Chapter 1 - No place like home
Another day in the Eastern Asian village of Fujitama, an exceptionally calm habitat to deserted warriors and elders from all around the region, known as a home for both the well respected Samurai, and their young apprentices.
The sun’s warmth enveloped the village since early morning, its caring heat bringing a new life to most of the things within, ranging from the wide variety of blooming plants in beautiful, oriental gardens to the village’s children, who innocently played and ran around in the brightness of the sun, careless about the darkness of the world underneath it.
The loud, high pitched clinking of heavy metal echoed throughout the village, oh so peaceful yet obviously announcing the dramatic arrival of another warrior. He used the most earthly form of transportation he could - his boots heavily tapped on the dirt underneath them, making dust launch up into the air with each slow, dramatic step.
This warrior was clearly a show-off, taking his time to travel through Fujitama’s main street, showcasing his majestic armor and astonishing the locals with his presence alone.
His beautiful armor sparkled beautifully as the enthusiastic rays of Eastern Asia’s sun danced all over it. His back partially covered by a cape loosely tossed onto the warrior’s broad shoulders, waving on the calm wind majestically like a dragon emerging from its fiery nest. The warrior’s dome was shielded by a beautifully polished kabuto, protecting him from any unexpected blows, as well as the blinding light of East Asia’s fiery sun. Although one could only wonder how hot it gets in an armor like this.
As if his majestic combination of blue fabric, carefully painted blue strips of leather and the black metal decorating and protecting his body, the samurai’s armor had golden engravings all over it as well. Tales of his powerful ancestors, mythical dragons and mighty demons written in pictograms and scattered across the armor; only for those knowledgable enough to read them.
Possibly the most eye-striking decoration was his maedate - a golden crest attached to the main plate of his helmet, presenting itself like a pair of mighty horns. Not only did it give the whole armor an aggressive, hot-headed look, but boosted the samurai’s height greatly.
The final touch was a mask covering the warrior’s face. The face of a demon, grimacing and showing off its fangs helplessly as if it was in eternal pain, or perhaps anger. One could only wonder the origin of the mask, but it definitely pulled the armor’s look together, making it even more menacing for whatever enemy the samurai might be facing.
The consistent clinking of metal stopped as the warrior made a silent, oh so dramatic stop infront of the door of a small house on the outskirts of Fujitama. Its truly calm aura could soothe a dying man’s pain, and bring peace to whoever might need it - and so it did.
A heavy gauntlet knocked on the door a few times. Despite the samurai’s delicate and mindful movements, the strong metal still made enough noise to alarm all of the house’s residents.
With a quiet squeak of the old, rusty locks, the door opened, and in the frame stood a beautiful woman. Her dark brown eyes and shoulder-lenght hair of a matching color contrasted with the predominantly white and red indoors of the house, and accompanied by her full, delicate lips could make the wisest of men go fool. Her sacred body securely hidden underneath fancy orange robes like a beautiful gift from nature, waiting to be unwrapped by the one who proved himself worthy of it.
The samurai couldn’t help but admire her body, but the woman’s silky, yet oh so demanding voice pulled his head back down from the skies.
“Come. Fuse isn’t feeling too good right now.” She spoke to the warrior, the hint of deep, everlasting sadness in her voice was enough for the samurai to shed a tear underneath his mask. It was obvious that both him and the woman were pretty close with this ‘Fuse’ man she was talking about.
Upon entering what seemed to be the living room of their house, an elderly man quietly greeted them. His weakness could be felt from a mile. Fuse’s eyes, once green like the east asian hills he used to travel, were now losing all of their charm. The samurai kneeled by his bed in a sign of respect. Not only respect for a dying man, but also for a mentor, a father figure, and a good old friend.
“Asai.” The samurai’s name was spoken before Fuse reached out for his mask, caressing its clay cheek with his finger. He tried to get a grip around it, but couldn’t. Drowning in sadness, so pathetic that he couldn’t even reveal his own apprentice’s face without someone else’s help. It was an insult for someone like Fuse Rai.
