Heya! I wanted to explain a bit of something. In the summary, I have Badamon saying, "Curse you, Anubis," but I'm using all Japanese names for the story itself, as I do with (almost) all my fics. That's because the original Japanese dialogue doesn't have Badamon say, "curse you," which is the whole basis of this story (I forget exactly what he DID say and don't feel like digging out the DVD right now). ((big grin)) Just thought I'd share that.

Disclaimer: The Ronin Warriors (aka Yoroiden: Samurai Troopers) and all affiliated names and concepts do not belong to me. If you recognize the character, he/she is not mine. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.

"The Curse of Badamon"
by DragonDancer5150

Chapter 1 – The Fallen

"You saved the Mortal World. We are from the past. We will return to the ruined City of Desire and create a beautiful world. Goodbye, everyone!"

Unbeknownst to the Ronins, Lady Kayura and the once Warlords turned for a last look at their former enemies. They watched with small grins as the Jewel of Life became a ball of glowing energy, and the group began to play a game with it. With hearts full, the foursome left, listening to the sounds of bright laughter behind them.

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"Where did he fall?" Rajura queried, his voice heavy.

Lady Kayura cast her gaze over the desolation of the city from their vantage point on the perimeter wall near the main gate. Scores of youja soldiers wandered the streets, unsure of what to do now that their emperor of many centuries was defeated. Even a few Nether spirits were left, having escaped back through the barrier before it had restored itself. "We were at the bridge in the south commons. You go recover his body. Let me know when you have done so. I will address the remaining denizens of the city. We must re-establish some kind of order before other warlords begin to make a move against us." The three warriors bowed and headed out. She turned back to the mess before her and sighed. They had a lot of work ahead of them.

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Anubisu reached the stream first, turning over the body that had been dragged to the edge of the water, still submerged from the waist down. He shook his head, mildly startled at the tears in his eyes. Shuten had been the one Anubisu hated most out of his fellow Warlords. With the defeat of Arago, however, a control of some kind had been broken, and Anubisu found himself feeling very differently. His thoughts were different. Lady Kayura was a woman to be respected rather than resented. Rajura and Naaza were comrades-in-arms – not people he should be quarreling with but working with. He wondered at this change that seemed to have come over his personality. Even distant memories, long forgotten, began to flutter at the back of his mind. He shook his head again, thinking that he would deal with those later. He brushed aside bangs of cinnamon hue, wondering at the peaceful face before him, and remembered the feelings of grief and anger he had experienced when he sensed Shuten's death.

Taking up the body with a care that surprised him, Anubisu retreated further up the bank and knelt, cradling the body as if it were someone dear to him. Without looking, he knew that Rajura and Naaza knelt on either side of him in respectful silence. The three stayed that way for a long moment.

"Well, he accomplished what he had set out to do, if not directly," Rajura commented softly. "We have been freed from Arago's control."

"Are either of you starting to remember things of your past?" Naaza wanted to know.

"My name," Anubisu replied after a brief hesitation. "I think I remember my name. Not the one Arago gave me but the one my . . . my father gave me."

"I had a wife and a child, a daughter," Rajura commented slowly. "She was only an infant when they were . . . slaughtered by a rival clan. I swore I . . . I would do anything to avenge their deaths. I can see now how that was a mistake."

Naaza sighed deeply. "Come. We have a great deal of work to do. Let us give Shuten the honor he deserves. He will be given a warrior's burial." He began to take the body from Anubisu, but something in their Armors reacted to his last words. "What the – ?"

Rajura sat back on his heels and closed his eye, reaching out in meditation for the source of the disturbance. He felt his Armor lead his attention back to Shuten's body and realized that he sensed a spark of life still in it. With a start, he quit the trance and shed his Armor, gingerly digging the tips of his bared fingers into the side of Shuten's throat. "He's not dead! There is a heartbeat. It is faint but regular."

"What?" the other two chorused in shock. They knew, however, that Rajura spoke the truth – they could feel it from their Armors.

Anubisu stood, Shuten's body in his arms. "We need to find Lady Kayura."

From the shadows of a nearby building, one might have heard the muttered curse of frustration if one knew to listen. Dark eyes watched in fury as the three humans bore away the body of their companion.

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Lady Kayura continued to wave and accept the shouts and applause of the ragged gathering of remaining youja for a moment longer before she turned her back on the balcony and strode into the castle proper. It had been an energetic and inspiring speech and she was rather proud of herself, especially considering that she had come up with it on the fly, opening her mind for guidance from the Shakujo for all the right words to say. She made her way to the throne room, staring at the seat on the low dais that faced the ever-burning brazier. She shook her head. No, she could not use that seat. She would have it burned. Yes, actually, that might not be a bad idea – work it into a public ceremony that would symbolize the change of rulership and further establish her in the minds of the people.

