Monster in the Mountains Part III

Fuu has been captured by a mysterious new adversary. Mugen on the other hand recovers in a the home of a hermit that was once possibly a friend of one of his old companions/competitors.

When Mugen awoke his eyes were met with total darkness. Placing his hand on his forehead he felt the softness of a fabric cloth crinkle and curl between his finger tips. It felt soft and soothing on his rocky rough hands, but every passing second his mind grew sharper and as always confrontational.

Fuu this better not be one of your hair brain pranks, not in the mood today, or this morning, or what the hell I don't care anyways! He thought sadistically removing the towel off of his eyes. However, he initially expected to have come face to face with the exquisite morning sky but instead his eyes met with the bamboo ceiling of a small room. And I thought this morning was already of to a rough and weird ass start, how the hell did I get tossed in this joint. Reaching behind his head he felt the pliable surface of a Western influenced mattress. Gazing over to his left he quickly gathered all the items and different objects that embellished his surroundings.

It looked like an old man's trinket shop had thrown up all over the place. There were dozens of paintings that looked like they were from the early Edo period and small Buddha statues that looked older than Mugen himself. There were also bowls filled with what appeared to be some kind of medicinal herbs of some sort. Mugen swung both feet over the mattress and planted them on the floor, but for this simple movement came a high price in the form of physical agony.

"Dammitt!" he grunted under his breath. His wounded calf muscle reminded him of his own bitter mortality and his back ached painfully. That fight with that reptilian creature had taxed his body heavily. Looking around the room for his red shirt and other belongings he started to seriously question his current situation. He had no recollection of retreating to a small shack after he killed that beast. "Things just ain't addin up, but hey, what else is new." Suddenly he heard the haunting resonance of slow but steady footsteps come creeping beyond the small sliding door that stood directly across from where he sat upright on his mattress. Game time on that note he dropped to the floor on one knee and crept towards the sliding door as quietly as one could. Cautiously he slid behind a small desk in the room and waited to meet whoever was on the other side of the door.

"Come on, Come on," he whispered under his breath. Seconds ago he felt like a war torn man who had seen his rough days, but now he had more vigilance and courage than all the great remaining samurai in Japan. The door slid open with a little creek, and then a pair of sandaled feet found there way into the room. Mugen could often feel the rush of adrenaline and his heart race with vigor, but for some reason both of those components were missing from his being. From behind the desk he heard the man yawn and then scratched his waist. Could my instincts be right, or for once in my life are they taken a day off he thought, maybe this man wasn't a threat. Better be safe then sorry with that final thought he snatched a vase off the floor and jumped up behind the desk to full height and laid his burning eyes on the intruder.

"Oh, that's where ya were hidin, its kinda chilly on the floor don't ya think." The intruder was none other than a humble old man with a warm smile. His teeth looked like they could have had better days. He wore a colorful coat and a white head band with a red dot in the center of it.

"I might sound like an idiot askin this but who are you? And what's up with this place?"

"This is one of my little dwellings that I spend time in around mid summer and the beginning of the foliage. My name is-" suddenly he paused in mid sentence and his tepid and innocent small eyes sharpened like daggers. "Mishoto the swords masta!"

"Rrrright," Mugen answered raising an eyebrow.

"Naaah that's just a nickname of mine when I was a young fella like yourself, names Eli, some people also call me Johnny. Don't know where these names came from, can't rememba"

That adds one more to the freak list, how the hell does that thing keep growin on me Mugen thought placing the vase on the ground. Well at least the strange little man was friendly and very hospitable; Mugen could clearly remember worse scenarios and people he had encountered. Mugen pulled up what appeared to be small wooden foot rest and took a seat on it.

"Where'd ya find me out there?"

"At night is usually when I go huntin for ma night crawlers."

"What the hell are those?"

"Worms boy, and then I heard your situation."

"Oh yeah, that little nuisance," Mugen remarked with a humorous tone scratching his head grinning.

"Sure it was just a little one?"

"Got any idea what that thing was?" The old man pulled up a small stool and sat down across from Mugen.

"Kinda, it was about three years ago I think. I was travelin here in this countryside and everybody knows about the legends of the infamous water dragon that lived out here in these rivers but I never paid tall tales any real mind. But one night though, I was sittin beside my fire and I heard something movin around me. At first I thought it was maybe a deer or a big old bear, after living in the woods your whole life these creatures become close to you like friends and family. It wasn't either of them and it was one of them beasts and it lashed out at me. I had my fireworks on me and I gave that beast a display it didn't even wanna stick around for."

"Nice," Mugen said straightening his back. "Well thanks for all the help old fella but I gotta get a move on." The old man grinned and nodded Mugen for once in a very long time bowed before him and then walked around him and into the hallway. He got only four or five feet and one of his limbs gave him a bit of trouble again. "Ouch, that bitch has got a bite," he grunted under his breath painfully.

"Your tough I'll give ya that much, but I don't think being invincible is one of your talents," the old man said standing in the doorway with his arms folded.

"Tell me about it," Mugen snapped back sarcastically.

"Well if ya don't feel pain what about hunger?" Mugen caught that question clearer than day.

"Hell yeah," he said turning around to face the old man with a convincing smile.

Together they walked down the small hallway to another room. They both sat on the floor at a little table and Mugen at an assortment of vegetables and some noodles and grilled fish and chicken. Mugen loved to eat almost as much as he did fighting and going on adventures, with fatigue and drowsiness thrown together his food tasted that much more genuine and revitalizing.

"That hit the spot hard," Mugen commented nibbling on his finger tips.

"See, look how great life can be if ya learn to just take your time," the old man remarked sipping some green tea.

"Can't say I've been really good at doin that, feels like I've been bouncing around my whole life."

"Sounds like quite an adventure, where ya off to anyways?"

"Well another thing I've also been pretty bad at for most of my days is keeping chicks waitin, and I think this one has been doin that for long enough."

"Oh, a lady friend, she live around here?"

"Na, she's been travelin with me, and I'm sure she's worryin and wondering where the hell I am, but its all good she's used to that story by now," Mugen explained gulping down some hot tea like it was water. The old man leaned forward and looked at Mugen a little closer.

"Were ya both travelin alone?" He asked.

"Ya, just us, what makes you ask that?" A few seconds ago he seemed happy and entertained with Mugen's company and at ease with the world; Mugen could sense something was starting to burn within his soul. In a matter of seconds it seemed like the little elderly man's posture and facial expression shifted from a jolly hermit to a fearless warrior.

"Think you can get around all right?" The old man asked vigilantly.

"Sure, I can move it," Mugen answered also become more serious and slightly getting suspicious.

"Then follow me I'll explain it to ya on the way." With that said the old man stood up and actually walked out of the room like a soldier headed off to fight a war. Mugen just simply smirked and stood up from where he sat.

"Looks like this old coot still wants to party. Things are getting interesting again." Quickly Mugen followed behind him.

That wasn't the biggest chapter I know and I wanted this to be a big chap :(

Any who the next one or couple will be large and really exciting, this chapter got broken down because there is so much stuff that is about to happen. See ya then.