Act 8: Peace at Last
Kisuke watched in horror as Tokugawa slid his Muramasa out of Momohime's chest, letting her limp body fall to the ground. "No! Momohime!" Yukinojyo cried. "How could you, you monster!"
"She fought bravely, and enough blood has been spilled that I do not need to behead her," Tokugawa mused out loud. He turned to the captives. "Ah... you wish to fight for this girl? It is a little late as she has suffered a painful end."
"Damn you!" Kisuke roared, unleashing a Secret Art upon the net. He began spinning in mid-air and his anger fueled the Art's power and it cut apart the magic net. Kisuke ran over to Momohime's body and slid to his knees. "Momohime!" He shook her body.
"Momohime!" Kongiku cried falling at her side, too. "No... no! You can't die!" She began to weep. Then, the kitsune placed her hands on the lifeless princess's head. There was a flash of white light upon Momohime and it surged through her body... but nothing happened. "No!" Kongiku moaned. "No, no, no!" She wept, caressing Momohime's head.
"You... you bastard...!" Kisuke growled, shaking from every part of his body. "You will pay!"
"For killing someone that engaged in combat with me?" Tokugawa asked. "She knew the risks, and took the fall into darkness."
Kisuke drew his blade and he heard another blade being drawn—probably Yukinojyo. "I'll take you down again, Tokugawa!" Kisuke roared. "You killed Torahime... now you've murdered her younger sister... I'll make you suffer the most painful death for your deeds!"
Tokugawa laughed. "Yes, you killed me once, but I did not have the Muramasa Scepter ready then. Its power allowed my blade to slay her. Now, I have overpowered the 'master' of the Oboro Style, called such because she was fused with Jinkuro. Do you think you can do any better against me?"
"With Yukinojyo's Shinkage Style at my side, I can!" Kisuke yelled. He lunged for Tokugawa with Yukinojyo at his side when Kisuke heard a female voice that sounded like Momohime's say:
"Don't waste your strength... let me get revenge on him."
Kisuke stopped and saw that Momohime had risen! She was burning with green fire, her eyes had a hard-edged glint and her smile was as wicked.
"What? I killed you!"
"You're a fool, Tokugawa." Momohime's voice was noticeably deeper. "Don't you remember anything about Spirit Fusions? My soul was in hers. You may have killed Momohime, but I still live!"
"Jinkuro...!" Kisuke said with wide eyes, staring at the possessed princess.
"Master?" Kongiku looked slightly afraid as she looked up at Momohime—or Jinkuro. He shot a glance at her, but said nothing to the kitsune. Yuzuruha looked just as shocked; which surprised Kisuke because it seemed like nothing shocked her.
"Jinkuro!" Yukinojyo yelled. Kisuke looked over to see him toss the Kuromistu blade toward Jinkuro. He caught the scabbard and smiled.
"Ah... the Kuromistu blade, how I've missed you," Jinkuro said as he drew the blade slowly. Kisuke could see the blade with twisting black flames around it. "Tokugawa, you will pay with every inch of your life for slaying Momohime." His voice was growing with anger. "That, I swear!"
"Ha!" Tokugawa laughed. "Jinkuro, I killed you the one you gave mastery of the Oboro Style over with this blade. How do you expect to succeed where she failed? Hm?"
"Because she wasn't a complete master of the Oboro Style." He twirled his blade and brandished it at Tokugawa. Even in Momohime's body, Jinkuro looked very formidable. "But I am. And it is not the blade that makes the warrior, but the warrior himself! Prepare yourself!"
With inhuman speed, Jinkuro dashed at Tokugawa, slashing and swinging at him with precision and mastery. His blade clashed multiple times with the Kuzuryuu blade, but the Kuromistu blade did not seem to weaken.
Jinkuro sliced across Tokugawa's chest, creating a gaping wound there. Tokugawa roared and swung his blade at the possessed princess, who moved out of the way. Jinkuro jumped behind Tokugawa and sliced across his back where Momohime had struck, creating a deeper wound. He spun around and then stabbed Tokugawa in the back.
Tokugawa spun around to cleave Jinkuro's head (well, Momohime's head) off, but he ducked in time, and swung his blade at a low angle, cutting into Tokugawa's robes and wounding his legs.
