Written by Anonymous
He stood silently crouched, watching patiently in the shadows he called home. He noted three guards patrolling the Western Wall and watched as they finished their last rounds, standing lazily at their assigned posts waiting for the long night to be over. He peered from atop the nearby building as the guards came from inside the walls encircling the compound, there to relieve the tired men so that they could retire for the night.
He knelt down to his knees, both hands clenched with his knuckles resting on the slanted roof. Whispering a silent prayer he leapt from the building, and in a single swift motion, he kicked the first guard in the face, shoving the small bone in his nose deep into his brain. With his left hand he reached back, and from behind his belt, he pulled out a long dagger and threw it by the blade straight at the second guard’s head with deadly precession. The third guard swung his sword at the man’s head just as he ducked and dealt a quick punch to the throat blocking of his air supply. The guard fell clutching his throat, desperately trying to breathe. He could tell that the guard was undoubtedly going die but felt pity at his pain. So he bent over and garbed his head, almost as if he were cradling it, then with great speed he pulled back. The guard lived just long enough to here a crack as his neck was broken. He walked over the body to the guard with the dagger embedded in his head and pulled it free, wiping the dagger on the man’s blood stained clothes and he was off into the shadows.
Maru awoke up to find his sheets covered in sweat. He threw his feet over the bed to find that he was already dressed. He began to change when he noted a small spot of blood on the sleeve of his shirt. He sighed as he dressed and recounted the night’s events, as he did a tear slid down his face.
“Hello is anybody home?”
A sweet voice chimed that Maru was certainly fond of.
“Ah Mye come in.”
Maru said as he quickly wiped his face free of tears.
“Good morning Maru, did you sleep well?”
“Oh yes I slept very well.”
He lied, he had only slept a couple hours and he hoped that Mye couldn’t see the pockets under his eyes.
“Well I brought you some of that tea that I know you like, I would drink it with you, but my mother is unable to remove herself from her weaving and I’ve got to complete her chores.”
“I will be thinking of you with every sip I take.”
With that the girl had walked out the door and down the street to her house
Maru smiled as he sipped at his tea thinking of the girl that made it for him.
After Maru had finished his tea he walked out the door to go farm his newly acquired land. It was small but suited the requirements of his simple needs. When he walked out the door he was greeted by Shontu on of the few men he had befriended in the small time he had made residence in the village.
“You know that girl takes a fancy to ya don’t ya?”
The old man asked with a somewhat curious smile.
“I have no idea what your talking about you crazy old man.”
He said in a friendly tone.
The old man chuckled and simply shook his head as Maru walked by to farm his land.
At the end of the day Maru put away his tools and climbed up to the tallest hill in the village where he watched and waited as the red sun set behind the surrounding mountains. When the sun had finally gone down Maru picked himself up from where he sat and walked over to his house. Once inside he walked over to the center of the floor and lifted up a rug to reveille a handle embedded in the floor. He pulled it up from the floor to expose an area dug out by the man, that contained the equipment that he would require latter in the night. He pulled out his belt with a scabbard attached that held his dagger. Also on the belt there was a neatly packed small leather pouch containing several Shurikens each with a tip personally sharpened by the man every night so that they might pierce even the strongest of armor. There were many other similar pouches that held many odd things that the shadow warrior would latter need. He pulled up two heavy gauntlets, which he strapped, to each of his arms. He coiled a rope and threw it over his shoulder for latter use. On the tip of the rope was a strong Iron grapple. Then he pulled up a strip cloth that would conceal the bottom half of his face that symbolized who he now was, unseen and alone. He stood there almost invisible in the light of his own home and with unseen grace he walked out of his house into the shadows.
Maru made his way to front gate, being careful not to be seen by any villagers that might still be out in the night After he made his way threw the village he stood there standing no more the twenty feet away from the guards totally invisible in the shadows. He noticed that there were twice as much guards on duty then before.
“As to be expected, considering the trouble I made last night. It is an obstacle that I shall have to be over come.”
He whispered to himself. He stood at the corner of a house near the front gate where he could see all that was happening. Maru noted five guards in front of the main gate, with four more on each side. He stood watching silently, pondering as to what his next move would be. He picked up a rock and casually threw far from where the farthest guard on the left was standing. The guard picked up his head and looked in the direction that the rock was thrown and went over to investigate bringing three more guards with him. Maru went along too. Maru moved silently behind the men as they walked almost single file towards the sound. He came behind the guard at the rear and quickly slit his throat while at the same time bringing the guard into the shadows. The guards seemed totally oblivious to there friend’s departure. After Maru efficiently hid the guard from sight he moved in behind the second guard. Just as Maru had brought up his dagger the guard sneezed.
“He you idiot do you want the intruders to know we are here?”
The front guard said as he looked back to find the guard already gone. His eyes widened and before he could open his mouth blood was gushing from his throat. The remaining guard looked in horror at his friend as he brought up his sword looking Maru straight in the eye.
“Bring it on.”
