朧の絶望

Oboro no Zetsubō

Desperation of the Demon Blade

Set after Kisuke's second ending. It's a good idea to actually play the game before reading stuff like this, but oh well.

Beginning Act: The Marriage

"Momohime, watch your step. The rocks are slippery back here," he said, fairly loudly, as the roar of the waterfall consumed all the other sounds Kisuke was surrounded by. The sound of his blades, the dripping of water from the rocky overhang above the path. The princess, wearing her signature pink dress, was soiled in the water falling right across from them.

The princess seemed oblivious to Kisuke's yell, focusing on getting out of cliffside of the rocky mountain to enter into the province of Mino. She, at this point, was obviously very determined to reach Mino without a distraction or a break.

Kisuke followed suit. In a matter of minutes, they escaped the moist air behind the waterfall and entered a dry portion of the cliffside path. The heat of the air was unfit for sustained breathing, so Momohime and Kisuke increased their pace. They wrapped around towards the back of the mountain, now heading downwards. At this angle, and at this height, the Mino province was literally in sight. They could see the villages and trees standing their ground in little spaces.

They started downwards along a worn path of pebbles and sand. It curved slightly as it slowly descended from the mountains, the end disappearing into the tree line. Their pace was quickened as a small gust had risen, throwing bits of sand down to the base of the mountain. Momohime's face, however, had lit up as they escaped from the humid shade of the cliffs. She was elated to see a towering pagoda in the middle of the province.

As she continued along the path, she examined the building with intense intrigue, while still observing her way to make sure she didn't fall right off the side. Kisuke followed her eyes, looking at the building with indifference. To him, if the building showed any importance, it was the destination of this journey. They had been traveling for a numourous amount of days on foot, without the help of ninja speed or horses, merely feet and the food the restaurants provided.

Today was the day they were due to arrive.

It was a day of utter importance, a day that, perhaps, decided the future of the Yagyu clan. The clan whose samurai gained powerful respect, and whose ninja are used throughout the land. It was a day of assumed happiness, not a bit a gloom. And by the expression on Momohime's face, it was of extreme elation. Her marriage was just around the corner.

Politically, it would advance the Yagyu clan even farther into fame. A marriage between a famed samurai clan and a clan that guarded the Kuzuryu blade for centuries? This would give the Yagyu clan even more than the skyrocketing respect that they already have.

But Momohime was ignorant of the political advances that the marriage would bring. The thought was obviously there, but Momohime was clouded in the feeling of love. She thought of the marriage in a positive manner, where she knew that Yukinojyo loved her back and would enjoy the marriage, instead of marrying for the power it would bring. She knew she would be happy with Yukinojyo, enjoying every second of the relationship.

She also thought of the benefits to her new cause because of the marriage. When Torahime, her sister, achieved enlightenment and disappeared from the mortal world, Momohime began a new objective for, perhaps, the rest of her living days: to stop the corruption of the Demon Blades that are scattered across the land. Kisuke promised to stay by Momohime's side by word of Torahime, assisting Momohime in her goal. The use of the Yagyu clan's ninja and samurai would increase the rate of Demon Blades being captured and sealed away.

As this ran through her mind, she increased the pace of the duo, reaching the base of rocky mountain in a few minutes. Now they had to walk the dusty path to Mino's walls and reach the pagoda before sunset. That would be achieved easily at this rate, with hours to spare.

They did not speak to eachother as they reached the front steps of the pagoda. This building was massive compared to the rest of the city they were in. It was large enough to, when the sun hit a certain angle, cause one half of the area would be covered in shade. The color scheme was simple, merely dark brown with a few lighter shades in between. The front had a large staircase leading to a concrete platform that lead into the huge, gilded doors. These doors were a dark brick red and rectangular. The door reached from the concrete platform to the very top of the story. Large decorative lion heads served as the doors "doorknobs", which were obviously not of use. Instead, the door opens by use of an intricate pulley system inside the building, operated by the residents actually living in the pagoda: monks.

