Written by Daniel Teh
A pigeon flew ahead on the gentle breeze. A small bandanna was tied around its neck. The bird gracefully swooped down towards a village, passed some children who played by a grand old tree. The bird flew down over the nearby shallow river. There, two Ninja stood with swords in hand. One, a sixteen year old boy, and the other, a grown man of about twenty-five. They stood there, staring each other in the eyes, until the boy suddenly made his move. He swiftly jumped toward the elder man, slicing his sword through the air. But the longed haired man was also very agile and was able to block his attack while quickly returning an assault of his own. Both seemed very skilled, and used hands, feet and weapons to defeat their opponents; and both have the sheath of their swords attached to the back of their wastes. Very alike, apart from age. But it is obvious which is the better Ninja. They both fought a long arduous battle until finally the boy was knocked down. The man flicked his sword, but stopped right before the boy’s neck. He slowly lifted his sword and helped the boy stand up.
“Hehe, good spa Seimaru. You are learning quickly. You almost had me there.”
The man is Tatsumaru, of the Azuma Ninja. He was taken in by Master Shiunsai Azuma after his parents were killed, and has been trained as a Ninja since he was a child. The most experienced of the new Azuma Ninja, he is a model for others. He has a very fit and well defined body, and is tall at 6 foot 3. His long black hair flows down his back, tied with a silver ribbon.
“Don’t patronize me, Tatsu.”
The Boy is Seimaru, an apprentice, training to become a Ninja. He was found by Tatsumaru when he was an infant, and looks up to him like a brother. He knows much, but must still learn so much more. He is a 16 year old boy, about 5 foot 6 with shorter wavy dark hair.
“Look, it’s Rikimaru and Ayame. They must be back from their mission,”
Seimaru said pointing towards the entrance to the village. A young man and woman walked through the gates. Seimaru quickly ran to greet them while Tatsumaru followed slowly behind.
“Rikimaru, you’re back!”
“Rikimaru, my friend, you have completed your first mission as an Azuma Ninja. I am glad,”
Tatsumaru said happily.
“Thank you my friend, I too am glad. Those thieves will no longer control the mountain people.”
He is Rikimaru, a young man who has just become a Ninja. He has been trained since a child to become who he is now. Also a strong and well fit man, but shorter than Tatsumaru, his grayish hair is one of his most distinguishing features.
“Yeah, we took care of those idiots,”
She is Ayame. Like Rikimaru and Tatsumaru, she too has been trained since childhood to become a Ninja warrior. The youngest of the three Assassins, Ayame is very impulsive and has much to learn. She is short, but makes up for it in courage and fierceness. Her deep black hair is tied in a messy bun with the ends spiked out at the back and black chopsticks crossed through it.
“Master Shiunsai will be pleased,”
A little girl ran towards Ayame, rejoicing. “
You’re alright, I’m so happy to see you!”
“I’m happy to see you too!”
Ayame replied picking up the girl.
Act I – The Red Lotus
Later that night, Rikimaru sat in his house studying the ancient texts of the Azuma Ninja. His train of thought was broken when Tatsumaru approached his door.
“Rikimaru, Master Shiunsai calls us.”
“On my way,”
The Three Ninja walked toward their Masters house.
“Eh, what are you two doing here?”
Ayame asked. Master Shiunsai slid open his door. The Three knelt in front of him.
“My students, rebellion has broken out in the house of Ghoda. Our houourable lord Ghoda, is in danger from his own uncle, Sire Motohide. If the lord we serve, falls to a dishonorable traitor, we the Azuma Ninja, will stand for nothing. Go to Ghoda Castle and protect lord Ghoda with your lives. This is the ancestral sword, Izayoi. The spirit of the Azuma Ninja.”
Shiunsai held his sword out before Tatsumaru. Tatsumaru stood up as Shiunsai handed the sword to him.
“Tatsumaru, it is yours. Today, you replace me as Master Ninja. May honour guide your hand.”
“The powerful must know when to pass along their power. As you three graduate to new roles, I also ascend.”
they all replied.
