— 39. TOGE pt. 2 — (Cont’d) Blood was pooling below Huito but, driven by brute rage, he charged again.
Akado, her eyes on the rogue ronin, kept her grip steadfast on Toge’s blade while the payment was paid. From underfoot, a splinter shock ricocheted up her shin, driving a thousand tiny fractures into her femur.
Instead of retreating, she embraced the pain. She let it roll up her body until her limbs cracked at every joint. Then she took HER payment. All the strength Toge could give. She called it all and sent its power to her legs in a single, explosive burst of power.
It propelled her into the air within grasp of Huito’s cracked grin, sickly eyes and soiled tongue. Her blade cut him from navel to crown and she watched his expression shift from overconfidence to miscalculation. With a ripping tear, Toge cleaved metal, skin, bone, stomach and spine. His torso, now halved, fell away in a disgusting, ghoulish soup-like splay of muscle and muck.
Mid-assault, Akado’s body went limp and she fell, tumbling to a thudding stop. Barely alive, one eye full of blood, ribs shattered, she glimpsed the ronin’s body a few paces away.
Grunting, she dug Toge’s handle into the earth and pulled her failing body closer to it. Panic was keeping her conscious. The handle was growing hotter and the final payment was coming due.
She kicked off with her left ankle, the one she could still feel, and gave herself a jolt. The handle and her hand were melding into a single ember of heat and pain. Another kick. Crack. Her jaw had broken itself. Another kick. She gurgled nonsensical spits of suffering and stretched Toge out as far as she could and dropped its tip into Huito’s pool of blood.
The pain eased and her jaw snapped back into place. The searing heat of the handle shifted and became a rush of inflowing energy. Her eyes rolled back in sated relief. The blood payment would heal her wounds but the scars would be deep. When it was over, a metal husk was all that remained of Huito.
Back in the dojo, Akado looked at Toge, now cleaned and polished, and placed it back on its stand. She bowed to it, hoping she’d never need to call upon it again.