Story Adapted by & Screenplay by : Jameal Jordon & Sharome Jordon
INT. BRONZO’S TENT
AI : My lord & Onikage are planning the next assault of our forces. Bronzo, what is our total standing force?
BRONZO : Mistress Our combined total force almost reaches 20,000 warriors fighting ready. Many are out now training this night, growing stronger & more skillful.
AI :I wondered why it seemed the guard count here was so scarce. For the protection of the plans I will leave a small force of ninja, so that you shall be able to carry out my lord’s plans.
BRONZO : I do not need the protection of shadow walkers. I was once a master samurai, mistress I need no help.
AI : Hmm I will leave them anyway, it is the will of my lord.
BRONZO : It will be a few short hours until their return. When they arrive I shall instruct them to our next strike upon Gohda. And we will be ready by nightfall to spread your lord’s reign thru my army.
AI : Good. Lord Me-Oh & Onikage will be pleased upon my report of your performance, ronin. Lord Me-Oh may even make you his servant, & then your honor shall be restored, to the honor of a master samurai.
BRONZO : Well it is all the same to me, my army & myself prefer the wealth now, to the honor we lost long ago. Besides, why Gohda? He has strong forces but he is not at war with anyone & from what I know he is honorable.
AI : Lord Me-Oh & Onikage have a old grudge against Gohda & he wants to see him fall from grace as soon as possible but I have said too much to the likes of you. (walking out) You know you’re mission, & the ninja shall stay remain here in case Gohda sends anyone out this direction.
BRONZO : Grrrr ninja you worry too much, your overestimate Gohda’s intellegence. Though he may be honorable, on the battlefield he is nothing.
AI : FOOL! YOU OVERESTIMATE YOUR SKILL! Heh .then again isn’t that how you lost your honor?
BRONZO (unsheathes his sword) : Filthy geisha!!! How dare you speak of my honor??? You are a ninja, a stones throw from a mountain top of where my honor was!!! If I didn’t fear the sheer, awesome power of Lord Me-Oh, I would strike you down, like the streaking white fire that breaks from the dark clouds in the sky.
AI (walks out) : hehehehehehehe
Outside is a squad of 12 ninja. They have assorted weapons, swords, kuni, claws & other little known types. The ninja are clad in uniforms indigenous to the period, but many wear outlandish colors like dark yellows & crimson as they boast skills near mastery levels of ninjitsu. Ai calls out to the ninja. They stand around at attention looking at her.
AI : Watch him. Make sure he doesn’t screw this up, there can be no mistakes especially from a faultering ronin.
The ninja squad bow & nod, then disappear instantly & spread out to stand watch & guard. Bronzo reads & plans while grumbling in the tent. He sits down in the back of the tent & attempts to meditate. Setsuro in a moment of carelessness breaks a bamboo tree over in half he was leaning against. He falls over & holds his position but it is too late for Bronzo hears it & immediately gets up & with sword in hand he cuts the back of the tent & exits. He unsheathes his sword as he walks out.
EXT. BAMBOO FOREST -NIGHT
BRONZO (Hearing Setsuro’s rustling outside, Bronzo begins calling out to his hidden foe): SHOW YOURSELF!!! I KNOW YOU ARE NEAR!!!
Rikimaru & Setsuro keep quiet as Bronzo paces around look out to the darkness trying to find whoever he thinks is out there.
SETSURO (quietly to Rikimaru) : I’m going to take him. Get to the horses we need to ride back quickly from here to Lord Gohda’s castle.
RIKIMARU : Hmm alright, go get him, & get those plans .Set. (gets up & uses the grappling hook to shoot off into the distance, a smoke bomb falls from him as he zips away)
Setsuro picks up the fallen smoke bomb & almost calls out to Rikimaru, but doesn’t & keeps it. Setsuro leaps out, with his kurikama ready. He faces off to Bronzo. Bronzo looks upon him ,staring at his new opponent.
BRONZO : Wait a minute, you’re not a ninja. Heh,heh,heh,heh,heh you’re an ashigaru. And from the looks of things you will never know the power or prestige of being a true samurai.
SETSURO : You may have been noble, but it seems you have fallen from that state of nobility, & when I am finished with you, you will have fallen to hell ..ronin.
BRONZO : I’ve killed better opponents than you, I will dispatch you & hang your body in the throne room of Lord Me-Oh!!!!
SETSURO : Its good to know you have goals .Lofty goals, but hey who am I to argue with a samurai, errrr .ronin.
BRONZO : GRRRRR (charges towards Setsuro)
SETSURO (as swords clash) : OH!! SO, SORRY!!!!!