The lobby of the pagoda is open for a majority of the day for prayers and worship. It is decorated with a large, golden statue of Buddha surrounded by candles on the far wall of the room. To the left is a mural of an interpretation of Heaven: high in the golden clouds and surrounded by peace and sunlight, along with the entrance to the spiraling staircase. To the right is a mural of Hell, with its flames, burning bodies, onis and whatnot. However, it is rarely used for large masses. The second floor is used for important celebrations, those of powerful clans and political parties, not for commoners. The rest of the floors are for the monks' living quarters. The large acre of green fields and paved stones behind the pagoda is for their personal use; may it be for meditating or training. The land is surrounded by twenty feet tall walls, preventing most intruders and giving the monks privacy.

Kisuke made sure not to eat as they entered Mino in order to stuff his face in the feast that would be provided. Momohime prevented from eating large amounts until after the wedding, so that she wouldn't be able to vomit due to nervousness, if that was possible. They entered the religious lobby and looked in awe. Kisuke was never invited as a ninja to come here, nor did he have the time. He was too busy mowing down the Yagyu clan's enemies.

They headed to the left, entered the staircase, and headed upwards. When they reached the second floor, Kisuke made a beeline for the main floor, where tables of food were laid out. Silver plates were over white cloths. They were filled to the brim with sushi, styled in a pyramid. Each level, except for the very top, had different content. Some were vegetable filled, another plate was of spicy sushi rolls. There were also various bowls full of noodles and rice, where you could choose what to put in them, such as a wide variety of seafood, spices, vegetables, and meats. It was all steaming and delectable. Kisuke was surrounded by elite ninjas of an incredibly high rank. They were casually talking and eating with the high ranking samurai. The rest of the ninja stood around, their masks on, acting as bodyguards to make sure things were secure.

Momohime, on the other hand, entered a seperate bedroom, behind the back wall, where professional dressers began working on her. Her nerves racked and her cold exposed body shivered out in the open air after taking a quick bath to get rid of the dirty elements in her body. The dress team then dried her off with soft towels, then began fitting an underdress on her. It was a silky black, conforming to her body, but not so tight. Over such was a smooth, white kimono that fitted her comfortably. She had no sash to accompany the kimono, not yet. Her hair was fitted in a tight bun, and an uchikake was positioned over her kimono. It was a heavy and long silk garment that trailed her back gently, adorned with golden laced birds and wisps of silver. In dark stitching, the Yagyu clan's crest was printed, but in a small enough size where it wouldn't immeditely catch the eye. A thin veil covered her head as she shut her eyes tightly and closed her mouth. The dressers started to paint her face a traditional white, and Momohime was instructed to sit on the bed until the paint dried.

"Kisuke," said a voice, which called for Kisuke's attention. It was the voice of Yukinojyo himself, Kisuke's former commander in chief, who instructed Kisuke of all of his orders before he had lost his memory. "I'm surprised you even came."

Kisuke swallowed the food that was in the process of chewing before looking back at the figure of Yukinojyo. "As Torahime's word, I am to assist the princess, whatever it may be. Even if it means coming back to the same sect that tried to kill me before."

"You're brave, certainly. What makes you think that you're safe here?"

"Because I'm the only one who can protect Momohime should you be killed in battle or something. So your ninja have to rely on me as a backup."

"Hm," Yukinojyo grunted in agreement, as he took a small glass of sake from the table, still facing Kisuke.

"Shouldn't you be getting ready?" Kisuke asked. It was a valid question, for Yukinojyo was still in his regular samurai attire; a ragged, stitched samurai kimono with a lightly darkened hakama (the ankle length skirt). Even the scabberd for his blade was still attached to his belt.

"They will notify me when Momohime is ready. My preperations should only take a few minutes."

"Why did you choose Mino? Why not back in Musashi, where your whole ninja sect would show up?"

