Author's note: This takes place a few years after the final showdown between the main character and the villain. Azure Dreams is a product of Konami. I have no money. I live on food stamps…Please don't sue.

Azure Dreams: The Duel

It was a hazy day. Thin clouds blanketed the open desert sky so that the sun was visible, but it was not nearly as hot or bright as it usually was. The desert stretched for hundreds of miles across a vast continent. The desert carried its own kind of beauty that other lands did not. As the sun glinted weakly through the clouds the sands of the desert sparkled like it was littered with small diamonds. Large gusts of wind beat on the dunes of the desert, sending large gusts of sand into the air as it was eroded by the strong gale.

Within this hostile, yet beautiful desert, there was an uncharacteristically clean and lush oasis. Other oasis usually only had a few trees with shrubs and muddy water; this oasis was dotted heavily with tall palm trees, lush green grass, a sparkling baby-blue lake that was a few acres in size, and a river that flowed into a little town called Monsabaiya.

Monsabaiya. It was the only town that inhabited the vast desert, having the fortune of being next to such a prosperous oasis and to a rather interesting, monolithic land mark. Over a thousand people lived and worked around the vicinity of this small, yet extremely prosperous desert town. The author says prosperous because the monolithic landmark was none other then the famous Monster Tower of Monsabaiya. Inside the tower lay vast treasures and unseen wonders, which made it the sole revenue and financial salvation of the desert town.

There were forty stories to that tower which could be determined by counting the many windows that led to the top. It was an extremely dangerous place; monsters crawled all over the place, ancient traps lay to catch the careless, and the interior of the tower constantly changed as to confuse anyone that dared to climb to its peak. Only two people had the strength, ability, and resourcefulness to reach the top. That was a man named Guy and his only son, Koh.

Years have passed since Koh had reached the top and have claimed the "Ultimate Egg" (an egg being a way to raise and breed a monster to serve the bearer) and his life had been peaceful and joyful. He was going to the tower less and less as it seemed he had to many things to take care of in the town. He built many more structures, so much that the inhabitants had to extend the outer walls that bordered Monsabaiya from monsters that lurked in the desert. There was now a school, an inn, a post office, and many other additions that made Monsabaiya grow quickly. He paid for it all with the money that he earned from the tower and now it seemed that he was so rich that he didn't need to frequent the tower like he used to. Instead, he usually helped with the farm work and oversaw any developments.

He used to be looked down upon by the citizens of the town as a pest, but since he began such a dramatic change within himself all that had changed. Numerous, if not all, the women in Monsabaiya loved him and the men respected him. The children would always be heard, saying, "I hope one day I grow up to be like Koh!" Such was the praise that he received so that any others were overshadowed by his achievements, but no one seemed to mind…

Except for one man…

Throughout all of his accomplishments, there was one whining voice that would always bicker and belittle Koh. That was Ghosh Rhode, the self-proclaimed prince of Monsabaiya. Before Koh had went to the tower, his nemesis already had started a year ahead of him (Ghosh being a year older than Koh) and his lack-luster performance still outshone Koh. He was popular with the women and he flirted with them constantly, using his vast wealth to make him seem immaculate as he derided a poor boy. As Koh grew quickly in skill, he began to surpass all others, and wealth began to play into his hands. His kind, gentle nature won over the influence of money and women began to swoon at Koh's generous donations and benevolent demeanor. As the tide began to turn, Ghosh was less noticed, and in the case of women, despised. His resentment grew and grew and eventually he could no longer stomach it.

He fled Monsabaiya and he was never seen again…

His large fortune was inherited by his sister Selfi (one of the many women who pursued Koh) and she was rather pleased that he had left since he generally was abusive towards her desires for Koh. Monsabaiya was only more peaceful with his absence and no one seemed to mind that he vanished. However, every once in a while, a drunkard at the pub would occasionally mutter, "Whatever happened to the Rhode boy?" or a someone who would frequent the restaurant would say, "He left behind his entire fortune!" Thus, he only became a memory and the extremely rare topic of conversation.

This only leads up to the climax of this story and that is why Koh was outside the vicinity of Monsabaiya. He sat in the oasis on a patch of grass, his sword sticking out of the ground from the point in front of him. He simply gazed off over the rolling sand dunes of the desert and watched as gusts of wind sent clouds off into the air, only to settle down again and to be kicked up by another breeze. He sighed in boredom. He hated to wait.