BRONZO : Defeated by a mere peasant noooo, uugghhh (his head is cut off & he dies)
Setsuro fights & cuts off Bronzo’s head with his own sword & then pulls out the note from behind his armor. Setsuro keeps Bronzo’s spectacular sword. And then Setsuro puts the note under his armor. As he walks to the darkness, he hears some rustling that startles him.
SETSURO : Rikimaru? RIKIMARU? I thought you would have untied the horses by now?
No one replies, Setsuro begins to feel uneasy & pulls out his kurikama & begins to swing the chain weight around quickly. He watches the trees sway in the night’s wind. He then throws the weight at a particular tree, the weight knocks down a branch, then a familiar looking blonde haired Japanese woman moonsaults behind him & touches the ground. She angrily throws the ‘Happou’ super shuriken at him, he quickly turns around & blocks them all by swinging the chain rapidly in front of him, the shuriken are deflected & some fly back at her & she rolls swiftly to the side. A sharp, red cut appears on the side of her shoulder. She looks to it, once again the mistress Ai has graced a visitor with a surprise appearance.
AI (holding the slash to her arm) : HOW???!! HOW DID YOU KNOW????!!!!
SETSURO (swinging the chain still & now cocky) : Whatever do you mean, mistress?
AI : You knew No one could have known where I was!!
SETSURO : It was easy .The trees flowed in the direction the wind pushed. The tree you were perched in did not share the same rhythm.
The 12 ninja suddenly drop to the ground in unison. Within an instance they surround Setsuro & Ai.
AI : Outmatched & outclassed. (calls to the ninja) When I see him again I do not want to recognize this ashigaru!!!
SETSURO : My name is Setsuro!!!! (fakes an attack but pulls out the smoke bomb & throws it behind him & then pushing the ninja out of the way he runs to the forest at top speed )
Setsuro dashes into the forest to find Rikimaru on horseback & his horse ready.
SETSURO : We better not stay around here, Rikimaru!! The ninja found me, but I have the message!! Lets go!!! (rides off)
Rikimaru nods & takes off with Setsuro. They ride at the top speed possible. Ai & the other ninja get ready to intercept them, some already have taken off. Ai looks to Bronzo’s corpse.
AI (looking down at Bronzo) : So it seems you did keep your promise after all!! (she kicks his body) Useless ronin!!!! We will get those plans back (runs off following the other ninja) Hmm who is Rikimaru? (laughs as she runs off)
Ai & the squad of ninja take off & take a short cut over a river, the shadowy figures rip & run until they come to the side of a town. It’s the town outside of Gohda’s main castle. Ai chases directly behind the duo cutting them off from a possible hasty escape. She launches arrows at them striking their horses. The horses are injured severely by the arrow blows. Rikimaru leaps from his injured horse to go on foot, Setsuro falls to the ground gets up & begins to dash towards the castle. Both stop for a second & look around at the end of the sleepy town. They look up to see the large castle. Setsuro hands Rikimaru the secret message.
EXT. GOHDA’S VILLAGE – NIGHT
SETSURO (breathing hard): You’ve got a better chance of getting this to Lord Gohda, than me, I’ll only slow you down.
RIKIMARU (looks back. He sees Ai standing in the distance behind them, caressing her hair laughing) : Hmm
AI (laughs) : There is nowhere to run. (wiggles her finger back & forth) Come to me, I promise minimal pain.
SETSURO (looks back & gives her the finger) : I can’t give you that same wholehearted promise to you, mistress.
RIKIMARU : ENOUGH! NOW SETSURO, WE’D BEST HURRY!!! (runs towards the castle)
[* the stage 2 music is played here*]
SETSURO (pulls out his “new” sword): That old man was right. This is a long night! (Setsuro takes off behind Rikimaru)
Rikimaru takes to the roof of the huts scattered across town. Setsuro sticks to the mean streets, as he runs swiftly he comes across a ninja draped cloaked in dark yellow fabric who is armed with a sword lurking slowly about the streets. Rikimaru stops on the hut above Setsuro. Setsuro points to the opposing foe ahead, Rikimaru nods.He flips forward to the next hut, & then leaps down behind the ninja. Setsuro is armed & waiting at the front, they both charge forward striking the ninja before he can react, his body is sliced clean in two & his top half is cut completely off, he dies instantly. The duo press on silently sneaking around & waiting til ninjas pass on & lurk elsewhere. Setsuro runs into a dark alley, & trips over a dog, the dog runs off but starts barking loudly. Ninja everywhere are alerted & tipped off to the teams position. Rikimaru & Setsuro run ahead keeping just a few steps ahead of the ninja. They soon reach the large red bridge that spans across to the entrance to the guarded Gohda compund. As they reach the middle of the bridge, ninja cut off both ends of the bridge. Rikimaru & Setsuro look in both directions, they take defensive positions back to back, the ninja on both sides close in slowly. Rikimaru pulls out his grenades from behind, from the darkness of night, Setsuro covering him, & the black colored grenades with three red stripes, the explosive devises are hidden from the blood-thirsty ninja boarding the bridge, awaiting the moment to strike. Rikimaru cuffs the grenades from open view, then finally pulls from behind him his last smoke bomb. He places it into the palm of Setsuro. As the ninja board slowly carrying their weapons, he pulls out his kurikama, holding the kama end, the chain bunched up, as he wonders what Rikimaru is up to. Ai can be seen from end of the bridge where they entered.
