TRUE END

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Samanosuke, Ako or the tale of Onimusha. They belong to Fu Long Productions and Capcom. This story is purely for amusement and not for profit.

Notes: Well, I thought the "true end" Capcom provided to Onimusha 3 was pathetic. I have tried to keep this as true to the end presented in the game as possible, tidyng up some loose ends and giving it a little more dignity. My ideas on Samanosuke's thoughts are my own. It was revealed in an interview that Garaganto killed Kaede, and I'm using the idea here.

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The stream flowed gently, peacefully before him; its music brushing his ears. It had been so long since he had known any kind of peace. Twenty-three years, in fact.

Years spent hiding and training, learning to control his new power, a power that frightened him with its strength, so much so that he would only unleash it when death threatened. He could not die, not until his mission was complete and the Genma had been exterminated. Then more years --- years spent watching for signs, searching, finding and killing. Years . . . .

Samanosuke looked at the gauntlet on his arm. It was still there. He had hoped that when Nobanaga was defeated he would be freed from this service. But Nobanaga was dead; his soul was sealed in this gauntlet and still the gauntlet stayed. A conspicuous reminder to the superstitious people of this land that he was not human—not entirely. They respected his strength, welcomed his rescue, but ultimately they feared him, and because of that fear he could never live the life he was raised to live.

Forty-seven years, he thought. Forty-eight this autumn. I should be watching grandchildren and happily waiting for death in my home.

Home. He hadn't been "home" in twenty-three years. It was disquieting to see his friends grow old and die while he remained unchanged. The girl to whom he was betrothed died last year, he knew. Sometimes he wondered how different his life would have been had she still accepted him. When he returned from Gifu Castle, he had quietly explained that he was not as he was, that he had been given a new power and a new mission. She had listened patiently and then turned him away, unwilling to share in his 'curse' as she called it. He had left that night and not returned. He had only contacted his uncle in the six months before the battle at Hannoji to warn him to be prepared for war. . . .

"Samanosuke!"

He looked up, and Ako had appeared—always cheerful, always helpful. From where did she draw the strength to dismiss the horror she'd seen the past ten days?

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

Samanosuke gave a small shake of his head. "I am doing nothing, Ako."

"Oh."

"Why are you here?"

"Well, I . . . I—"

"Samanosuke!"

Samanosuke heard the voice in his head and turned to look for head of the Oni Clan. There across the stream he floated, his glimmering shape glowing in the shade of the trees.

"Samanosuke," he called again, "you have done well. The Genma clan is defeated."

"Hai," Samanosuke said, nodding. "Japan is free of their curse."

"Not entirely. One remains. A human who gave himself over to Guildenstern's experiments."

"Who, lord? Tell me and I will defeat him as well." And then I will be free, he thought.

"You knew him as Tokachiro, but he now calls himself Hideyoshi. He is moving to conquer Japan."

"He will not succeed. I will defeat him." Samanosuke said. He bowed slightly in obeisance and turned to leave.

"No, Samanosuke. That is not your mission. Hideyoshi cannot create genma and Guildenstern is sealed in your gauntlet. He may conquer Japan, but it will be with men, not genma. As long as the gauntlet is beyond his reach, the genma cannot be reborn.

"That is your mission, Samanosuke. You must take the gauntlet where Hideyoshi will never find it and seal it away forever."

"I understand."

"Farewell, Samanosuke. I will see you again when you have completed your task. Tengu! Come, it is time to leave this world."

"Lord, may I stay with Samanosuke?" Ako said.

Samanosuke turned to look sharply at her.

"I mean," she said, "if it's alright with Samanosuke." She spoke next to Samanosuke. "I'll be a big help, honest. And then you won't be alone."

Samanosuke felt brief surprise at this insight. Alone. He had been alone so for so long, but it had not always been so. He thought of Kaede, his partner and friend. He had hated to leave her in ignorance of his survival, but she would have wanted to share his burden. He had hidden to spare her from what his life had become. Her talent and beauty had not deserved his dark fate.

How grieved he had been at her death.

How pleased he was to have avenged her.

He looked at Ako's hopeful face as she eagerly awaited his decision. Samanosuke turned back to the Oni lord.

"She may come with me," he said.

"As you wish," the Oni lord said and vanished from sight.

Samanosuke turned back to Ako . . .

A young woman stood there, beautiful and strong and undeniably Ako.

"I thought this might attract less attention," she said. Even her voice had changed.

"Hai," Samanosuke said, but he secretly thought that this woman would attract attention everywhere she went. They started to walk back to the road.

"So, where are we going?" she asked.

Samanosuke paused. Where, indeed? Somewhere that Hideyoshi will not look. He thought of the rumor about Jubei Yagyu taking a ship to the West. Perhaps he too was on a journey to seal up the genma souls he had captured.

"West," he answered. "And then, who knows?"

They walked back to the road and into the sunset.