Written by Jason E. Turner
Rikimaru ran back towards The Dragon and Ayame. He felt he owed her an apology. He was very childish, he thought. As he came closer, he realized that they were gone.
Even if she was still upset with me, she would have waited for me to return.
Zipp! Rikimaru had less than a half second to dodge a dart thrown at him. His eyes narrowed he pulled the dart from a tree.
Around the dart was a note:
You have corrupted my son with your backstabbing
murderous art. He was on his way to becoming a very
honorable samurai. But you dazzled him with the quick
and easy way of your sneaky tricks.
For that, I have captured your Ayame. She is a little
sore from your attack, but do not worry. I will take
very special care of her. She is beautiful, yes?
Rikimaru began to run. He was heading for the one place he could find sanctuary.
Lord Gohda was waiting patiently. Ayame had been gone too long. He paced back and forth.
Kiku spoke to him.
“Father, why are you troubled? Ayame is very resourceful. She will find her way out of any trouble. You will see.”
She peered at her father through her doll hair. It framed her face in way that made her even more striking than before. Lord Gohda looked at his daughter. She was growing. Soon she would be the exact image of her mother. She would be all the attention of the young lords looking to court her. He grunted. Still too young. They better stay away for a few more years.
“Listen to me, my Angel. Ayame is skilled. But she still carries a burden for Rikimaru. She feels that he is still wandering as a restless spirit. She is not clear in mind. She still cares for him.”
In a flash, Rikimaru landed at his Lord’s Feet.
“My Lord. I am still alive!”
Lord Gohda was in a shock. He lost his composure. He began to cry. Although he was more muscular, he recognized Rikimaru.
“Heavens above! You live!”
“I know my appearance shocks you my lord, but I have no time to catch up on old times right now. Ayame is captured. Along with her, is my student The Black Dragon. His father Hanzou is holding them, and if I do not save them, he will kill them both!”
Lord Gohda stammered.
“It has been three years, hasn’t my good fellow?”
“Yes my lord.”
Kiku was staring at Rikimaru. She was in a daze.
“He is so handsome now.”
She continued to stare.
Rikimaru picked up on this.
“Greetings, Kiku. It’s been a long time.”
She smiled at him.
“Yes it has.”
Lord Gohda sensed her feelings for Rikimaru.
“Ahem..Not long enough.”
Rikimaru watched as Kiku blushed. He smiled, but quickly returned to the task at hand.
“My lord, I need to retrieve the blade…Is it still in your care?”
Lord Gohda pulled it from a secret vault. As he handed it to his greatest warrior, Rikimaru felt music in his head play out. He was taken back to when his own master, Shiunsai, had handed this blade to Tatsumaru. Tatsumaru had betrayed them, but in the end, he died at the edge of this blade, his self sacrifice for his crimes. Rikimaru was awash with old emotions. The blade seemed to come alive in his hands. He instinctively began to practice with it. Soon, he grabbed his self made blade the Gray Dragon. He held two mystical kitanas in each of his hands. He was ready for the Devil himself with this much power.
“Of course it is Rikimaru. I was saving for Kiku, but you have returned. She has become quite a swordsman. You must go now.”
“Yes my lord.”
Rikimaru started for the door.
Lord Gohda called out to him. “Rikimaru!”
“Please do return this time.”
Rikimaru saluted Lord Gohda.
“You have my oath as an Azuma Ninja. I swear it.”
He ran off to his fate.
Kiku snapped out of her coma.
“Father! He is alive!”
Lord Gohda thought to himself.
“But for how long?”
The last thing he saw was Rikimaru running at full speed, with two similar looking swords on his back. They formed an X shape on his back. And Lord have Mercy on the enemies that saw him draw these blades out.