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ryurei

Chapter 1 Book of T'Hera

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Lifesong: The Prelude

In the outskirts of Tokyo there sat a small brick building that housed a corner café. It was quite popular as a meeting place for business men and women. The café offered a variety of services ranging from tea, coffee, and internet access to less legal services like hit men for hire and the like. A young woman looking to be in her early twenties with short chestnut brown hair sat at a table outside the building. In her hand was a cup of tea that she sipped at while apparently waiting for someone. Her low-cut blouse and short skirt drew the attention of the other patrons, both male and female, to herself. She stared out in to traffic with a piercing look, squinting every now and then as the sun shown off the passing cars. It was a lazy spring morning, but despite that she seemed to have an air of impatience.

 

“Can I,” squeaked the young waiter. Suddenly blushing furiously he cleared his throat and started again, “Can I get you anything else, Miss Megumi?” he finished in a suave voice. The woman turned toward him and with a coy smile replied, “No, not at this time, but I’ll let you know.” “Damn, you sure are a flirt, Megumi!” said a girl who looked to be in her mid-teens as she approached the table. The girl wore blue denim overalls and wore a man’s dress shirt unbuttoned over them. Her posture was of one looking for a fight, and her waist length silver hair had been pulled into a hasty braid. Her blood red eyes were narrow and her voice was like a razor-edged knife. As she dropped a computer disk on the table, she grabbed a chair and spun it around, sat astride it, facing the back. “Always picking up men only to drop them when you are done with them; as if they were disposable tissues.”

Megumi turned to face her abruptly. As her copper eyes flashed she retorted, “Keep your nose out of MY business, Mai. Who I do or don’t do is none of your concern. Just because you don’t let anyone close doesn’t mean I can’t.” The young waiter promptly dropped the menus as he grabbed his nose and made a hasty exit.

“Whatever, old hag. There’s the manuscript, I finished it last night. Use the same alias as last time, um... Kage Rei wasn’t it,” Mai said as she picked up the menu the waiter had dropped.

“I forgot how volatile you get after working for a week straight,” Megumi responded with an exasperated sigh, as she reached over to pick up the disk. “I’ll overlook it this time, however, considering that it only took you a week to write this entire manuscript.” After holding the disk up to make her point, she dropped it into her purse and snapped it closed. “Nothin’ looks good in here,” the girl sighed as she tossed the menu on the table. “Well, I’ll see ya. I’m going to check the turf today, and I’m going ‘dancing’ for the D.J.s tonight, so don’t bother looking for me till tomorrow.” Mai said as she got up to leave. “Oh... and call school and tell them I’m sick, will ya? Ciao.” With that, Mai stepped out into the busy street and vanished.

Jeez, she is such a pain when she’s like that! Oh well, time to go to work, I guess, she thought as she stood and picked up her clutch purse. Turning to the waiter that approached she said with a smile, “Waiter, put that on my tab, will you?”

“Certainly, miss Megumi. Thank you for coming to DJ’s nest,” the waiter said with a bow as Megumi stepped to the curb and instantly was greeted by a cab driver.

“Good day, Miss. Where to??” The driver asked with a pervy grin. “Tokyo General,” Megumi said with a seductive smile. As they headed for the hospital, Megumi took out a compact, checked her make up, and put the compact away. She then spent the remainder of the trip staring outside with a far away look on her face. When they arrived, Megumi paid the driver and headed into the building. Going to the employee’s elevator, she stepped in when the doors opened, and pressed the fourth floor button. After stepping off the elevator, she started down the hall towards her office. As she passed the nurses station, she grabbed a couple charts and looked them over as she continued down the hall. Stepping into her assistant’s room, she closed the last chart. Then, with a satisfactory nod she handed them to her assistant as she passed her desk.

“Tell them to keep up the good work. I’ll be busy with other work today, so don’t bother me unless it’s an major emergency. Okay, Kyoko?” “Yes, Miss Director,” the dark haired woman responded as she sat down at the desk.

