Disclaimer: I do not own the Ronin Warriors, nor do I posses the wit to phrase that I do not own this anime in any other manner.

This is my very first fan fiction. It was beginning to gather dust, so I decided to give it a chance by posting it. My writing style has progressed, and when I post more recent stories, you may see a difference between then and now. I began this story about two years ago, and I haven't touched it much since. I posted a little less than half of it because I wanted to divide it into chapters. Please enjoy and review- if time permits. -------

"Come to the shade. Oh, so pleasant shade, my boy. The light is bound to bore you. Don't be frightened. Don't you feel the black power surging through you?" A sly, insidious voice coaxed.
"Stay away from me! I will kill you, demon!"
"Young master, why must you resist? The darkness is so beautifully tempting. Don't you want to come with me?" The blackness evolved and a twisted black shadow stepped out of the dark. The phantom figure held out a crippled hand. Its claws slowly retracting with every deep, slow breath. Its fingers did not tremble, but the skinless palm melted with thick, red blood that aged on contact with the air. The blood dripped slowly as if painfully reaching its destination.
The young man's midnight blue eyes widened in fear as he tried to run away. His brain screamed to him. Run, run, run! You cannot fight. His hands were chained to a stone wall that was slowly crumbling as he as he struggled to break free. The thick, spiked chains bore thick gashes in the boy's wrists. Expectantly, he waited to feel for the blood to smoothly slither to his shoulder. Only, blood did not appear. Rigid onyx glided like silk rivulets along his forearms. The liquid rock transformed into fanged serpents which twisted along the pulsing muscles of the boy. They repeatedly circled tighter, weaving through his arms. And then, their fangs shattered the boy's skin. The demon laughed as it came closer and closer to the fear stricken boy. Then, the demon pushed closer until he was only inches from the boy's face. There, he placed his bloodied hands on the boy's forehead. Old blood dripped into the boy's eyes like a river after a tsunami. The boy could only see the blackness. A cry of terror sounded.

"Ryo! Ryo, calm down!" A deep voice spoke in the night. Then a pair of strong, lean hands gently clasped the boy's shaking shoulders. An intense, concerned face came into Ryo's sight.
"Rowen," he panted, "It's calling me! I can't stop it anymore. It won't leave me. I can't rest, I-I-I can't think!"
"Calm down, it was just a dream. It's not real."
"No, it's real! It won't stop, it won't stop until...." Ryo's voice trailed off as his fierce, glazed eyes widened.
"Until what?" Rowen questioned.
"Hey, what happened here? What's wrong?" Kento, Cye, and Sage, all in boxers, entered the room that Rowen shared with Ryo.
"Ryo had a nightmare. I think he's burning up with a fever too." Rowen reported.
"Lemme see. I'll take a look at him." Sage said as he stepped forward from the doorway.
"No, it wasn't a nightmare," Ryo shouted," It was real! And, we can't fight it! You," Ryo said swallowing, "Can't even see it!"
Sage cautiously lifted his hand over to Ryo's pale, sweating forehead. Ryo tried to pull away, but Rowen's quick, steady hands kept Ryo in place. Beads of sweat trailed down Ryo's brow. Kento and Cye hastily came over to Ryo's bedside to take a closer look.
"Ryo, hold still, man. You need to rest, and calm down!" Kento said without a touch of his usual vibrancy.
"Don't worry, buddy! We'll get you some help." Cye added, though his eyes looked doubtful.
"There's no time! He's coming now." Ryo's statements came out in short gasps as he paused between each sentence as to catch his breath. "We can't just sit here. We have to be ready for the time."
"No, Ryo. You have to calm down." Rowen stated as he tried to hold Ryo back. But Ryo kept trying to push himself off his bed so he could stand up. Sage stepped in front of Ryo and Rowen in case Ryo escaped. Ryo kept struggling against Rowen, and finally he attempted to break free of his friend's strong grasp. Quickly, Ryo came to his feet and attempted to run out of the room through Sage. Halfway across the room, Kento ran over to block Ryo by heading him off at the door. Ryo moved quickly, but with cumbersome steps that made him an easy target to catch. He tried to push past Kento, but Kento caught his feverish friend while Cye ran over to help.
"Come here guys! Ryo, stop it!" Cye shouted just as he reached Ryo near the door.
"Kento, let me go! Let go!" Ryo struggled against the arms and hands of his four friends and finally, his fighting spirit weakened. Ryo's body went limp. Without words, Sage looped Ryo over his arms and carried him back to his bed, while the others followed in pursuit.
"Rowen, go get a glass of water and some medicine. I don't know what kind we need to administer. Find whatever you can for a fever. Kento, a cold washcloth. Cye, you stay here with me in case anything else happens. He's unconscious, but he's still fighting something. I can feel it," said Sage.
Ryo appeared to falling into a sound sleep. Sage and Cye cautiously watched Ryo intently as they talked in whispered and hushed voices in the corner across the room.
"We have to get his fever down," Sage said, "I think he's delirious."
"We're doing the best we can right now. Do you think he's imagining things? Could evil really be torturing him?" Cye questioned.
"I have no idea how to weigh what he says against his past experiences. We all know that Ryo has always been haunted in his sleep. I doubt he easily forgets his nightmares when he's awake."
"Perhaps," Cye started cautiously, "It's a combination of all his nightmares, like they're finally catching up to him. Ryo's been holding all his feelings inside, he's never told us about any of his dreams. The only way that we know is that because we can hear him murmuring in his sleep at night. One person can only take so much emotion."
"I think it may be more than just a buildup of stress. His mind wouldn't be troubling him so much just because of a dam effect. The water has to push through eventually, but the dam can be rebuilt even if only fragments remain."
Kento practically fell into the room. Panting, he handed the soaking towel over to Cye. While briskly walking over to Ryo's side, Cye muttered something about the power of his virtue. Gently, Cye placed the cold cloth on Ryo's forehead. Smoothing it into place, he put the back of his hand against Ryo's cheek.
"Is he any better yet?" Kento asked quietly.
"He stopped moving. I don't know whether to take that as a good thing or a bad thing." Sage answered. "What took you so long, anyway? The sink in the bathroom is practically two feet away!" Sage inquired, his voice raising.
"Hey, sorry! It's raining outside and I thought that water straight from the clouds would be better for Ryo that water stuck in those metal pipes all day. Besides, we thrive on nature. You never lose your temper, don't start now." Kento replied.
"Yeah, something's certainly wrong when Kento uses his head." Cye jested.
"Hey, why are all of you laughing?" Rowen asked when he entered the room with a pitcher of water and a handful of bottles. "This is serious, no time for laughing. I couldn't find any medicine for pain or fevers. I guess we were never very sick before."
Walking over to Rowen, Kento grabbed the medicine bottles and looked them over.
"Let's see, "he muttered, "Cough syrup, stomach settler, and hey, what's this? MIDOL?"
"Uh, I guess Mia forgot something when she left last year to go back to the university." Sage offered.
"Sure, this would be a help if Rowen was coughing uncontrollably, Cye at some raw, poisonous fish, and if I, no wait, if some woman needed Midol." Kento angrily shouted.
"If you would stop shouting, you would see that we need something and we can't wait for it. All the stores are closed now and if we call a doctor, that could take hours!" Cye said.
All of the young men in the room were silent in thought or in hopelessness. Time passed and nothing was accomplished...

