“Blood Demon Art, Murderous Eye Basket.”
Rui’s prison of sharp thread expanded all around Zenitsu and Inosuke, both of whom were slumped against the forest floor with broken ribs and blurring vision. Weakly, Zenitsu shifted his aching head to spare one last glance at the glassy-eyed boar mask adorning the boy to his right. It sucked that an uncultured barbarian was going to be the last person Zenitsu would ever see before passing on to the sweet beyond, but at least Zenitsu wasn’t going to get lacerated to pieces alone, with no one by his side.
I guess this is where I tell myself and the whole world, 'I told you so’. Zenitsu had always feared death, almost irrationally so, and his aversion had only gotten worse after his master, Kuwaijima Jigoro, started training him to become a demon slayer.
To no one's surprise, Zenitsu had always been no good. Limited to one form and cursed with all the courage of a cowardly chicken, Zenitsu wasn’t destined to become a strong demon slayer ("Or pillar, ever, for that matter" Kaigaku loved to remind him every day of training together-). He was definitely more suited for a normal, quiet life, with a pretty wife and cute kids...
But Zenitsu didn't deserve to dream until he got to pay his master back for everything (Not that he was going to get a chance at this point, anyway).
I still tried though, gramps. Zenitsu weakly glanced back at his legs—splayed out at awkward angles and rendered utterly useless due to his reckless use of God Tempo—and his utter inability to even land a proper strike on Lower Moon Five. But I'm a joke.
On the other hand, Inosuke had almost cut Rui’s head off, almost. He'd slashed at the air around Rui's neck with an inhuman ferocity, lacking all manner and form of grace but still hacking away at much more than Zenitsu ever could.
But almost wasn’t enough against a Twelve Demon Moon, and the cost of failing to deliver was a trip across the Sanzu river.
Time was starting to feel awfully slow, when all Zenitsu wanted was to get this torturous moment over with. Wasn't death supposed to be quick? Wasn't it supposed to end with a blink of an eye?
No one had told him that the moment before death would stretch out like this, into what felt like bleak eternity—that Zenitsu would be forced to contemplate all that he regretted and everything he'd leave behind. Whoever said that life flashed before one's eyes before one's last breath was definitely fucking lying because nothing about this was fast, no, it was all too painfully slow.
Tears welled up in Zenitsu's dry eyes, before spilling over and rolling down his cheeks like fat marbles. He missed his master—no, not just his master but practically his real grandfather at this point—and wished, with all his weak heart and fragile soul, to see Jiguro again and at least tell him everything that he was thankful for. Every moment that Zenitsu had cherished, everything he wished he could have done differently... everything that he would never get a chance to say to his grandfather, ever again.
I really did try. Zenitsu bit his lip as the web stretched over him and Inosuke, it's tensile strength visible even as Zenitsu's vision dangerously hazed over. I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough to make everything up to you in this life.
He braced himself as the web descended upon his broken body at breakneck speed-
-before shattering to harmless strands and pieces as a blinding dash of red and green (it was so fast that Zenitsu had almost missed it-) descended upon Rui’s small, child-like frame.
The panic, disbelief, and utter fear in Lower Moon Five’s crackling shriek was palpable and made Zenitsu's skin crawl. “It can’t be. You’re just a myth.”
“One day, perhaps.” A calm voice, one that surely belonged to someone who couldn’t be much older than Zenitsu or Inosuke, lilted like a flowing stream. “But not until Muzan falls.”
Rui’s bone-chilling scream was loud, guttural and animalistic-
-and then it stopped.
And silence rained over the mountain as if nothing had disturbed it’s lonely forest in the first place.
All that was left, all that Zenitsu could register, were the ruffle of leaves in the wind and the feet of what seemed to be a swordsman clad in a green haori.
Slowly, the figure approached Zenitsu and Inosuke step by step. Gradually, knees, legs, torso, and finally, a face, gradually invaded Zenitsu's line of vision.
A youthful face, belonging to a young man in his teens, framed with a shock of dark vermillion hair and decorated with strange birthmarks writhing across his forehead and cheek.
And red, red irises marked with the characters for Upper Moon on the left, and the character for Two—slashed through with a gruesome x-shaped scar—on the right.
Zenitsu felt his blood run cold.
But before the demon could come any closer, two shadows fluttered like butterflies past the fallen demon slayers, forcing the demon to jump back.
The stoic voice of Tomioka Giyuu rang through the crisp night air, accompanied by the cool schling of an unsheathing sword. “Who are you, demon?”
“My, my, Tomioka-san,” Kochou Shinobu playfully giggled at Giyuu's side, “what’s the point of asking for an introduction when we’ll be terminating him shortly, anyway?”
But the same calm voice that had sent Rui into deranged hysteria answered anyway.
“I am Kamado Tanjirou, the former Upper Moon Two. And I seek your help, demon slayers.”