Last night he was awakened from his sleep as a sharp knock sounded on his door. He rose from his bed with was covered in expensive scarlet sheets and he walked barefoot across the floor. He muttered under his breath as he realized the hour. He finally reached the front door, preparing himself to be as civic as possible (as he thought, "there must be a good reason someone is disturbing me at this hour.") and he twisted the knob of his large wooden door. It swung open, squeaking on his hinges. He saw nothing. The whole town and desert was aglow from a full moon that hung in a cloudless sky. It was a beautiful sight, but it wasn't worth getting him up in the later hours of the night. He grumbled as he slowly closed the door but he had a inkling as he thought it would be worth it to inspect the area.

He stepped outside momentarily only to inspect the front of his door. Sure enough, a note hung from the front that was written on parchment. The note was held in place by a small, cheap, knife. Koh's eyebrows raised as he used a little effort to pull the knife out of the door. He looked over the knife, but saw nothing distinct about it. He held the note with his other hand and began to read it as he pocketed the knife.

"You may know who I am. Meet me tomorrow at high

noon outside of town at the far end of the oasis. There is

something that needs to be settled. Tell no one of this."

"What is this?" Koh muttered, his forehead crinkling as he frowned. He raised his head as he heard a shuffle of feet from inside his house. He saw little girl clutching a stuffed doll to her chest. She looked up at Koh with wide eyes that glinted a little in the moonlight. "What was that noise, Koh? Why are you up?" Koh smiled as he quickly pocketed the note so she wouldn't see it and he walked towards her and ushered her back to her bedroom. "Oh it's nothing Weedy," he said, "Just someone pulling a prank on us. Let's get back to bed."

Now he sat on the cool grass and contemplated who could've left the letter, but he had a few good ideas. It could've been a admirer who wanted to be alone with him it could've been a surprise, or it could be someone that he would never care to see again. Unfortunately, the latter was true.

A figure could be seen walked across the sands of the desert in the distance. It was hard to make out who it was because the rising heat of the sand made him seem like a mirage. As he neared the oasis, his image became clearer and cleared until he could make out his distinct features.

"Ghosh…" Koh growled.

It was Ghosh Rhode, but some things have changed about him. He was no longer adorned in pretentious, silk robes as he used to be. He was draped in a weather-worn cloak that covered his long blond hair. His clothing was that of a vagabond and he wore a thick scimitar by his side. He seemed malicious as he neared, a glint in his eye. His face was straight and grim, his face was dirty and tanned from his travels, and he seemed to have filled out much more so that his muscles bulged as he moved. They were tensed threateningly as he neared the oasis where Koh sat.

"What do you want, Ghosh?" Koh yelled out to him.

Ghosh didn't answer until he was only a few feet from Koh. He glanced past him towards the town. He smiled diminutively, "This place looks a little more impressive now, doesn't it?" Koh glared as Ghosh noted the reconstruction of the outer walls, the tall buildings, and the ringing of a school bell in the distance. "I suppose everyone wants to come and stare at the monkey of Monsabaiya so much that they had to expand the residences."

"Go to hell." Muttered Koh.

Ghosh seemed to feint surprise as he began to circle Koh, staring him up and down. "Oh, didn't you notice? I've already been there. For years I have wandered this world. I've been through more trials then you can even imagine. Of course you can't understand, you're just a worthless bum that can't live up to the legend that he created for himself." Koh smirked and nodded towards him, "You're one to talk, aren't you?" Ghosh growled and bore his teeth as he stopped suddenly in front of his enemy.

"Why did you call me here?" Koh asked.

Ghosh began as he recounted the history of his family's name. "My family had been traced back generations. We descended from kings and rulers and magistrates. We were swordsmen and knights that were held in high esteem. We waded in riches and enjoyed the finest life had to offer. I was so lucky as to be born under the name of this household: the legendary family of Rhode." Koh yawned mockingly as Ghosh continued. He looked resentful as he continued, "It was my family that came here and helped settle this town. Over the years it had grown and then I was born. You were born almost exactly a year later. You were poor, downcast, a pain in everyone's side." Koh felt a small sense of remorse as Ghosh mentioned things he would do in his childhood that burdened his mother and the townsfolk, but notwithstanding, Ghosh continued. "You started out slow, while I wasn't even moving. You surpassed me Koh."