It was chaos in the House of Ghoda. Many of Ghoda’s soldiers fought in a seemingly endless battle. The clash of steal could be heard like background music. One of the Castle maids slowly made her way through the many dead bodies in the nights darkness, toward the entrance. In her stumbling she accidentally tripped on a bloodied spear. Tears begun to well up in her eyes and run down her face. Suddenly Tatsumaru, Rikimaru and Ayame appeared before her from above like birds landing from flight. She looked up at them with fear. Not knowing if they were enemies or allies.
“Please! Don’t kill me!”
“It’s okay, we’re here to help,”
Rikimaru said calmingly.
“Oh thank goodness,”
she stuttered in haste.
“His Lordship is still inside; so are Lady Kei and Princess Kiku!”
“Ayame, find Lady Kei and the Princess. Rikimaru, come with me, we must rescue Lord Ghoda,”
Tatsumaru ordered. The three quickly left the maid. Rikimaru and Tatsumaru hastily made their way to Lord Ghoda. From the corner of his eye Tatsumaru saw a shadow speed along the rooftops and fly away into the night. Tatsumaru suddenly stopped and looked up at it.
“Wait Rikimaru, go find his Lordship; I’ll catch up later,”
Tatsumaru ordered, and then ran off into the darkness. Rikimaru nodded and left.
Rikimaru stealthily made his way passed the enemy soldiers to Lord Ghoda’s room in the upper levels of the castle. As he approached the room he could hear his Lord and Sire Motohide, Ghoda Matsunoshi’s uncle, talking. He hid behind the wall and quietly listened to their conversation.
“The world is torn apart by war! I am our only hope; the peasants must learn their place!”
Motohide said as the two circled each other. The man was now coming of old age. His body was weary and he was beginning to lose his agility and strength. But he could still hold his own in a battle.
“You’re wrong Uncle! The people are the soul of this land,”
Lord Ghoda reasoned. He was fairly younger than his uncle, but still in his forty’s. Although his features and long black hair would not tell.
“Enough talk! Yah!”
The two fought sword on sword, skilled in the arts of the Samuri. Striking and blocking with the sound of singing steel. Finally Lord Ghoda was able to knock Motohide down. He raised his sword to strike, but he stopped and lowered his sword. Motohide suddenly pulled out an ancient pistol.
Motohide yelled in satisfaction. *BANG*
Rikimaru quickly ran in. Motohide looked up in surprise and jumped to attack. Rikimaru and Motohide began to fight each other, but Motohide could not compare to the Azuma Ninja’s skill. Rikimaru was easily able to overpower him and push him to the ground.
“How humiliating; defeated, by a servant,”
“Sire Motohide! Prepare to die!”
Rikimaru declared raising his sword, but as he struck, Lord Ghoda threw himself in front of the ninja’s blade.
Rikimaru dropped his sword and moved to Ghoda’s side.
Motohide laughed as he ran away like a coward.
“Identify yourself Ninja!”
Lord Ghoda ordered.
“Rikimaru of the Azuma Ninja,”
“Ah, Rikimaru, I didn’t recognize you.”
“My Lord, I tried to kill the traitor, but I have dishonoured myself by striking you.”
“Nonsense, you did not mean to. My Uncle, he is misguided but he is trying to save the land,”
A Samurai holding two swords dashed into the room.
“Jubeii stop, it’s Rikimaru, he saved my life!”
The man, Jubeii, suddenly stopped.
Rikimaru? The roughian master Shiunsai was training. Hmmmm, well u have my thanks,”
Jubeii said gratefully,
“but my lord, Motohide’s soldiers have broken into the castle, you must flee, use the secret exit!”
“I will not leave the castle while my wife and daughter are still here,”
Lord Ghoda said
“Please my lord, they will kill you!”
“Lady Kei and Princess Kiku are in good hands. Ayame went to rescue them. But my lord, the people, what will happen to them if you die today?”
Rikimaru said. Suddenly, one of Motohide’s Soldiers broke into the room. With one strike of Jubeii’s sword the traitor was dead.
“My lord I
beg you, take the secret exit. Rikimaru protect Lord Ghoda I cannot hold them off forever.”
Rikimaru Hastily rolled up the large scroll which hung over the secret exit, and the two escaped.
Motohide stood holding a young girl. Her mother, kneeling in front of him, begging him not to take her daughter.
“No! If you take my daughter, you’ll have to take me too!”
The woman yelled.
