DISCLAIMER- As much as I wish I did, I do not own any creative rights to Samurai Champloo. I only own a legally purchased set of the DVDs and the 2 Manga books that are currently available in bookstores. Oh, wait, I also own the playstation game of Samurai Champloo. No animals were harmed in the scripting of this story.
It hurt to run. Her ribs that were broken screamed with every breath and jarring step. Her mind was blank with panic as the executioner of her father stalked behind her at a leisurely pace. Where could she go? How could she save herself? Although her friends had rescued her in many situations in the past few weeks that they traveled together, she still thought like the orphan that she was. Relying on only herself to get out of trouble.
The assassin was confident in his ability to catch the staggering slip of a woman who attempted to elude him. Stupid girl ran straight towards the cliff. It didn't really matter. This was an island. There was no where she could go that he couldn't eventually find her. His smile was evil and full of self satisfaction. He loved a job well done.
He had been furious that his top assassin had somehow failed to remove this girl's protectors. It was unimaginable. Sarah was beyond the best of his students. She was practically a killing machine. Something must have interfered since there was no way that a homeless samurai and a criminal had beaten her.
Fuu was no longer thinking rationally. The pain and panic had wiped her mind of all rational thought. 'Run! Run! Run!' her mind screamed. Flashes of memory of his sword casually slashing down and ending her father's life distracted her. She stumbled for the millionth time today. The words echoed through her head as the killer announced that he was to kill Kasumi, his family and retainers. She was his only remaining family. So she was marked for death just for having found her father. 'Why?'
Her mind barely registered the sound of careening sea gulls and crashing waves in the distance. She was moving automatically as the pain in her arms and legs dragged her further into exhaustion. She tasted the blood in her mouth from coughing against the pain in her chest. Each ragged breath felt like a knife cutting into her side.
Her mind tried to steer her towards the path that lead to Mugen. If she could somehow get back to Mugen, maybe she could help him and he could help her. A quiet wish echoed in her mind, 'I hope Mugen's alright.' Maybe she could get back to the boat dock and escape to the mainland?
Suddenly, her mind and legs came to a skidding halt. Her own momentum nearly pitched her aching body to the ground. The evil man behind her laughed and his voice carried over the louder crashing of the waves that she could hear from her vantage point at the edge of the cliff. How did she end up here with no way out? She finally realized that she could not go forward, left or right. There was nothing but the oblivion of death over the edge of a cliff. She turned quickly to see if the man was far enough away that she might be able to rush past him and back the way she came to search for an alternate path. But no such luck. The man was there. So close that she could see the fine detail of his clothing. She could see the lines along the side of his mouth that strained from the unused smirk of pleasure from the end of a chase.
'NO!' her mind screamed in fear. She couldn't die like this. Her survival instinct has always been unusually strong for a female of her age, but she had been taking care of herself for many years before her mother died. She had done many bad things that her mother had not approved of and been exposed to some of the worst parts of life. She should be able to find a way out!
The assassin was talking but the words didn't register over the internal conflict of not being able to run coupled with the screaming pain from her body. The edges of her vision were blurry with little white sparkles. She remembered this feeling from when she had once passed out from not eating for more than a week. She couldn't faint in front of her executioner. She just couldn't!
Her mind registered the sounds of voices and then swords clashing. Her vision cleared as she saw Jin engaged in a battle to the death to protect her. 'Oh God! Jin!' Then the clanging and swishing stopped to be followed with an eerie silence. The evil assassin tumbled to the ground like a puppet dropped by a child. She screamed out her friend's name. Jin swayed as Fuu noticed the assassin's sword buried in Jin's back. Before she could hardly even breath after the agonizing scream she let out, an explosion rocked the cliff and she turned in the direction of the church where Mugen was fighting. The plume of smoke rose frighteningly close to where she had last seen her other friend. Another scream tore from her ragged throat as she screeched out Mugen's name.
What was going on? Her mind clicked into action mode. Jin was before her, and her first priority. She ran up to him as he swayed dangerously. How disastrous would it be for him to fall backward onto the sword still protruding from his body? She was used to patching up her friends. It was inevitable considering they were sword fighters. But it usually wasn't that bad since they were both the tops of their field. His beautiful blue top hung in tatters leaving his chest half exposed. She looked at the huge gash across his abdomen that sliced through to his back and swallowed hard. It looked worse than the wound Mugen received from Sarah, but similar. She knew what to do, but it looked like it had bled for too long. Where had he gotten so injured? She resolved that she would think about that later.
