Author's Note: If anyone has read any of my other fanfics, it is obvious that this story is written in a very different style from the others. This story is written in a sort of 'storytelling' tone, as if it were a sort of fable that's meant to be told orally. As a result, some of the characters' personalities are slightly out of character, but that's to be expected. Also, I purposely kept the identities of 'the samurai' and 'the girl' ambiguous, but you shouldn't have any trouble figuring out who they are. Finally, I don't mean to belittle the girl's significance (she's my favorite character in the game), but she's perfect for the role…you'll see what I mean.

The Samurai and the Girl

The vanquished girl lay at his feet, gazing defiantly up at the victor. Her elegant green-and-white garments were covered with a mixture of sweat, dirt, and blood, and her decorative elbow blades lay on the ground next to her.

"You were a worthy opponent," the samurai announced, sheathing his blade. "However, you were much too predictable. A true warrior must be volatile as the typhoon, striking when his opponent least expects it."

The girl rose to her feet, resolute despite her injuries. "Take me with you on your journey," she said. "Teach me how to become a true warrior."

The samurai shook his head. "A samurai travels alone," he declared. "I have neither the time nor the patience to deal with a fifteen-year-old girl. Farewell, and perhaps we shall meet again one day." Ignoring the girl's pleas, the samurai turned and walked away, leaving the girl to tend to her wounds.

The beautiful tropical trees and clear waters soon gave way to the familiar forests of the samurai's native country. Ever determined, the samurai pressed forward, rain or shine. He took no breaks, stopping only to eat and sleep.

One day, after a particularly arduous uphill trek, a familiar cry caught his attention. Rushing toward the source of the cry, the samurai saw the girl he'd defeated several weeks prior, surrounded by a trio of ninjas. Several blade strokes later, the ninjas were no longer as dangerous as they had once been, and the samurai turned away to continue on his journey.

"Please, sir samurai," the girl pleaded from behind him. "You must be very lonely traveling by yourself. Take me with you; it will be easier for us to overcome our obstacles if we work as a team."

The samurai snorted. "I travel alone," he repeated arrogantly. "Samurai must travel quickly, and I do not need a fifteen-year-old girl dragging me down." Then without another word, he was gone.

The rows of bamboo and sakura blossoms were soon replaced by an endless expanse of barren sand and jagged rocks. The samurai trudged through the desert day after day, stopping only when it became too cold to continue. By day, he braved the harsh sandstorms and searing heat, and by night he practiced his swordplay by firelight.

One day, during a particularly vicious sandstorm, an ever-more-familiar scream caught his attention. Gritting his teeth against the wind, the samurai turned and ran toward the source of the scream. To no surprise, he saw the girl who had been cornered by the ninjas several weeks earlier, this time stuck in a small crevasse. Sighing, the samurai brought out a coil of rope and lowered it into the chasm. After some pulling and a fall backward, the girl was safe.

"You see, sir samurai?" the girl said, breathing heavily. "I can keep up. Take me with you, and teach me how to become a true warrior."

By now, the samurai was growing exasperated. "Are you deaf, child?" he exclaimed, brushing sand off of his armor. "I don't want you with me! I've lost enough time already, and I can't afford to deal with you on a regular basis!" The samurai turned abruptly and left, his figure disappearing into the sunset's failing light.

The sand soon turned white and became cold, and the occasional sandstorms became blizzards. The samurai continued on his journey, running through the arctic wastes with as much speed as he could muster. He had to be careful not to let his blade freeze up, and spent most of his nights taking care of his weapon.

One day, during a particularly severe blizzard, he heard a very familiar call. Sighing, he ran toward the source of the call, ignoring the maelstrom of snowflakes around him. He knew exactly whom he'd find, and he was right. The girl whom he'd rescued from the crevasse several weeks ago lay motionless, covered by a growing layer of snow. Grunting, the samurai hoisted the girl onto his shoulders and carried her on his back until the storm ceased.

"Please, sir samurai," the girl said immediately after waking. "I've followed you this far already; please, won't you take me with you?"

The samurai had had enough. "No, I won't take you with me!" he shouted. "I've dealt with you long enough; just go away!"

The girl's eyes began to fill with tears, and she glanced down at the ground. "I only wanted to help…" she murmured.

