You know guys, I realized something. I spent almost five years with this fic, and I am sincerely grateful to all of you who stuck it out this long just to reach the ending of this fanfic. So…this is the last chapter. We have finally reached the conclusion to "Forced Along the Path of Discontent." Enjoy!
By the way, I'm sorry I'm three-days late. San Japan is coming up and I was slaving over gifts for voice actors and that stopped me from getting this chapter done in time. So, thank you for your patience, and here it is!
Disclaimer: Yugioh belongs to Kazuki Takahashi. I merely own any original characters and the plotline for this fanfic.
It All Ends Tonight
"Yes, what is it?"
"We have the reports you requested. Our men successfully burned down the manor you requested."
"And the witnesses?"
"Dealt with accordingly."
"Excellent." He smirked. "That Minako was a fool from the beginning to think I would tell her so much without having her pay for it in the end. Thank you, Kurasuma. You are dismissed."
"Yes, my lord," he said with a bow before turning and walking out of the room. Yoshinori stroked his chin, smirking.
"Now all but one loose end has been dealt with…" He stood and left the room, striding down the corridors until he reached the door guarded by two ninja and walked inside, smirking at Anzu's limp body. "Now's hardly the time to sleep, my dear."
She raised her head slowly, breathing heavily as she glared at him.
"Come to gloat?" she asked.
"Yes, actually. I just received word that your former lover's house was burned to the ground." He chuckled and her eyes widened. "Now the man who stole everything from you is burned to ash and bone."
"That's impossible…you're still standing here," she said coldly.
"Oh, your words wound me, Anzu. Why don't you simply admit that you regret your foolish decisions and I will consider showing mercy on you?" She laughed sarcastically.
"You show mercy on me? Oh, yes, Yoshinori, that is what I desire; mercy from the monster who deprived me of my family and murdered the man I loved! You sicken me!" she snarled, narrowing her eyes. "I would rather burn for all eternity than to ever concede to your vile will."
"Keep up this irritating defiance and you will have your wish sooner than you think!" Yoshinori growled.
"Really?" she asked, feigning excitement. "How delightful!" He grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked on it hard, causing her to flinch slightly.
"I will teach you some respect, you little whelp! Not even you can keep this façade together forever. One of these days, you will break and I'll be sure to relish it."
"Unless you snap first," Anzu said, grinning cruelly. "You're impatient, Yoshinori. You'll probably lose control of yourself and murder me before you can break me."
"We'll see about that, my pet." He dropped her hair and turned, walking out of the room and slamming the door behind him.
"Yes we will, won't we…" she said, smirking.
Seto approached the house slowly and climbed up into a tree, observing the structure carefully for any exposed entrances and smirked when he saw a window slightly ajar. Someone had been careless…
He swung down and landed on the edge of the window, opening it with absolute silence that had come from his years of training as he entered the room undetected, closing the window behind him.
It was quiet in the room, but he could hear footsteps of residents moving back and forth in the hallway and looked around. He found a discarded mask on the table and smirked.
"It's almost too easy…" he said, placing it over his face as he walked out into the corridors. The clan members who passed him paid him no mind and he sauntered down the halls casually, listening for any clues as to where Anzu might be.
"Yoshinori-san won't keep her alive much longer, I'm sure."
"Why would he waste more food and time?"
"I don't know, but we shouldn't question it. If he heard us, you know what would happen."
"Suppose you're right. Still, guess he's making her the example so no one else tries it."
"Like any of us are so stupid. Women are the only ones who will go running off to fall in love, and with the enemy, no less." Seto walked behind this group as they talked, hoping they'd mention Anzu's location but they paused when thye noticed him still behind them after a while.
"What do you want?"
"Sorry, couldn't help but overhear. You're talking about Anzu Mazaki, aren't you?"
"Who else? Yoshinori has her tied up and guarded all hours of the day. Why he keeps her alive is anyone's guess."
"Probably having a bit of fun with her before killing her." They all snickered and continued walking and Seto clenching his fists before turning and walking the other way, looking out for a room with a guard in front of it.
