Written by Jason E. Turner
Rikimaru inched towards the first of many, many dead men.
“You are all finished. You just have not felt my blades yet.”
WOOSH! The guard’s head was lopped off. His expression was one of shock. He never knew what happened. The next guard died. Rikimaru threw a shuriken so hard at the ronin’s throat that it made a high pitched whistle, much like a falcon’s cry, before it buried itself into his flesh. He merely fainted from the blood loss. He did not even feel the weapon go in. And he never felt anything again.
“That’s two. But I cannot hide forever.”
Rikimaru clasped his fierce arms around another ronin’s mouth and neck. SNAP. That was the signal. Whether the guards heard a tree branch break or the break of a bone, they knew an intruder was among them now. They were the most well trained of Hanzou’s foot soldiers. And they knew a man was coming to save the captured girl. But they didn’t know a storm was coming. More importantly, they didn’t know what kind of storm was coming. It was a hurricane. And its name was R I K I M A R U.
The hurricane surged forward in the deadliest of assassination movements. Every soldier, though well trained, had never seen such a fury. Rikimaru dashed in and out of view. A choking smoke soon enveloped the fortress. Then explosions. Charred body parts flew left and right. There were blood curdling screams. Some of agony, some of fear, and some of both. And the blood.
“If blood were gold, I’d be wealthy.”
Rikimaru sliced another man in half.
Hanzou was asleep in his tent. He was awoke by a pale soldier.
Hanzou was startled.
“Can’t I get an hour of rest?”
The man who disturbed Hanzou was disturbed as well. But in a very different way.
“I’m sorry…master Hanzou…I came to tell…you…that..”
Hanzou became more impatient.
“What are you mumbling about, fool?”
The man was struggling with every word.
“My lord, the camp has been invaded by…by…a demon…with white hair…and an evil eye…”
“It must be Rikimaru. I knew he would come. Ready my horse. I will settle this.”
The man just stood there. Pale, sweating. Hanzou was enraged.
“What are you waiting for? Ready my horse, you fool!”
It was then that Hanzou looked at the man’s hands. They had blood trickling through them. The man’s hand’s dropped. In a steamy foul smelling gush, his entrails fell out of his stomach where he had been holding them in. Hanzou was a warrior, but he was shocked.
“The bastard is good. Very good.”
Rikimaru readied his Grey Dragon. With two swords in hand, he was a killing machine. The bodies mounted, the blood flowed. And Hanzou was personally guarding Ayame. She sat, bound and gagged, against a crude X shaped structured. As he came closer, Rikimaru sensed a presence. The Black Dragon was nearby. He knew it.
“But would he be samurai or ninja?”
The Dragon was holding a bow and arrow. Skilled in archery, he trained his sights on the rope that held Ayame in place. SWISH! CHAK. The rope was broken. Ayame kicked her way free from Hanzou. Hanzou sneered. His yellow teeth were like a wolf’s.
“Is that you, son? Come out. We can be allied against these backstabbers.”
A moment and the Dragon was kneeling at his father’s feet.
“Father, I wish to make peace with you. But I want this conflict to end. Please.”
Hanzou smiled. He then drew his sword. He raised his blade. The Dragon broke into a cold sweat. WHOOSH! CHANG. The blade of Hanzou was stopped by two other blades. The Grey Dragon and the Ancestral Sword of the Azuma ninja. Rikimaru was hissing. Hanzou was strong. Perhaps as strong as Tastumaru was.
“It is you who is the backstabber, Hanzou. You would slay your son to prove a point!”
Hanzou withdrew his blade.
“I prove my point into your black heart, ninja. But let us fight with honor. Choose one blade if you are man enough to defeat me.”
The Black Dragon rose to his feet. “No, father. It is you and I who must battle. If you defeat me, then you may fight my master.”
“Arrogant brat! I was your master. I am your master. I spent years teaching you how to fight. How to live. I was your father and you betrayed my lessons. And I will teach you how to die if that is your destiny!”
He took a swipe at his son’s face. In a fountain of blood, his left cheek was cut open wide. His handsome face was now half ruined.
“Be scarred, traitor. Just like your half blind master!”
Ayame rushed to the Dragon’s aid. She took some tree bark and began to treat his wound. Rikimaru’s blood began to boil.
“You want a fight, Hanzou?”
“If the challenge is worthy, fool.”
Rikimaru saluted Hanzou.
“I, Rikimaru, of the Azuma ninja challenge you to a battle.”
Hanzou drew his sword fast. A blur of metal and he assumed an attack stance.
“I’ll take that challenge, ninja….”
he hissed. Rikimaru flexed his muscular frame and stretched his arms and legs, exhaling. Concentrating. He closed his eyes…then spoke.