He whispered in terror. Maru frowned under his mask and held up his dagger. The guard went straight for Maru’s stomach with a jab, Maru simply stepped to the side and held the sword down with his dagger. He saw the terror in the man’s eyes and great pity came over Maru. So when he brought the heavy guantlets down apon the mans’s head he let a tear flow down his cheek.
Once in sight of the guards at the front gate he made a dash at the closest catching him off guard performing a short jump and landing a kick just below the chest knocking him over onto the next guard who fell to the ground. He hit the next standing guard before he could react with a quick backhand that caused blood to shower from his nose due to the heavy gauntlets. Before the guard could fall he grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and threw him to the other two guards that now had there weapons drawn sending them sprawling to the floor and at the same time impaling there comrade. Before any of them could get to their feet Maru took the rope from around his shoulders and flung the grapple up and over the wall. The guards never even got a good look at him.
Once Maru had come to the top of the wall he was dashing from rooftop to rooftop with incredible silence.
“I should reach the castle before the remaining guards are able to call together their lords private army, and by that time I’ll be able to carry out my mission.”
As he raced towards the castle he came upon a large building with two guards standing on either side of entrance of what appeared to be the barracks. Maru jumped from the building and hit both guards with on his way down knocking them uncouncies. He peered inside to see what appeared to be a large portion of the lords army all fast asleep. On the outside of the barracks hung several lamps. He walked over and grabbed one, tore of its paper outsides to reveal a dancing flame. He flung it inside the barracks and at the same time pulled a handful of pellets from his belt and flung them to into the barracks as well. As the pellets hit smoke came bellowing from the barracks. Maru then pulled himself onto the roof and was again racing towards the castle in silence.
Back in the village Mye was watching here mother weave with admiration when there was a pounding on the door.
“Who is it?”
Her father said irritated, as he picked his head up from his bed.
“I have Orders from lord Mei-Oh to bring your daughter to his castle, you will now give her to me.”
“The hell I will.”
He screamed already out of his bed and standing in front of the closed door.
“That can be arranged.”
The man said while he shoved a sword through the door impaling Mye’s father.
Mye screamed as her father looked up to her from a puddle of blood on the floor. He gasped almost as if he were trying to speak to her when the door opened shoving him out of the way. In steeped three warriors and a man with skin paler then the moon and a blind fold over his eyes.
“You’re coming with me missy.”
The man said as he grabbed her and through her up onto his shoulder, as he walked out the door.
“Put her down.”
Said a man from the shadows.
“Or something bad might happen to somebody and it will not be me.”
“Your tongue is to big for you old man.”
And from out behind the shadows steeped Shontu Sword drawn and in a fighting stance.
“I thought the world was rid of such evil as yourself Onikage; what black magic brought you here?”
“The worst kind of all. All right men take good care of this old man I have more pressing matters to attend to.”
Shontu rushed at the man but was met by his warriors with armor the color of blood. The first warrior rushed him with a cocky grin and his sword pointed straight at him. Shontu deflected the attack, quickly spun and slashed the man in the back. The two remaining warriors looked at each other with a look of surprise and of something Shontu hadn’t seen in any man’s eyes for quit some time, fear. After the surprise faded the two warriors charged with their swords up above their heads ready to strike. Shontu rolled between them spun and with a wide, arching slash sent both of the warriors to the ground. Then Shontu was off following the man he had killed once before.
Maru was standing on top of what seemed to be a warehouse in front of the castle that housed his enemy lord Mei-Oh. He looked down to see only two men guarding the front door the others obviously off to investigate the fire that Maru had created. Maru once again unslung his rope from around his shoulder. He swung it around his head several times and then threw it so that the grapple embedded itself into the castle wall. Maru swung down with the rope and hit both guards with either of his feet knocking them unconscious and then began to climb up the castle wall to his enemy.
Shontu caught up with Onikage relatively easily and wondered how he had managed in his old age. He saw as the massive front gates were opened for the man and saw too the bodies in front of it as he slipped in unnoticed. He continued to follow Onikage unnoticed through the compound surrounding the castle and as he grew closer he saw a great fire surrounded by many men who tried to fight it in vain.
“Someone certainly got here before me, and that disgusting pig of a lord must be using the girl against him, tactics of the weak, how disgusting.”
He said to himslef
After Maru had made his way up to the closest window he found no other alternative but to break hit open, so with his gauntlets he punched through the windows without harm to his hands. He looked to see two men with their swords in their hands and in a fighting stance different then the other guards had.
These must be Mei-Oh’s personal guards, Both must be trained samurai, this should prove interesting.
They both waited for Maru to draw his dagger and seemed eager to make their lord proud. Maru had different Ideas. He reached into his belt and pulled out two Shurikens and threw them straight at the samurai’s head and that was it.
Bet they didn’t see that coming. He thought as he made his way up to lord Me-Hoe’s chamber.
As Maru walked the corridors of the giant castle he becam more aware of how futile it was. Every ten paces Maru would reach a intersection that would leave any man guessing but Maru’s hightend sense of Chi was leading him. But as he walked and walked and walked he begane to discourage.