"HEY!" He froze and turned slowly to see a clan member marching up to him. "We've been looking all over for you! It's your turn to take on guard duty for the prisoner."
"O-oh, right. Sorry, I forgot."
"That's the third time I've had to come hunt you down. If it happens again, it's your head, understand?"
"Come on!" Seto followed the man, breathing in and out slowly. This really was just a little bit too easy…was the Northern Clan simply stupid who pulling an excellent trap? Either way, it was too late to back out now.
He was brought to a door where another member was standing and he raised his mask.
"About time! I'm starved."
"You will stand guard for the next four hours. Do not leave your post, understand?"
"Good!" The two clan members took off and Seto looked around, waiting until he was certain the halls were completely empty before opening the door behind him slowly. He saw Anzu, hanging against the wall and she looked up slowly.
"Is it time for my next beating already?" she asked.
"Actually…" Seto pulled out his sword and slashed through her binds. "I believe it's time to escape." Her eyes widened as he took off his mask.
"Seto?! You're alive?"
"I believe that's my line. Now, we have to hurry before-" The door closed and he spun to see Yoshinori approaching them with a smirk.
"Before I catch you? Honestly, Kaiba, if you believe you can slip into my home undetected, you are even more foolish than I thought."
"Hmph. If you think you're walking out of this room alive, Yoshinori, you are even more foolish than I thought."
"Ah, trying to intimidate me, are you? Well, I'm afraid that won't work. You see…Anzu needs to be taught a lesson. And that fact that you evaded death really irritates me, Kaiba-san." Yoshinori pulled out a pair of twin sword and cracked his neck.
"Seto, be careful," Anzu said.
"Warning him won't help him, Anzu." Yoshinori moved and was able to cut Seto's arm, causing him to growl as Yoshinori smirked. "I certainly haven't lost my touch, so let's see what you've got, Kaiba."
"Heh, you asked for it." He gripped his sword and they ran at each other, swords clanging as they struck at each other mercilessly, looking to find a way to put an end to each other. Anzu looked around for anything she could use to help Seto, but the room was empty and they were blocking the door.
The two men battled viciously until Yoshinori was on the ground. Seto kicked his swords away and smirked.
"It looks like I've won…"
"I don't think so!" Yoshinori knocked Seto down and grabbed one of his swords, pressing it against Seto's neck. "It looks like I've won…and I get to kill you in front of your precious Anzu, how charming. Any last words?"
"No, but you may want to say yours," Seto said, smirking. Yoshinori opened his mouth to say something and gasped as he felt a blade. He fell over and Anzu glared down, kicking his body.
"I swore I'd kill you, Yoshinori. My blood vow is complete." Seto stood up slowly and Anzu turned to look at him, her mind swirling with a myriad of emotions. He met her eyes and she inwardly cringed at the familiar wave of warmth that pooled in her stomach whenever she saw him.
"Are you alright?" he rasped and she shrugged slowly.
"I'll survive if that's what you mean." He nodded a bit.
"I'm…I'm sorry, Anzu. For what I said, for what I did…if I could take it all back, I would." She blinked a bit and he ran a hand through his hair. "I shouldn't have fallen for those tricks so easily…I should have known better, but I didn't and I did inhuman things to you."
"No worse than what I've been through before," she said with a wry smile. "And let's be honest here, Yoshinori took the cake for inhumanity." He bowed his head to her.
"I know you would never forgive Yoshinori…but are you able to find it in your heart to forgive me for all I've done to wrong you?" She stared before slowly reaching out to wrap her arms around him.
"Unlike Yoshinori…the good things you've done and the happiness you've given me outweighs the bad. Scars don't heal, but they fade with time. I'll forgive you." He wrapped his arms around her, pressing his lips to the top of her head.
"I hate to disturb such a happy reunion but…"
They both jumped up in time to see five ninja surrounding them, swords at the ready.
"You two are responsible for the death of Yoshinori, so I'm afraid you must pay for it with your lives."
