The City of Shadows

Written by Barlow

Rikimaru sat upon the straw mat and listened carfully as Lord Gohda spoke. Lord Gohda explained to the ninja that a group known as The Black Shadows has stolen The Scared Gem of Light. The Black Shadows slaughtered the monks guarding the gem and carried it away to their stronghold, The City of Shadows.
Lord Gohda finally ended their meeting with these words :

“You most recover the gem, Rikimaru before darkness covers the land. All ready the days grow shorter and the nights longer. Soon the land will forever be held in the grip of darkness.”

Within the secret training hall beneath Gohda castle Rikimura sat and meditated before setting out on his mission. When the ninja’s mind was clear and focused he slowly draw Izayoi, the legendary sword of the Azuma Ninja. Rikimaru slashed the air in different directions practicing his fighting skills. Jumping slashing and rolling. After some time the ninja was satisfied that his skills were as finely honed as Izayoi’s razors edge, and he sheathed the weapon.

Now it was time to select which items he wished to carry with him on his mission. Rikimaru moved to the small store room to make his selection. Within the room were many different weapons and tools to choose from. Because a ninja must be able to move quickly Rikimaru decided to limit himself to 16 items. First he choose the Kaginawa or grapple hook and rope. Next he took 10 shuriken, 4 smoke bombs and finally a bottle of Kusuri, a powerful healing potion. After all was ready the ninja set out upon his mission to recover the Scared Gem of Light.

After many days of fast travel Rikimaru stood at a bridge over a river. Across the river lay the infamous City of Shadows. The ninja carefully studied the city for sometime. It was ominously quite and the thick darkness that laid over the city was unnatural. The ninja couldn’t see or hear any sigh of life at all within the city. It was as if it were totally dead and deserted.
The ninja decided to swim the river that night rather than use the bridge. He was certain the Black Shadows would be keeping a watchful eye upon it. The ninja slipped quietly into the cold dark water and made for the other side.

After crossing the river Rikimaru climbed up the bank and slipped into an alley between two buildings. Darkness hung everywhere thick as a fog. The ninja could barely see even though he normally had the eyes of a cat in the dark. He could hear and see nothing, but his senses told him that someone or something was near. He crept forward as silent as the shadows around him. Then suddenly the darkness exploded with flashing blades. Razor sharp swords began slashing Rikimaru from all sides. Rikimaru could not see anyone to fight only sword floating in the air slashing and ripping at him. The ninja’s blood poured out of him as the blades hacked and chopped his flesh. Rikimaru slashed out blindly with Izayoi and felt the sword bite into flesh and bone and heard the scream of a dying enemy. One of the floating swords fell to the ground and a pool of blood began to form. Now the ninja understood that these were The Black Shadows and that they were invisible.

Hacked nearly to pieces by the surprise of the attack and blood pouring from many wounds the ninja staggered backwards fending off the savage slashing blades wielded by unseen hands. All seemed lost, then suddenly Rikimaru fell backward into the river.

Despite his terrible wounds the ninja made it back across the river and crawled up the bank. As he laid in the mud bleeding to death, Rikimaru weakly reached into a hidden pocket. His hands gripped the bottle of Kusuri. He was weak and only moments from death. He drank the potion just as the cold blackness of the abyss took him down.

The ninja was surprised when he awoke hours later. There was no pain. The powerful magic of the potion had completely healed him and saved his life. It was daytime now, he had been asleep for hours. He stood and again studied the city across the river. Darkness still hung over the city even in the daylight, but not as thick and heavy as at night.

Rikimaru had no choice he would again attempt to recover the Gem of Light. He crossed the river again, but this time during the day. He would never have a chance against the Black Shadows in the hours of night, when the thick darkness would totally conceal them. After crossing the river the ninja quickly leapt and caught the lip of the roof to the nearest building and pulled himself up. The ninja felt that the roof tops would be far safer than the streets below.

Rikimaru moved from roof to roof scouting out the city below. He could see the Black Shadows moving on the streets below. All he could see of them was their swords carried in black sheaths floating in the air and the black shadow they cast upon the ground, that was all. Never had the ninja encountered a more deadly enemy.

Rikimaru wondered where the Shadows would have hidden the Gem. Then the thought struck him. He began moving toward the darkness part of the city he could find. He felt that the Shadows would hide it in the darkness of places where their power was the greatest.

Then in an alleyway with darkness as thick as night during the day time he saw it. The gem burning like a flame in the darkness, guarded by eight of the shadows. The ninja could see their swords by the light of the gem.

The ninja knew that speed would be the only way to recover the gem.
Rikimaru threw down all four of his smoke bombs, then with his enemies choking and confused he leapt down and snatched up the gem. As the ninja gripped the gem he suddenly felt a rush of great power flow through him.

The shadows rushed forward swords flashing, but the ninja no longer feared the darkness for now he held the Gem of Light. Rikimaru held the gem out before him and a lightning bolt shot out blasting the the nearest shadow to ruin. Lightning bolt after lightning bolt followed until no shadow was left alive in the alleyway.

Rikimaru now walked the streets of the City of Shadows openly. Blasting to hell any shadow that dare cross his path. Soon the City of Shadows was a blazing ruin of death and destruction. Fire would purify this place.

As Rikimaru crossed the bridge he took a look back at the burning city then he placed the gem safely in his pocket and headed back to the road to Gohda castle.