SETSURO (holding the smoke bomb & the grenade) : Well what now?
RIKIMARU (keeping his eyes on the ninja in front of him) : Jump .
As the ninja get closer, Setsuro throws the smoke bomb to the bridge & then throws the end of his kurikama to grasp onto the other side, he swings over. Rikimaru leaps high & throws the grenades into the smoke filled bridge. The bridge explodes after a second or so. The ninja choking on the smoke are hit by either the shock wave or the pure explosion of the grenades, they are all killed as their bodies fall into the water. Rikimaru finally drops into the water, Setsuro falls short into the water his kurikama didn’t reach long enough as he now struggles in the water. Rikimaru uses a leek to breath underwater. Setsuro throws his chain weight & latches onto a tree across the river. He pulls himself out of the deep, dark cold water.
EXT. TOWER POST – NIGHT
A young (20-24) tower guard on the night watch holding his bow & arrow sees the explosion below & the ninja surrounding the base of the castle. With his keen eyes he looks on & see the trouble brewing. He dashes to find Sekiya. He finds Sekiya in his study writing, he approaches him hurriedly.
TOWER GUARD : Master Sekiya!!! Ninja are at the base of the castle!!!!
SEKIYA : Then come with me. To the gates!!! (Sekiya reaches for his sword behind him, taking the blade he follows the tower guard to the gates)
Sekiya & the guard rush to the bottom of the castle. Another heavy armed archer joins them as they prepare to open the gates at the base of the castle. The prepare to open the gates, soon many guards are behind Sekiya & the 2 archers.
Meanwhile Setsuro finally is out of the water, he unlatches his chain weight, & looks on to find 4 ninja standing ready there. Rikimaru forward flips out from the water, onto the shore with ‘Izayoi’ in hand. [*fight sequence*] The 2 on 4 combat begins here, they begin to fight with the ninja, & cut down three of them & knock down one into the water. The dash towards the entrance to the compound while Sekiya & two heavily armored archers open the entrance. The archers take aim as the ninja from behind rises up & leaps high to strike with his claws Rikimaru, the archers riddle the airborn ninja with fast moving arrows, the ninja still in mid air trying to make his last performance a good one is only killed by the final blow dealt by Sekiya from his sharp blade & enamorable skill. Sekiya single blow kills the ninja as he falls to the ground in a pool of his own blood. Mistress Ai can be seen watching them as they enter the castle & the huge door is being closed.
SEKIYA (sheathing his sword) : Covert stealth, Rikimaru. I am highly disappointed in you.
SETSURO : What???! We did what you asked!!!! We completed the mission, found the enemy, we have they’re plans & we came back with our heads still attached to our bodies, All in all it was a good night!!
INT. GOHDA MAIN CASTLE/ HALLWAYS – NIGHT
Rikimaru, Sekiya, Setsuro, & the other guards walk on, many of the guards dispurse & return to their posts as the trio move on back towards the throne & study area.
SEKIYA : Silence!!! If I had my way, you wouldn’t have come back at all!! And you are to speak when you are spoken to, ashigaru!!!!
RIKIMARU (bowing his head in shame) : I am sorry for my performance tonight.
SETSURO : We did what we were expected to do. If you have a problem with that, then that is your problem.
SEKIYA : Fool!!! Now that they know we have they’re plans, they will either change the plans or speed up the time table upon said plans.
RIKIMARU : I have shamed my clan. I have shamed Lord Gohda & this house. (walks off) forgive me.
SETSURO : I see why he is so cold, calculated, you expect him to be a perfect killer, Sekiya. You may have much honor, but not even all the honor of all the samurai that have ever lived do not equal to a good heart & a strong concious of what is right. It becomes ever so clear that you do not have either, (bows) honorable sire.(walks off)
Ayame can be seen off in the distance. She too was awakened by the explosion of the bridge. Rikimaru walks over to her, looking to the ground slightly. They walk together slowly down a brightly lit hallway.