The elder quickly broke into tears, desperately trying to take a hold of the warrior’s mask. His fingertipts scrubbed and scratched it as his hand moved faster and faster, shaking around like a maggot under the boot of death itself.
Unable to cope with the sight, Fuse’s wife, who was staring at everything from the door, rushed towards the two men and aggressively ripped the warrior’s mask off his face. She couldn’t even shout at him for not doing so before, she was powerless; although the bags under her eyes and tears streaming down her face only added to her beauty.
“A-Asai...” The dying elder’s voice filled the room as he spoke again. Their gazes met - both blank and filled with incomprehensible sadness. Fuse left his hand on his past apprentice’s cheek, gently rubbing it with his thumb. No fire could warm the old man’s hand up anymore. His time has clearly come, no matter how much the three wished it hasn’t. After a while, the samurai spoke.
“You’ve done alot already. It’s time to take a rest.”
His lower lip quivered as he spoke. Asai would never dare to cry by his mentor before, but now, tears of sadness were dripping out of his empty, blue eyes, streaming down his cheek and onto Fuse’s finger. They both stared into eachother’s eyes for a while, and despite not a single word being said again, the room filled up with millions of words and emotions. As Asai stared into his mentor’s eyes as all life drained from them, it was like watching a forest burn. The flames of death danced oh so chaotically, but there’s nothing one could do. He could only stare and watch the upbringing of another soul. Wisdom detaching from the body and turning into a memory, the memory of Fuse Rai.
The elder’s hand dropped lifelessly.
Asai’s eyes teared up a bit as he reached up, closing his mentor’s eyes and letting him succumb into the comfort eternal darkness. He then turned his head to Fuse’s wife, staring at her in silence.
The woman was hysteric. Her hazel eyes leaking tears, and her beautiful, silky hair getting all over her face. She wanted to hold her husband so badly, but couldn’t move an inch. As if something was holding her back.
“I’ll meet you above the clouds.” The samurai whispered towards the corpse, lowering his head in a respectful, gentle bow. He quickly pushed himself up, getting back on his own two feet and staring into miss Rai’s eyes, his gloved finger ran over her face, tucking some of her hair back. Unable to utter a word, she just stood there shaking, looking at her husband’s body from over Asai’s shoulder.
She wasn’t ready. No one is ever ready for the reaper’s final slash.
“I will handle everything. Just make sure someone notifies the emperor about this.”
The woman just nodded, looking up into Asai’s eyes as they crossed eachother. The samurai could hear her weak, pitiful sobbing behind his back as he walked out of the house, carefully placing his mask onto his face.
It was already dawn. The lights in the windows flickered and danced around in soothing, peaceful harmony. The noticeable clink of metal echoed around as the samurai made his way through the village, the lights around him creating a beautiful, shiny impression on his armor.
He was homesick towards this place. With each step he took, a memory from his childhood knocked into the back of his armored dome. The warrior even shed a tear, calmly reminiscing about his friends, the times he used to train under the wing of Fuse Rai, his family, and the day he left Fujitama to serve the emperor.
Asai’s mind drifted off to another place. He dreamed about a place that he wasn’t even sure exists anymore.
How long is he gonna stay here? Will he ever make his way back to the emperor, or is he gonna take his mentor’s place and retire, claiming an apprentice under his wing? Who knows. Right now he could only make himself at home. After all. This village used to be his home.
A rock rolled across the ground right by his boot, making Asai take a dramatic stop in the middle of the path. He looked around, cautious of his surroundings, yet nothing was there.
No matter how hard he’d want to shrug it off and go on, he couldn’t.
His gauntlet-clad fist tightened around the handle of one of his swords; a beautifully decorated katana. Its black and golden handle shining with each time a light from the nearby windows flickered across it. With a swift move of his arm, he raised the weapon high, showing his opponent, or perhaps opponents, that he’s not gonna wait any more.
