Koroku Hisashi was a former Iga ninja under Hanzo Hattori. He was a promising man with a lot of talents. However... power drove him into madness as he began to crave more powers such as dark magics and it drove him to break the code of ninjas. With full of regrets, Hanzo expelled Koroku from the Iga clan, and he became a renegade ninja. His lust of power drove him to perform a lot of criminal and cruel acts. And it was no wonder that his deeds came into the American ninja of justice, Galford . Galford defeated and humiliated Koroku out of combat and sent him to prison. But, Koroku was not a simple man to be kept inside a prison. He quickly devised his plan to escape and exact revenge towards Galford. It didn't take a month for him to escape, and all he has now is to pull up his plans of revenge...

But that was two weeks ago...

At the present, Galford was walking within the forests. He was still surveying the forest, should any sort of villains would appear. "Now then, where to..." Galford mumbled, when suddenly his loyal dog, Poppy, growled slowly on a direction. It led him to a hut. But from the outside, he could hear some words such as, "Closer... closer..." "Your skin... so delicate...", or something like those. 'A hidden prostitution place perhaps ?' Galford wondered as he decided to take a peek... but that peek... shocked him a lot. He saw a bed inside, and there were a couple sleeping together... without clothes. The man was a long white haired handsome man, bearing the traits of an Ainu. But the woman on the bed is what shocked Galford the most... it was Nakoruru !

(a/n : I'm taking the image of that man on the bed based on Yamtamu, Nakoruru's 'boyfriend' in her non-SS game starring herself. Though, the real Yamtamu... is nowhere to be in this fic.)

Galford couldn't believe his eyes. Nakoruru... the Ainu priestess that he respected and loved... fell easily to this kind of relation... and she looked as if she never took his own feeling to her !? On daily basis, he would usually break through the house, and demand justice to the couple for this kind of relationship. But this time, his heart was filled with confusion, anger, and disappointment. Clenching his fists and gritting his teeth, Galford walked away from the hut, followed by Poppy.

After walking for an hour, Galford decided to sit down on a nearby tree and rest. But his mind raced back to that moment... the moment he saw Nakoruru sleeping with someone else. But, his thought was cut off when suddenly Poppy barked friendly to a direction. He looked behind, and was once again shocked... as he saw Nakoruru approaching him !

"Hello, Galford." Nakoruru greeted him with a sweet voice. "It's quite a pleasant to meet you here... in the serene, sacred nature..." Nakoruru was about to continue, but she was cut off with a harsh voice, "... Don't give me that crap." Galford shrugged her off. Nakoruru couldn't believe what she heard as she gasped in shock, and asked, "Galford... what happened to you ?"

"Stop asking me !" Galford shouted as he quickly got up, and continued, "I misjudged you, Nakoruru... I thought you're an all around nice, pure girl... but..." "Did I do something wrong to you, Galford ?" Nakoruru became more worried, but still clueless. Galford then continued, "But... I never thought you have the guts to sleep with another man !"

That word shocked Nakoruru. She was a dedicated maiden/priestess of Nature, she would never bring herself to sleep with another man. Not even with her grandfather, except when she was too little and needed protection a lot. She knew that she has to prove her innocence, so, she approached Galford even more, "Galford... I..." She started, but Galford quickly backed away and gave another cold reply, "I saw it with my own eyes... I'm really disgusted with you... Good bye." With that, he quickly leapt away. Shortly after, Poppy followed him.

"Wait, Galford !" Nakoruru tried to chase him, but Galford was getting too fast and he kept jumping from a tree branch to another, making it impossible to reach her. Nakoruru slumped down on her knees, and tears started to flow slowly from her eyes. "Galford... I... I would never bring myself that low... But... why did you believe in something that might not be right...?"

"Are you... even refusing me as your friend anymore...?"

Just then, Nakoruru was confronted with a certain ninja. He wore a purple ninja outfit, with the face cover, but not the head gear. His hair was tied. He then spoke, "You are Nakoruru, aren't you...?" "Yes, I am the one you seek. What is it that you want ?" Nakoruru asked him, but the ninja approached her and prepared his fist. "I want you..." The ninja muttered, "You are coming with me..."

Nakoruru suddenly realized that this ninja was going to do harm on her. "It won't be that easy." she said as she drew her knife. Mamahaha was not around as it was still resting due to a certain injuries. But the ninja didn't even back down. Nakoruru then made the first move as she swung her knife to him. However, the ninja vanished and reappeared behind Nakoruru, and with a chop to her neck, she fell unconscious. The ninja picked up her unconscious body, and said with a calm, eerie voice, "Soon... Galford... Soon you will experience the vengeance from Koroku Hisashi ! Heh heh heh..."

xxxxx

Galford, after thinking that Nakoruru wouldn't be able to catch up on him anymore, decided to continue his rest. He sat near a tree and leaned to the tree, resting. But, he couldn't help but to enjoy the serenity of nature... so peaceful... "This serene moment... really reminds me of..." Galford mumbled, but cut himself in, as he was still distraught about the recent moment, "Damn, why am I thinking about that disgusting girl ? I think I better go to sleep... It's nap time." Galford then yawned and he quickly fell asleep.

xxxxx

Not far from the forest, there was a fortress located on a cliff. Inside was the ninja, Koroku, looking through some cheeses on a table. The cheeses looked really rotten, as it spew a stench that really stunk. Eventually, he picked a rotten cheese, and moved to a door. He opened it and entered a huge hall of prisons.