“I don’t need you, I need the Princess,”
Motohide replied as he sliced her with his sword. At that moment, Ayame came running into the room, and saw before her the body of Lady Kei, Lord Ghoda’s wife.
“Ohh, Lady Kei! Motohide! You’ll pay for that,”
she shouted angrily.
“Another Ninja brat. I’ll teach you to speak to your betters,”
Motohide said slicing the air with his sword.
“Wait for Genbu!”
A voice sounded. “Genbu sneaks in now,” a masked fat man said as he fell from an opening in the ceiling.
“Finally; where are the rest of Lord Toda’s Ninja?”
Motohide asked the Man.
“Genbu sorry Sire Motohide. Genbu will beat up little girl for you,”
“Good, destiny calls me,”
“The destiny of Cowards is a messy and embarrassing death,”
Ayame said with spite.
“Quit being mean to the boss missy. You want to fight; you’ll fight Genbu, master of Ninja sneaking,”
Genbu stated in his idiotic as he took off his mask.
“What a shame, you looked so much better with that mask on,”
Ayame said removing her short swords from their sheaths. Genbu raised his large serrated drumsticks.
“Now you will die, little girl,”
Genbu said. He raised one of his drumsticks and hammered it down towards Ayame, but she was quick to move out of the way. Ayame went to slash Genbu, but Genbu blocked with one of his Drumsticks. Every time Ayame tried to use her swords, he either blocked her or the cut did only minor damage. Eventually Genbu backed off toward the small window.
“Genbu is strongest, Genbu is unbeatable, but today Genbu must sneak away,”
Genbu then dropped a smoke bomb. Ayame could not see for a minute, but when the smoke cleared away, what she saw was two legs and a very huge butt stuck in the window.
“Uhh, nice girl, little help here?”
“Ugh, get lost!”
Ayame yelled as she kicked him square in the arse.
“WOOAAHH! THANKS NICE GIRL FOR NOT KILLING GENBU!”
He shouted as he flipped over out the window and slid down the roof. Ayame turned and faced Lady Kei.
Tatsumaru made is way to the highest roof in search of the shadow man. At the summit of the roof a young Samurai stood performing an ancient warriors ritual. The Samurai cocked his head to the side as he realized that Tatsumaru was watching him. He suddenly ran towards him and attacked. Tatsumaru blocked his sword with his wrist armor and quickly flicked his sword at the Samurai, slicing his clothes into midair. When they fell to the floor he found a woman in Ninja armor was standing before him. Her perfect figure standing proud and her facial features not displeasing to the eyes. Her purple female armor was complimented by a short lilac cape, and a large Katana lay sheathed at her hip.
“So, you’re a woman,”
“Very perceptive; and I recognize your sword. So, old man Azuma finally retired.”
The female Ninja said.
“Who are you?”
“I am Lady kagami; Master of the Nyogetsu Ninja,”
Kagami replied standing proud.
“Lord Toda’s Ninja? Perfect. Today I put an end to the rivalry between our clans,”
Tatsumaru said recognizing the female warrior as belonging to Lord Toda’s (Ghoda’s enemy) ninja.
“Our rivalry will end today; but it doesn’t have to end in blood,”
“What do you mean?”
Tatsumaru asked confused.
“Our clans are enemies only because Toda and Ghoda want it that way. We’re divided, and easily controlled,”
Kagami told Tatsumaru.
“What are you talking about?”
“Join us. Together, our two clans would be unstoppable,”
“We can create a new world, ruled by the Ninja!”
“Never! Ninja’s live in the shadows,”
“Do you really want to live your whole life in the dark?”
“Of course; the darkness is my home.”
“Fool, You’re a servant, not a warrior. My people follow orders but they fight for a dream. What do you fight for?”
Kagami said as the soldiers and Ninja below fought for victory and survival.
“As you wish. It is the wrong choice but it is yours. What a waste,”
Kagami said in a disappointed tone. Another armored Ninja wielding a chain-hook approached from behind Kagami.
“I admire you master of the Azuma; but I cannot have you interfering with my dream.”
Kagami leapt off of the roof to a lower one and disappeared into the darkness.
