Tweaking the format just a little bit.
I admired them.
They were weaker than us. They lived, and they died. But even so, I respected them. Their powers and lifespan were so limited, and yet they continued to advance forward as a race. That was something the youkai, with all of their immense powers and longevity, were unable to do. That’s why they had no place in the world of humans anymore.
That’s why I hated Gensokyo. It was a world where change had stopped, where humans had become stagnant. Or, at least, that’s what I thought of it. I realize now that it was narrow-minded of me to assume such a thing, that there are other ways that humans can develop other than in technology.
But, at that moment, I hated it. I didn’t think I would ever be able to get used to such a situation. Probably, I was just angry. I was truly angry for the first time in hundreds of years. Angry at the sudden change in my position. Angry at the state of the new world I was assigned to. Angry that a crack had appeared in the image I was forcing myself to hold.
I shut my eyes tightly, and carried myself off to a sleep that was neither restful nor necessary.
With a single arm, I swung my scythe at the old man. He countered the blow with a single swing from one of his swords, repelling me back with a loud, metallic clank. His counter attack sent me reeling back, and I struggled to regain my footing on the ground.
Continuing my assault, I ran towards the old man, and swung my scythe at him again. With expert precision, the old man blocked the strike using the shorter blade, and retaliated with the other, jabbing its end towards me. Just barely, I managed to keep it from skewering my face, tilting my head out of the way. Drawing back, scythe and blade met again.
“Powerful, but only in brute strength,” said the old man, holding back my assault using both of his swords. “And with only that, you cannot hope to defeat one who has devoted their life to the practice of Enlightenment, assassin of Hell!”
“Shut up!” I spat as I whirled my body about, trying to catch him by surprise from behind. He saw the attack coming, though, and he quickly stepped out of the way. “If you can afford to talk, then focus on the battle, old man!”
“There’s no need for that,” he smiled, blocking yet another attack, catching the rod of the scythe using his to blades and driving its tip into the ground. “My full attention is to be reserved for a worthy opponent.”
“Wha-?!” I started angrily, tugging on the handle of the scythe to pull it out of the ground. “Don’t screw arou-! Urk!?”
The old man’s blade shot out towards me with incredible speed. Before I could do anything about it, the sharp point penetrated my throat, stabbing all the way through to the back of my neck. As quickly as it had gone in, it retreated a moment after.
“Urgh…koff kggh…!” I wheezed, clutching at my neck with my free hand.
That accursed old man watched me calmly as I staggered back, coughing my head off. His swords were pointed at the ground. If he wanted, he could have finished me off while I was still in shock, but instead he chose to speak to me.
“Do you wish to know why you cannot win?” he asked me. I gave no answer, my hand still massaging the bloodless wound on my throat as I tried to regain my balance, using my scythe as a support. “There are three reasons.”
“Damn you…!” I yelled angrily, having already recovered my speaking skills, at the least. “Looking down on me!”
“The first,” he continued on unfazed as I lashed out violently, swinging around that wicked sickle with greater fervor than before. “You lack form,” he quickly maneuvered his blades, shuffling back as he easily continued to defend against my advance. “You attack wildly and without precision, no better than a madman.”
Another missed swing sent my scythe into the ground. Rather than stab me in the throat again, the old man just kept flapping his yap.
“Your footwork is sloppy and wasteful. You swing a scythe, an already impractical weapon, with one hand, when it’s meant to be used with two.”
“I said shut up!” I said, bringing my scythe down overhead with both hands this time.
He caught the snath of the scythe in between his blades, like a pair of scissors. Before I could react, he ran the two blades down the length of the shaft, and stabbed each tip of the swords into my shoulders.
“Hggh!” I hissed, retreating back. Why… why can’t I even touch him?! I cursed. Frustrated, I tossed the scythe up into the air, snatching it by the chain instead. Spinning it rapidly, I threw the spinning blade at the old man.
“The second,” he began again, still composed. “The kusarigama was not meant to be used with a sickle of such size!” Sheathing one of his swords, he waited as the blade continued to fly at him. Reaching forward with his freed hand, he easily snatched the scythe out of the air. “Nor was it meant to be used in this way!” he yelled scornfully, yanking back on the scythe.
Caught by surprise, I was dragged forward by the chain into the dirt, scraping my face against the ground. Hurriedly, I scrambled to my feet, still clutching on to the chain of my scythe. The old man was still holding my scythe in hand. Alright, then, I figured I’d surprise him by quickly closing distance with my power. I began to concentrate…
“And the third reason,” he said as I concentrated on invoking the power to manipulate distance. “You leave your back unguarded.”
I felt cold metal stabbing through my back. With a sickening splat, a blade stained with black blood emerged from my abdomen.
“W-what the-!?” I stared in disbelief. I turned my head to look behind me. Standing there was the old man’s ghost-half, which I had thought had been incapacitated earlier.
And then I felt another sword stabbing into me, this time from the front. Turning again, I saw the old man standing there, having closed the distance between us within only, at most, two seconds. His sword was plunged into my side, and emerged out the other.
“Y-you…!” I spat hatefully, unable to move. My grasp on the chain loosened, until it fell to the ground. The scythe itself was lying uselessly on the ground, several meters away from me, where the old man had abandoned it.
“One of the oldest of the shinigami?” he started with a grave voice. “Do you think me ignorant of the shinigami of old? They are nothing like you. They are not as saddled with blinding human emotions as you are,” saying this, he unsheathed his second sword, and after a moment of deliberation, stuck that in my other side.
“You are a boastful fool and a liar,” said he. “More human than a death god.”
My hands twitched. I ground my teeth together. How dare he? I thought. “Y-you…. You you you you you!” I raved, screaming as I lifted up my right arm and punched the man as hard as I could in the face.
The old man stood there and took the hit. His nose began bleeding, but his expression did not change.
Instead, he just remained silent as I mustered up enough strength to punch him again, with the same hand. But… before my fist could hit him again, it dropped from the air, to my side.
“D-don’t call me human… you asshole…” I panted.
He merely gripped the hilts of his swords, still embedded in my body, and pulled them out roughly.
I feel to my knees, doubling over in pain. I hadn’t been cut by a blade recently, and so the wounds felt incredibly painful. So painful that I thought I was going to pass out. But I remained conscious enough to hear the last things the old man said to me as he sheathed his blades, turning his back to me.
“Don’t get up,” he commanded. “Stay there, and reflect on your failure. Perhaps if we should meet again, in another hundred years, maybe, you will have learned enough to drag me to Hell,” saying that, he began walking away, his constant ghost companion accompanying him in its usual formless appearance.
“H-hey… where do you… where do you think you’re going?!” I yelled after him. “Get…get back here! Damn you…!”
… I lost that one.
The morning after that whole evil spirit thing was one of the worst mornings I had. Well, it felt like it, anyway. My whole body felt sore, to say nothing about the parts that had just healed overnight. Well, at least I had my arm back now. I was glad about that, at least.
Since we reapers don’t exactly have a real physical body, we can never suffer permanent damage to ourselves. Like youkai, our body regenerates itself when it sustains a massive amount of damage. Even if we’re blown to bits or completely obliterated, we’d be back in working condition after a day or so. One of the benefits that comes with the job, I suppose, though “dying” still hurts like you wouldn’t believe.
I still had a few hours left before my shift. I supposed it was enough time to go find something interesting to do.
 I went on a morning stroll in the happy (read: desolate) roads of Hell, making sure everything’s normal (people being tormented and all that.)
 I went up to the surface.