A Leader of Nothing
A fan fiction by Robert Schaefer
Disclaimer: These characters are copyright of Sega. I do not own any of them.
Somehow he had survived the collapsing of the tower. Hotsuma pulled himself to his feet, grunting as he stood. He surveyed his surroundings; This was at one time the Golden Palace. Hiruko was dead, the Hellspawn were gone from the streets of Tokyo. The soldiers and citizens were celebrating their freedom. Hotsuma would have been happy, too, if not for one thing.
He was alone.
The Oboro were dead. Moritsune was dead. Kobushi-sama was dead. And most of all, Ageha was dead, too. Hotsuma did not know if he loved the woman, or if he just pitied her for dying at an imitation of the man she loved. He just knew that she was dead, and that gutted his soul.
Hiruko had taken everything from him. Everything he knew and loved was gone. His friends, his family, and his clan.
But wait. Who had broken the seal to Hiruko's tomb? Ageha had. Ageha caused everyone in Tokyo the greatest pain in their lives. Why did he not hate her for that?
It was not in Hotsuma's nature to forgive, so why did he not hate her? Simply growing up with someone would not allow him to forgive so easily. He felt something different for Ageha.
Bah, he thought, she's dead. She would not have a place in his life again. Hotsuma walked back to the city, where he saw someone who he thought he would never see again. Kagari, priestess and keeper of Hiruko's tomb, was standing at the edge of the city. She obviously had not noticed Hotsuma; her eyes were locked on the palace rubble in the distance. Hotsuma approached the woman he had saved from the clutches of Hiruko and Yatzurao.
"Kagari," Hotsuma called from a few feet away.
The priestess jumped, startled at the sudden sound of his voice. She turned to look at Hotsuma, and stood thinking for a few seconds. Her surprised face turned into a smile as she walked over to the hero of Tokyo. "Wielder of Akujiki," she said in reply, bowing her head to show him respect. Hotsuma motioned to her that formalities were not necessary.
"Are you well?" he asked her.
"Quite. Thanks to you and that kunoichi, I was able to survive."
"I believe you called her Ageha?"
"What became of her?"
Hotsuma was silent. The four eyes of his mask glowed in the darkness of the Tokyo night. He finally said, "She died. Hiruko saw to that rather quickly,"
Kagari sighed and whispered her sympathies to Hotsuma, but the ninja shrugged them off.
"Ageha was a foolish and selfish woman. She only saved you to give you to Hiruko again." his voice was distant, as usual.
"So it was her that took me to the Nakatomi factory…"
"Yes," Hotsuma said. He decided to close the subject there. "Now, if you will excuse me…I have some rebuilding of my own to do."
Kagari stepped in front of him as he attempted to leave. "Will I ever see you again?" she asked him. Hotsuma was silent for what seemed like a long time, and finally he said, "Perhaps,"
" 'Perhaps'? What does that mean?"
"You know where Kimanu Shrine is. I will be there at midnight to properly bury Master Kobushi. If you wish, meet me there. If I am not there, leave. I will not wait long." With these words, Hotsuma leapt over the priestess, onto a car, and then into the air. Kagari stood thinking; Was this ninja even worth befriending?
Hotsuma jumped across buildings and towers with his ninja's grace, never missing a step. It certainly paid to be a ninja, and a leader of a clan at that. Leader of a clan. Leader of a dead clan. What's a clan without its members? Nothing. Was he a leader of nothing? Nonsense, he could train more ninjas.
He landed his final jump in the destroyed Oboro village. The fires were out, but the ashes still remained. Not a single structure was without a burn mark, and not a body in sight.
Probably because Hiruko used them all to fight Hotsuma. This brought up an important topic to Hotsuma: Akujiki. Who hadn't he remembered before, when Kagari mentioned it? She distinctly called him "Wielder of Akujiki". Why did the sword not try to devour Hotsuma's soul a long time ago? Could it have been that the sword's hunger had been permanently been suppressed by the defeat of Aomizuchi the Hellspawn Lord, and Hiruko? Or was it because the spirit of Moritsune was finally at peace, along with the other Oboro? Either way, Hotsuma promised to destroy the cursed sword, and that he would. He decided to go to Kimanu Shrine, as midnight was in half an hour. There, he would bury Kobushi-sama and burn Akujiki into the pits of hell.
He made his way to the shrine, again using Tokyo's high rise buildings to propel himself through the air. When he got to the shrine, he found Kagari already there, waiting for him.
"Why did you wait so long?" he asked her. Kagari stood up from the steps of the shrine and walked over to Hotsuma.
"I think you are lonely, sir. I think you are lonely, so I accompany you. Is that bothersome to you, sir?" Kagari asked in a low voice. Hotsuma paused and shook his head. "No."
"Then I will accompany you." Kagari said, trying to put on a reassuring smile. Hotsuma paid her no mind, and retrieved a shovel from the shrine. Kobushi-sama's body was where he and Ageha had left it. He began to dig a hole in the ground, where Kobushi-sama would lay for the rest of existence. Kagari asked Hotsuma if he needed help, and he refused to let her dirty her hands.
"You seem to be struggling. At least let me--"
"I said I do not need help!"
