Alright, by this point I think you all know the drill with the disclaimer that's been at the beginning of the first ten chapters. So we'll skip that bit. We'll also skip the bit about why I'm not using standard Publishing Industry formatting. Okay, so I realized that I forgot to mention a minor change I made to things that you would have noticed last chapter. You're all probably saying, "Why the hell are they calling out for their armors with 'Armament: _!'" It's a fair question. The answer is that the Japanese summoning phrase is "Buso _!" You run that through Google translate, and it turns out Buso means armament or arms. So, it's a little bit more of a literal translation.
Now, there's another reason I decided to go this route. As I'm sure all of you are aware there's no real consensus on the names of the warlord armors. Personally, I like the names, Oni, Black Jackal, Spitting Cobra and Phantom. I had these written down in one section of the notebook I have to keep things about my fic straight. Sadly, it's not consistent throughout. Ironic, yes? One part had those names listed, another didn't, so I initially used the names for the warlord armors Ogre, Jackal, Cobra and Tarantula. I've since gone back and revised that to the names I like better.
Now, what does this have to do with the whole armament thing you're asking. Well, "Armament: Oni!" "Armament: Black Jackal!" "Armament: Spitting Cobra!" "Armament: Phantom!" all sound better than "Armor of...!" Although it kind of still works for Oni, but the others it just sounds really bad. So, I switched to the armament thing. So, yes, there is method to my madness. Sorry I didn't mention that at the start of last chapter, too many other things to apologize for, like completely changing the name of the chapter.
Three more things, and then I'll shut up, I promise. I know you've seen it previously spelled Heimdale, if you've been reading the fic for a while. Did a double check and found out the more proper spelling is Heimdallr, so I'm going with that from now on and have since corrected the spelling in past chapters. Also, I have been spelling it Razura, watched the sub again recently and found out they spelled it Rajura, so I switched it, in an effort to be consistent with the sub, since I've been using those spellings. That's also why the e in Nasté's name suddenly gained an accent. Anyway, enjoy.
Mind, Soul, and Body:
Book One: Shadows of the Past
Chapter Thirteen: Sakura
By Corlock Striker
May 19, 2001 Valaskjálf, Asgard -
Odin sat once more upon Hlidskjalf, his single eye scanning across the Nine Realms. He sneered, the pests were hiding from him somehow. He'd seen them, become familiar with their auras, he should have no trouble finding them. Yet, he couldn't see a single one of them. Even Heimdallr was invisible to him upon Hlidskjalf, though he knew exactly where the man stood. Odin directed his gaze to the Midgard side of Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. He knew Heimdallr was there, encased within a pillar of stone none of them could break. He had confirmed that in person. Still, looking down from Hlidskjalf, there was no stone pillar at either end of Bifrost.
He had no way of finding the others that had been scattered by his spell. Heimdallr was easy, there was nowhere else he would go. The others? Odin did not know them well enough, and Loki? Loki put chameleons to shame when it came to hiding. He could not find the ones his spell had scattered, nor could he find the ones that had been made to look as though they had been affected by his spell. They were not in their resting places. Something or someone else was masking them from his sight. He ground his teeth.
Rather abruptly his gaze was pulled to a group of tiny islands his ravens told him was called Japan, and focused in on a city called Tokyo. It narrowed to a particular street. The traffic on the street frozen as the humans stared at something. He cursed, he couldn't see what they were staring at. His attention on the city already causing dark clouds to swirl in the sky above it. Then, as if emerging out of a mist, one of the five that had withstood his blast stood on the street. The street around him rumbled. Why? Odin couldn't say, but he knew where one of them was.
He pulled his gaze back to the silver halls of Valaskjálf. He looked at the seven figures kneeling in front of his throne. He spoke, "One of them has shown himself. Gilgamesh, you shall take care of him. Do not engage him until you are sure he has found one of the sleeping ones. Once you know that, destroy them both. We must have those armors. Do not forget to collect their memories. They will provide valuable insights on how best to destroy the others." The hulking demigod nodded and rose, striding off.
May 19, 2001 Tokyo, Japan -
Toma stepped through the torii gate and out onto the crowded street. Cars, bike messengers and pedestrians all came to a screeching halt. He glanced skyward, a swirl of dark clouds was forming. Odin must know he was here. The doors of the gate swung shut and with a rumble, it disappeared into the earth. The clouds were heavy in the sky now, and anything powered by something other than a human stopped working. The people all panicked for a moment before they too were frozen in place. That was new. And then, they were being pulled skyward, each of them fading like smoke pulled towards a fan.