"This cheese stinks too much..." Koroku mumbled, "But it would be really fitting... for my cute little prisoner here..." As he mumbled, he came upon a prison cell. Nakoruru was there, sitting on a chair. Her arms were tied behind her with strong ropes on her wrists and below her elbows. Her legs were also tied on her ankles, her knees and her thighs, and the ropes tying her ankles were also tied on the front feet of the chair. Her body was also tied on her shoulder, waist, between her breasts , each forming two to three circles. The ropes that tied her body also bound her arms, pinning them to her body. And another set of ropes located on her shoulder and stomach also bound her to the chair. Not just that, a thick black cloth were also circled around her mouth, gagging her.

"Hello, cute girl... Feeling comfortable ?" Koroku said with a sly grin on his face. Nakoruru was immediately disgusted at the grin as she grumbled, "Mmmmphhh..." "Now then... I have some fun for you..." Koroku continued as he pulled out the rotten cheese and put it in front of Nakoruru's nose. "Mmmmphh !" In instant, Nakoruru faced away, trying her best not to smell the cheese's rotten stench. "Come on, don't be shy..." Koroku continued and he constantly tried to put the cheese in front of her nose, wherever she looked. "Mmmmph ! Mmmmph !" Nakoruru constantly tried to avoid smelling it, but her range of avoiding was very minimized, as she was tied up to the chair. Although she already struggled to free herself, the ropes were too strong for her. Eventually after quite some time, her neck grew tired and she couldn't move it to other direction. She was forced to smell the rotten cheese for quite some time. "Mmmmmmmmmmppphhhh....!" Nakoruru moaned, as the stench was getting too strong for her. Even her tears started to flow once more, not just because of the rotten stench of the cheese, but also because she thought that Koroku was quite cruel to force her smell rotten cheeses, while bound and gagged...

But, Koroku didn't even feel pity. Instead, he chuckled and said, "Heheheheh... I just love it... when the girls I torture ended up crying...! Ah, the view..."

Eventually, he stopped with his cheese. "Mmmmpphh !" Nakoruru scowled at him with disgust, but Koroku ignored her. "That's enough for today. I'll be back for more torture later..." he said and he left Nakoruru bound and gagged in the prison cell. Her body was getting weary, tied up for a very long time. But her mind raced somewhere else...

'At this rate, I couldn't call Mamahaha...' she pondered. 'Galford... he'll probably settle down with another... wait a minute...!' Nakoruru was shocked. After quite so long, she began to recollect her memories with the American ninja. They were all sweet memories, and he would be more than willing to be her knight in shining armor anytime. She still couldn't forget on how many times he saved her life, from tree cutters, from poachers, and from Sankuro the thug. And now he just hated her... but... 'Why do I keep thinking about him...?'

Nakoruru looked above, and she wondered even more, 'Is it... love...? Am I... falling for him...?' She then realized that she seemed to feel the same way as Galford feel to him... she loved him. But after all that, she suddenly came to a decision, 'I have to escape... I do not wish to trouble Galford to save me again...' She then continued to struggle on her bonds, but it was still futile.

"Mmmpphh... MMMMMPPPPHHHH !!! MMMMMPPPPHHH !!!" Nakoruru screamed under her gag, as she struggled with hopping on the chair that bound her. "MMMMMMPPPGGGHHH !!!!"

*CRACK!*

Nakoruru suddenly heard a sound of crack. She thought it came from the chair, so she struggled and hopped again. After awhile, more cracking sounds occured again and eventually, the chair broke down, and Nakoruru was dropped to the ground, still tied. She also found a small rock that fitted her palms and successfully took it to her hands, while still tied up. She then struggled to get up, and she did. She hopped to the prison door and tried to bang the lock with the small rock. However, while she was doing that, suddenly, a sword was pointed behind her, from the cell spaces. It was Koroku. "I hope you didn't plan anything with that rock..." He said, "No matter, it's time to change place anyway." Then, he opened the cell and carried Nakoruru outside the prison hall.

xxxxx

When Galford woke up from his sleep, he found something unusual. Usually Poppy was the one that wake him up, but... this time was different... It was a cute little rabbit. "Hey... for a rabbit, you're kinda cute." He commented. But suddenly, the cute rabbit reminded him to someone... Nakoruru. Yes, she would usually play with this kind of rabbit kindly... Galford snapped out and shook his head, saying "No ! Why do I keep thinking about her...!?"

