Grandville: Le Dragon Rouge

Chapter 1: Nightshade (The Ways of Old)

The world is changing. To some, the only way is to find their place in it or perish. The ways of the my clan have safeguarded the helpless and the weak for centuries under the cover of the night. Some call us 'hired blades' or 'assassins'. We live in the forests, but our ways of fighting are a closely guarded secret. My name is Kinu, I am a ninja.

I am a kind of ninja called a kunoichi, by that alone you know I am female. My skills are as good as any mans. When it comes to my work, I have guidelines. One: I work in both day and night. Two: I only use blades, as well as my fighting techniques, I will never use guns. Three: Uphold the honor of the clan, give your life to protect others.

I am a Pine Marten by species. My kind have lived for centuries. You will never see my face. Once you see the whites of my eyes, you will be dead. I can clear a room of armed soldiers in seconds. Now I never kill indiscriminately, I focus on one target. I have a plethora of weapons that I have trained with ever since I first learned how to walk.

My first weapon is the sword. My sword's blade is double-edged and shaped much like a western sword with a handle made of black lacquered wood. My sword does not have a tsuba, making it easier for conceal carry. I also wear armbands made of black leather and steel with three long blades on each side shaped much like the fins of a shark.

There are two others that join me on my assignments. One is my little sister Toki, and the other is a Black Fox named Okoi. Black is the color of a kunoichi, or shinobi in general. We kunoichi wear bandannas, and cut our hair short and boyish so that we can move faster. We wear sleeveless dogi, and pants with deep cuts around the hip area.

We wear black bandaging around the shins and ankles and around our forearms under our armor. Other than swords, our arsenal of weaponry include shuriken, kunai, smoke bombs, 'black eggs' either filled with powdered glass, the kusari-gama (a sickle and chain), the manriki (a chain weapon), shuko (hand claws), and ashiko (foot spikes).

Okoi is my best friend. Like Toki, she has been at my side ever since we started training as pups. As we are ninja, our height and weight are seen as average. Toki, Okoi and I stand 5'7 and 142lbs. We have muscle and large powerful thighs. In the dark of the night following the trees and the old merchant roads, we ventured into the city of Edo.

We keep full and buxom figures because there are times we need to use some...extra persuasion. We also have the athleticism to climb trees, and run fast and jump across rooftops. I was the assignment leader, and sent Okoi to scour the rooftops of a Yakuza clan homestead. Okoi looked back from the roof signaling that there are six guards.

In nodded back, and nodded to my sister to tell her to move in. We covered our faces with our masks so only our eyes are exposed. Toki used a Fukiya with a dart laced with poison to knock out one of the guards. We then ran out of the woods in silence and stealth. We had orders to kill the guards, but keep the objective alive. I went in first.

A samurai was about to draw his sword, but as soon as there was a glimmer of steel from his sword I was on him. I stabbed him through the chest, twisted and cut to the left in a slash. Blood sprayed out of him, and colored the screen door red with blood. Before the other could raise the alarm, Toki hit him between the eyes with a shuriken.

His eyes stared up at the ceiling with a shuriken in his skull. I slashed the blood off my sword as two more saw us, "There they are! Get them!" one cried out. I took the right and Toki took the left. I used my arm-blades to trap his sword, spun around and slit his throat with my sword. Toki, reacted, throwing a kunai into the eye of the other samurai.

My little sister grabbed a grip on the back of his head, and slammed his face into a wooden support beam to push the kunai into his brain. I nodded to my sister in approval. Our sensei taught her well. We went further into the home, and ran into Okoi killing the other guards stabbing one in the heart, spinning over his back and slashing the other.

Okoi took care of the other two as we infiltrated the home. Something felt odd about this place. Usually there are more guards as Yakuza tend to be paranoid. This one is named Matsumoto, he is as cunning as the fox he is, "You Koga never cease to amaze me, but I feel you have come here for nothing," He said like he was talking to himself.

"I know you are here, so reveal yourselves," He commanded with sweet words that were laced with poison, "ah yes...I must say it is a pleasure to be in the company of such beautiful ladies," I squinted my eyes at him. Toki then growled. I put hand on her shoulder to tell her to stop, "let the older teach the younger, you are indeed a good sister,"

"What are you planning, Matsumoto?" I asked demanding an answer from him. The one thing that stands out about Boss Matsumoto from the others is that he is young. With youth comes ambition. He smiled, and chuckled at my words. I wanted to lop off his head there and now, but I still had my orders from my clan leader, and relaxed my grip.

"This country has no need for your kind anymore...you have lost your usefulness, what would be the point of shinobi if there is nothing left to kill?" He asked rather poetically, "as of now, my men are planning a little...visit," He surveyed me, then my sister, and then Okoi, "as the people from the west say 'out with the old...and in with the new,',"

I growled and held him down, "Now, now, Kinu...are you really going to go against your orders? That would dishonor your clan," Matsumoto said with a smirk. I growled, and slashed his cheek with my steel shuko. He got up on his own power when I got off him, "you can call me a friend really, I am helping you find your place in this new world,"

We left the compound with a smoke bomb, and headed back to our clan headquarters to find them in flames. The grounds were silent with the fire roared, and flames burned bright. Matsumoto's men left no survivors. Men, women, and children were all slain by the gun. In our sadness, Okoi brought something to me attention as she hugged me.

"Kinu-chan, I found this at the compound, the name sounds like a foreigner, I feel it maybe a clue," said Okoi handing me a piece of ripped paper from Matsumoto's home. I nodded a single nod to her, and took the piece of paper. There was a name on there. Okoi was right, the name sounded like a foreigner like the ones in Edo and Yokohama.

"Hmm...Tiberius Koenig...let's go ladies, I feel we need to pay Matsumoto-san another visit," I said, and the three of us nodded a single nod in unison. We came back to the Matsumoto residence the next morning to find the house was completely empty, "he's not here," I said to the my two comrades, "where could he have gone?" I asked myself.

"Onee-chan, what about that name that Okoi-san found? Could this Tiberius Koenig be a friend of his?" Toki asked, I nodded at the possibility. With that, we had a heading and sneaked aboard a ship bound for the west toward a city called 'Grandville'. Matsumoto-san will pay for his actions as one should know not to mess with the affairs of ninja.