Toma scowled, it seemed Odin was doing just as Arago had, capturing people to increase his power. Certainly a less than ideal situation. Based on what Toma had just seen, the souls Odin collected from New York had significantly increased his abilities. Wonderful. Toma slowly walked down the street, bow out and arrow notched but not drawn, yet. The trip to the Imperial Palace was uneventful, though he couldn't shake the feeling he was being watched. He decided to search the East Gardens of the Palace first as they were slightly smaller. He entered through the Ote Gate.
He did a quick survey of the area immediately surrounding the gate, and rather quickly found himself in the Ninomaru Garden. She wasn't hard to spot once he was there. Sitting in the middle of the southern pond was a stone statue of Kayura in her armor. He approached cautiously, checking his surroundings, this would be about when they'd attack. A glowing blue cube, small enough to easily fit in his palm went flying by his head. It stuck to the statue's forehead. There was something weird about the cube, other than the fact that it was glowing. His brain had trouble making sense of it, it was a cube, but it was like it wanted to be something more.
He felt his jaw go slack, it couldn't be, could it? "Is that..."
"A hypercube, yes. Impressive that you were able to recognize it."
Toma spun on his heel pulling back the arrow he'd readied, drawing a bead on the unfamiliar voice. The man could only be described as a giant. He looked middle-eastern and his armor seemed Persian, he carried a scythe with a handle made of multiple bones. Toma let the arrow fly. "I don't know who you are, or what you just did, but you're toast."
The man was fast, easily dodging the arrow, he chuckled, "Come now Hermes, we should follow the proper forms. Ceremony is ever so important. We'll start with introductions, of course. As I already know who you are, I'll introduce myself. I am Gilgamesh, perhaps you've heard of me?"
The blood left Toma's face, Gilgamesh? The Sumerian demi-god? This wasn't good. Toma jumped away, putting more distance between the two of them. If he was right about who this guy was, Toma didn't want him getting in close. He let loose another arrow, this time the man caught it and snapped it in half. That was not promising.
Outside of Time, Location Unknown -
Well I love no one and I don't care who knows
Don't care if you're far away
Don't give a damn if you're close
I'm the vacant distraction of a broken old man
I lack shape or color
Not even gray or even tan
I'd hate all I see but it makes me too tired
I'm much more at home when left uninspired
So damn me to hell and resist if you must
But lower your eyes once and I'll emerge from the dust
For I am nothing
Yes I am nothing
Yes I am nothing
And I love no one
No, that's not who I am! Not anymore! I am capable of love! I love Toma! She screamed at herself as a song she'd never heard before blasted through her head. There was nothing around her, just the void of her mind. She was desperate to escape from this prison of her own making, part of her panicking over the fact that she had no idea where she was. There was another part of her mind though that wasn't giving into panic and outrage, it was utterly calm. That was the part of her mind she needed to reach, but it was so hard to fight down the panic and the shame.
She'd done so many horrible things when Arago had control of her mind and she had been completely devoid of any sort of positive emotions, so the song rang true to her past. She had been nothing and she had loved no one. She'd been practically pure evil. It was a period of her life she tried her best to forget, but the song brought it all back. It accused her of not changing, of still being that person, and the idea that she hadn't changed terrified her. Somehow she fought down the panic and shame and clawed her way into that calm part of her mind.
Once there rational thought returned. Last thing she remembered was being in Times Square, confronting Odin. He lashed out them, trying to destroy them. It seemed she was still alive, so that hadn't worked. The question then was where was she? She doubted she'd been captured by Odin, this didn't seem like the sort of approach he'd take to breaking someone. No, Arago had tried to destroy the Troopers when they first confronted him, and his attack had sent them all flying to their resting places. Then that's probably where she was, her armor's resting place. Too bad she had no idea where that was. Now, why was that song playing in her head? She listened to it carefully. It attacked her weakness, reminding her of her great shame and greatest fear. Could this be some sort of vision quest? If so, what was it trying to tell her? She took a deep breath and let the song fill her mind.