"Woof !" Poppy's bark got him out of his thought. "I'm okay, Poppy... I'm okay..." Galford said, and then decided to move on. "I still have some bad guys I need to beat... Let's go, Poppy !" He then advanced forward, to find more bad guys he knew. But, his mind was still thinking about Nakoruru. He tried to get her image away from his mind... but he could never do it.

xxxxx

Koroku led Nakoruru in front of a door. To her surprise, he started untying her and removing her gag. "Why did you do this...?" Nakoruru said, confused. "You may be physically untied... but you're still my prisoner !" Koroku said as he opened the door, revealing a decent room with foods on a table and a bed, and a bucket. He pushed Nakoruru inside, and said, "You will receive the accomodations such as foods... but don't ever think to escape... Oh, you can't anyway." Then he closed the door, leaving Nakoruru with something that she didn't understand, "Why the sudden change of heart of him ?" She mumbled, "Whatever it is... maybe Mother Nature did bless him with a little mercy..."

Nakoruru suddenly was pounced with a small little kitten. She hugged it with her arms gently, and asked, "Are you... also being held here ?". The kitten purred, and Nakoruru understood what its going to say. "So, he is giving me some companion... But... what is he planning ?" She still wondered about Koroku. He certainly have the evil aura within him, but he was not targetting to disrupt the flow of nature.

For two days, Nakoruru spent her time inside the new 'prison'. Koroku was still as cold hearted as ever, but he did brought some food for Nakoruru and the kitten. Though he didn't talk much when he did. He just brought the foods and left them. She also tended the kitten with love, like a mother's love towards her children. She loved the kitten very much... until the third day...

At the morning, Koroku suddenly busted inside the prison, and he said, "Royalty time is over, girl." "What is the meaning of all this...!?" Nakoruru tried to speak with him, but he quickly tied and gagged her in the same way as she was tied and gagged before, minus the chair. He also tied her ankles with another rope tied to the leg of the bed. He also tied the kitten's neck on the opposite wall, and approached her. "First form of torture... physical." Koroku said as he clenched his fists. Soon, he punched Nakoruru on her stomach. "Mmmph !" She moaned in pain, but that was not enough. Koroku swoop her legs with his feet, behind her knees, forcing her to kneel. "I need more of your pain, I tell you... MORE !!" Koroku said with a maniacal voice and he delivered a quick backhand to Nakoruru's face. She collapsed to the ground, unable to do anything as she's all tied up. But the physical torture hasn't ended. Koroku then proceeded to kick her on her stomach for around three times. Nakoruru did not understand why this ninja would go for this to her... even though it was his hobby... but why her, as his victim...? 'What did I do that I deserve this...?' But as if it was not enough, Koroku delivered the final form of the physical torture. He stomped on Nakoruru's head and pushed his foot to deliver more pain.

"So... you like my torture...?" Koroku said with a menacing voice, but Nakoruru couldn't reply properly. All that came out was a moan, "Mmmmmmppphhh...." due to holding out the immense pain on her head. However, Nakoruru has decided not to cry. She has to hold herself not to cry, and so it would be a defeat for Koroku who wanted her to cry. And then, these pains was nothing, compared to how she fought to death against Amakusa and his minions, and especially compared how Galford indirectly declared his hatred to her. After awhile, Koroku started to get bored. "Looks like I can't make you cry this way..." He mumbled in annoyance, but then when he looked at the kitten, he got an idea, "Then I'll just torture you... mentally !"

He then lifted his feet from Nakoruru's head and instead proceeded to the kitten. He pulled his kunai and grabbed the kitten on its neck. Seeing the kunai, Nakoruru became shocked. 'What is he... oh no... not that...!' "Mmmmpphh !?" she tried to question him what he planned, but he couldn't understand, nor he would care anyway. 'Please... anything but that !!' she pleaded in her heart as she struggled. Koroku then began, "Do you know why I brought this cat here ? I brought it here to let it befriend with you... and I can do this !"

And once again Nakoruru was forced to see the event that once made her heart break. Koroku started with impaling the kitten on its neck and then he started to peel its skins to its meats. "MMMMMMPPPHHH !!!" Nakoruru struggled as she screamed in horror, and anguish. Tears started to flow from her eyes uncontrollably. However, as Koroku poached the kitten, he looked at how Nakoruru cried, and he began to laugh like a maniac, "BWAHAHAHA !! More... cry more !! I haven't had enough !!" With that, he began poaching even more. At this rate, anger overwhelmed Nakoruru. And fortunately, the rope that bound her ankles to the leg of the bed was not strong enough. As she struggled, she suddenly heard a loud snap... She realized that her ankles were not bound on the bed anymore ! Koroku was too busy peeling the kitten's skin. He didn't realize that Nakoruru had already stood up behind her.

