This is the first chapter in Book 1 of the council trilogy, The Council of Dragons. Let me know what you think in the comments.
686 Izumo Province Japan Shimane prefecture
The storm had been raging for days, strong winds ripping trees from the ground and smashing houses like they were made from matchsticks along with continuous rain and hail the size of chicken eggs. The local villagers were starting to worry and some had started talking about sacrifices to appease the gods. Many in the village still held strong beliefs’ that the gods controlled all and human sacrifice would help save the village.
Isao & his wife Aki lived on the outskirts of the village with their eight daughters, a house full of love, laughter and compassion for everyone and everything, they kept mostly to themselves, living off the land and following a simple life. They had gone to the village with their youngest daughter Inadahime, at the request of the Village head Ichiro.
Ichiro was a short man as broad as he was tall and was followed round by his personal guard, all of whom were afraid of Ichiro, it was well known that he would threaten the families of those who served him to ensure they remained loyal.
Ichiro had always held a grudge against the couple ever since Aki refused his advances many years ago, he would do anything to destroy the perfect life that Isao & Aki had, pushing up taxes on the land they worked demanding they gave more than other to the village store, but the Love they had held them together and Aki believed that the gods watched them and protected them from the evils of this man.
“We should make the sacrifice worthy of all the gods”
Ichiro shouted trying to be heard over the wind and thunder
“The great beast Yamata-no-Otochi is waking, and he will be hungry”
Yamata was a legendary beast an eight-headed dragon as large as a temple and as fierce as a thousand tigers.
Ichiro looked over at Isao and smiled showing his toothless mouth like an engulfing whirlpool
“as Yamata has eight heads and it is only fair that all the heads receive an equal sacrifice we should offer up Isao-San’s children, I’m sorry Isao but it’s for the greater good”
Ichiro laughed and Isao could see the pure evil in the man’s face, he had finally found a way to destroy the love that had held the family together through all of life’s challenges.
“No” screamed Aki turning to her husband looking for an answer he did not have.
“Why! My children? You have always hated us, this is on purpose to destroy our love, something you have never felt”
The storm drowned out her voice and Ichiro just continued to smile his toothless grin.
Aki turned to her youngest daughter Inadahime
“Run, run home and tell your sister’s to leave as fast as they can”
Inadahime went to leave but Ichiro grabbed her grinning
“You will be last the youngest and finest will be the ultimate tribute, send guards to the farm bring the daughters to the head of the river Hi, we will placate the beast and ensure the majority survive”
he turned to Isao and his wife
“I am sorry” he said but the look in his eyes said differently.
The whole of the village headed to the river, through fear of Ichiro and gross fascination hoping to see such a legendary beast devour the human sacrifice, the storm continued to grow in intensity and the river swelled so much it was threatening to burst its banks.
In a waterlogged field wooden stakes had been driven into the ground and the seven eldest daughters had been tied down, soaked by the rain knowing what was coming, none of them cried or showed fear. They lay still like statues not allowing the watching crowd and their perverse interest in seeing this sacrifice or Ichiro to see how scared they were or to give a
Ichiro started to pray to the Yamata offering the girls as sacrifice, if the great beast promised to spare the rest of the village, the storm continued to grow in intensity even the larger trees along the river bank started to fall, small tsunamis were lashing against the feet of those standing watching, a low rumble could be felt under their feet like a slowly intensifying earthquake. The remaining trees shook wildly and the river suddenly drained away leaving fish floundering on the muddy embankments.
A few miles away a mountain exploded showering rock and stones all around, the roof of a temple that had been perched on the summit landed nearby, the now scared villagers started to run as their fear of the unknown outweighed the fear if Ichiro, boulders and trees fell amongst them several of the villagers and Ichiro’s guards were squashed into a bloody pulp as their bodies were hit by these deadly missiles.
Isao and his wife although scared and fearing for their lives, stayed holding their daughters praying for the gods to show mercy.
Inadahime was being held by two guards who were looking more and more frightened as their fellow others around them ran screaming, suddenly out of the sky a rock the size of a horse landed on one of the guards squashing him like an overripe mango. Inadahime saw her opportunity and kicked out at the remaining guard who was stood staring in shock at his partners remains, Ichiro saw Inadahime trying to run and chased her as the ground cracked open spewing steam and lava into the air, a giant claw smashed down on the ground followed another then a bulbous brown leathery body, Ichiro stared in shock looking slowly up following the body and its scales leading up to eight long necks topped with eight snarling heads each one slightly different but all as scary and vicious looking as each other.
Inadahime stood frozen screaming and Ichiro managed to grab her, she struggled fighting to escape, Ichiro turned to Yamata and shouting over the storm offered up the sisters as sacrifice pleading for the village to be spared. Yamata turned and all eight heads looked at the pitiful human and moved towards the man
“Who are you to demand anything human” the noise of their combined voices was so intense Ichiro felt like his ears were going to burst and his body crumble under the pressure of the sound.