A soft melody played as if Ryo were trapped in a music box. The chimes tinkled in the soft breeze that did not exist. Their were no walls to this place. A blanket of gray mist acted as the sky. Through the mist, a white, cloudless sky poked through. The ground was a dry desert mantle. It was cracked and caked with sand. But, somehow the air was fresh from a new rain. Children's laughter sprinkled the ambiance of the delusion. Their playful glee echoed against the walls of the illusion until their presence was known before Ryo.
A small girl who was barely out of her toddler years came forward. The playful smile faded on her round, cherubic face. Her doe eyes glimpsed into Ryo's own eyes. He stood there in a trance, not able to move due to the little girl's forwardness. Her eyes looked as though she was ready to cry at any moment, but yet they looked dead, as though she knew crying would do no good.
"I am your innocence. I am dead." Stated the young girl in an eerie monotone fashion. She pulled out a spiked dagger from underneath her short lavender dress. Ryo moved to stop her, but she smiled meekly and shook her head. Her soft russet curls bobbed back and forth destroying the framed effect they created around her face earlier. Ryo regained his aspiration and took a step towards the girl. The girl looked calmly at Ryo, her eyes never leaving his face. She then inhaled deeply and blew air out from her mouth. The air laced between Ryo's legs preventing him from moving forward any further. The immensity on Ryo's legs was not unbearable, but it was not comfortable.
After restraining Ryo, she took the dagger to her heart and stabbed herself. Ryo gasped, his mouth gaped open in disbelief. His eyes grew wide and round.
"You can't save me," the girl said as she fell to the ground on her knees, "You can't save yourself, it would be impossible. I am your spirit of innocence. I am dead."
The words coming from the girl's mouth sounded odd. The words did not fit the composition of her body. The words spoken knew of the world and of its pains. Child after child walked up to Ryo and killed themselves. Each stating that they were part of him. Spirits of love, belief, anguish, humanity, and existence each took their turn in front of him. And each time they remained to appear in the form of a child.
After every time a child had taken his or her own life, Ryo felt part of himself dying, like they had said. Only they had said that those parts of him had already died, a long time ago. He had tried to move to stop them from slaying themselves, but by the time they were all gone, his arms had been restrained in the form of a cross. His back and chest felt as though they were tied to wooden boards and could not move. Ryo stood there, as if a ghost. A single tear streamed down to his cheek. He screamed in exasperation as the dead children lay before his feet.

A/N: Okay, that's it for now. I would love to hear from you, and I certainly hope I have time to continue this story.