'You fiendish animal torturer...! I'll never forgive you !' Nakoruru said in her heart, and she jumped, with all her body and legs tied up. She dove as if kneeling and stomped on Koroku on her knees. Dumbfounded, Koroku fell to ground and groaned, the pain that he got was not an easy one. 'Now this is my chance to escape.' Nakoruru thought, seeing that the door was not closed. She tried to stand up again, and hopped her way out of the door, and tried to get out of the fortress. But just as she reached the first set of stairs down, she felt like something hit her from behind. She started to fell drowsy and collapsed to the ground. The culprit was none other than Koroku himself. "You have got the guts to attack me, little girl..." He commented as he picked up Nakoruru's unconscious body. "But know that you can never escape me...!" He then walked inside, carrying her into a new prison...

xxxxx

It was a raining heavily outside. Galford walked alone, approaching a wooden bridge. Not in his usual self, he was not as hyper and enthusiastic as ever. He messed up in two of his justice crusades... They're both same cases on attacking thieves' hideouts. But, he was supposed to bring the thieves to law... but he ended up slaughtering all of them. "I couldn't concentrate... why...?" Galford pondered as he continued to walk. He tried to recall the moments when he fought those thieves. He realized that he did not concentrate. And thus, he tried to remember what the hell was he thinking that time. But, all that he could remember was... the fact that he was thinking about Nakoruru all the time. His brain might be telling him not to remember her anymore ever since that day, but deep in his heart, he couldn't stop thinking about her.

"I... I was running away..." Galford mumbled, "No matter what you do, Nakoruru... I cannot hate or be disgusted on you... I still love you... And... everything never seemed normal without you..." As he walked more, the rain got harder. Galford was still in a deep regret for shoving Nakoruru away, regretting too much that he didn't hear Poppy barking loudly as in warning him something. Suddenly a thunder struck right in front of him, on the bridge. The bridge was being destroyed, and even though Poppy was already on the other side of the bridge, Galford was still in the middle, and was too late to get to any of the sides. "NOOOOOOO !!!!" Galford screamed as he fell from the bridge to the river. Poppy started to howl in anguish as tears slid from its eyes. But, before he entered the river, Galford was thinking another thing.

'Maybe... this is the punishment from both Nature and Justice...'

xxxxx

Nakoruru found herself in a black dimension. She was still tied, but no longer gagged. "... Where am I ?" she wondered to herself. And then she looked around and spoke, "Is someone there...? Please help me !" But no replies came. But she suddenly saw a familar figure in front of her, Galford... though he seemed far away. A blonde woman came to him. Nakoruru was first confused. "Is it... Charlotte...!?" Nakoruru thought of the French fencer, but she quickly dismissed the thought, as both were good friends and Charlotte's interest was on the wandering swordsman, Haohmaru, not Galford. But, Nakoruru was more shocked when she saw Galford hugging that anonymous blonde woman like a dedicated lover and said, "Let us go, love... We're leaving that disgusting wench... for eternity." Nakoruru was shocked... Galford was forsaking her !? As he and that woman moved away and started to vanish, Nakoruru struggled and tried to pursue them, but she couldn't move from her place. All she could do was scream...

"No ! Galford ! Don't go !! Please don't leave me, Galford !! I.... I... I LOVE YOU !!"

"Galf...- Mmmpphh !" Nakoruru's pleas were cut short. She suddenly felt as if a thick cloth were circled around her mouth, gagging her. Not just that, everything went black as well, she couldn't even see her lower body. It turned out that she was blindfolded. She was still tied, but this time she was sitting on the floor and her body was tied to a post, in another dark room. But, all that was on her mind was Galford... the fear of losing him was too much for her, as she started to struggle and scream, but all that came out was, "MMMMMPPPHH !!! MMMMMPPPGGGHH !!!"

She was scared.... scared if Koroku tried to do anything bad on her, and Galford wouldn't even care for her...

'Where are you... Galford...? Would you even care about my condition...? Oh... Galford...'

xxxxx

On the same time, Galford was in a white dimension. "Hey... What gives ?" He wondered as he looked around. No one was there and he called out, "Anybody here ? Where the hell am I !? Poppy ? Hey, Poppy !!" Not even his loyal dog was there. But suddenly, he could hear a weak voice... calling him, "Galford...." There's no way he could forget that voice. It was Nakoruru. Galford looked at her. She was untied, free from any bounds, her eyes were still as innocent as ever, and she felt like nothing has ever happened... Galford knew what he has to do and as he approached her, he said, "Nakoruru... I'm sorry about that day... I..." But his words were cut off as Nakoruru gasped in terror, as a black silhouette grabbed her neck from behind. "Kyaa !" Nakoruru shrieked as she struggled, as her captor pulled a kunai. "Nakoruru ! No...!" Galford said, as he started to run to her. As he got closer, it was a bit revealed that the silhouette was Koroku. "...! You... you're..." Galford was a bit confused, as he kinda forgot Koroku's face. But all was too late for him. The kunai was pierced through Nakoruru's neck, and she fell... dead. As Galford approached her, he hugged her dead body, crying, "No.... this is a joke... I don't want to believe it..." For once Galford sobbed, but who wouldn't sob seeing his lover dead in front of his eyes. "Nakoruru...." and eventually the sob evolved into a scream...