He wasn’t trained to play around with his enemy. Asai, like the most of his clan was a brute who mastered the art of combat to its very core. The samurai were often trained to kill their enemies with even a single slice of their sword, even if it costed them their life.
The calm air suddenly whistled as a shuriken made its way towards the warrior, just to be reflected with a single movement of his sword, which shined in the light of the now easily visible full moon.
Another weapon sparkled in the darkness, easily catching Asai’s gaze. It was a sword, just like his. The masked, dark-clothed man slowly approached, revealing his phisyque after stepping into the light coming out of one of the houses. He was a ninja, and knowing their dirty, unlawful fighting style; he won’t be so easy to defeat. Their gazes met and shined in the moonlight menacingly before the man rushed at Asai.
The samurai ran towards him and rised his sword, ready to cut through him when he’s close enough, and so he did, or at least tried to.
A loud clink of metal echoed around the village as two blades collided with eachother, just to bounce off and share a kiss yet in another place. What seemed an easy assassination for the ninja suddenly turned into a wild, fast paced dance of swords and weapons alike. They went at it for a while, causing Asai to take a more defensive stance, reflecting the ninja’s weapon each time it gets close to him. He manipulated the assassin into getting used to getting his blows reflected. It was almost like he was subconsciously aiming for Asai’s blade.
And suddenly, only a scream was heard going throughout the village before Asai’s katana poked out of the ninja’s back. It went all the way through, making him drop his own weapon onto the ground, and fall to his knees before the new master of his fate. They were uncomfortably close, close enough for the ninja’s blood to get on Asai’s mask whenever he coughed it up, spewing it on the top of his armor and down on his boots. Their eyes met once again.
“D-don’t... I can h-help you!” The ninja shouted out, spitting blood all over the place, desperately awaiting an answer from the victim of his failed assassination.
He didn’t have to wait long. The blade painfully rotated in his stomach, the samurai made sure the sharp side of his sword was aiming upwards before slicing up the ninja’s body, the upper part of it getting completely cut in half and lifelessly dropped onto the ground.
Although instead of the blade launching into the air dramatically; it met the bar of a nunchaku. The thick steel almost throwing Asai’s weapon out of his hands. He turned around, slicing at his opponent blindly, just for his blade to be deflected by a thick steel chain.
A smug grin appeared under another ninja’s mask. His light blue eyes shined wildly before he tossed himself into the whirlwind of battle, jumping up at Asai and sending a kick towards his jawline, covered only by a part of the mask and some rope. The samurai, despite not having much time to act, deflected the kick, launching the bottom of his katana’s handle into his opponent’s ankle and spectacularly spinning the weapon around in his palm; the tip of the blade quickly getting launched towards the ninja.
With another spin of his nunchako, the blade bounced off, and out of Asai’s hand. His attacker quickly regained the upper hand, landing on the ground behind the samurai dramatically.
Asai’s eyes drifted around nervously, shifting through the darkness around him until they met the weapon. Its beautiful, dragon-themed golden engravings glistening in a desperate call to be grabbed and used to slash another well-trained warrior in half, but the weapon was too far away. Asai was forced to act with what he had.
Sliding his wakizashi out of its sheath, the samurai quickly spun around, waving it furiously in the ninja’s direction. Each slice making the wind whistle dramatically, just to be accompanied with another loud clink of metal. The ninja deflected all of his attacks, letting the samurai come closer and closer, further from where his weapon of choice laid. The two made eye contact for a split second, both of their gazes burning with pure, passionate hate.
The ninja’s leg rised into the air in a strong kick, but it wasn’t the main focus of Asai’s skilled opponent; as the tip of his foot connected with Asai’s chin, the nunchuk smacked against his fingers, making him drop the wakizashi into the dirt, instantly getting knocked back, away from it.