Koh felt a sense of pride within himself. His nemesis had actually paid him a compliment and admitted to his inferiority. This was something that Ghosh never would've done years ago. Ghosh glowered at Koh as he continued, "I allowed myself to get comfortable and become distracted. I underestimated you because of your poverty. Everyone started to fawn after you while I stood alone. Even my sister thought more highly of you than me. It became unbearable. Then you reached the top of the tower. In the sight of everyone you became immaculate. Well damn you! I can see through you! You're nothing but some street punk who managed something by luck! You had a damned legend hold your hand as you climbed to the top! If it weren't for your father's legacy or Beldo sending you that familiar…"

Koh grew red in his face and Ghosh never got to finish that sentence, "Don't you DARE give any respect to that monster! He was a murderer! He was nothing! Just as you are nothing! He's a bastard and you are a BASTARD!"

Ghosh smirked evilly as he said, "I believe that YOU are the bastard…"

Koh's face had blanched. Such a low blow was not expected. His father had died in the monster tower many years ago at the hand of Beldo. Years later, Koh was able to avenge his death and became a living legend. Koh could remember the day that he saw fluorescent light stream from the tower and when his father's familiar came back only with a shard of proof that his father was dead. It was salt on a open wound. Koh was quite literally a bastard. He shook with anger as he glared at Ghosh, "What is it you want? I doubt you just wanted to talk."

Ghosh simply said, "A duel."

Koh walked over to his scimitar that was buried in the ground at the point and pulled it out by the handle. It was his father's scimitar, and it gleamed with a tint of metallic green. Its blade was as sharp and as threatening as a snake's fang. He pointed it at Ghosh and yelled, "THEN YOU SHALL HAVE IT!"

They both dashed towards each other at once, Koh's red hair whipping against the wind, and Ghosh's cape flying up from behind him. They grew closer and closer until…

A loud clang sounded as sparks flew from both of their swords. Both of them pushed against each other, focusing the weight on their swords. They grunted as they dug the balls of their feet into the grassy earth. Sweat began to trickle from their faces as they refused to back down, as though they thought this first stand-off would decide the victor. Their teeth were clenched and menacing as their arms began to burn from the exertion. Koh began to slip from his stance as Ghosh forced down on him. He began to falter and then he finally lost it. He was sent flying back onto the ground with a thud. Ghosh had become much stronger. He was never a match for Koh in the tower all those years ago. He had now filled out and he was much more experience with the sword than ever before. Koh couldn't dwell on that fact to long as Ghosh quickly switched the direction of his blade so that it pointed down. He stabbed towards Koh, but he rolled out of the way, and swept Ghosh off his feet in the process.

Ghosh landed heavily on the ground, but he flipped up from the ground and landed back on his feet just as Koh struggled slightly to get to his. As he rose, Ghosh leapt again, towards Koh and swung the scimitar in a wide arc over his head. Koh brought his own scimitar up just in time to parry the attack and he used his other arm to elbow Ghosh in the ribs. Ghosh only winced as Koh's elbow dug into him. He pushed back a few feet away from Koh as he rubbed the sore spot. Koh charged toward him, also swinging in a wide arc, aiming the sword for Ghosh's waist. It was easily parried and Ghosh spun with the parry and caught Koh with a roundhouse kick to his face. It stung with pain as Koh clutched his cheek with his free hand. Ghosh beamed as he growled, "Your little tramp, Nico isn't here to stop us this time."

Koh began to move toward the water. He figured that Ghosh was strong, but was he quick? Koh was far faster then any other swordsman so it evened out in the water. If he was right about Ghosh, then his strength would remain the same, but his blows would have no effect if he wasn't quick enough. The water felt cool and it relieved Koh a little. As long as he didn't go out too deep then he would be fine. The lake was knee deep up until fifteen feet out and then it began to drop quickly. If he managed to push Ghosh into the deeper end, he would be in too awkward a position to defend his own person.