She didn't scream out a denial this time, she stayed calm and thought. She accepted the fact that she had been what the song accused her of. In response, she asserted she had changed, firmly and calmly she made herself listen, confronting her fear. She was capable of love, she knew this. She loved Toma and he returned her love. She was not that person anymore. She would never be that person again. The song moved to a new verse.
Well I love everyone I am filled with delight
I understand all your feelings, I don't see from wrong or right
I'm the look in your eyes when you're telling the truth
I'm the wisdom of age and the beauty of youth
I am shape substance color darkest black, palest white
Speckled gold ringing mirror, sharp, soft and bright
I'm rage passion laughter and the need to know why
Come sample all my riches, I'm pure stimuli
For I am everything
Yes I am everything
Yes I am everything
And I love everyone
Under the sun
She shook her head sadly, I'm not that either. No one can be that. I will not hold myself to an impossible standard. It was a wonderful ideal, to try and love everyone, but unrealistic. People were a full range of emotions, including hate. There had only been a few men she'd heard of that had been able to be that good, and one of them might not have existed at all. He was more legend than fact. Once more the song switched to a new verse.
Well I can only love someone, I am just a person
My father loved my mother and I am her son
The preceding verses are the halves of my soul
I'm just the battlefield and that is my role
There's a tug of war between what I can and can't feel
The inevitable compromise, determines the real
The equation, the reason for my being here
The struggle resulting in my invention of the tear
For I'm only something
Yes I'm only something
Yes I'm only something
And I can only love someone
And it's the best I can do
It's the very best I can do
You're probably someone too
So perhaps I love you
Perhaps you'll love me too
Perhaps you'll love me too
Perhaps you'll love me too
She nodded, she could be that. Well, except for being someone's son. Those were realistic expectations for herself. She couldn't love everyone, but she could love those who loved her and those she chose to love. That was who she was, just a person. Not a demon, not an angel. She wasn't perfect, but she wasn't evil, she just was. The song stopped. She felt herself awakening. Toma was nearby, he was looking for her. She smiled. Then everything went wrong. There was a flash of blue light in her head and she screamed as she fell back into darkness.
May 19, 2001 Tokyo, Japan -
The fight was not going in his favor. Toma was battered and bruised, worst of all he was slowing down. He'd managed to score a few hits with his arrows, but they were mostly superficial wounds, his opponent shrugged them off. The man's strength was overwhelming. He was certainly living up to the myths. Additionally, Toma was having little success keeping Gilgamesh at a distance. Oh, he could get away from the man for a time, but he invariably closed the distance. When Toma did manage to break away, he was only able to get off one or two shots, not like at the start.
Gilgamesh smirked, "What's wrong Hermes, are you getting tired? I'm disappointed, I'm barely getting any exercise from this little farce."
Toma growled, "My name isn't Hermes, and as to me being tired? Hardly. I can do this all day." He could hear the bluff in his own voice, but he jumped back and drew another arrow. He closed his eyes for a moment and found his center. His only chance was to use his Sure Kill. He got ready to unleash it, opening his eyes and lining up the arrow with the center of Gilgamesh's forehead. A flash of blue light filled his vision.
Gilgamesh's smirk was heavy in his voice, "Ah, good, it's finished with her." He was holding the hypercube again, "You asked before what I did to her. You're about to find out, first hand."
The flash of light interrupted Toma as he was about to unleash his attack. That was all the opportunity Gilgamesh needed, the demi-god closed the distance between them and slammed a fist into Toma's stomach, slapping the cube against his forehead. Toma screamed as he fell into darkness. Before it completely engulfed him, he thought he heard the sound of stone cracking.
The darkness broke, a spider web of light appeared before her eyes, and then shattered into reality. Anger filled Kayura's soul as she scanned her surroundings. After she had made peace with her past she had fallen into darkness. In that darkness she had been made to rewatch her entire life. Even things she had completely forgotten. Every horrible act had played back before her eyes. Hunched forward slightly, and panting she caught sight of a man with a scythe standing over Toma's prone form. She let out a scream of rage and charged the man's back, raising the blade of her kusari gama above her head. Her scream alerted him, a foolish thing to have done. He turned and blocked her downward slash with the bone shaft of his scythe.