He leaned into her tiny frame for support as she caught him from falling onto his face. She would not let him fall. Not only would it be bad for his injuries to have dirt invade them, it would injure his pride. Jin was the epitome of pride. She helped him to a large boulder next to the path that lead to the cliff and gently sat him there. It made her sick to think that she would have to hurt him more by pulling that disgusting sword out of his flesh, but she knew she was the only one who could. "Jin. I have to take care of this sword. I'll try not to hurt you." Her voice was barely above a breathy whisper close to his ear.
Jin smiled through his pain and gasped in his sultry voice, "Don't worry. You can't make it worse."
She staggered slightly as she realized he was probably right. Her numb legs carried her behind Jin to where the sword dangled. At least half of the blade was not visible as it disappeared into Jin's lower back, just above his hip bone. She didn't want to touch that tainted handle that dripped the life blood of her friend. She almost asked him if it would be better for her to pull it out swiftly, or slowly, but realized she was stalling and each minute was filled with his life dripping away. She gently but firmly grasped the hilt of the sword without changing its angle in his wound. It was obvious from the slash that the sword was making below the entrance wound that the sword had gone in level with the ground, and that the weight of the hilt was slowly cutting further into his flesh as gravity pulled it down. Since she knew the back side of a blade was not sharpened, she decided to lift the sword up and keep the pressure going up so the sharpened edge would not cut further into his body. It would not be comfortable, but it would prevent further injuries. In one swift movement that Jin would have been proud of, Fuu lifted the sword and pulled it out as straight as it had entered his back. She heard the agonized gasp as Jin reacted to the pain and she felt horrible. 'At least he's still alive.' Her mind tried to comfort her.
She threw the hated sword as far away as she possibly could with her waning strength, and fought against the urge to empty her stomach. She turned to face Jin, the task of binding his wounds first and foremost in her mind, but Jin caught her hands and stilled them. His gentle voice prodded her mind, "We need to see about Mugen." Shock registered on her face. How could she have forgotten about Mugen. The explosion? A memory of his slashed face and sodden hair flashed before her eyes as he promised her he would not die at the hands of the insane man with the chain sickle. Her mind balked at remembering the evil man that Mugen had rescued her from and the things he had done to her. She didn't have time to break down.
She didn't argue with Jin's demand, she simply shifted her body under his arm on his uninjured side, and grasped his arm and helped steady him as he rose from the boulder. Her ribs popped and pain tore through her side as she adjusted to take some of his weight on her shoulders, but she ignored it. What did pain matter when her friends' lives were at stake?
The trip down the path to the beach took longer than she could have imagined, but she was barely aware of the time passing. Jin stumbled along with her help and she tried to keep pressure against the wound in his back with her arm that was secured around his waist to help balance him. It was all she could do since he wouldn't let her stop and bandage him or sew up the gapping hole. She did notice that the wind was increasing as they neared the beach, and it was becoming colder as the night approached. The setting sun bathed everything with a tint of red.
The sight of Mugen was a relief and still cause for alarm. He was sprawled out on the ground on his back. He had apparently not moved since they started their journey down from the cliff. This could be bad. He was not the type to lie around when there was a battle going on. Jin pointed to a rock near Mugen's body and Fuu helped him sit there. It was close enough that Jin could see the extensive injuries scarring the other man. Fuu failed to see the whisper of concern that crossed Jin's usually impassive face as she raced over to her bushy-headed friend.
"Mugen!" echoed off the cliffs surrounding them. All she could see was the red tint cast over his still body by the sunset. He was never still, unless he was unconscious. He looked like he did when she found him washed up on the shore after he had been betrayed by Mukuro. He had been almost dead then too. She hated him still. He should be jumping, twitching, fidgeting, picking his nose or ear...some movement. Her breath caught in her throat. 'Is he even breathing?' Panic gripped her again at the thought, and she ignored her protesting body as she collapsed by his side. She watched closely for any sign of movement of his chest. 'Was that a breath?' Cold sweat tickled down the back of her neck and down the ridge of her spine where her yukata didn't touch her skin. She began talking to him. She had no idea what she was saying, much as she had babbled when she had been helping Jin down the path. Her life had taught her, when in doubt, talk, a lot. Maybe something important and meaningful would slip out in her ranting.
