The Legend Begins
A Ronins Origin Story
Author's Note: This is part of a 17 chapter story plus a prologue, an epilogue, and author's notes. It is COMPLETED. To best view this story, please visit my Ronin Warrior Wing on my web site -- http://www.geocities.com/libraryoflegends/
Epilogue – Living a Legend
"Well, here we are."
Five youths entered a tiny secluded grove where five stone tablets were arranged in a pentagon formation in its center. They had only been here once before, but unlike that last time, the atmosphere was cheery and not mysterious. A noonday sun shone through the green branches. It filtered through the boughs, casting intricate patterns on the ground. The quiet gurgle of a stream filled in the backdrop as did the melodious harmonies of birdsong. The slight breeze sent the patterns of light dancing while puffy white clouds floated by lazily overhead. The stone tablets remained as each remembered them. The vines that wound around the base of the ancient rock gave the appearance of overgrowth, but they were tampered with, having been moved from their slumber those many months ago.
A blue haired youth approached one of the stones carefully. He ran his fingers reverently over the tablet's surface, tracing the engraving. Rowen of Strata. Midnight blue eyes closed and sighed at the memory. The name was second nature to him now. Far more known even that his original name. It had long ago ceased to bother him. It just was, just like the armor he bore. He reopened his eyes only to look again at his surroundings. How much had happened since that fateful night?
"It's so hard to believe that everything started here," he said, his voice carrying across the grove to each of his friends.
"I know," Sage answered, "But really, it began even before then."
"Do you remember how we met?" a smile spread across Cye's face at the memory.
"It was the first day of class, I was late, and suddenly bang right into Rowen who was sleeping on his feet, as usual," Ryo grinned.
"Hey!" Rowen retorted, "So it takes me a while to get going in the morning, big deal."
"A LONG while," Sage added dryly, rolling his eyes at his roommate's habits.
Kento had to laugh at that, "Yeah, but I remember seeing Ryo not exactly looking great after his run in with Kotaru."
Ryo hmpfed, "You exaggerate too much." But he was grinning broadly.
"No, but I sure wasn't when I saw Rowen playing basketball in P.E. Speaking of which," he flashed Rowen a smile, "I heard Hana High made it to the playoffs this year."
Rowen's face flushed a bright red that accented his blue hair. "That wasn't ALL me! It's a team effort you know. Besides," Rowen's expression turned crafty, "How does it feel to be the new captain of the swim team?"
Cye kept his face carefully neutral. "Just great, but its going to be hard to fill Masaru's shoes."
"Yeah right!" Kento guffawed loudly and smacked his childhood friend on the shoulder, "Everyone knows you're ten times better than he was! Probably put 'im to shame!"
This time it was Cye's turn to flush a deep pink and laughter broke out amongst the five.
When it faded, Sage put on a pitiful expression and turned to Ryo, "Are you SURE I can't convince you to join the kendo team?"
Ryo cocked his head at him, "Are you asking that as a friend or as the new president?" he said with a grin.
"Which ever is better," a slight smile crossing his face.
Ryo had to laugh at his expression. "C'mon on Sage, I told you a million times that I don't like the strict rules of kendo. And," he added with mock arrogance, "It would be bad form for the president to get knocked by one of underlings."
"Yeah whatever," Sage laughed back at him, deciding to ignore that last statement until Ryo threw in one he wasn't ready for.
"So which girl are you dating this week Sage?"
Sage whirled back on his grinning black haired friend and gave him a withering glare. "EXCUSE ME?! For your information, rumor has it that I've been going steady with Akiko for a year now."
"Oh?" Ryo raised an eyebrow.
"Hey," Cye put in, "Yayoi's right, you DO look scary with your eyes like that."
Sage bristled, "What is this? Pick-on-Sage Day?"
"Ooooh, good idea," Rowen speculated, his midnight eyes lighting with a mischievous thought.
Kento shook his head at that, nearly doubled over with laughter, but he had to turn to Rowen as he remembered how the two of them had met.
"You know Rowen," Kento said thoughtfully, "I never did thank you for helping me out in Chem."
"Actually you did, but I'll let that pass," he couldn't keep from grinning, "I heard you volunteered to help Sensei Chiyo with the new students."
Kento shrugged, "Yeah, well, had to return the favor right? I had a good teacher," he grinned back at Rowen.
Rowen's smile grew wider as he regarded him, "Well, sometimes it helps to be a genius." He had to duck as Kento threw him a mock punch. Laughter ensued as each of the five reflected lovingly on those memories. With everything that had happened, they seemed distant but still treasured dearly.
Ryo's cheerfulness evaporated and he turned his gaze skyward and the others, clearly detecting his mood, followed it up into the bright blue sky.
"I wonder how the warlords are doing?" Cye mused.
"Dunno. That's one hell of a mess Talpa left behind, that's for sure," Kento grunted, thinking back on the image of the Youjakai.
"Do you suppose he's really gone?" Rowen stared into the blue with a frown, remembering the last time they had thought him gone, when he had been alive and well and planning his next take over of Earth.
"I hope so," Ryo continued to gaze into the sky.
Silence descended on the grove and the five youths let the peace of nature wash over them as they thought back on the battle, the storm that had survived.
"Is the battle ended I wonder?" That was Cye.
"We may never know," Ryo responded, "But we must always be prepared."
"It seems so normal," Kento said, casting his eyes about and stretching his senses so he could feel the hubbub of activity in the city nearby.
"For now, the storm has past," Sage put in wisely.
"I hope it will be over one day," Rowen said with a sigh.
"Until then, we will uphold the Ronin name," Ryo put out his hand and the others reached out and clasped his in their own.
"'We five stick together.' Haven't I always said it?" Kento smiled widely.
Four voices agreed with him and then each felt the gentle energy of the grove rippling. They looked up with expressions, not of alarm, but with expectation. Each could feel the slight stirring of their powers and the grove was filled with the soft light of five forehead kanjis flaring in response to the spiritual touch.
Thank you my Ronin Warriors. The soft voice of the Ancient echoed in the backs of their minds. For a moment, each thought they could see the shimmering transparent outline of a man dressed in white robes, a triangular straw hat blocking his eyes from view, and carrying a staff with a golden crystal top. Soft bells tones reverberated over the trees, grasses, wind, stones, and river before disappearing all together.
Five pairs of eyes met and nodded, each smiling.
"Lets go home," Rowen smiled warmly. "And this time I mean it," he added, as he recalled the last time he had said those words in this very place.
Somewhere a high-pitched child's voice cut across the silence. "Hey ni-chans! Are you done yet?!"
"That's Yulie," Sage said unnecessarily. "I guess we better go before he gets antsy."
When a tiger's roar followed that, Ryo nodded slightly. "Yeah," he smiled, "Let's go Ronin Warriors." He led the way back through the forest to where Mia, White Blaze, and Yulie were waiting patiently (or maybe not so patiently) for their return.