It was not that she was power-hungry – far from it, in fact. However, she knew the game she would have to play, and there were rules to follow if one were to be taken seriously and afforded any respect in this hostile world, this realm where humans were decidedly in the minority. In fact, it occurred to her that she and the three Warlords might be the only humans in this realm. Her brow furrowed with the realization.

"Lady Kayura."

She turned to the youja behind her, recognizing him. She was glad to see that Commander Tarius had survived. "Yes, Tarius, what is it?"

"The Warlords have returned and they have . . . " He hesitated. He did not know whether to refer to the fallen human as "the traitor," by name, or just how his new Lady thought of the man.

Kayura frowned delicately. " . . . 'Warlord' . . . " Something about the title disturbed her as it never had before. She shook her head. "No, we will not call them that any more. It does not suit them. I will have to think of something else to call them. They are simply my generals for now."

Tarius gave a low bow. "Yes, my lady. Shall I send them in?"

She gave a mute nod, and he bowed again before he withdrew. A moment later, Naaza held the door for Anubisu, who bore the limp body of her savior. Kayura's throat closed with a quickening of tears, and she blinked them back as the three warriors crossed the vast chamber with their fallen comrade. There was grief in their eyes, but there was something else as well. Then, the rings of the Shakujo began to chime softly, gaining in volume as Anubisu approached. They were nearly deafening as the warrior laid his charge at his lady's feet and knelt, his companions following suit. As soon as all three were positioned with heads bowed, the rings fell silent. "W-what . . . ?"

"My Lady." Rajura's baritone voice echoed strangely throughout the room. "I do not know how, but . . . Shuten yet lives."

"There is a heartbeat, and his body is still warm," Anubisu added.

Kayura openly stared at Anubisu for a long moment before dropping to her knees across from him. Naaza and Rajura shifted closer to either side. Kayura still gripped the Shakujo and the angle now had the head hovering over Shuten's chest as Kayura felt for herself the fluttering under her fingertips. She handed the Shakujo to Naaza on her left, freeing her hands to check over the body more extensively. She felt for a breath, checked his eyes, listened to his heart, felt his limbs. His body was still supple, joints freely moveable even though rigor mortis should have set in by then. She could not feel his breath but suspected that it might be visible as condensation against a mirror. His heartbeat was exceedingly slow, but it was steady. If she did not know better, she would have said that he was merely asleep . . . or suspended in some sort of stasis. She faintly recalled hearing once that if a body's soul were separated from it, the body lived but fell into a state such as this.

Curse you, Shuten!

All four straightened bolt upright from their huddle around their fallen companion as Naaza nearly dropped the actively-shining Shakujo right on Shuten. Each shuddered in private horror as the sorcerer's words rang in his and her mental ears, remembering their first utterance not truly so long ago. The glow faded once more from the head of the staff, the artifact's task completed.

"Oh, gods . . . " Naaza's deep voice shook. "What did you do to him, Badamon?"

"I think I know how to find the answer to that question." Kayura took back the staff and stood, her chin set with resolve. "Follow me. There is a spell chamber in the bowels of the castle. We need to determine exactly what it was that Badamon did to Shuten."

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In the bowels of another fortress, the consequences of an aborted assignment were meted out with cruel brutality. The leather-clad humanoid writhed under the effects of the searing energies jolting his tall, lithe frame.

"Tell me again why you failed to bring me the body of Shuten," an ancient, disembodied voice hissed from a cloud of crackling vapors.

"M-master, is it n-not secrecy you h-have always d-demanded of u-us?" He could barely get the words out past the clenching of his jaw from the muscle spasms, his entire body twitching and bucking out of control. "I-I could n-not g-get the b-body with-thout being s-seen or s-sensed b-by the W-warl-lords!"

"You know that I must have a body to survive! I cannot hold this form for much longer." The voice fell silent, as though considering, and the servant slumped gratefully when the assaulting energies ceased a moment later. "Shuten's body would have been more fitting, but I suppose I can consider myself having justice enough from him." The sensation of incorporeal eyes flicking across the room led the servant to look as well, noting the large crystal of black quartz on the shelf among other arcane treasures, including a long, crooked severed finger. Then his blood went cold as his master's next words purred at him through the lingering haze of pain. "I suppose any body will do, really . . . and you have served me faithfully for so very long. Let this, then, be your final reward."

Shrieks of agony renewed ten-fold as a soul was burned from its mortal shell, making way for a new possessor.

Author's Notes: Please be sure to check my bio page for any updates, etc. Thanks!