Ghosh entered the water, sending up water as he kicked his knees high to chase after him. He instantly swung for Koh's neck. Koh bent his head and torso sideways in the direction of his arc, and Ghosh's scimitar missed his ear by mere inches. Koh was careful not to bend too far, because if he did his feet would slide out from under him because of the mud. Ghosh swung his scimitar expertly as he twirled it around his head again and again like a tornado. He swung for Koh's shoulder and Koh ducked and spun to face him again as Ghosh twirled around again to aim for his head and Koh bowed his head as he heard the scimitar skim his hair. A few red strands of hair fell and floated in the water. Since Koh was facing him anyway and Ghosh was spinning for another strike he had a free shot. He quickly swung back his blade as Ghosh spun his head ahead of the turn of his body to see was about to happen. Koh's sword swung in a large diagonal arc that aimed for Ghosh's head. Ghosh's eyes opened wide in terror as he saw the shiny blade head straight for his face. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as the scimitar sped closer and closer. Ghosh's graceful spinning movements suddenly lost control, but that was to his advantage. His foot slipped in the mud and he began to fall backwards. The point of the sword graced across Ghosh's cheek, but missed any vital point that would've ended the duel. As he fell, his leg flew up from the mud and swept Koh's foot. Koh staggered in the air as they both lost balance. There was a loud splash as they both fell into the water. Fortunately, the both had a hand on their swords, but unfortunately, Ghosh struggled to his feet first. He saw Koh struggling out of the water, and he quickly jumped on him. Koh managed a deep breath before he was forced back down under the clear water. Ghosh could see Koh's contorted face as he squirmed to wiggle out of Ghosh's grasp. Ghosh scooted up until his was sitting on Koh's stomach. His hand moved quickly for his neck and found it. Koh began to raise his sword to stab Ghosh, but Ghosh's own sword came down to rest on Koh's wrist. It was only the handle of the sword, and not the blade that found Koh's wrist. In his hurry to subdue Koh, Ghosh missed the chance to kill him immediately. Now Koh laid at the bottom, struggling for air and he was liable to drown. His sword arm was pinned to the ground and his free hand searched for Ghosh's face and helplessly pushed against it. Ghosh clenched his teeth in a menacing smile as bubbles, along with the thrashing movements of the two broke the surface of the water. A far, distant cry was heard. It was very faint, but it was still audible.

"Someone's drowning Koh!"

Ghosh was still determined to end it. In the distance there was a large group of people running towards them. It would take them time to get there, and by then Ghosh could run off into the desert and make his getaway leaving Koh floating in the water lifelessly. Koh's struggling became weaker and weaker as did his grip on his fleeting existence. Ghosh grinned impishly as he croaked, "Good-bye Koh…"

Suddenly Koh sprang back into full strength! It was a ruse! Ghosh sat on him still, confused. Suddenly, a loud splash came from behind Ghosh as Koh's feet emerged from the water. They found Ghosh's head and instantly wrapped themselves around his neck, using the ankles to anchor the sudden pull that made Ghosh go reeling backwards. Ghosh struggled out of the grip of Koh's ankles and quickly backed away from him, frightened that he might follow it up with a jab of his sword. Koh burst from the water and inhaled deeply. He coughed and sputtered as he held his free hand to his neck. Ghosh rubbed his face with his free hand; his nose had been bloodied and he could taste it in his mouth. Their hair was matted to their foreheads and they were both soaked from head to toe. Ghosh suddenly blanched as he saw that the townspeople had arrived and they surrounded him. Even the women and children brandished weapons and blunt instruments. It was almost as if the whole town was there at that moment, and it probably was. It was over.

The men began to close in on Ghosh, all of them acting cautiously. It wasn't even remotely possible that Ghosh could defend himself against all these people, but it was possible he could kill one or two of them before he was put away. Still, the townspeople love for Koh was quite evident, since all seemed determined to save him at the cost of their lives. A man yelled and began to change forward, but suddenly--

"Stop!"

Ghosh wheeled around and stared bewilderedly at Koh. Koh seemed determined as he gripped his sword. "This is between me and him" he croaked, "so you will all stand back. This is my fight!" The people obeyed and they stepped back. Ghosh looked at him and said, "You're not as pathetic as I thought. But still, you are pathetic nonetheless-" Koh started abruptly, "Quiet Ghosh. Prepare yourself. I won't save you again." Ghosh gnashed his teeth in indignation as the assumption that he was saved by Koh's orders. His resolve strengthened within himself. "Die!" he shouted, and he resumed his charge.