Despite his rage and anger, Jinkuro seemed to be a focused warrior as far as Kisuke could tell. It reminded him of their battle on this same mountain.
"How is this possible?" Tokugawa gasped, bleeding heavily. "I should be immortal with this sword."
"No one is immortal with any blade," Jinkuro said with soft fierceness. He spun around and sliced Tokugawa's head off. "And for good measure..." he added, stabbing Tokugawa through the chest and then through his stomach. The old man's fell to the ground like a limp rag and he dropped the Kuzuryuu and the Muramasa Scepter.
Jinkuro grinned. "I have... avenged you... Momohime... gah!" He fell to his knees and grasped his chest.
"Master!" Kongiku ran over to him.
"Jinkuro!" Kisuke and Yukinojyo exclaimed.
"Oh no. Don't you die, too!" Kongiku said, sobbing. "Please! Live! I've already lost one friend today!"
"Kongiku... you blasted fox," Jinkuro scolded her. "This wound is too strong, too deep. There's nothing you can... can... do," he added, coughing up blood.
Yuzuruha walked over to the dying Jinkuro. "Kongiku... let's try uniting our powers," she said. The kitsune in the orange kimono nodded fervently, and placed her hands on Jinkuro's head. Yuzuruha did the same. White light flashed from both their hands and it surged into Momohime's body. There was a pause, and nothing happened.
"I told you that there was nothing you can do..." Jinkuro said, coughing up more blood.
Tears poured from Kongiku's eyes. "No... no... please!"
"Your begging isn't going to save me!"
"Kongiku," Yuzuruha said. She shook her head at her, and Kongiku broke into loud sobs.
Kisuke himself was beginning to cry. Have I failed? I promised her...
Yukinojyo walked over to Jinkuro and knelt down. "Thank you for ridding us of a great evil."
"I..." Jinkuro coughed up more blood. "I didn't do it for you," he growled. "I did it... for Momohime," he added, his voice growing soft. "Momohime..."
"No!" Kisuke stomped on the ground, his own eyes breaking into tears. "There... there has to be... wait." He then remembered Yuzuruha's words.
"Interestingly enough... I've also heard that if one uses the Mask and the Scepter together, it creates a power called 'Spirit Forging.' However, no one has ever used it... or there is no legend or myth of anyone using the technique."
"That's it!" Kisuke shouted. He looked over to where the Muramasa Scepter had been dropped. "Yuzuruha!" He turned to the kitsune. "Give me the Muramasa Mask!"
"Kisuke... what?" Kongiku asked, looking dumbfounded.
"Kisuke... you aren't..." Yuzuruha started.
"Just give me the Mask!" Kisuke ordered. "Now! Don't hesitate!"
"What are you thinking, boy?" Jinkuro asked in disdain.
"Keeping a promise I made to Momohime," Kisuke responded. "Give me the Mask!" he said for the third time. Yuzuruha, nodding, took out a gray mask with red, wispy marks on it and handed it to Kisuke.
He nodded and grabbed the Muramasa Scepter. How do I combine them? He wondered. Shaking his head, he put the Mask on the Scepter's head and pointed it at Jinkuro. "Everyone, get out of the way!"
"But, Kisuke...!" Kongiku protested.
"Just do it, Kongiku," Yukinojyo ordered. He pulled the kitsune away from Momohime's possessed body.
"What are you planning?" Jinkuro asked, shooting a confused glance at Kisuke.
"To bring Momohime back!" he said. With that, Kisuke tried to reach out to the Souls of the Muramasa artifacts, and then, he touched them. A bright, gold light shot out of the Scepter and the Mask and it struck Momohime's body.
Nothing seemed to be happening to Kisuke's frustration. Then, he recalled Tokugawa's words about the Scepter. "I will not waste my energy using it to enact a quick death upon her."
He frowned. Fine, if that's how it has to be. Then I'll..! He pushed harder and then felt his life force being drained as he pulsed it through the Scepter. This time, Kisuke could feel life returning to Momohime's body. He thought heard yelling, screaming, but the pain was so strong that he could not make out the words.