Her left hand tightened on the chain of her weapon and she swung the spiked end of her weapon into his gut as hard as she could. He doubled over and she slammed her knee into his face. That's when she noticed her armor was different. It looked more like the new armor that Toma and the others had received; a more traditional Japanese armor and mostly white. Her tunic had stayed the same, the color accents were in the colors of her old armor, and the cloth beneath her plates was the dark blue of her old sub-armor, but that was all that was the same. Even her kusari-gama had changed. The scythe was rather plain and simple in design, though it still had a notch in the blade for breaking staves. The spike was a simple, much like a plum, rather than the previous four bladed one.
Her opponent righted himself and made a downward slash at her with his scythe. Kayura stepped in towards him, pulling the chain of her weapon taught, blocking his strike. She wrapped the chain around the shaft and yanked it down and behind her on her left side, jamming her right elbow into his stomach. She then performed a sweep kick with her right foot, knocking him to the ground, wrenching the scythe out of his hands at the same time. Stomping down on his chest she held him in place and tossed his weapon away. She leaned down and pressed the blade of her scythe to his throat. She growled out, "What have you done to Toma?"
Despite his position and the fact that he had his head craned backwards, stretching his neck out to avoid having it slit, the man laughed. "The same thing I did to you. I'm copying his memories."
Rage flared in her chest and she nearly slit his throat right there. "So, you're the one that made me relive my entire life. I ought to kill you right now. But you're more useful alive. You're going to tell us everything you know about Odin. Everything." She still had to fight with herself not to kill him, and he could tell her killing intent was authentic. She saw the realization in his eyes.
His eyes darted over to Toma and he laughed at her again, "No, I don't think I will. So, sorry to disappoint you." A sudden flash of blue light blinded her. His hands clamped down around the ankle of the foot on his chest. Next Kayura was flying through the air, her flight stopped abruptly by a stone wall. The man righted himself and retrieved his scythe as she peeled herself off the stone. A glowing blue cube like thing floating above his left palm.
She studied the man for a moment, "Seems there's still a bit of fight left in you."
The man had the audacity to grin at her, "Always." Toma began to stir and let out the softest of groans. The man looked over his shoulder at Toma and then back at her. "Sadly, two on one is not my cup of tea." He looked at the cube thing, then back at her. "I've achieved enough. Ta ta."
Kayura's eyes widened, she wouldn't let him get away that easily. She charged towards him, that grin still plastered across his face. He tucked the cube into a pouch at his waist, as though he had all the time in the world. She was almost within striking distance. He raised his left hand and flapped his fingers up and down giving her a wave as he took a step back. No, I won't let you get away! Not after what you did! She swung the spike of her weapon towards him, aimed right at his chin. Just before it connected the man shimmered and faded from sight. She skidded to a halt letting out a scream of frustration.
Toma sat up rubbing his head and looking around aimlessly for a moment. Then it seemed he remembered he had been in the middle of a fight before he passed out. He jumped to his feet and drew an arrow notching it and scanning the garden. Not seeing anyone he looked back to her, "He got away didn't he?"
She nodded, letting out a sigh. She walked over to him, wrapping her arms around him, "Yes, but at least you're alright."
He gave her that sarcastic smile of his, feigned outrage in his voice, "Hey, that's my line!" His expression softened and he stepped away from her, holding her at arm's length. His blue eyes traveled up and down her body, "I like the new armor. Where did it come from?"
Kayura shrugged and looked down at her armor. She had to admit she liked it far more than the old one, "I have no idea. I woke up and I was wearing it." She turned her eyes to the armor, craning her neck and twisting arms and legs to look it over, even peeking under the tunic. Her shoulder pieces looked a lot like Ryo's new ones, though hers angled downwards rather than up. Her gauntlets seemed to be a much simplified version of her old ones, bulging upwards towards the elbow, with a single curved spike protruding from the raised surface. Those were the only spikes on the armor. The plating over her chest had a pointed black v at the top, and sideways triangular plates along her ribs. The plate over her abdomen was arched at the top, and then the sides arched inwards to a horizontal bottom. She had a yellow cord belt as well, much like Toma's. The centerpiece of her hip and thigh armor had arching sides that met at a point about a quarter of a way down her thighs and was rather narrow. The pieces to either side, hidden by her tunic were black and simply curved around her thighs. The back piece was similarly simple and in black.