Then he moved. 'Ah, thank God! He moved. He's not dead!' She sighed and felt as if she would turn into a puddle if she were not careful. For right now, both her friends were alive. Mugen rose to his feet. 'Is that such a good idea?' she thought. What was going on? She watched Mugen approach Jin who was peering up at him through his inky black bangs. She only caught an occasional word between their exchange. Were they going to fight? 'No way! They were barely alive! Why would they try to kill each other now?'
They squared off against each other in their formal fighting stances. All her hard work to avoid this moment was for nothing. All the work to get the two to be friends, all the worrying and planning, and it couldn't avoid the inevitable. One of her two best friends would be dead after this fight. She turned her head in bitter disappointment and sadness. 'How could it end like this?'
The single ringing clang of metal pierced the growing darkness of the twilight. She could not look. She could not watch one of her friends fall. She would rather die herself. When a loud thump followed the clang, she finally forced herself to look. Both men were lying face down in the sand. 'No!' her mind squealed. She felt her heart crack in two and crumble. 'I lost both of them.'
She had no idea how she ended up kneeling between the broken bodies of the two glorious fighters that she called friends and family. Her dazed mind couldn't understand anything. She just sat there and watched. Finally, it occurred to her that they were both still breathing. The white sparkles returned to her vision as the tears streamed down her face in relief. 'They are still alive.' She didn't care how or why, but they were both still in this world. Her teeth clenched as she stubbornly jutted out her jaw. 'If they were still alive now, she'd be damned if she let the afterlife have them! They were hers and she would fight the Devil himself to keep them!'
Her mind switched back into nurse mode and she scurried back to where she had seen Mugen's ragged shirt. This would work for bandages. 'Now, to inspect and clean the wounds.' The only water that was available was the ocean. Although, she hated the idea of adding salt to the wounds, she had no choice, and she didn't think either man would rouse enough to even notice. She worked quickly, as she was losing her light. She would need a fire to see by, and to stave off the cold that was creeping in across the rolling waves. She scrambled for driftwood and dug the flint out of her kimono. It wasn't long before her little fire provided enough light to see the injuries. Mugen had a slice across his side, a bullet hole in his abdomen, a crushed hand and a broken arm. Jin had a gaping slice through his entire side and the sword wound in his lower back that exited his stomach. Both were equally damaged and losing large amounts of blood. She began with Jin and cleaned and bandaged his major wounds. In only a few minutes, she had staunched the flow of blood and turned to Mugen. She couldn't be concerned with his smaller wounds so she worked on the bullet wound and the gash. Later she would attend the broken bones. Her first priority was to stop the bleeding.
After she had used up most of the shirt, Fuu sat quietly beside her friends and watched them breathe. She had no way of telling how long she sat there. Time seemed to stop and have no meaning. The only time that was important was the duration between the exhalation of each man's breath, and the time it took to inhale a new one. She knew that one or both could just stop breathing and be gone in the blink of an eye. She had seen that too often in her short life. Her eyes felt fuzzy and scratchy from the salt in the misty air that blew in her face off the ocean. Her little fire flickered and danced as it consumed her dwindling supply of driftwood. Finally, the idea clicked in her dazed mind that she needed more wood to keep the men warm. As she unfolded her body into a standing position, every muscle and joint creaked and ached in protest. She didn't even really care anymore. She had to keep them alive since they both had fought so hard to stay alive.
The night wore on in endless agony and anticipation as she watched them breath. She had never realized how important such a simple function was. Her life hung in the balance of a simple breath. She began shivering without even really noticing. Each racking shiver hurt terribly as the muscles contracted over her broken and bruised ribs. Again, realization was slow in coming. When it did, she had to wonder if she took a blow to the head somewhere. 'I can't leave them here on this cold and windy beach. In their weakened condition, they will surely get sick. And there might be other assassins looking for us.' She thought of her father's shack back up on the top of the hill. The path rose along the cliff face, then turned back towards the middle of the island and Kasumi's house. She couldn't stand to return to the place of her father's execution. Was there someplace else that would protect and shelter them? Her mind wandered over the sights she had barely taken in on her struggle to run away from the church after Mugen had ordered her to leave. There was a small shack closer to the cliff that seemed to be deserted. Would that work? All it had to do was block off the wind and hide them from any more prying Shogunate spies.