Then, he let go; the Scepter and Mask's energy drained. He managed to keep his eyes open long enough to see Momohime in a bright green aura stand and then flash. Out of her appeared a green soul and she, herself, was gasping—standing—alive.
It was like waking from another nightmare. After she had been struck by the golden light, Momohime opened her eyes and felt life enter into her. Then, the golden light vanished, and she had the strength to stand. There was a flash of green light, and she found herself gasping, holding her chest. She looked around.
"I'm alive?" she asked out loud.
"Yes, yes you are, Momohime," said a very deep voice next to her. Deep enough that it nearly made her jump.
That voice... she thought. She turned to her left and saw the green soul. Tears broke into her eyes because she knew exactly who it was. "Jinkuro... Jinkuro!" A smile spread over her face. "I've been looking everywhere for you!"
Jinkuro smiled. "I know you have. I've been with you the whole time, Momohime," he said with a gentle voice. "However, it's good to see your face again from the outside."
Momohime sniffled and clasped her hands together. "It's wonderful to see you again, too, Jinkuro." She walked toward him, but then heard a body fall to the ground. She looked over and gasped, seeing Kisuke on the ground with the Muramasa Scepter on the ground and the Mask beside it. "Kisuke!"
She ran over to him, and felt Jinkuro's presence next to her. Then, Kongiku, Yukinojyo, and Yuzuruha came and gathered around the dying boy.
"Kisuke..." Momohime repeated.
"There... I told you..." he said, coughing. "I told you that I wouldn't let you lose Jinkuro like I lost Torahime." There was a triumphant smile on his face.
"Kisuke!" Kongiku exclaimed. "Not you, too!"
"Don't be ridiculous, Kongiku!" Jinkuro scolded her again. "Momohime and I are alive now."
"I know. I know," she said. "And I'm happy that you are, but..." she broke into tears again. "I'm going to lose a friend... Wait! Yuzuruha, let's try again! Maybe it'll work on Kisuke!"
Yuzuruha nodded and she raised her hands with Kongiku's to place them on his head, but he pushed them away. "What? Kisuke! Don't you wish to live?" Yuzuruha asked.
"No," Kisuke said. "It's fine... besides, I can see into Heaven from here." A calm smile appeared on his face. "I see Torahime... she's waiting for me. Jinkuro... promise me... that you'll always be kind and tender to Momohime; never abuse her, and, Momohime, always love him. No matter what. This... is my last... request."
Momohime nodded at him. "I will. I promise," she said.
"I promise as well," Jinkuro said. "Go, and rest with your loved one."
"Thank you... both," Kisuke said, closing his eyes and exhaling his last breath.
"Rest in peace, my friend," Momohime said softly, smiling at him, and letting her tears drop onto his chest.
One week later...
"Do I really have to meet them?" Jinkuro complained from Momohime's pouch. "They're just an elderly couple!"
"Jinkuro..." Momohime said with a sigh. "They also took care of me for half a year after you performed the Spirit Fusion. Be nice, all right?"
"Very well," the soul muttered. "I'll be nice for your sake, not theirs!"
Momohime groaned, but it was the best she could do. Soon, she saw her grandparents' home in the distance. She ran toward it and stopped when she reached the very front of the humble abode.
"Grandma! Grandpa!" Momohime called out. She was standing in front of the blue canopy that led into her grandparents' home. "Huh... where are they?" she mused out loud. Then, there was movement from within the house. The curtain opened up, and grandma appeared.
"Oh! Oboro! You're back! And you look so beautiful, too!" It was true, Momohime's kimono had been cleaned and repaired (along with the armor, but she wasn't wearing it now), and she was looking the part. Grandma hugged her and Momohime accepted the embrace, returning it with her own.
Then, an elderly man came out of the house—grandpa—he smiled widely when he saw Momohime. "Oboro!" he exclaimed. Grandma and Momohime let go. "You've returned to us at last! It's been over a month. Oh, how glad I am to see your pretty face again!"
"I'm happy to see you both so well and safe," she said, smiling broadly. "But... I discovered my name is not 'Oboro.' My real name is Momohime."
They shot shocked looks at her. "Momohime!? Do you mean... princess Momohime?" Grandma asked, her mouth gaping. Momohime nodded. "Oh my!" She and Grandpa were about to get on their knees when she stopped them, lifting them to their feet.