“First you have to get passed me, hehehe,”
the Ninja said. He jumped towards Tatsumaru, slashing at him with his hook. Tatsumaru moved out of the way and punched him from behind. The Ninja turned and slashed wildly as Tatsumaru moved backwards. When the Ninja had moved his arm passed Tatsumaru, the Azuma master grabbed and kicked him. The ninja stood up, but as he turned Tatsumaru flicked his sword through the air and cut the Ninja’s throat. He stood there holding his neck, and then fell off the roof to the ground below, sliding down each roof.
Ayame went over to lady Kei and held her in her arms. Lady Kei opened her eyes and began to stroke Ayame’s face.
Lady Kei wondered, unsure of who she was speaking to.
“My Ayame; a Ninja. *Cough* *Cough* “
Lady Kei said with a struggle.
“Oh my Lady, don’t try to speak, I’ll get help,”
Ayame told her.
“Wait take these,”
Lady Kei said as she handed Ayame two rose shaped bells.
“Please take care of Kiku ungghh.”
She said with her last breath, and then died. Tears began to sting Ayame’s eyes. Tatsumaru swung in through the window.
Ayame finally let go of Lady Kei and stood up.
“Motohide murdered lady Kei and he kidnapped Princess Kiku. I’m going after her,”
Ayame said enraged and jumped out the window.
A nobleman with a sword ran through the hallways of the burning castle and its fires heading toward Lord Ghoda’s room. Tatsumaru swung down on a wooden slat and landed in front of the man.
“Halt! Friend or Foe!”
The man demanded raising his sword.
“Friend. I am Tatsumaru of the Azuma Ninja,”
Tatsumaru replied kneeling on one knee.
“Oh, well met Tatsumaru. I didn’t recognize you; we are grateful for your protection,”
the Man said relieved.
“Sire Sekiya, I must inform you that Lady Kei has been murdered by Motohide. We were too slow in reaching the castle,”
Tatsumaru reported in sorrow.
” .Lady Kei Dead?”
Sekiya said in shock.
“And Princess Kiku has been kidnapped. It was entirely my fault,”
“No, no. The fault is mine. I should have been alert to Motohide’s treachery,”
“Ohh, the poor child”
“Ayame is chasing the kidnappers.”
“Good. What about Lord Ghoda?”
“Rikimaru will rescue him,”
Jubeii yelled to him from the stairs.
“What is it Jubeii?”
Sekiya asked. Tatsumaru stood up.
“Enemy troops are massing on our border. They bear the crest of Lord Toda.”
“Toda? That’s not possible. News of the rebellion won’t reach his castle for .ughh, Motohide betrayed us to that Jackal Toda!”
Sekiya said in disgust.
“I just killed a Nyogetsu Ninja in the castle,”
Tatsumaru said, intervening.
“Toda’s Ninja are here?”
“Yes Sire Sekiya,”
“So, now we know who is behind all of this,”
“Sire Sekiya, I will bring you the head of Toda Yoshisara,”
“He will be protected by legions of troops. No, the risk is too great,”
“The risk is greater if we don’t act. My life is a small price to pay,”
“Ahh, very well, but be careful,”
Sekiya told him and Tatsumaru hastily took off to his new mission.
Far from the Castle, Rikimaru and Lord Ghoda stood in the pouring rain, watching as the Castle burned in the night.
“Ohh my castle burns, all is lost. If only these tears, could quench the flames,”
Lord Ghoda said, weeping.
“My Lord “
“What a pathetic being I have become.”
A horse’s trotting sounded from afar. Sire Sekiya rode up out of the deep shadows. He stopped and dismounted his horse. He slowly walked to Lord Ghoda.
“Lord Ghoda, are you alright,”
“Sekiya my friend, I am glad to see you alive,”
Lord Ghoda said relieved.
“Ahh, you must be Rikimaru. Jubeii told me of how you saved Lord Ghoda’s life. I am in your debt,”
Sekiya thanked him.
“Saved? But it was my sword that “
“Sekiya, where are Kei and Kiku?”
Lord Ghoda asked hopefully cutting Rikimaru off abruptly.
“Oh my lord they are “
Sekiya said unsure of how to break the tragic news to him.
“What is it tell me?”
“My lord it is my regret to tell you that, your wife lady Kei has been killed, and your daughter princess Kiku, kidnapped. Ayame is chasing the kidnapper; but my lord the kidnapper, the murderer, is you uncle, Motohide.”
Sekiya told him.
Lord Ghoda shouted.