"You fools, don't you get it?! Without Yoshinori, you can leave the clan; have a chance at a real life! Why kill us when there are better things out there? We can stop all of it!"
"Tch, leave it to a woman to spout such nonsensical drivel."
"I believe spending time with this one made her soft…perhaps we ought to kill him first." Three of them lunged and grabbed Seto while two held Anzu back, despite her struggle against them.
"SETO!" He grunted and snarled as he tried to fight them off, but even he couldn't fend off three men without a weapon.
"Tie him up!" One of them extracted some rope and tied up Seto's limbs quickly until he could barely move and Anzu continued to try and fight off the two men holding her. The head ninja strode slowly, menacingly, like a predator. He smirked at Anzu with an ugly hatred burning in his eyes.
"You know…you always did inspire me, Anzu. I doubt you remember when I was recruited, but I was trained by you. You brought me on that mission to kill that traitor who fled to clan and tried to hide in the church. I remember how glorious you were…so deadly, so powerful." He grabbed her chin and forced her to look up into his eyes, smirking cruelly. "I'll admit, I called it love at first size when I was younger…but now I see it was envy at your ruthless abilities to take lives and bathe in blood while still coming out looking clean.
"I devoted myself to vigorous training…and when you were exiled, Yoshinori bestowed me with the honor of taking your rank. So to be able to destroy everything for you will be immensely sweet."
"You're sick!" she hissed, spitting in his face and he growled, backhanding her.
"Little bitch! Let's kill the bastard and show her what happens when you defy the Clan."
"Yes, sir." One kicked Seto to the floor and held up a sword.
"NO!" They brought the blade down towards Seto's neck and Anzu felt like everything was moving in slow motion. She struggled as hard as she could, breaking free from the two ninjas holding her and stole one of their swords before lunging forward, holding the blade up and stopping the one aimed for Seto's neck.
"Get her, you idiots!" Anzu cut Seto's bonds and fought off one of the ninjas as Seto managed to steal and sword and helped her.
"Do you think we can take them out?"
"Only one way to find out," he said, smirking and lunged, slashing his sword and cutting into one of the ninja's chests, causing blood to cover the blood as he collapsed to the floor. "It certainly has been a while." She nodded.
"Definitely." She dodged the blades and thrust her sword between one man's ribs. "Two down."
"Sir, what should we do?!"
"Are you idiots? Kill them!"
"Kill us?" Seto asked, smirking. "I believe it will be the other way around."
"Avenge Yoshinori-san!" The two ninjas lunged forward, swords raised and Anzu leapt out of the way.
"Reckless. Thoughtless. Predictable. Just like your predecessor."
"We'll see about that!" He moved forward and stuck at Anzu and she blocked his sword with hers, leaping back as he ran at her again, striking at her manically as she dodged with ease, reading his lack of control and using it to her advantage.
"This is how you've trained yourself? I'm insulted that someone with such a lack of restraint would take up my mantle." She knocked him back to the ground and loomed over him. "You want to be like me? You should have trained your mind as well as your body. Your focus is on brute force and frontal assaults, not on cunning and taking your opponent down by exploiting their weaknesses."
"You have some nerve lecturing me!"
"And you have some nerve trying to kill me. It's your turn to die now," she said, raising her sword and he smirked.
"I don't think so." Anzu flinched and rolled out of the way of another ninja and cursed under her breath.
Seto killed another one and looked over in her direction.
"How many more are there?"
"However many in this house wish revenge for Yoshinori's sake." She flipped back as another leapt down and growled. "Seto, we need to find a way out!"
"You think I don't know that? I'm open to suggestions!" he said, fighting off another man who moved in to attack. Anzu flipped off the wall, causing two men to ran into it and stabbed them from behind.
Blood stained the floor as they took out the ninjas one-by-one until they were back-to-back in the center of the room, surrounded by the last wave of men with swords at the ready.
"You both have fought well, but the time has come for you to meet your maker."