RIKIMARU : Ayame I have failed. A shadow in life, in my duties a failure. Our clan, our late master, Shiunsai. My performance tonight was that of a mere unskilled thug, not the title of grandmaster that I thought I was ( looks to Ayame sleepily) I shall retire for the night.
AYAME (holding his arm) : Rest now It has been a long night for us all.
Setsuro quickly walks up behind the two.
SETSURO : Hi. (looks to Ayame) Hi. (then to Rikimaru) You’re being to hard on yourself, its obvious that Sekiya doesn’t care for the lives that are taken, just that the mission needs to be successful.
RIKIMARU (walking towards a door) : Does not matter I will prove myself to Lord Gohda. (he enters the room)
AYAME : Good night Rikimaru (looks at Rikimaru)
SETSURO : Take care, Rik (looking at Ayame) So Ayame its late how about we share some tea alone, (pauses) together.
AYAME (walking towards a room) : How about you can drink tea alone & call it a night, Setsuro (enters her room & closes the door, hard)
Setsuro shrugs his shoulders & walks off down the hallway. Night passes & daybreak shines upon the Gohda Castle. Rikimaru is in the throne room, kneeling before Lord Gohda. He has been informed on the actions of that night. He looks down at Rikimaru. Setsuro & Ayame enter the throne area from different pathways. Lord Gohda, Sekiya, Princess Kiku & other nobles are in the throne area. Many guards are here even during the day, & even the nobles up to Lord Gohda himself wear their swords. For you can never be too careful.
INT. GOHDA MAIN CASTLE/ THRONE AREA – DAY
RIKIMARU : My lord I wish to prove my loyalty, my skill & my worth to you once more.. I wish to part myself from the shame of last night’s mission. I wish to prove my skill in a test my lord. I wish to redeem myself as master of the Azuma ninja clan & as a servant to the house of Gohda.
LORD GOHDA : Under the circumstances Rikimaru, you performed satisfactory against the other ninja & retrieved necessary information to our survival. There is no need for a test of your skill today.
RIKIMARU : As the master of the Azuma ninja I wish to call for an assessment of my current skill level & title of grandmaster, in fact it has never been given, & it has been a long time since I inherited the sacred blade of my clan ‘Izayoi’, I must prove my skill to you. The ‘test of perfect stealth’ shall prove my skill to you Lord Gohda.. Under the old rules of the Azuma ninja I must show you.
SEKIYA (to Lord Gohda) : I’m afraid he is right. We must allow him to prove himself, sire. I will administer this test to him. Shiunsai would want me to do this my lord. (walks off)
LORD GOHDA (with a saddened look upon his face) : Then it shall be so. I will assess your skills Rikimaru, if you fail, unbearable shame will be brought upon the Azuma ninja clan, if you pass, honor will be bestowed & tonight’s marginal actions will be forgotten & your personal honor shall be restored. (gets up from his throne & walks off out of the throne area, with no words exchanged, Kiku joins him instantly they walk off a small escort of guards follow them as they leave)
SETSURO (looking to Ayame): I thought everything was alright. What’s going on???
AYAME (looking to Setsuro, rolling her eyes slightly) : You really don’t understand do you, ashigaru?? Rikimaru shamed himself, & maybe it was because of his partnership with you You help shame Rikimaru!
SETSURO (looking angry) : I’m not sure where you get you values, but from where I com from, doing the job & getting it done & coming back alive is a good thing & if you can’t understand that then you’re like all them obsessed with honor & glory of the master & not worried about yourself, you’re young Ayame but time will pass for you & you will become older & worn when you body is exhausted & your muscles tired, what then? (begins to get closer & stare Ayame down) What will happen to you when you get old? Will you be so proud? Will you be so obsessed with pleasing your master? Will you always do what he asks unconditionally & never waiver to ask what you do is right or not? Will our lord one day pray for your lives when you die? Grrrr!! Stubborn!!! Just like her!! (storms off)
AYAME : What is with him?? (looks to a kneeling Rikimaru & walks over to him) Rikimaru? Are you sure you want to do this?
RIKIMARU : Hmm (gets up) You will one day understand what it means to bear the burden of our clan, Ayame one day you will be master. One day
AYAME (chuckles & laughs softly a bit) : Rikimaru you will always be master
RIKIMARU : With our positions come great risk I have fathomed my death many times .I am ready to give my life for my master ..(pauses) Ayame, it is not meant for us to live long lives, as our late master. But enough of that, I must prove that the Azuma is still worthy to protect the Gohda family (dashes off)
Ayame walks out of the castle to find on the compound the training room. Sekiya, Rikimaru, some guards are outside. Sekiya is in front of the training room.