"I don't want your help, girl!" the samurai bellowed. "I work alone! If I see you one more time, I shall become very angry." And with no further words, the samurai walked away, leaving the girl to her tears.

In place of the snow and howling wind, there soon came mangled trees, murky water, and the croaking of frogs. The samurai waded fearlessly through the depths of the ravine, ignoring the mosquitoes and ticks that clung to his skin. And this time there was no scream to distract him. This time there was no cry to set him off of his course. Yet while he was happy that his progress was faster, he couldn't help but almost miss the girl; she had become almost a symbol of the samurai's travels.

The slimy pools and dampness of the swamps soon disappeared, and lush fields of flowers and wild grasses took their place. The samurai was relieved; here, at long last, was a place where he'd be able to make up the time he'd lost dealing with the girl. And so the samurai marched forward both in day and night, eating little and sleeping rarely.

One day, after a particularly eventless day, a bolt of lightning shot out from the overcast sky and hit the grass behind him. Sparks flew, and soon the dry grass had burst into flames. Horrified, the samurai ran forward as fast as he could, but exhaustion and hunger finally caught up to him. He collapsed to the ground, and the fire swept across his body.

Out of the corner of his eye, the samurai noticed a familiar figure standing at the edge of the plains; it was the girl who he'd rescued from the blizzard several weeks back. Her face was a mask of concern, but she did no more than stand there and make strange gestures with her hands. Had the samurai not been so weak, he would have laughed bitterly; he'd rescued the girl so many times, and she repaid him only by watching as he was consumed by the roaring flames.

The last thing the samurai remembered before he lapsed into unconsciousness was the first drop of rain landing on his face.

The samurai woke to the sound of birds chirping. His head lay on something soft, and his body still ached from the numerous burns. Carefully, he sat up and began to examine his surroundings.

"Are you all right, sir samurai?"

The girl stood above him, glancing down at the wounded warrior in concern. She held a roll of bandages in one hand, and in the other, she still clutched the pair of elbow blades she'd used against him in their first duel.

"Yes, I'm fine," the samurai answered, for the first time noticing the numerous bandages coiled around his arms and upper body. "What happened?" he wondered. "How did I get here?"

"I summoned a storm," the girl replied simply, sitting down beside him.

The samurai stared at the girl in disbelief. "You…you summoned ― "

The girl nodded. "Yes. I am a priestess of the wind. I saw that you were in trouble, and begged the elements for help."

"But…but all the other times," the samurai stammered, still not quite understanding. "Couldn't you have asked the winds for help in all your previous predicaments?"

"I could have," the girl answered. "But I didn't. I claim no mastery over the winds; I am a simple disciple of their teachings. I ask favors of the elements only in the most dire of circumstances ― only when others are in danger."

There was a pause, and then the samurai spoke. "Well, in any case ― thank you," he said earnestly, glancing over at the girl. "And I'm sorry…sorry at how I've treated you all this time."

"Thank you, as well," the girl replied, meeting the samurai's gaze. "For all those times you've helped me out in the past. And I'm sorry, too; it was my own fault that I ended up in the situations I did, and I promise to me more careful in the future."

A moment of peace followed the orations, and the two travelers sat in silence, watching the last rays of the sun vanish over the horizon. Finally, the girl spoke, a final, passionate attempt at winning the samurai's cooperation.

"Please, sir samurai," she said, her eyes shining with emotion. "I know I haven't been very helpful in the past, and I sincerely apologize for all of the trouble I've caused you. But ever since I set off on my quest, I've always wished to learn how to become a true warrior. Please, sir samurai; I beg you." She fell to her knees. "Take me with you on your journey, and teach me how to become a true warrior. Give me a chance, and I promise I'll prove myself worthy."

There was a pause, and at last the samurai nodded. "You have already proven yourself," he said with a smile. "You have shown courage in the face of danger, perseverance in times of remorse, and compassion toward one who has all but ignored you." Offering a hand, the samurai pulled the girl gently to her feet. "But the journey will be a long one, and the path filled with peril."

"I am ready," the girl said, her eyes flashing with determination. "I promise you, sir samurai, that I will never again let you down."

The samurai grinned. "Then we are a team."

As the last of the plains faded from sight, the tall cliffs and indomitable peaks of the mountains rose to take their place. And a samurai continued on his journey, this time in the company of a girl.