"Still have some fight left in you?" Seto panted.
"I'll be honest…not very much. But this can't be the end for us."
"Agreed." The circle moved in closer and they each gripped their swords tightly.
"One last stand…let's both make it out of this alive." Seto nodded.
Anzu closed her eyes for a moment, sensing the movement of the people around her. She opened them slowly and could see everything moving in a blur, but picking up all the details that mattered before she moved.
The assassin within her moved like a demon, cutting down all that stood in her path and threatened the future she was desperately trying to find.
She could see it…the end of the war between the clans and peace in Japan at long last!
Leaping up, she leered down at him. He may as well be Yoshinori to her, for he reeked of the same bloodlust, greed, and malevolence.
Her sword was up and she brought it down on his neck, watching the corpse hit the floor without any emotion on her face. And then she realized it was silent as she panted a bit, trying to catch her breath.
"It's finally over…" Seto said, throwing his bloody sword on top of a body and Anzu nodded.
"Yes." She turned around and fell into his arms, breathing out in relief. "It's done, Seto." He stroked her hair slowly, resting his head on top of hers.
They were quiet for a moment; taking in the reality of what had just happened and savoring the feeling of being together again without the miseries of their pasts to hold them back any longer.
Seto opened his eyes slowly and was about to speak when he sensed something.
"Anzu!" He pushed her away from him and, before he could move, grunted loudly in pain and looked down, seeing the sword he'd discarded thrust through his chest before looking up at Anzu, her eyes widened with terror. "An-"
The blade was retracted and he fell to the ground as Yoshinori smirked.
"Did you honestly think I'd let you kill me so easily?" he asked, chuckling coldly. "I said I'd destroy him first then destroy you. Your wish for a happy future will never come true, Anzu, so just accept that you're going to die now. You've lost everything, and now you will die with absolutely nothing."
Her shoulders heaved as she tried to breathe, a terrible tightness in her chest and her fists clenched and her body trembled from a rage she never imagined she could feel.
Yoshinori strode towards her slowly, smirking at her catatonic state.
"Time to end this, my little apricot."
"He killed him…he KILLED him…"
The sword was raised and her eyes darted up as he brought it down.
"Wha-?" Anzu held the sword back, ignoring the blood running down her arm as the blade dug into her palm and she moved her head slowly, like she was possessed, her eyes filled with nothing but hatred. "Y-you…" Yoshinori snarled and pulled the sword back, raising it again and she caught it with the other hand, causing his eyes to widen. "How are you doing this, Anzu?! You should not have the strength anymore!"
"You will die learning never to underestimate my strength…" she said lowly, wrenching the sword from his hand and throwing it aside before lunging forward, catching his throat as she forced him to the ground. "Now die…DIE!" she screamed, digging her fingers into his flesh, crushing the bones as he gagged and thrashed, his eyes rolling back in his skull as his flesh turned purple and blue.
Finally, his limbs went limp and she dropped him, the rage dissipating and leaving her feeling hollow.
"A…Anzu…" Her eyes widened and she ran over to Seto, his breath a short wheeze and his skin feeling cold.
"Seto," she said softly, gathering him in her arms. He opened his eyes slowly and she could see the pain in them but also see his peace.
"This…this isn't the end for us, Anzu." He reached up and cupped the side of her face shakily, running his thumb against her cheek. "Even if we can't…be together in this life, we can meet each other again in another." She nodded slowly, lacing her fingers with his as tears welled up in her eyes.
"I don't want to lose you, Seto!"
"You won't…please promise me this, Anzu…promise me that you'll live and find happiness."
"Alright…" she whispered, tears running down her face and he smiled weakly.
"I love you."
"I love you too, Seto," she said, leaning down and pressing her lips against his. After a few seconds, she felt his body go limp in her hands and hugged him to her, crying into his shoulder as she stroked his hair, rocking back and forth.
When she had no more tears to cry, she carefully pulled his body outside and dug a hole under the cherry blossom tree before carefully lowering him into it. She found some early wildflowers and placed them on his chest before covering the hold again, patting down the soil and finding some wood to create a small grave.