His techniques were almost no match for the ninja. Unlike his partner in crime, he was unexpectable, planning the course of the fight on the go and not letting himself get lost until he gets all the advantages he can get over the samurai. He was one of the most well-trained ninjas Asai had the opportunity to fight.
“Argh!” the samurai’s grunt filled the air as he shook his gloved right hand. Despite being so well protected, it seemed to hurt alot after the blow. He was disarmed and unable to fight with one hand, while the ninja jumped around him and waiting for him to attack first in a taunting manner. His smug eyes drilling into Asai’s soul as he analysed each movement of the startled warrior.
They went at it again, with Asai only using his left hand and legs to desperately deflect each of the ninja’s attacks, until he somehow took ahold of the nunchuck, pulling the ninja towards himself by it and slamming his forehead onto his opponent’s nose, breaking it with a loud crack. The crest of his helmet shook a bit after the blow, distracting the already dazzled ninja even further.
He suddenly received a hit from his own weapon, somehow managing to deflect it with his bare hand. The disgusting sound of his wrist breaking made the ninja’s whole body twitch and his face grimace in immeasurable pain, making it look as if he was gonna vomit his heart out any second by now. The way his lips bent almost reflected the facial expression of Asai’s mask.
Despite the fight stretching out for oh so long already, neither of them could stop until the second one was dead. They constantly threw punches and eachother, mostly taking them to the face. This is where the samurai quickly regained the upper hand; his metal-clad glove easily tore the ninja’s mask apart and severely cut his face, while his armor protected Asai from any major damage.
There was no point in waiting, he had to finish the ninja as long as he still had some advantage over him. His opponent’s feet kicked back with each second as the ninja tried to escape Asai’s deadly punches. He was brought to the point where his body pretty much squeezed between the buff samurai and the wall of a building. The cold wall made his whole body shiver as he touched it with his back, his once smug eyes now staring at Asai’s left hand in fear, hoping he’ll be able to deflect the next punch and somehow move away from the rather unpleasant position.
And then he felt something cold smacking against the very side of his backhead, knocking him out in a second.
Asai’s already damaged right hand hurt even more after dealing such a strong punch, but a surprise like that was necessary for him to win the fight. He grabbed a kunai from his opponent’s waistline, and jabbed it into the ninja’s neck, killing him quickly and mercilessly.
The samurai stared into his opponent’s now lifeless, empty eyes with a comparably dead expression. While one would imagine the winning party of a battle like this to act victorious, like a wolf staring down onto a dead prey two times bigger than him, but Asai was more like a scolded dog. His gaze drifted across the dead ninja’s body with a single question whistling inside of his head.
“Who sent you?” He spoke out loud, the samurai’s raspy voice breaking the soothing silence of the night like a dog barking under the moonlight, waking up everyone around him.
In desperation, the Samurai shook his dead victim’s body, as if he was awaiting an answer, but nothing came out of his now dirt-filled mouth.
Nothing but a sigh was heard from the samurai before he stood up, his magnificient armor reminding the village of its existence with loud clinking of metal. He stretched his arm out lazily, it releasing a quiet crack. This was a long day, and an even longer night. The samurai’s head lifted proudly, the golden crest of his kabuto shining as moonlight shimmered all over it.
Seemed like this day was finally over. It was almost as if everything was in the far past already, despite the two bodies laying in the grass behind Asai.
The corner of his mouth ticked up in a smug grin, so powerful yet hidden behind a clay mask. He’d let the village’s guard worry about them. There was nothing standing in the samurai’s way anymore, but that was just the beginning of the long, lonely adventure that was ahead of him.
Bright lights coming out of the tavern’s windows brightened the moody, grey landscape of a calm Asian village at night. The figures of people walking around in the rather noisy, small building threw their shade onto the dirt with the lamps’ glistening light. Asai smirked once again, hope pouring up into his eyes like sake quickly flowing into a glass.
Stopping by that thought, he might get a drink or two before calling it a night. And it sure was one hell of a night.