinder than death, and even that seemed too merciful for them.
Another sphere of black flames shot towards him, and Kisaro ducked gracefully aside. Fire Majo were strong - it was a common fact. Killing one was a tricky job, but Kisaro supposed somebody had to do it.
Darting around the ruined house, Kisaro unsheathed his two blades, leaping forwards and throwing himself at the Majo cowering behind the cover of the rubble. Her eyes were narrowed with murderous intent; her expression wild with bloodlust as she thrust her arms out towards Kisaro. Flames surged from her palms, singeing Kisaro's cloak as he evaded them again.
Something heavy slammed into him as he tried to attack the Majo, sending him staggering aside. Brilliant, he thought. All he needed was her stupid Kojin attacking as well.
"I'll deal with the Kojin!" Raiyo yelled from behind him. "You take the Majo!"
Leaving Raiyo to fight the Majo's companion, Kisaro lunged once more for the monster herself, his blade plunging through her chest before she could summon so much as a spark.
Kisaro stepped back, and her lifeless corpse dropped to the ground. Crimson blood sept from her body, coalescing with that of the villagers.
"You deserved worse, Majo," Kisaro spat, turning back to Raiyo. The Kojin's body was crumpled at his feet, and the two shared a grim look of comradeship. "Onto the next?" Kisaro said, and Raiyo nodded with an almost eager glint to his eyes.
"Let's find the illusionist," Raiyo suggested, flicking the blood from his katana and resheathing the blade in one fluid movement. "She'll be nearby, right?"
"Yes. The illusion was, so its likely she was hiding somewhere in the village, in view of the square. Illusionists can't fight well, so she's probably fleeing somewhere."
"Catch me if I fall," Raiyo grinned in response, glancing about and selecting the tallest remnant of a house. "Give me a boost," he added, and Kisaro rolled his eyes. Had the idiot really not heard of the word 'please'?
He obliged nevertheless, and Raiyo clambered onto his shoulders, pulling himself up to the surviving section of the roof. "Saw somebody running!" Raiyo called down cheerfully, swinging himself down and dropping silently to the ground.
Kisaro took off after his friend, sprinting behind him as he lead the way towards the fleeing Majo. How Raiyo could be excited at the prospect of another bothersome fight was a thought completely alien to Kisaro? Why would you be happy at the thought of the necessity to dirty your hands with Majo blood? They were lowly murderers; killing them was a duty, not a hobby. There was no real reason for them to be friends, though Kisaro supposed they needed each other, in a strange, seemingly infeasible way. Besides, he had practically grown up with Raiyo: he could trust nobody else with his back.
Raiyo signalled right with his hand, and Kisaro instantly understood. Together, they passed into the street to the right, clearing the wreckage with ease and skill. Ahead, the Majo ran, oblivious to her pursuers. At her side was her Kojin, who, luckily, had not yet heard them.
As they ran, Kisaro caught up with Raiyo, pointing to the Kojin and running his finger across his throat, then gestured to the Majo, and shook his head. Grinning his understanding, Raiyo gave a sharp nod, refocusing on the escaping enemies as Kisaro slowed. He unsheathed a throwing knife. Aimed carefully at the Kojin. And threw.
The knife sank into the Kojin's back with a resounding and somehow satisfying thud, and the miserable creature stumbled, staggering a few more steps before its final breaths escaped its body. Death was only beautiful when it was stealing away a Majo or her Kojin. Only then could Kisaro appreciate its power.
"Capture the Majo; don't kill her," he called out to Raiyo.
"Sure!" Raiyo shouted back, charging towards the Majo as she stopped, sinking to her knees beside her fallen Kojin. A Majo, showing compassion to another? It made Kisaro falter for a moment. Majo were heartless; they cared for none, even their own. They only felt bloodlust, the desire to wreak havoc and destroy the lives of others. This was impossible: the monster should not be caring, could not be caring. Especially towards her Kojin. A Majo's Kojin was merely a servant in a human body: their tool of protection and additional power. A humanoid tool granted with the abilities of an animal, admittedly, but a tool nethertheless. By now, Raiyo had tackled her, twisting her arms beside her back and dragging her away from her fallen Kojin.
It's just an act, Kisaro told himself firmly. She doesn't mean it; her tears are false, she doesn't care for a comrade like we do.
Raiyo shoved her to her knees before Kisaro. "Answer all his questions," he demanded. "Or he'll torture you slowly and leave you for the crows."
Somehow, Kisaro snapped himself out of his trance-like thoughts. "How many of you are there?" he demanded, though his voice had lost a fraction of its steely coldness it had possessed when regarding the fire Majo's corpse.
"Four," she sobbed hysterically. "There are four of us. Please, spare the others!"
"Why should you care?" Kisaro growled. "You're heartless enough to destroy a village. You can't care about them."
"You don't understand!" she screamed. "Your kind shun us! They cast us aside, but we're kin!" The tears were streaming down her cheeks now, and her voice had risen to a shrill screech. Desperately, she struggled to break free, managing to slip one arm from Raiyo's grip. The silver glint of a hidden blade was all Kisaro needed to see before he'd launched another knife at the Majo's throat.
She stopped, her own knife sliding through her fingers and clattering uselessly to the ground. Then slumped back into Raiyo, her body sliding into a buckled pile at his feet.
"Thanks," Raiyo whistled, blinking twice. Collecting his knife, Kisaro turned away.
"Majo look better when they're dead," he shrugged. "Now we need to ensure the others have been captured or killed."