Falling to her knees, she closed her eyes and prayed for his soul and for them to find each other again somewhere in the future before standing up and walking away, the hollow feeling still there.
But she had a newfound resolve to live…to find her place in this world and experience some glimmer of happiness again, despite all the pain and suffering she'd been through.
She found her way to the village and made a home with Chiasa, Akiko, and Shoji, who adopted her as their daughter. The house of the clan was burned to the ground, officially marking the end of the war as the southern clan disbanded.
Anzu never married, never fell in love again, but adopted a homeless boy on the streets and named him Mokuba, caring for him as her own son. The boy reminded her of the love she lost, but also gave her a new type of love that filled the gaping hole in her heart.
Years passed and the scars began to fade as life marched forward.
"Mamma!" Anzu looked up from her book to see Mokuba running towards her with some flowers. "For you, mamma!"
"Thank you, Mokuba, they're beautiful."
"Mamma, are you going to the cherry blossom tree today?"
"Yes, later. Would you like to come with me?" He nodded and she smiled a little. That evening, they walked to the forest together to the large, blooming, cherry blossom tree with the wood sticking out of the ground engraved with writing. Anzu set down some flowers and lit two candles, closing her eyes in prayer.
When she was done, Mokuba set a daisy on top of the soil.
"Mamma, did you love this person?"
"Yes, Mokuba, more than I ever loved anyone else before." She smiled sadly. "But he was taken away from me many years ago. However, he is the reason I'm still alive today."
"Really?" She nodded.
"Well…then I like him too." She chuckled and Mokuba held her hand.
"I think you would have gotten along with him if he were still alive."
"Well, maybe I will meet him someday."
"Maybe you will." They both walked back towards the village together, Mokuba skipping a little with each step he took and Anzu smiled at him. Maybe they both would…
… -shrinks back- Well…did you really think this kind of story was meant to have a happy, romantic en- -RUNS- HERE'S AN EPILOGUE! DON'T MURDER ME!
The sounds of the city rang in her ears as she checked her watch, shifting the weight between each foot anxiously. Where was he? She sighed, lowering her arm and looking around with a small frown on her rosy mouth, clicking her tongue.
He was 20 minutes late…
"I hope he and Jounouchi didn't get caught up playing some silly game again." She paced in a small circle as people continually passed her by and she bumped into a tall figure. "Oh, I'm sorry."
Her cerulean eyes met with a pair of cold cobalt and they stared at one another for a moment. Something about those eyes seemed familiar…but she could not seem to remember where she had seen them before.
"You should be more careful," he said gruffly. She snapped out of her trance and bowed.
"I apologize." He shrugged and bit and she looked back up at him, trying to decide if she knew this man or not.
"Anzu!" She blinked and turned her head to see her friend running toward her, waving.
"Oh, Yugi, it's about time!"
"Sorry," he gasped, running up to her. "Grandpa needed my help moving some boxes to the attic and it took longer than I thought."
"Are you ready to go?"
"Boyfriend?" the tall man asked, quirking a brow, causing the two to blush.
"N-no, just my friend." He smirked a bit and continued walking.
"H-hey!" Anzu snapped.
"I'll be seeing you again, Anzu," he said with a mysterious smirk before walking on and she frowned and Yugi blinked in confusion.
"Ah, did you know that man, Anzu?"
"Eh? Well I…" She pursed her lips thoughtfully. "I'm not really all too sure…but I think I just might."
YAY! Reincarnation makes everything better! I figured I ought to at least have a more positive end note than the solid end of the fanfic, so you all get a little epilogue to make it easier.
It's been quite a ride, thank you again everyone who stayed with this fic for so long. I'm ashamed it took me such a long time, but I'm glad I did finally finish it. Now all of my old fanfiction projects are finally done!
I will see you all next fanfic, thank you again!
(Again, please do not flame, but I welcome any and all final comments and constructive criticism to improve my writing in the future!)