“It is my fault my Lord. I should have been there,”
“It is no fault of yours Rikimaru, the blame is mine and I must bear it alone!”
Lord Ghoda yelled falling to the ground and beating it in pain and anger.
Rikimaru did not have the words to express his sorrow.
“My lord the enemy has taken advantage of the rebellion to move against us. Toda’s troops have crossed our border. What is your command?”
“Toda thinks my uncles treason has left us helpless. I’ll kill that coward myself!”
Ghoda yelled, clenching his fists in anger.
“I will find Toda my lord, and bring you his head”
Rikimaru assured him. He began to walk away
shouted Lord Ghoda.
“Please my lord, if you die this day then sire Motohide will rule,”
He replied with determination in his voice.
Ayame crouched, looking below her. She was perched in a tree far above Lord Toda’s War Camp. She watched as Motohide entered Toda’s quarters; a large unroofed tent. He was escorted by one of his own guards, who held Princess Kiku.
“Ah, Sire Motohide. Welcome to my War Camp,”
Lord Toda welcomed him.
“Greetings Lord Toda. Regrettably my nephew still lives, but with my expert sword play I wounded him, severely, and I kidnapped his daughter. Assign me two divisions of your troops and I will finish the job,”
Motohide reported. Toda’s guard unsheathed his sword and struck down the guard holding Princess Kiku. He fell to the floor and dropped the child.
“I know I failed but please. If I lead your troops today, I promise my flag will fly over Ghoda castle tomorrow,”
“I believe you. But if I lead my troops today, then my flag will fly over Ghoda castle tomorrow,”
“Wha What are you talking about, you said we, ahhh!”
Motohide’s sentence was cut short by Lord Toda’s sword. He fell to the ground, and looked up in horror.
“The wine of victory is sweeter when you don’t have to share it, hahaha”
Toda explained in amusement.
“You you lied. Have you no honour?”
“Silence! I have not betrayed my master. The only master I serve is me!”
He yelled in disgust.
and with that last word Motohide’s head dropped as the last bit of life drained from aging body.
“Put the girl in the shed, I do not want her damaged. She will come in very handy when I order Ghoda to surrender, hahahaha!”
he ordered his guard. The Guard picked up Kiku and took her away. Ayame was still crouched on the large tree branch.
“So much for promises. A proper coward’s death. If my priority wasn’t finding Princess Kiku, I’d kill Toda right now just for fun,”
Ayame said to herself angrily.
Lord Toda sat on his stool before the dead body of the traitor Motohide. One of his guards approached him.
“Sir, what do we do with Sire Motohide’s body?”
“Let it rot where it lies. He is of no use anymore. Prepare the troops, in two hours we march on Ghoda Castle,”
the guard quickly left.
“Finally! No one realizes how hard I worked to make these cowardly peasants throw themselves onto the enemy spears. But the reward for my years of sacrifice comes now,”
Toda said to himself. Suddenly Tatsumaru jumped down behind Toda. Toda realized someone was there.
“What do you want!?”
“I’ve come for your head,”
Tatsumaru said with spite.
“Ghoda sent you,”
Toda said standing up. He drew his sword. Tatsumaru spared no time in attacking. He launched himself at Toda and began to fight him using his skill in martial arts. Toda could not easily guard against Tatsumaru’s strength and speed. Tatsumaru stopped and stood for a second and then drew Izayoi. The two fought well, but it was clear that Toda was no match for Tatsumaru’s Ninja skill. Tatsumaru’s sword skills were different to that of most ninja, and anyone for that matter. This surprised Toda, and he was unprepared. Their swords clashed and slashed. Tatsumaru ducked and rolled and used every weapon his body had to offer as well as the master sword. Toda began to slow as he could not keep up with his enemy. And soon, in one final move, the Azuma master cut deeply into Toda’s chest. Toda fell to the ground, blood running from his deeply lacerated body.
“No! It can not end this way. I cannot die at the hands of a lowly Ninja!”
Toda shouted. Kagami approached him from behind. She grabbed him by his long hair and picked her former master up.
“You are too late. You are masterless,”
Tatsumaru told her. Then in an unsuspecting turn, Kagami sliced off Toda’s head with her Katana.
“What are you doing? That is your master,”
Tatsumaru said in shock.
“I am my own master,”
Kagami declared. She turned and ran off.