"No, no, no!" Momohime said with a giggle. "Even if I ever became empress, you two will never bow to me. Never! You took care of me for so long that... you're family to me. No matter what."
"All right, dear child," Grandpa said. He turned to Grandma. "I cannot believe we were taking care of a princess for all this time!"
Grandma nodded. "I feel honored."
Momohime giggled again.
"So, Ob—I mean, Momohime, did you find Jinkuro?" Grandpa asked. "You left to find your identity, and you have. So, I wonder if you found what else you were looking for."
"I did," Momohime said rather cheerfully. "You see, the reason I was seeking Jinkuro in my dreams is because... I love him. He did something wonderful for me." She explained a short version of the story on Mount Kongo, finishing with the Spirit Fusion. "He really loved me."
Grandma was in happy tears. "Oh! That's very loving of him! Where the sweet man so we can meet him?" she asked, looking around. "I don't see a man with you."
"That's because... I'm not necessarily a man," a voice said. Then Jinkuro flew out of Momohime's pouch. "Greetings."
Grandma let out a shriek of surprise, and Grandpa's jaw dropped to the floor.
"Oh! Relax!" Jinkuro growled. "Haven't you—"
"Jinkuro... Jinkuro..." Momohime said with a soothing voice. "Calm down, please. Be nice."
The soul looked abashed. "I'm sorry," he said to Grandpa and Grandma.
"This is Jinkuro?" they asked at the same time, looking utterly shocked.
Momohime nodded. "Yes. He's a soul because he lost his body a long time ago. If he hadn't, he wouldn't have taken mine and eventually used the Spirit Fusion to save me," she explained. "That's also how I was to defeat the onis that came to our home one day. Jinkuro's power was transferred to me, so I was able to fight like him. And even though we're separate now, I can still use the Oboro Style."
"Amazing..." Grandma said very slowly. "But what happened to your body, Jinkuro?"
"It's a very complicated and long story," he said, sounding a little tired. "Perhaps I can share it with you another time?" The two nodded. "Good."
"Now then, do you want to hear about my adventure to find out who I was?" Momohime asked eagerly.
"Of course!" Grandpa said with a smile. "Tell us everything!"
Momohime laughed, and clapped her hands together twice. "All right." They took her and Jinkuro inside as she began to tell them all about her journey.
Momohime placed the sakura flowers in front of the grave. "I hope you are finding peace with my sister, Kisuke," she said to the stone in front of her. She smiled. After a moment of meditation, she stood up and looked at Jinkuro, who had been floating silently there for a long time next to his servant Kongiku.
Kongiku and Momohime embraced, there were tears in both their eyes.
"I'll miss him," the kitsune said, almost a whisper.
"Me, too," Momohime replied. The two let go of each other.
Jinkuro groaned. "Are you two done yet?"
Momohime giggled. "Yes, we are," she said, putting her hands behind her waist. "Jinkuro, let's go on an adventure."
"An adventure? For what?" he asked with curiosity.
"To find you a new body or restore your old one, of course," she said. Momohime walked up to Jinkuro's soul. She couldn't touch him, but she brought her nose close to him as if to kiss him. She even made the motion. Then, she drew back, satisfied with the happy expression on his face.
"Of course! We have the Kuromitsu blade after all," he said. Jinkuro grinned. "It will be a simple task to restore me with that Muramasa."
"That's what I thought about finding out about my past," Momohime said with a chuckle.
Then, she heard Kongiku's voice next to her. "I'm coming with you two!" she exclaimed. Momohime glanced over and saw that she had transformed into a white fox. "And you cannot dissuade me from coming."
"Kongiku..." Jinkuro said.
"It's all right," Momohime said, beaming. "Yes, you can come... 'Kiku.'"
"Thank you, Momohime," Kongiku said.
Momohime looked from Jinkuro to the kitsune. "Well, let's go then!" The two nodded at her, and she ran ahead, taking the leave. Where were they going? She didn't know, but it would be fun to find out! Perhaps... the cloaked man on Mount Fuji could help? She wasn't sure, but perhaps that's where they should start.
Together, the three ran off into the mists, fearing no danger, and Momohime could not have been happier.