"NAKORURU !!!!"

Suddenly, Galford felt like he was somewhere else... He found out that he was sleeping on a small bed in what would look like a room in a ninja fortress. His dog, Poppy, was there, and beside him was a ninja he respected very much, the legendary Hanzo Hattori.

"So, awakened at last." Hanzo muttered. "Where am I....? What happened to me, Hanzo ?" Galford tried to ask him. "You were found unconscious on the shores..." he answered, "You're lucky that my son, Kanzo, found your dog carrying you. You're now in the Iga settlement in Ezo."

"Wow... I must have been dead if it wasn't for you, Poppy..." Galford said as he looked at his dog, which swung its tails and stuck its tongue. Galford patted it on its head and said with a smile, "Thanks, buddy !"

"The reunion can wait later." Hanzo then cut in. "What of Nakoruru ? Why scream her name when you got up ?" Galford's face expression suddenly changed into a sad expression. He hung his head and said, "I... I did something horrible on her." he stated. Hanzo was silent. Normal people would thought that he raped her, but Hanzo knew that Galford wasn't that kind of man and he wasn't fancy of raping, being a defender of justice and all... "Continue." He said, and Galford continued, "I saw her sleeping with another man in a hut... When she approached me, I was disgusted at her, and after throwing some bad words on her, I tried to avoid her... But... I couldn't stop thinking about her..."

"Nakoruru... sleeping with another man ?" Hanzo was kinda surprised with that statement, but then he threw another question, "When did that happen ?" "Around two or three days ago, at the morning." Galford answered. Hanzo nodded and said, "On that time, I was visiting her house... personally. It was impossible for her to sleep with another man without my notice." Galford was shocked... Hanzo never told any lie, and that means that Nakoruru didn't commit what she did on his eyes...!

"DAMN !" Galford said angrily and slammed his fist to the ground. "I... I'm a fool ! How could I make those false, foolish judgement ! I..." As he said that, he got up, "I must go find her. I have to apologize. Let's go, Poppy !" "Woof !"

Galford then tried to leave the room, but he was stopped with Hanzo's voice, "You love her... don't you ?" Galford was madly blushing and he said, "What !? I... I... yes... I really love her... More than anything else in this world." "Heh heh... predictable." Hanzo chuckled, and as he formed a smile under his mask, he said, "Then... I'll tell you another thing." "What would that be ?" Galford asked, curious at what Hanzo would say, as they were usually wise. Hanzo then started, "What you saw back then, was an illusion. After I visited Nakoruru's home that day, I came to that hut you mentioned before... And... Just after I saw that bed scene... suddenly the whole hut vanished and everything inside."

"An illusion !? I've been TRICKED !?" Galford said in disbelief. Hanzo then continued, "And when I got back... I saw a familar purple ninja carrying an unconscious Nakoruru..." Suddenly, Galford cut in, "Someone kidnapped Nakoruru !? Then why didn't you..." "I thought I would take care of him personally... but, at that time, I was to catch up with Jubei on the Shogun's order... So I have no time, and I decided that it is you who should save her." Hanzo finished his words. Galford clenched his fist in determination, and said, "I'll save her. No matter what... Now do you know who that ninja is ?"

"Judging from the color and the illusion power... There's no doubt... It's my expelled ninja apprentince... Koroku Hisashi." Hanzo answered the question, and Galford was shocked, and said, "Koroku Hisashi...!? But I sent him to jail two weeks ago !" Hanzo then said more, "I could also sense a thirst of revenge in him..." "Do you know where he is ?" Galford asked again. "One week ago, I suddenly saw a castle standing on a cliff in the Ezo shores out of nowhere... I could sense that it was his magic too."

"All right ! We're off there, Poppy !" Galford exclaimed, but Hanzo told him another information "He might have kidnapped Nakoruru to lure you... In that case, be careful." "I will... Thanks for the information, Hanzo." Galford said, thanking him. He then left the house and he headed off to the Ezo shores. In his mind, there's only one thing that ran through... saving Nakoruru.

'Wait for me, Nakoruru... I'll definitely save you...!'

xxxxx

Back in the fortress, after hours of strugglings and muffled shoutings, Nakoruru grew tired and reduced the intensity of her struggles. Suddenly, she heard a door opening, and footsteps. No doubt it was Koroku. He approached her and removed the blindfold. As Nakoruru faced him, she couldn't show any more kindness on her eyes. Instead, her eyes were glaring at him furiously. She couldn't forgive what he did to the poor little kitten... all to make her cry and ultimately for his own amusement. "Mmmph !?" she scowled at him. Koroku shook his head, and said, "You poor poor thing... I bet you've been wanting to say something, eh ? Fine. I'll give you a chance."