As Megumi shut the door and locked it, she pulled out the disk. “So what have you written this time, Mai? Hopefully not another one of your sappy love stories, your love must be getting tired of those.”

With a small smile Megumi walked to the kotetsu she used as a desk and sat upon the tatami mat. After inserting the disk into the laptop, she opened the files and began to read the prologue:

“When the Daemon Lord Ragna appeared sixty-one years ago, the world was thrown into utter and total chaos. Following close on his trail were the elemental masters of hell, lead by Mesuinu, the Mistress of Wind. They conquered the world for their dark lord.

 

“Among the humans arose one with a pure heart and spirit with enough strength to combat these monstrosities. The people called her Kyusashia, The Mistress of the Holy Flame and other names to show her rank as their champion. Ragna and Kyusashia battled for 40 years until the fateful day, twenty-one years ago, when all creation on all planes in all dimensions became entwined with the Unmei of these two. On that night they shed their mortal forms and saw each other as they truly were.

“Also on that night 'The Storm' ravaged Sakura. The residents of Sakura found two young children the next day and believed the children to have been birthed in the storm. The residents named the boy Ryu and the girl Keiko. The two children grew up feeling that they did not belong to this world T'hera, for their abilities with magic far exceeded those of the humans living there. Their power could only almost be attained by humans only by using the most powerful of all the magic amplifiers that were ever created. Also adding to their suspicions of their ancestry were the dreams they could never quite remember upon awakening; dreams of heaven.....and of Hell."

In a stunned silence Megumi sat back. She paged Kyoko on the intercom and again requested to not be disturbed and ordered lunch. “This should be good,” Megumi muttered to her self as she rummaged through the cabinet that held various snacks. Got to start eating breakfast before I get to work, she thought as went to the small fridge in the corner and got out a bottle of ramune before continuing reading the story.

 

 

jully 22 2007, Edited for corrections and addition of the title.

Edited by mai takekaze

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It seems a bit too early to judge this piece with only the Prologue of the chapter posted thus far, but I did like the way that you framed your application piece within the context of Megumi and Mai's exchange. :-) The characters were given some nice details, and the setting felt anime-ish with an almost futuristic feel to it. I'm interested in learning more about the nature of Mai and Megumi's exchange, and look forward to reading the first chapter in its entirety. ^_^

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SONETT OF T'HERA: Movement one

The day after the 'STORM'

 

Two men shifted through the rubble left in the wake of not just one, but what seemed to be close to 50 tornados that simultaneously hit the area the day before. It was odd, that the gigantic Sakura tree which stood in the center of town, the tree that the town was named after, had not been uprooted despite the destruction that surrounded it. But even that tree had not emerged totally unscathed from the destruction of 'The Storm' the previous day. Several limbs of the ancient tree lay on the ground; yet surprisingly, the delicate blossoms still clung to the detached branches.

To the west of the tree stood the remains of a building that had been demolished by the storms, and this was the area that the two men currently were searching through. One was a short, overweight, bald man wearing denim jeans and a t-shirt, the other was a tall, dark-haired man, whose muscles rippled beneath the sleeveless white shirt he wore. Both were within ten feet of the tree, moving debris around and looking for the Koun statue, which the villagers believed brought great luck to the village.

The shorter man stood up and looked over towards where his partner stood. "Hey, Jeff, have you seen anything that might suggest that this house was lived in? I mean, there should be at least a stove or something around here." This man wiped sweat from his forehead before continuing, "Come to think of it, was there even a house here last time we were here? I know we don't come to town often enough, but I would have thought we would have heard of someone building anything, since they would need some ore for nails and such from our mine."

"Maybe this is just wreckage from another building?" Jeff answered as he stood.

"You saw how those twisters were yesterday! They just came down, hit, and disappeared! The whole storm was over so quickly! Did it even last 5 minutes?!? With the way those twisters hit, something like that probably wouldn't have happened. It's just odd that this much debris would be here if no house was here, and yet there also is no heavy furniture like the other houses," Bill said nervously.