"Ok, so I know where to take them. The next question is, do I wait until the morning or do I try to move the guys tonight?" She tried to look into the darkness beyond the circle of light cast by her waning fire. She could barely see the lighter soil that indicated the path as it carved its way up the dark, looming figure of the cliff side. The moon had risen, and although it was not full, it provided enough light to travel the path. She could not trip while carrying her precious injured friends. She would have to be extra careful.
She knew she could carry one at a time. She had done the same thing when she had carried the washed ashore Mugen to a fishing hut after he had nearly drowned. It wasn't really carrying, more like putting his arms around her neck and dragging him on her back. He would be lighter now since he was not water logged and carrying a sword. She didn't care how much that stupid sword meant to him, whether it was his "warrior's soul" or what. It was too heavy, and she was too exhausted to carry the extra weight.
So, which would she carry first? If she carried Jin, who seemed to be lighter, she might tire so much that she couldn't come back for the heavier Mugen. But, she was only guessing that Mugen was heavier. She knew Jin was leaner, but he was also taller. Both men were solid muscle, but Mugen was a bit broader and more defined. She had only seen Mugen naked at the hot spring when he was making a move on Sarah. She had looked away as quickly as she could, but she had still managed to see more than was healthy for a 15 year old girl's fantasies. She had also seen Jin's upper body when they were about to be executed at the Hakoni check point after Mugen didn't return at the appointed time. More fantasy fodder. Jin didn't have the rippled stomach that Mugen had, but Jin's sleek body reminded her of the power of a glistening horse. Mugen was brute strength and Jin was fluid strength. Funny, since they were so evenly matched in fighting, they were probably evenly matched in heaviness.
She decided to drag both men to the beginning of the path where the grass was lush and thick. That way she could tell which was heavier and the other could rest on a soft bed of grass while he waited. She started with Jin since his arms were not injured like Mugen's. It was a bit awkward and unsettling to wrestle the limp man onto her back. She could feel his head loll against her shoulder as she pulled his arms up onto her shoulders. She crossed them across her chest and gripped them gently. With a bit of trouble, she worked her way up onto her knees and pushed up to her feet. He was so much taller than her that his knees barely cleared the ground. Her ribs protested at the extra weight on her back that was trying to squash her down. Still, she gritted her teeth and proceeded to drag the tall man to the beginning of the path. Once outside the circle of the fire light, her eyes slowly adjusted to the natural light of the moon and stars, and she found just the perfect place to rest him. It was tough to let him down easily so she didn't cause him further injury, but her own pain didn't matter. After quite a bit of effort, Jin was laying comfortably as if he had simply fallen asleep watching the stars.
The sweat that had accumulated in her hair and across her neck and face chilled in the stiff breeze blowing in her face as she turned and headed back towards her dying fire. She frowned as she tried to figure out how to do this without damaging Mugen's hand and arm. She couldn't pull on the broken arm for fear of tearing the muscle. He was a fighter. There was no way she was going to be responsible for crippling one of his main weapons, his arms. So, she was going to try and do this with only one arm to hold onto. She tapped her finger on her chin and untied her obi. She was going to use it to tie him to her around the waist. That would help to keep him steady and keep all the strain off his one good arm. She laid the obi on the ground next to him, and then rolled him onto his bad side. Having done that, she could pull the extra length of obi out from under him. She laid herself down in front of him and pulled his good arm over her shoulder as she pulled the ends of the obi together in front of her waist and tied a good secure knot. It was more work to roll him up onto her back, but she used his arm for leverage and determination did the rest. She was panting heavily by the time she was up on her hands and knees with him draped over her back. "Yea, he hasn't lost any weight since Mukuro." She panted sarcastically.
After a few moments of resting in this position, she had caught enough of her breath back to struggle up to her knees then feet. The night was wearing on and the pains from this awful day were getting hard to ignore. Somewhere along the trail to where she had left Jin, Fuu decided to take Mugen up the hill first. No point in untying him since this was working so far. A strange giggle tried to bubble up from her raw throat as she staggered just a bit starting up the cliff path. Somehow she tried to imagine what Mugen would think right now if he woke up. She held his good arm across her chest and could only imagine him making some snotty comment about the size of her boobs.