With that, Koroku then removed the gag on Nakoruru. She then bitterly said, "You will never get away with this, violator of nature..." "And I already got away." Koroku said with a taunting grin. Nakoruru then asked another question... "Why do you take pleasure on the cry of girls ? Don't you know that such thing are... evil ?" "Hahahaha !" Koroku laughed, and said more, "Evil ? So what if I'm evil ? It's the kind of thing that gives me joy... kinda like drugs, you know. I crave for it the more I get that..." As he said that, Koroku moved his face to Nakoruru's and lifted her chin, looking as if he was about to kiss her. "And as for you... I'm not done with your cries..." he said mockingly, "I want more, I tell you ! I want more ! And that is why... I will never stop torturing you until you cry and cry and cry... heh heh heh..." As he laughed, suddenly Nakoruru spat on his face, and said, "... I don't usually feel like this... but I hate people like you." And then, she raised her tied legs and kicked Koroku on his crotch from below, leaving him to hop around in pain holding his crotch, as she said more, "If I'm not in a bind like this, I would've punished you... But, if I couldn't, then Mother Nature will, someday !"

And after Koroku stopped hopping, he approached her again, and said, "Oh, we'll see how long will your confidence last after our next torture..." With that, he untied Nakoruru from the post, but still kept the ropes that bound her arms, legs and body. "Now hop !" Koroku ordered her, holding the rope that bound her body and she had no choice but to obey. He brought her to a passage near a window. However, on the window, they saw someone running to the fortress... It was none other than Galford.

"Galf-Mmmmpgghh !" Nakoruru tried to call him, but Koroku immediately clamped her mouth and grabbed her body and said, "At last, he arrived...! The man who sent me to jail two weeks ago, Galford ...!" Nakoruru was surprised. 'He knew Galford all along...?' she thought. Koroku then said more to her, "You're his girlfriend, aren't you... mwehehehe..." At that point, Nakoruru was shocked. She didn't know how to reply. She loved Galford, but... she was unsure of his reaction... she still thought that she hated him. Instead, she struggled, but with no avail. Koroku grinned and said, "You will make a perfect bait and tool for my ultimate amusement ! Hahahaha !!" With that, Koroku carried Nakoruru while still clamping her mouth.

They came to a big hall in the top floor. And there's a doorless small stage room on the center corner of it. And there was a chair. Koroku seated Nakoruru on it and tied her body and legs into it. Then, he chanted some spells and struck his dark magic to Nakoruru. "What was that for ?!" she asked, and he answered, "Just something you'll see later..." Koroku then prepared the thick cloth gag, as he said, "Your worst torture will come soon... You will see with your own eyes... your precious boyfriend Galford being beaten to half death to me ! Heh heh heh !!" Nakoruru was getting furious and she scowled, "Dream on, fiend ! Galford is strong, he will never be defeated by someone like you !" "You are going to eat your words soon enough... I am stronger than you think !" Koroku said with a grin on his face, and his gag was ready. "You-Mmmmm !" Before Nakoruru could say anything else, she was quickly gagged with the cloth. Koroku then continued, "But my most awaited moment would be to make Galford see you, his beloved girlfriend, die, and he could do nothing about it ! That is going to crush his life ! Hahahahahahaha....!!" Koroku said as he laughed, and exitted the room, and Nakoruru shouted in disgust in return, "MMMMPPGGHH !!". And soon, he pulled another rope, and curtains started to close the room, leaving Nakoruru alone.

Nakoruru couldn't bear it. At this rate, she could consider that Koroku was worse than Amakusa or Zankuro. Not only he beat her up brutally, made her cry occasionally for his own amusement, by doing a lot of things that crush her heart a lot of times, and revealed that he's one pure evil man. However, the thing that hurt her the most was the fact that Galford seemed to hate him, and yet Koroku was going to use her as a bait to lure Galford... and she's going to see him being beaten to half death... and the worst... she's going to die. Dying was fine for her, but dying in front of Galford, and making him look that helpless and would eventually crush his feelings... Those were the most painful wound she could ever receive. Rather than seeing Galford with his feelings crushed to the extreme, she would rather be tortured... But those were just too much to handle. As a result, she struggled greatly and tried to shout as loud as she could, but all that came out was just "MMMMMMMMMPPPGGGHHH !! MMMMMMMMMPPPGGGHHH !! MMMMMMMMMPPPGGGHHH !!" Sometimes, when she thought there's some loose on the ropes, she looked behind and tried to check what was going on, maybe there's some loose she could use to escape, but the bind was extremely tight, there were no loose knots. This drove her into more struggling and shouting...

Even so, nothing could be heard by Koroku. The curtain was made by a material that could surpress sounds. Eventually, as he waited, his nemesis finally came... Galford, alongside his faithful dog, Poppy.