"Too high profile. With the death of Torahime, who knows what followers could be looking for us, ready to seek vengeance. Perhaps mortals Torahime persuaded for her cause, or even unexorcised spirits of samurais who could most likely cut down our inexperianced ninja in seconds. Even the remnants of the dead shogun's forces. This way, the shinobi I know I can trust and the ones strong enough to defeat those curds can risk their lives, instead of our whole sect. Plus, it serves for more peaceful days then the hectic crowds."

Yukinojyo was quite right. With the news that Momohime was marrying Yukinojyo, only revealed to the remaining members of her clan, the clan would be able to blame the Yagyu shinobi for Torahime's death, causing them to do what Torahime did to end the insane shogun's rule: summon spirits from the netherworld to assist them. They would be also able to justify the violence, they could spread rumours of Momohime marrying against her will. They would never believe the testimony of a renegade ninja who had lost his memory, either, saying that Torahime died while accomplishing her goal, if Yukinojyo had enough desperation to do so. Yet, then why marry a woman of such a feared clan? To ensure the clan's trust and the Yagyu clan's safety. The marriage may be rivaled against, but Momohime would easily be thrown in the crossfire of the fighting. In the end, she would be accidently killed, causing even more distress and tension between the two clans.

Then there was the remaining forces that helped the shogun. For vengeance, they may strike at any time. They may even be targeting Momohime herself, for, under Jinkuro's influence, she killed the shogun. Momohime's clan would be in danger, along with the Yagyu.

But one troubling thing was on Kisuke's mind that needed an explanation.

"Have you oversighted the fact that the Narukami clan is based in Mino?" he said, a bit harshly.

"Kisuke, do you take me as a mindless boar?" chuckled Yukinojyo, as he continued, "Of course not. I had the new Shogun arrange for the Narukami clan to be moved to Suruga."

"How can you trust him? I mean, one does not simply go up to the Shogun and ask for a request like that."

"Because the new Shogun is my brother. Have you been living in a hole for the past few months?"

Kisuke probably has. With his new duties as guardian of the princess of Narukami, and as a Demon Blade hunter, he was much too busy to take a stroll in the city and hear the new headlines. He was unaware of the new Shogun, but he knew a new one would be selected anyway, but he never bothered to know who it was. His new occupation needed him twenty-four-seven, and he was not going to go back on his promise to Torahime.

Kisuke ended his onslaught of questions and went back to enjoy the food. Yukinojyo receieved a tap on the shoulder by a young woman, who escorted him away from the main stage.

A few minutes later, Momohime came out of the room, walking slowly towards the main stage in her white dress. The small ensemble of five people alerted the guests by playing a traditional Japanese wedding theme, making heads spin towards Momohime. People gasped at her beauty. Kisuke put down his bowl and turned, watching with an odd smirk.

Yukinojyo came out too, wearing a traditional white samurai kimono and hakama, looking freshly washed. He caught up to Momohime, taking her by the arm, as they stepped up to a small stage, where a Shinto priest awaited. He was a bald man, his face resembling Yukinojyo's. He was wearing a black kimono, but a white hakama, standing out of all the white on the stage. He began saying prayers, and the audience listened.

However, in a hurry, the ninja guards exited the room, stepping down the stairs carefully, as to not interupt the ceremonies. It was not soon after that a ninja, dressed in white, showing his elite status, slammed open the door to the second floor, yelling at the top of his lungs for the high ranking nin and samurai. Kisuke looked in bewilderment, a bead of sweat coming down his cheek. Had something horribly gone wrong? Was it the Narukami clan? Was it the dead Shogun's reinforcements?

The majority of the guests unsheathed their blades and put on their masks and rushed down the stairs, slamming the door behind them. Yukinojyo and Momohime looked at eachother in worry. Even the though the door was closed, and they were on the second floor, screams could be heard from the ninja, possibly being slashed apart.

It was at that moment that the floor exploded open, the bodies of ninja and samurai scattering the room, their souls being sucked into whatever was coming up the large hole in the middle of the floor.