Koh didn't charge, but watched Ghosh intently as he splashed his way towards him. Ghosh swung with all his strength and Koh dodged it easily. He swung again, the exact same swing but in the opposite direction. Koh dodged it just as easily. Ghosh rounded about and swung in a wide arc that was supposed to fall of Koh's head. Koh merely side-stepped and a large splash emitted from the water as the sword met the lake. Koh's fist found Ghosh's stomach. Ghosh wheezed as he doubled over onto his knees. He dropped his sword and clamped his stomach with his hands. He turned to his left to see Koh, and as he did, he was met with his backhand. Ghosh spiraled around, a line of blood flying from his mouth. Yet another punch found him, and then another and another. Koh was no longer holding his sword, but was beating Ghosh to death with his fists. Ghosh was fighting back weakly, dazed, and slowly, but Koh was now concentrated and determined. It was just another strike after another. They slowly made their way to land, both of their swords laying at the bottom of the shallow-end of the lake. The people cheered as Koh landed another to Ghosh's stomach. They began to scoot back as they got closer to the dry ground. Then, as Ghosh bent over, Koh bent down as well and dealt an extremely powerful upper-cut. That was the end of Ghosh. He went soaring a foot or two off the ground and landed with a painful thud on the smooth, green grass.

He groaned as he writhed on the ground. His eyes were puffy and showed the beginnings of a massive black eye. Some of his teeth had been knocked out. His nose dripped with blood and he realized it had been broken. He had lost and had finally realized it. He slowly rose to his feet and looked at Koh in the face and quickly looked back down at the ground. Koh was banged up as well, but not nearly as bad as Ghosh. His neck began to swell from where Ghosh tried to strangle him. He also had a few small cuts on his face and his shirt was torn. "You lost the duel Ghosh. What happens now?"

Ghosh couldn't say anything. He began to sob and he sunk to his knees. He began to speak, gasping between the sobs, "How could I –hic- lose? I was supposed to –gasp- win…I was –hic- supposed to be the –hic- best." Koh looked down at him and said, "Even if I did lose to you, these people would've avenged me. You would've lost no matter what." Ghosh nodded in acknowledgment, his tears streamed down his face and dripping on the ground. "Well then –hic- make it quick. End me."

"Get out of here, Ghosh." Koh said gruffly.

Ghosh looked up at him horrified, "You have to! There is nothing left for me! I can't go back now! Kill me and just end it! You know I'll come back for you! You know I can try again!" Koh didn't shake or falter as he said, "No you won't. You already know that you can't beat me. So leave my town and me alone. If you can't live here, live somewhere else."

"I'm done with you Ghosh."

The people escorted Koh back to Monsabaiya with cheers while Ghosh sat alone on the grassy earth. He propped up his knee and rested his hand against it as he watched the victor go back to his home where the women would fawn all over him, children would idolize him, and men would appreciate him. Ghosh had never felt such a dark and lonely feeling come over him as he realized that all this didn't have to happen if only he had come home and greeted Koh as he should have done; a handshake and a friendly smile, despite what he felt on the inside. He rose to his feet and walked towards the endless sand dunes of the desert, forsaking everything that was behind him. He no longer had a place in it.

He had to be the better man.

Years had passed even still since Koh had finally fought against his real life-long rival and defeated him. Nothing else had threatened him ever since. He went to the tower less and less until he allowed himself to live a peaceful life helping Monsabaiya expend phenomenally. He became more and more appreciated and loved amongst his fellowmen. He married (it's left up to you to imagine who he had taken in marriage) and he had children. His children and all the children in the now full-grown city would constantly ask for stories. Sometimes he would tell the story about the final duel and the children would ask him, "What do you think about him?" Koh would only smile and say what Ghosh would've given anything to hear. "He was my equal."

As for Ghosh, he had lived with that sad feeling of inferiority for the rest of his life, but that didn't stop him from becoming a whole new person. He started his wealthy status again from the ground up. He also married and was strict with his children. Whenever anyone would talk about the legend that resided in Monsabaiya he would quickly change the topic of conversation. Sometimes he would think back to that day and feel sheepish and foolish. Whenever that happened he would go play with his family and not dwell on such unpleasantness.

He had learned his lesson and never dwelt on such hateful memories ever again.

THE END