"So... we meet again." Koroku said with a grin. Galford didn't even bother with the reason how come he escaped, and he said coldly, "Where is Nakoruru ?" "Why she's right over here, so search no more..." he said and he pulled the rope again, and the curtain opened, revealing Nakoruru, helplessly bound and gagged. Her face could show that she was extremely worried... and sad. "Mmmmpph !" she tried to call Galford, but only that came out. Galford looked at her sad expression, and he asked Koroku again, "What did you do to her...?"

"What did I do to her ? Ha ! A lot !" Koroku said, semi-maniacally. "First of course I tied her up... then I forced her to smell rotten cheese until she cried... and then I let her befriend a kitten, only to have her watch it getting poached by me... but after I beat her up good ! Ah, how I love to see her cry... And now... I'm going to make her cry again... by making her see me kick your butt until you're half dead, and she could do nothing about it...!"

Before Koroku could continue, Galford charged at him, roaring angrily and punched him with an electric punch on his face. "I don't want to hear anything else !" Galford said with a loud, angry voice. "You just did something unforgivable... You tortured and made Nakoruru cry... and you actually enjoy it ! That is the form of injustice that I can never forgive !!" And then, still angry, Galford prepared his fighting stance, and exclaimed, "Now taste the ultimate wrath of justice !!"

Galford then charged and attacked, but Koroku grinned and said, "I've been waiting for this...!" Surprisingly, Koroku could dodge Galford's slashes and attacks. Galford tried to slash him from above, but he dodged and kicked him on the stomach. Not willing to give up, he tried to slash from the side, but Koroku slid down and slashed Galford with his kunai. Poppy tried to charge at him, but one punch from Koroku, and the dog was put unconscious. The fight lasted for quite long, and Galford was pretty much losing it. Nakoruru also couldn't bear to see Galford being beaten up, and she could do nothing, as she was all tied up.

Eventually, Galford collapsed to the ground, with a lot of wounds on his body. Feeling not enough, Koroku stomped on his head, and took one of his arm. He pulled and twisted it, causing Galford to scream in pain, "AAARGH !!!" "Mmmmpphh !!" Nakoruru struggled, calling his name. Seeing the immense pain he has experienced, she couldn't bear to see it. 'This... this is horrible...! Galford... for me... you...' She began to cry again, as Koroku laughed, "Ahahaha !! What joy ! My nemesis at my mercy, and I see the girl cry as I torture my nemesis to death ! HAHAHAHA !!" He then twisted Galford's arm even more, causing him to scream again.

At one moment, Galford wondered. 'Dammit... I beat this guy before, and his skills didn't seem to improve... but why can't I beat him...!?'. At one moment, he looked at Nakoruru. She was crying, seeing him in pain also hurt her, but she couldn't say anything, except "Mmmmmmmmmmmmpphh....". And this made Galford recall that time... the time when he declared his hatred to her... and this crushed him even more, 'I cannot lose here, not before I apologize...! This misunderstanding must be destroyed...! But how could I win...?'

Galford tried to recall his past, where he learnt the essence of victories. Suddenly, he recalled a quote said by his sensei and Hanzo...

"A ninja must be able to control his emotion, in order to achieve power."

'That's it !' Galford thought, 'I was too consumed with my anger before... I need to stay calm and focused ! All right, focus, Galford, focus...' He then tried to focus, while enduring the pain he received from Koroku who twisted his arm. Eventually, he was able to focus his mind and channel lightning throughout his twisted arm. Koroku stepped away, after being struck with lightning, and Galford stood up. "Mmmpphh !" Nakoruru was glad that he could stand up once more and tried to call his name, to cheer him. Poppy also got up. Galford simply said, "Now the real battle begins, Koroku !"

Galford then attacked again. This time, he was more focused than before, and as a result, Koroku couldn't dodge any of his attacks. After he threw his electric kunais, as his Plasma Blade, he then vanished through smoke. When Koroku realized what's going on, he saw two Galfords. He was confused which one is real. But suddenly, he received a tap on his shoulder from behind and a yell... "Poppy ! MEGA DOG !! Go go go !" Koroku looked behind and saw Galford. But, suddenly Poppy pounced him from behind, and rolled over him, bit him several times. At the same time, Galford grabbed Koroku and he yelled, "STRIKE HEAD !" He then leapt up alongside Poppy, carrying Koroku, and returned down, delivering a diving lightning powered ninja piledriver.

Koroku was really powerless that time, and Galford knew that it was all over. He then turned into Nakoruru and approached him. "Nakoruru, I..." before he could say anything else, Nakoruru tried to warn him, "Mmmmpph !" "Hold it right there !" Galford turned back and saw Koroku got up, breathing heavily. "I'm not done yet... but first...!" he then created a seal with his hand and chanted some words. After he was done, Nakoruru was feeling uneasy and gasped as she struggled, "Mmmph ? Mmph ! Mmph !! Mmph !!!" "Nakoruru ! What happened !?" Galford was getting worried, and Koroku laughed. "HAHAHA !! I have put a curse on her... Now she will be unable to breathe... and she'll soon die ! It was the finale I prepared for you ! To see your beloved die right in front of your eyes, and you can't do anything about it !"