The trek up the path didn't take as long as she thought it would, mostly because her mind kept zoning in and out of reality. She tried to keep a tight hold on the dangling arm while ignoring the screams of pain that accompanied each breath. The physical exertion was taking its toll on her body. Her throat was parched from all the shallow panting she was doing through her mouth but she could still taste the metallic tang of blood.
She struggled on and didn't even really notice when she had crested the top of the cliff. She almost passed the shack before she saw it. Her eyes opened in shock and she stumbled as she changed her direction and braced herself against the door frame. She peered inside. It wasn't much, but there was a wooden floor to keep the guys off the cold, bare ground. She couldn't see through the dark in the shed to see if there were other supplies that would be helpful, but this was good enough. She could possibly scavenge what she needed from her Dad's house. The thought of returning there made her shudder.
She struggled further into the shed and felt around cautiously with her hands and feet to find a clear place to lay her friend. When she was sure it was safe, she collapsed to her knees. The jarring hurt most every part of her body, and she was thankful that Mugen was not aware of any pain the hard landing might have aggravated. A few minutes later she had the obi untied, and gently laid her friend down in as comfortable a position as possible. She gently moved the hair away from his pale face and sighed into the silence. "One down, one to go. No problem. I've done harder things." She snorted a quiet laugh so it wouldn't hurt her ribs. She couldn't think of anything harder she had ever done, but it didn't matter. Jin was quietly waiting on her. He had given his life to protect her. She could do nothing less.
Her eyes blurred as she stirred from the darkness beside Mugen. She knew she could rest later. Her feet dragged as she exited the calming shed, and she followed the scraggly path back towards the cliff. When the path tilted downwards, it took her by surprise and she had to struggle not to tumble all the way back towards the ocean. It wouldn't be good to land on Jin at the bottom. After many slides and stumbles, she was standing at the bottom of the path staring at Jin's seemingly sleeping body. "What does Bushido say about lying around and accepting help from a girl?" Fuu taunted the unconscious man. Anything to keep moving.
She knelt and hoisted Jin's limp body up onto her back and wrapped his long graceful arms around her neck. His skin seemed cooler than it should have been. How long had he lain in the grass away from the warmth of the fire? She should have hurried back sooner. She should have left him by the fire. She should have... Her mind stopped as she felt his gentle breath tickle the skin of her neck. Up on her feet once again, she noticed that he really wasn't all that much lighter than Mugen. But he was definately taller. She felt slightly bad that his knees were dragging the ground in places as she struggled back up the path. She hoped that the heat radiating off her back would help warm him. It was all she could do at the moment.
The second trip up the path was pure torture. Her back and legs screamed from the strain. Her pace had to be slowed to keep her ribs from protesting with every breath. She even had to stop half way up and try to balance herself as she began swaying and her vision dimmed. She kept talking to herself. "Just a bit more. It's not much. Besides, Mugen would hate me if he didn't have a chance to kill Jin because I dropped him." A smirk tickled her lips as she remembered the two men performing their "morning workout" when they were all half dead from lack of food. "Men are so strange." But if she was truthful with herself, she wouldn't have it any other way. She couldn't imagine her two boys being all friendly and loving towards each other. That would be just too weird. She was comfortable with the normal interactions, although they would not be normal to any outsider. She smiled again. It was nice to be on the inside. To have inside jokes, to have shared memories, to rely on each other. Her mind wandered over the weeks they had been together and how they had each grown and changed.
The hut loomed out of the darkness and she released a thankful sigh. Now she could rest and care for her two friends. Her mind began listing all the things she would need for their recovery. Fire, food, bandages, water, clothes, weapons. She would have to scavenge once she was sure the guys were settled. For now, all she could do was drag her precious cargo to a safe haven and keep vigil over them to ensure they kept breathing. Into the dark she ventured once again. Only this time, it was not something to fear. The dark would hide and protect them. She fell to her knees at the threshold of the doorway and crawled the rest of the way to where she had placed Mugen. Jin remained draped over her back even though she was no longer holding his arms. His lean pale arms dragged the boards under her body and his hands almost ended up under her knees as she crawled. His legs stretched out behind her like the wake of a ship. Her mind snickered as she pictured Jin as the world's strangest coat.