Ichiro thought quickly
“We have eight sacrifices, for the greatest beast in all the kingdoms”
He shouted trying to remain brave, but his voice broke, showing the fear, he felt inside.
The giant beast laughed out loud, showing his razor-sharp teeth
“and why should I spare you and your village”
One of the heads made their point by grabbing a passing villager another head grabbed the legs, and they pulled the man apart.
Begged Ichiro. The dragon lowered one of his heads, inches from the man’s face Ichiro could smell rotten meat and blood, Yamata sniffed deeply breathing in the man’s smell, “ahh little man, it seems like you have soiled yourself”
Ichiro looked down and realised he had done, feeling ashamed yet not wanting to run he again begged for the village to be spared.
Yamata turned to the sisters and seeing the parents trying to rescue them swung his tale knocking Isao and Aki through the air into a nearby tree, Isao was knocked out cold, bleeding from a wound to his head, Aki crawled to her husband,
“Wake up husband, wake up” but there was no movement.
Yamata moved closer drooling from several of his mouths, Aki looked towards the girls, seeing the monster towering above her daughters she screamed, Yamata turned and laughed at the women
“Which one shale I eat first”
Then as fast as the lightning in the sky, one of his heads snapped at the closest girl, ripping the bonds that held her to the wooden stakes, swallowing her whole. Aki burst into tears and started to run towards the others, if she could save them she would feel that all was not lost.
Yamata saw the women trying to free her daughters, watching her work at the sodden ropes but finding them to tough to break or the knots to tight to undo, he laughed again at the feebleness of humans, he could destroy them all and rule this world but knew the gods would not allow this. The council of gods controlled all even the mighty dragons feared their power.
He turned back to the sisters thinking which one should he eat next, snapping at one and then the next one and then the next he made quick work of the other sisters, Aki was trying to save the 7th and last of the eldest girls, turning around knowing that the dragon was there behind her, sensing the breath and heat from its now blood stained mouth, she looked Yamata square in the eyes defiant to the last
“You will not have them all, you can’t”
Yamata reared up and as he did he slashed with his long talon striking Aki across the throat. She fell to the ground her blood mixing with the rain and mud. Isao had come round just in time to see the dragon kill his beloved wife, it was all too much to bear he crumbled to the floor, Inadahime ran to her father,
“Please father lets go, there is nothing more we can do”
They looked up as Yamata ate the last of Inadahime’s sisters, turning he roared
“where are you little one, I promise to let your friends in the village live if you come here now”
Ichiro shouted at the beast
“she is here”
appearing behind the last two-family members
“now please take this final offering and return to your slumber”
Yamata turned to the little man.
“How dare you try to order me around again human”
Yamata raised a razor-sharp claw and smashed Ichiro to the ground, breaking bones and slicing flesh, Yamata’s looked at Inadahime he slowly moved towards her snapping at the air! Her father stood still stricken with grief he could not look, closing his eyes and wishing for the pain to end.
The storm continued around them, as Yamata closed in on his prey. All of a sudden a bolt of lightning struck the ground in front of Yamata making the dragon stop in his tracks, the smoke cleared In front of the great beast, there stood a man, naked but formed perfectly, like he had been crafted by the hands of gods themselves the only item he had in him was the most exquisite sword, glistening in the moonlight like a thousand needles.
Yamata laughed “And who are you little man”
showing complete contempt for the man in front of him
“what are you going to do with that toothpick”
The man raised the sword and screamed
“This is no tooth pick lizard, this is KOSA-NAGI NO TSURUGI, now prepare to die”
Running at Yamata diving past claws and teeth, as the beast tried to strike him, around and around the man jumped slashing at the dragon, as he continued to leap around hacking at heads and necks, Yamata was shocked by the man’s speed and sharpness of the blade. As the first of his heads fell to the ground sliced cleanly from its neck, Yamata reared up in shock and pain, no one, not beast, God or man had ever dare to strike him.
All the while the storm continued the wind was now so strong the rain was like thousands of needles, soaked through to the skin Inadahime stood bracing against the tornado like winds, watching in awe as the naked man dived around faster than anyone she had ever seen. Yamata struggling to stop the man, the first time in his life he started to panic as his heads were removed one by one.
Finally, the main head was the only one left and Yamata knew he had lost, barely able to move he crawled and clawed his way back to the hole in the ground he had risen from and disappeared leaving a trail of blood and destruction behind.
Susanoo the naked blood covered man collapsed to the floor exhausted from the fight, Isao ran over hugging his surviving daughter and looking at the stranger lying dead still on the floor “Quickly daughter find something to wrap him in, he needs warmth and care”
As Inadahime wrapped the man in a blanket her father found a cart to Carry him, the surviving villagers started to appear looking worn out and ashamed for their part in the sacrifice of the girls, Isao looked at them and felt pity and anger but even though he was a good person he could not find any forgiveness in her heart.
They both lifted the man on to the cart and started to head back to their farm, the rain and wind had died down, the road was still sodden and tricky, but they were determined to leave the Village behind, unsure on what the future held but both knew they owed the stranger a debt they would never be able to pay.