"You fiend !!" Galford scowled, still trying to retain his calm mind for battle, knowing that Koroku could have anything else up to his sleeve. "Now... I shall gather all my power..." Koroku said as he gathered his power, in form of purple auras, "For this attack that will weaken you with one blow... enough to see how your love die slowly !!"

Koroku then blew all his auras as he charged to Galford with a flying fist (a/n : think of Psycho Crusher.) Galford managed to dodge it, and Koroku flew outside the window. When he stopped the move... he realized one thing... he used up all his power, and he had no more power to get back to the fortress ! "No ! Not like this !" Koroku wailed as he fell straight to the sea, which was next on the cliff fortress, "I CANNOT DIE LIKE THIS !!!" His voice started to trail off.

"He brought this upon himself..." Galford muttered, "And that has got to leave a mark !" "Woof !" Poppy barked, trying to warn Galford. He looked back and was shocked... Nakoruru was running out of breath ! "Nakoruru ! Wait a little longer !" Galford said as he rushed to Nakoruru. "Mmmmpphh.... Mmmmpphh.... Mmmmpphh...." she said, trying to get some air, but she couldn't. 'This is too much... I don't think I could go on anymore... Forgive me, Galford...' Eventually, she collapsed on the chair. Galford cut all the ropes that bound her and removed her gag, and desperately called her name, "Nakoruru... wake up... hey, Nakoruru..."

But she didn't answer. With all his hopes broken, Galford wailed, "No... NOO !! THIS CANNOT END LIKE THIS !! NOOOOO !!!" He thought he lost her... just like in his dream. He started to sob, but Poppy sniffed upon Nakoruru's body and barked on Galford. As he could understand the dog, he was shocked, "... What ? You think she's still alive !?" He then tried to hold Nakoruru's wrist, and yes, he could still feel some pulses. "Probably the spell worn off as Koroku died... Then there's still a chance !" Galford said with a newborn hope. He swoop off his tears and lay Nakoruru on the ground.

Galford then took a deep breath, and he slowly moved his lips towards Nakoruru, and blew all the breathes to her. Her lips felt so lifeless that time, but he didn't give up as he took another deep breath and transferred his breath to her. He continued doing that, and after a long time...

"Uh....."

Nakoruru started to open her eyes slowly. And the first man she saw... was... someone she would expected... Her savior, her knight in shining armor... her lover, Galford. "Galford.... I..." Nakoruru muttered, and Galford cut her in, "It's all right now. You're safe." Overcomed with emotion, Nakoruru hugged Galford tightly as tears of happiness started to flow from her eyes. She sobbed, "You saved... me.... again... I... I could never thank you... enough..." Galford was getting a bit nervous, being hugged with his love, and he hugged her back and said, "It's okay... I'll protect you anytime... And you can stop crying now... There's no one that will hurt you anymore."

As they released their hug, their face meet each other. They looked each other for long... until Nakoruru suddenly broke the silence, "What of that guy ?". Galford sighed and said, "He... he died... I should've brought him to jail once more instead...". "It's all right, Galford. You did your best..." Nakoruru tried to comfort him. Galford smiled and said, "Let's get out of here."

Both, alongside Poppy, got out of the fortress. Once they do, as they sat down on the beach, resting, eventually Galford said what he wanted to say, "Nakoruru... I... I'm sorry about that day... You didn't do it... It was my fault..." "It's all right, Galford... I knew you'll think that way too," Nakoruru replied, "and no matter what you think... I will always forgive you."

"Hey, Nakoruru..." Galford started, "That time, when I thought you were like that... I... My brain told me to hate you, but my heart refused.... I couldn't stop thinking about you..." As Nakoruru said that, she began to blush, looking at Galford, as he continued, "Everyday... no, everything... never seemed the same without you."

"I feel... kind of like the same way." Nakoruru started this time, "Koroku might have tortured me until I cry loudly... But... nothing... nothing could pain me more... than seeing you far away from me... or being sad over me..."

At that moment, Galford was also blushing. At that moment, he couldn't say anything else. His brain and body were overcomed with emotion. Mouth included... he just wanted to say the reverse of the word that he regretted before. But he couldn't... all he could do was to take Nakoruru's hand to him and he moved his face to hers.

"Galford... I..." Nakoruru felt the same way too. For many days, she couldn't say anything, not even cheer for his battle against Koroku. In her mind, she wanted to say the words... the words she held back for a long time due to her duties as a Maiden of Nature. But, she couldn't say it. She gently moved her face towards his... and....

Eventually both their lips met together... After a long, close friendship that bloomed into love, they finally shared a kiss... now on each mouths... now not because of gratitude... but because of love. At that moment, only these that they could say... from their hearts...

'Galford... I love you...'

'Nakoruru... I love you...'

As their lips met together for about two seconds, they continued by hugging each other, still kissing. With those words in their minds, they knew they will be inseparable...

THE END