Kagari knew he was under stress, so she let his attitude slide. After about twenty minutes, Hotsuma had the hole big enough for Kobushi-sama. He picked up his former master's body and gently placed him in his grave. Hotsuma filled the hole with dirt and proceeded to make a headstone out of a nearby rock. He unsheathed Akujiki, and carved onto the rock:
"Here lies Jinji Kobushi
A proud martial arts master
And a good friend
Hotsuma crossed his left arm over his chest, crossed his right hand over that one vertically, and pointed his index and middle finger on his right hand upward. A ninja's sign of respect and honor for the dead.
"May you rest in peace, Master Kobushi," he said.
Kagari decided to show her respect as well, getting into the typical Japanese prayer position. Hotsuma glanced at her, and then continued praying for Kobushi-sama.
After their prayers were complete, Hotsuma and Kagari stood, and surveyed the grave site.
"I think he is at peace now," Kagari said.
"I think so, too…" Hotsuma replied, looking up at the stars.
Hotsuma decided to stay in the Oboro village, much to the dismay to Kagari, who asked him to stay at the temple.
"At least for a while..! You don't really want to live in a destroyed village, do you?" Kagari argued. Hotsuma's expression stayed the same as always.
"I will sleep where my comrades slept while I was unable to protect them, and the Hellspawn killed them in their sleep," he replied coldly. As Hotsuma started to exit the shrine, Kagari grabbed his arm. "At least tell me your name," she said. That's right, he thought, I never told her my name.
"Hotsuma. My name is Hotsuma," he said with slight hesitation. Kagari smiled, "Alright Hotsuma. I hope to see you again,"
Hotsuma found it hard to speak, but he managed to say, "Me too."
He exited the shrine and walked to the village this time. When he laid back onto a patch of grass, he felt something push into his back. He stood up and examined the grass. Nothing was there. Then he remembered: Akujiki! Why did he still have the sword? He swore to burn it at the shrine. Hotsuma put his hand to his face, "Am I going mad..?"
He hadn't felt like himself since his mission was over, but that could have just been stress. He cast the sword to the side for the time being. It would only do him harm to keep it.
"Unh…I have such a headache…" he said to himself. Maybe he really was going mad. Hotsuma never had headaches. He thought that he should lay down to relieve his pain, and he soon fell asleep on the grass. Then Hotsuma did something he thought he never would again: dream.
He dreamt of his past, when he was a kid. He heard two voices calling him, "Hotsuma!" "Come play with us!" Hotsuma laughed, "Moritsune, Ageha! Coming!"
Hotsuma, Moritsune, and Ageha had grown up together, and all three of them were trained by Kobushi-sama in the ways of the ninja. Hotsuma was actually enjoying the dream, when the scene changed. Now the dream was in his perspective, and Moritsune stood in front of him.
"Come on!" Moritsune shouted, as he rushed at Hotsuma with his sword drawn. Hotsuma drew his own sword and blocked the attack. Their blades clashed again, and again, sometimes sparking in the barely lit woods they had agreed to duel in.
"Moritsune, I don't want to fight you!" Hotsuma shouted, but his brother kept attacking him wordlessly. "Moritsune, please!" his pleas were ignored as Moritsune kept attacking again and again. Hotsuma had no choice but to counterattack. He dashed at his brother, raised his sword, and cut downward. Moritsune fell, and Hotsuma sheathed his sword. "Moritsune!"
"Stay back, Hotsuma!" Moritsune's voice started to change from caring to demonic. Hotsuma staggered backward as Moritsune's body began to change. His skin became green scales, and his eyes turned red.
"What's wrong, Hotsuma? Are you afraid of your brother?" A voice rang out behind Hotsuma. He turned around to see a most despicable face.
"Hiruko! But you're--"
"This is a nightmare, Hotsuma. Anything can happen!" Hiruko said, laughing psychotically. "Now, fight your brother! Fight him and kill him as you did before!"
"No! This is a dream!"
"Then why do you fear him?"
"I…I do not!"
"You tremble. Your fear is obvious."
"Shut up! You monster!" Hotsuma ignored Moritsune, and went for Hiruko. He swung his sword at the sorcerer, cutting his neck as he had done to Moritsune. The setting changed again, and instead of Hiruko on the other end of Akujiki's blade, it was Kagari. Hotsuma screamed and withdrew Akujiki immediately. Kagari coughed and choked, her wound pouring blood from her body.
"H-Hotsuma…How could you..?" she whimpered. Hotsuma could say nothing, he could only stand there and tremble with fear and guilt.
"How could you!"
"I didn't…I was going to…I don't know what's going on!"
"You killed me!"
"You slaughtered me with that cursed sword!"
"No! No! I didn't kill you!"
"You killed me, Hotsuma! You've spoiled your hands with my blood."
Hotsuma fell to his knees, screaming. Then, Akujiki glowed red and unsheathed itself. The demonic sword floated in the air, and lunged itself at Hotsuma. He dodged the sword, which came around again and stuck itself in his leg. He felt his life force being sucked from his body. Akujiki drank its fill of his energy and stopped glowing. Hotsuma's vision faded, and he heard Hiruko laughing the same way he always had.
Hotsuma woke up, grasping Akujiki's hilt and lifting it off the ground. He was ready to defend himself. When he saw that Hiruko wasn't around, he sheathed the sword. He could not get rid of it. Not if anything like Hiruko could happen to Tokyo again.