Tatsumaru chased Kagami to a cliff not far from the camp. Kagami stood at the edge holding Toda’s head. She then lit it on fire with a torch and threw the torch away. She held up the head and tossed it into the ocean. The ocean began to light up, and the screams of dead soldiers souls sounded in the dark waters.
“You have just witnessed the birth of the birth of the Burning Dawn! Soon, you will see the dawning of a new day. The day of the Ninja!”
She shouted out to the world. She turned to Tatsumaru.
“You won’t change your mind?”
she asked Tatsumaru. He stared at her in determination.
“I see. Then you must die!”
Ayame approached the soldier guarding the shed. He did not realize she was there, or what was about to happen. Then in one quick motion, Ayame grabbed him and slit his throat with her short swords. His body dropped to the floor. Ayame turned to the shed and opened the door. She could hear a little girl crying in the darkness.
“I’m not your Oh please, stop crying,”
Ayame removed the blindfold on Kiku. The girl looked up at her. Letting her eyes adjust to the moonlight.
“Hey, who are you?”
“Here, these are for you,”
Ayame handed her the bells.
“Oh, my Sisters bells!”
“What’s your name?”
“Here. This bell is for you,”
Kiku said handing her one of the rose shaped bells. “
My mummy made these bells. She made one for me, and one for you. She said that the bells would help us become like real sisters. Oh, now I have a big sister. C’mon lets go tell mummy.”
Ayame was still, looking down with tears in her eyes as the girl pulled on her arm.
“What’s wrong Ayame, did you hurt yourself?”
“No, it’s not that,”
“Don’t you want to be my sister?”
“No I do, it’s just nothing. Hey, you wanna go back to the castle now,”
Ayame asked cheerfully wiping the tears away.
“Yeah!” Kiku replied. Ayame crouched down and Princess Kiku got on her back. She then ran off into the stormy night.
Rikimaru approached the inner encampment. Suddenly something jumped in front of him. It was a man with long dark hair wearing a type of silk brown and red clothing. His face was concealed by a red bird mask.
“You shall not pass here,”
he said in a slick snake like throaty voice.
“Who are you,”
“I am Suzaku the Red Sparrow,”
the man replied.
“Then Prepare to die Suzaku,”
Rikimaru said. He lurched forward and slashed with his sword, but Suzaku was too quick. Suzaku came in from behind and Rikimaru turned and blocked. Suzaku kicked him in the stomach, then swung his sword. Rikimaru blocked again, then grabbed Suzaku and threw him over. Suzaku stood up, but before Rikimaru could attack again he Summer-Salted over him. Suzaku turned his head to the side.
“Hmmm, you’re good little Ninja. One day you might actually become a worthy opponent for me,”
Suzaku said and then ran off into the pouring rain.
Rikimaru shouted. He waited for a second, then turned and went to find Toda. When he entered he saw Motohide’s lifeless body.
“Looks like you paid a high price for your treason, Sire Motohide,”
he said. Rikimaru looked across from Motohide and saw the decapitated body of Toda.
“Toda! Who beat me to him? Ayame? No, such a clean cut. It must have been Tatsumaru.”
Rikimaru suddenly heard the clash of swords and quickly decided to investigate.
Ayame ran along with Princess Kiku on her back. In the distance she could see Tatsumaru and a mysterious figure fighting.
she shouted. Ayame crouched down and let Kiku off her back. Rikimaru ran up behind her.
“Rikimaru, protect Princess Kiku,”
she told him and ran off toward the cliff side.
Kagami and Tatsumaru were both experienced fighters. They had been fighting each other for some time. As Tatsumaru blocked Kagami’s sword they both locked eyes. They then began to fight again. Ayame approached. She could see that a large crack was beginning to appear on part of the cliff. Tatsumaru and Kagami were oblivious to anything else around them. They continue their intense battle, but neither could gain the upper hand. Then suddenly the ground began to shake and the edge of the cliff broke off, sending both Tatsumaru and Kagami plunging into the raging waters below.
Ayame shouted. She ran to the edge and kneeled over. Looking for any sign of her childhood friend. But there was nothing. Ayame bowed her head and tears fell from her eyes into the ocean. All that was left was Tatsumaru’s silver silk hair ribbon washing on top of the wavy waters.