Her shin armor was made of three pieces, one piece that wrapped around her calve muscle and a second piece that wrapped around the back of the narrow section of her shin. There was a single piece down the front of her shin that was slightly wider at the top than the bottom. At the very top, a black section cupped upwards and out around her knee. There was also a black sickle moon, with the points towards the sky at the bottom of the front portion. On her feet were shoes similar to the ones for Shu's new armor.
She returned her gaze to Toma, "But I agree with you. I like it much more." She stepped in close to him again, and he wrapped his arms around her waist as she draped hers over his shoulders. She gave him a wry grin, going up on her toes to whisper in his ear, "Why am I not surprised that you're the one that came for me?"
He pulled his head back to look into her eyes, "Because I'll always come for my sakura blossom."
She felt her cheeks go red.
He leaned in and planted a kiss on her lips. She wasn't sure how long it lasted, but it was too short. He pulled away and untangled himself, "Now, we should really head back. Follow me."
Kayura started after him, "Where are we going back to?"
"Arago's castle. The ten of you are scattered all over the world. So we had to go there to be able to get everywhere we needed to go. Jess opened the gates for us."
Kayura blanched and stopped dead, "How many gates did she open and how quickly?"
Toma stopped and looked back at her confused, "I was the first one to leave, so I don't know for sure. But one to get us to the netherworld, one to send me here not long after that. Then she was going to send Seiji out right after that. Then Shu, then Shin and finally Ryo. So, the plan was for her to open six, one right after the other. She told us she could handle it. Why?"
Kayura took a deep breath, it wouldn't do any good to scream at Toma or the other Troopers. They didn't know the extent of Jessica's strength. Of course the girl would be bullheaded enough to think she could open that many gates. Idiot! She managed to answer Toma in a close approximation to a civil tone, her voice tight with anger not meant for him, "Because there is no way she can open that many gates in a row. At most she could maybe handle five and that would be pushing it. She could probably only managed four." Kayura stopped her ranting for a moment and held up a hand, "Wait, how exactly were you planning to get us to Arago's castle?"
Toma took a swallow of air, "Um, Jess gave each of us a slip of paper and said that when we were done, we should go back to the place where the gate had dropped us off and rip the paper. That would tell her to open a gate to bring us back."
"Idiot!" Toma took a step back. Kayura took a deep breath and reigned in her anger, "Not you, her." She paused, "Although, actually, yes, partially you. I can open a gate there myself. You should know that! And so can the other Mashou. There is no need for us to travel back to where she opened the gate. I'll open one now. Here." Kayura turned her back to Toma, stretching her arms out in front of her. She closed her eyes and sought her inner calm. Finding it she reached out to the netherworld, calling for it to grant her entrance.
A sudden rumble in the ground was its response. She smiled and opened her eyes, there was a gate right in front of her, the doors already swinging open. She looked back over her shoulder at Toma, "Let's go." She marched through the gate, she was going to give Jessica such a scolding! That idiot! She could hear Toma following cautiously behind her. Just as well that he chose to do so. He and the other Troopers were going to get a scolding as well. How could they have let her do something so reckless! A bunch of brainless fools, the lot of them!
I'd appreciate any feedback anyone is willing to give. Just contact me by e-mail or through the site. My only request is that you put something in the subject line about your e-mail being in response to my Ronin fanfic. I get a lot of spam, and I tend to delete mail from SNs I do not recognize. If you put something about your e-mail being about my writing, I won't delete it and then I will respond to you; if you don't do that I can't guarantee anything. My e-mail address is in my profile.
The song used in this chapter is "Battle of Someone" by Blues Traveler off of their album Straight On 'Til Morning. It's a great album, I highly recommend it.
Also of note, I have a deviant art account. My user name is Corlock-Striker. You can find a drawing of Kayura's new armor there. And perhaps a few spoilers as well.
Okay, so I'm sorry to say that for once, I can't actually tell you what the next chapter is going to be titled. Sorry. Additionally, I'm sure this chapter is full of typos and stuff. That's because I'm putting it up immediately after I finished writing it, since I've kept you waiting on it for so long. Rest assured, I will go back and correct it, just as I've been doing all along. Anyway, that's it.
Thanks for reading.
- Corlock Striker
So, slight revision. Fixed a few glaring mistakes. I'm sure there are still plenty of others. And on another note, I can now tell you that chapter fourteen is titled Eclipse. Thanks for reading.