Finally, finally, she reached Mugen and carefully stretched her body out on the floor with Jin fully covering her. She gently rolled his weight to the side and he slid onto his back. That was as far as her strength could take her. She couldn't force her body to move another inch. She couldn't even find the strength to roll away from Jin. Maybe her addled mind was thinking this would be the best way to keep him warm since there was no way to start a fire. She wasn't even sure if there was a fire pit hiding in the shadows that inhabited everything beyond the doorway. A new fear loomed in her fading mind. 'What if Mugen had stopped breathing while she was gone. I wasn't here to chase the crow men away.' She tilted her head to look at the pirate. Nothing was visible. So, she did the only think she could. She reached out and placed a shaking hand on his chest. Rise and fall. "Thank God!" she sighed and closed her eyes. She knew it was almost dawn but she just couldn't stay awake any longer.
Sunlight glared over her eyelids, barely registering to her exhausted brain. Where was she? Why was everything hurting? The last time she felt this bad she had guzzled sake thinking it was water and passed out to find herself manhandled by an ogre. She tried but she couldn't remember any sake. She felt like she should open her eyes, but she was too tired to think straight. Besides, Mugen or Jin would take care of things in the morning. Sensations began to filter into her mind, other than the pain that laced her entire body. She was sleeping directly on a hard floor. Floor? An inn maybe? If so, wouldn't she be sleeping on a futon? So, not an inn. But, not a tatami mat either. Hmmm. Then she felt a soft, warm cushion under her head. No futon but a cushion? This just got stranger and stranger. Then she felt her right hand resting on something also warm, that was moving slightly. Huh? It was finally too much. She had to crack open at least one eyelid. She opened the one closest to the pillow and saw a weird site. She was looking down the length of a bare, pale arm. It started under her head and stretched out to a long-fingered hand far away from her face. Also, at the end of the hand, was the side of Mugen's head.
Reality snapped back to her mind in a flash of wrenching movement. She jack-knifed up into a sitting position and nearly screamed at the gouge of pain that splintered through her ribs. She spun on her rear and was facing the two unconscious men. She stilled herself to watch carefully. There! Jin inhaled! Thank goodness. Then she turned her eyes to Mugen. Yes! He inhaled too. She lowered her head in prayerful thanks that they made it through the night. She felt like a horrible friend for having fallen asleep while they were in such a fragile state. Still, all she could do for quite a while was stare in amazement. They had come for her. Mugen had saved her from the insane brothers who wanted revenge for something that happened in Mugen's pirating days. Jin had saved her from the assassin who was ordered to kill her simply because of who her father was. Images of her father assaulted her fragile consciousness as she relived the meeting with him that was cut short by his assassination. She had come all this way to hit him, to vent her anger at having been left behind like garbage, to hurt him for all the lonely nights her mother had suffered through. But it wasn't enough. It wasn't nearly enough. Yet, it was all she would ever have. Somehow, she would have to forgive him for a lifetime of hurts that would have to be put away like her childhood toys. Forgive him, not for his sake, but for hers, so she could go on with her life without carrying all that anger and bitterness.
A noise alerted her to a presence drawing near to their hiding place. She spun her head around looking for some type of weapon to defend her precious friends. Nothing in the shed but rusty tools. Then, she spotted the Wazakashi peeking out from the tattered remains of Jin's beautiful blue Gi. Quicker than one would expect from a girl, she drew the short sword and gained her feet. She had watched the two in action enough times that she could fake a fighting stance. And she was fueled with the determination of a lioness protecting her cubs. Fear fled before the anger that bubbled to the surface to think another assassin might have been dispatched to see if the first had succeeded. 'How dare they try to kill her friends. If they wanted me, that's one thing, but to come after her friends just like Sarah had!' That was unthinkable!
Shuffling footfalls echoed in the dank hut and Fuu kicked herself when she saw there was a door on the building that she could have closed and kept them undetected. It was too late now for second guessing. She would face whatever walked into the hut like her friends would. She almost jumped the small figure as it passed into view from her position just inside the doorway. A squeak left the throat of the old man as he caught a glimpse of a figure hiding in the shadows of the hut. Without thought, the old man threw himself back away from the doorway as if he had been thrown. Fuu lowered her sword as she finally recognized the man as the old man who had let her in to speak with her father. But, didn't the assassin kill him? She looked him over to see if he was a ghost, and noticed that he had a large bloody bandage wrapped around his head. Maybe the assassin had only knocked him out to get to her. The assassin must have meant to take care of her, then return for her father's retainer. The rusty voice of the old man cried out, "Fuu! You're alive! Oh, I was so worried when I woke and could not find you."