“How could any man live in such place? I would prefer the sorroundings of my rustick hut to this maze of a castle.”
He said to himself
Eventually he came to a large corridor guarded by two more of the elite samurai. They charged him weapons drawn and ready to strike. Maru sent his dagger flying into the left samurai’s head but let the remaining charge. He swung his sword towards Maru’s head but Maru blocked with his left gauntlet and attacked with his right. The guard spun dodging Maru’s attack and countering with his own aimed towards Maru’s back. Maru ducked spun and hit the guard with a backhand to his chest, Maru could hear the man’s ribs brake as he went right into an uppercut that broke the man’s jaw. He lay unconscious as Maru walked over him to retrieve his dagger.
Maru then looked at the door near the end of the hallway where a large door lay ahead. Maru stood there unsure of what he would do when he entered that room. Then he thought of turning back afraid of himself and of what he might do, but when he looked down to see the bodies of the dead and he thought of all that sacrifice he had made for this moment. He slowly steeped forward towards the doors that would contain his destiny.
Maru found the doors to be locked so, he went over to the wall grabbed the nearest torch that illuminated the walls. He set the torch next the doors and watched as they caught flame and burned to ashes.
He looked through the door and saw that he was there, staring at him with the eyes that had claimed victim to hundreds of innocent men, women and children.
“Allow me to introduce my self I am Lord Mei-Oh and you are?”
“My name is Maru Hasagowa, you killed my family and hundreds of innocent men, women, and children you are a monster who has no right to be free in this world, prepare to die.”
“I think not my friend.”
With that he clapped his hands
“Maru get down NOW!”
Maru recognized the voice and hit the ground with out hesitation as a knife soared over his head. He spun to see a grotest man with a blind fold on his eyes and a knife to Mye’s throat.
Maru heard the soft steps of a shadow warrior come from behind the grotesque man and saw as he spun to lock swords with his teacher, Shontu. The man drooped the girl and meet Shontu’s eyes.
“It’s about time you got here old man I was beginning to think I had lost you.”
“Well Onikage, I wouldn’t want to disappoint you.”
Shontu jumped back and assumed his fighting stance. Onikage did the same but unlike Maru’s mentor and master none could read the expresion on the mans face, weither it was of honor or duty, or of hate and disgust.
After Shontu finaly made the first attake many blocks and attacks were exchanged and both men jumped back. Sondu stood tall smiling as blood trickled from a small gash on his brow, and Shontu crouched to the ground trying desperately to catch his breath.
“What’s a mater old man, your age catching up to you?”
“I fought my battle with you many years ago I did not intend to fight with you again.”
Shontu gasped under his heavy breathing.
“Well neither did I, but that’s what happens when you make deals with the devil.”
“You’re a monster.”
“I know, and thank you for noticing.”
At that Sondu walked over to the old man and put his sword to his throat.
“Don’t do it.”
Maru said as he unsheathed his dagger and pointed it towards Onikage.
“Do what, ohh you mean this.”
And with a flick of his wrist, the old warrior was no more.
Maru stood there in disbelief looking down upon his old master with sorrow and hate.
“Argh, you did this, now you will die along with this pitiful lord.”
He lunged at the man dagger first. His slash was blocked but he swiped again with his fist hitting him in the jaw. Onikage staggered back yet Maru kept attacking. He could not fend away the man’s fists. Maru’s relentless attacks kept hitting Onikage over and over again and eventually the cloth that covered the mans eyes were ripped away and Maru steeped back in horror. From where his eyes should have been lay two black holes.
“Now you see what happens when you make deals with the devil?”
Onikage said, supporting himself with his sword.
Maru looked down upon the man with disgust and horror. Before he was ready Onikage jumped and before he was able to bring down his sword Maru had brought his up impaling the man. He hit the ground with the dagger sticking up from his stomach.
“I’ll be back, oh yes I’ll be back.”
He said with his last words.
“So, that is how evil chooses to depart this world, preferring to seek last minute revenge. How pathetic.”
Maru said looking down in disgust at the figure that seemed somehow demonic in his death. He then looked over to Me-Hoe with such a look of hatred that fear swept through Me-Hoe making him shiver. Maru went to the demon man’s corpes pulled his dagger free and walked over to the quivering lord,k brought up his dagger and just as he was to bring it down he heard Mye’s voice full of compassion and sympathy.
“What do you fight for?”
“Is it for revenge or is it something more?”
Maru looked back at the man, yet this time his eyes were filled not with hate but with a strong sense of honor. He brought his dagger down, hitting him square between the eyes.
“I fight so that no weaker then I has to feel any pain from those stronger then themselves.”
He walked over to Mye grabbed her hand and brought her to his side.
“Thank you, thank for helping me remember to fight with honor.”
He whispered into her ear as they walked down the hall.
“Maru, what will you do, now that your quest is over?”
“I will seek a lord worthy of my loyalty, and perhaps create a guild where others may follow in my foot steps. To fight with honor, and kill by stealth.”