Authors notes: Wow sorry it took me AGES to update! I hope you like this chapter, and there will be more soon :)

Morning came to fast and the red sun raised over the misty mountains, its rays danced across the valley and the dew from the grass created a shimmer when the light touched it, giving the valley a sense of mystery and beauty. My eyes opened to find Semimaru staring at me with old grey eyes; he had so many stories he could tell. He nudged me with his nose to get up, I didn't want to. I didn't want to run off to war with the fear of losing everything I have ever loved. But regardless it was something that had to be done. I sighed and stood up, ruffing Semimaru's fur on his head with my hand. I began to walk down to Master Shiunsai's hut, I called out for Semi to follow, he let out a small wine and laid back down under the tree. He had lived his life and I was sorry he would not live to see the world in better times, if there ever is such a time.

I took in a deep breath and continued down the path way to wake the others, the wind blew and the leaves on the ground danced in the air. I could have sworn they were forming around something. I didn't pay it much mind and kept walking, pondering in my thoughts.

"Rikimaru." His voice called out from behind me.

My heart skipped a few beats as I heard his voice speak my name, "master…" my voice was barley a whisper.

"Let me see you boy, let me see what you have become."

I slowly turned around, almost afraid at what I might see. Master Shiunsai stood before me, a glowing light surrounded him. "Oh my child, you have grown so." He walked over to me and laid his old hands on my shoulders. "You were always the strongest Rikimaru, without you, the others will fall."

I looked at him confused, and still a little shocked he was even there.

"Loving her has made you weak you know. You were never supposed to find something you could lose."

"I know master I-" He cut me off.

"However, I am glad you did. This is a lonely life Rikimaru, only existing to those you serve. I had developed love for my students, you, Ayame, Tatsumaru…You three were my something to lose." He studied the ground for a moment, recalling a time when he did lose one of his students. "You must not be afraid of losing the morning beauty; you must fight like she means nothing to you."

"I don't understand…."

He smiled at me and patted my cheek with his hand, "You will my son, you will."

"I don't know how we will come out of this fight alive; I don't know what to do." I asked for his guidance.

"You never stop fighting, and you never question yourself. Always remember the stories I used to tell. You were only given this life because you were strong enough to live it. Nothing can defeat you Rikimaru, this you must believe this."

I nodded at him, "I will master." And just as he was there he was gone. I blinked my eyes in hopes he would return, but there was nothing. He came to me at this time because I was losing myself; I was not simply a shadow anymore. I had turned into a person, a person with everything to lose. I took in a deep breath and ran to the hut where everyone else had made their bed.

"Up! Its time to go." I spoke loudly. "Where is Shigi?" I asked looking around the room.

"I am here Rikimaru, and I do not think we will be going much of anywhere." He said leaning against the wall.

"What do you mean?" I walked over to him.

"Just over the mountains, hundreds, maybe even thousands of men, are marching this way. All bearing the mark of Onikage."

"We won't last five minutes." Ayame spoke as she walked over to them.

Master Shiunsai voice echoed in my head and I smiled, "oh yes we will. Ayame, remember the magic Shiunsai would always talk about?"

"You mean how the trees would come to life and the mountains would play tricks on him all of the time? Those where just stories Riki."

"No, I don't think they were stories at all. Come on!" I grabbed her hand and took off running back towards the tree I had slept under.

"Semimaru!" Ayame yelled and ran over to where the old dog was sleeping. He slowly lifted up his head to greet her. She wrapped him up in her arms and buried her face in his fur, "Oh I have missed you!" She looked into his old eyes, "He must be 18 years old." She looked over to me, "How is that possible?"

I walked over to my two best friends and knelt down beside them. "You can't leave these lands can you Semimaru? If you do you will die."

He closed his eyes and nodded his head in agreement.

"I don't understand…" Ayame said.

"I saw master Shiunsai not but 10 minutes ago when I woke up. I thought it was a dream, but then he put his hand on my shoulder and I could feel him. Those stories where not stories Ayame, they were real."

The eerie wind blew and the large tree creaked, its branches started dancing and the ground rumbled beneath our feet. We jumped back and the roots sprung out of the ground. The tree started moving towards us.

"Hey Riki, do you recall if those trees in your story being friendly?" Ayame asked looking at me.

"Don't move, maybe it cant see us."

"Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound?"

The tree walked closer to us and bent down, I swear it was looking at us.

"Say something." Ayame whispered.

"What do you say to a tree?"

"I know your face." A woman's voice spoke and it was coming from that tree.

Neither one of us spoke, to shocked to say anything.

The tree laughed, "Oh yes, Rikimaru! You used to play in my branches as a child. I do recall you breaking some." Her voice smiled.

I let out a small laugh, "Yeah, sorry about that."

"Children will be children. Where have you been? It has been years since I saw your face."

"A lot has happened since then, let's just leave it at that."

"What troubles you my boy?" The tree asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Us trees only awaken when we are in need to protect. Haven't you noticed, the trees are getting restless."

Ayame and I looked around, the wind was not blowing but the tree tops were moving and there was a quiet grumbling coming from the forest.

"Nature is starting to wake up Riki, and the forest is not safe during this time. Soon the mountains will begin to move." We both looked at the tree in awe, "Now tell me, what is happening?"

"There is a war coming, thousands of warriors are marching this way and will be here by night fall. They are coming for us." I told her.

"What is the cause of this war?" The Tree asked.

"Onikage is in possession of Asami, and he plans to conquer the world with her."

"The morning beauty, reincarnated? By who?"


The tree sighed, "Oh no."

"What is it?" Ayame asked.

"She was brought back into this world by a damned soul, by an evil soul."

"What does mean?" I asked.

"It means she will not live to see her next sunrise."

I looked at the tree confused, "You mean she is going to die today?"

"I am so sorry Rikimaru, I know how you feel about her."

"But how? How could you know?"

"It is hard to hide ones love for another. When you touched me last night I could feel her warm presences."

"How do you know she is going to die, and how do you know it will be today?" Ayame asked.

"When a soul as pure as Asami's is brought back by the devil, it has no chance of survival. In some way or another she will die. Today will be the start of the war; therefore it will be her last."

"Riki, I'm sorry." Ayame tried to comfort me.

I ignored her and walked closer to the tree, "Will you help us fight?"