"Good point. Maybe this hadn't been occupied yet. Yeah! Maybe they were expecting new residents? We'll have to ask someone later," Jeff conceded.

"Y'know, it's miraculous that no one was killed or injured, as bad as this looks," Bill reflected as they resumed their job.

 

Without warning, a large bundle fell out of the Sakura tree. "What the...?" Both men said in unison as they approached it. As they drew closer, they heard a child's cry. Fueled by concern, they ran over to the bundle. Upon lifting the edge of the blanket, they found two infants who both appeared to be around one year old. As they unwrapped the babes, they found several large feathers in the folds. Some feathers were gleaming white, while the others were pitch black.......

 

OOC:this is only part of the first chapter, sorry work has been killer latly

 

july 22 2007: edited for changes

Edited by mai takekaze

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Several miles away, two men stood watching the events in Sakura unfold in the reflection on the lake that they stood by. The older of the two was hunched over from the long years he had weathered and leaned on an equally aged staff. His clear blue eyes seemed to shine in the light, while his hood shadowed his wrinkled face. Yet the way he carried himself was like a confident young warrior would.

Both men wore gleaming white robes that seemed more than they were. The other man appeared much younger and had an air of nobility about him. As the young man pushed back his hood, his shoulder length black hair was revealed. As They watched the events unfolding, the young one turned to the elder and asked, "Sir, should we really leave them like this?"

"This is the fate that they demanded. Therefore, it is their curse, and, possibly, even their blessing. It is all in their hands," the elder said solemnly as if pronouncing a powerful spell or judgment.

The young man watched a moment longer then tuned. "I suppose we have to trust them. But perhaps I might watch over them from afar since my brothers and sisters shall want revenge for his so-called trickery??"

The elder vanished with the sudden breeze as his reply was heard ever so softly, "Very well, Karisuma. Just don't interfere with their decision, but let me know immediately if any others try to."

"Thank you, I'll do as you command, my Master," Karisuma said as he, too, vanished into nothingness.

TWENTY-ONE YEARS LATER

In the forest five miles north-east of the now-thriving town of Sakura, walked two young people following along the path to the old mines. The woman looked to be in her late teens with short, unkempt, dark blue hair. A large pair of midnight blue eyes peered out from under her too-long bangs. A forest green cape hung from her shoulders over the dark brown, short-sleeved shirt. Her right hand rested in the side pocket of her forest green, knee length skirt while her left rested on the hilt of her long katana.

 

Her companion, who frequently stole glances of her out of the corner of his copper-colored eyes, walked along side her with his hands in the pockets of his blue denim jeans. His white, short-sleeved shirt was open and blowing free in the light breeze, showing a dark spot on his chest that was shaped like a splatter mark. His neatly arranged black hair hung to around the middle of his back.

"So you got every thing the old fart wanted, right?" he asked as he lifted his hands behind his head and linked his fingers.

"Ryu, that's the tenth time you've asked that, and for the tenth time, yes, I have all of it in the magic pouch," the woman answered in a tone that dared him to ask again. "Why do you keep asking? Wait! You're not hungry so soon after that late lunch we had just a bit ago, are you?

"No, Keiko. It's just, you actually have the fire stones in there along with all the food? I mean, the food will be edible when we get home...right?" he asked in a worried tone.

"Hey!! You're the one that can't make a good magic pouch!! Remember?" Keiko said with an irritated look.

 

 

OOC: again just part of it will post more soon hopefully

july 22 2007: edited for changes

Edited by mai takekaze

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"I'd rather not," he said with a disgusted look as he remembered the way the bag burned apart when he last attempted that particular spell. "Besides, I'm not into magic items like some other people I know. I'll leave that to them. Anyway, I'd probably wind up making a healing potion that blows up or a flaming sword that heals the bad guy," he added with a laugh.

"Yeah, but someone I know just doesn't just doesn't want to try it," she replied with a pointed glance.

"Humph, Whatever!" Ryu replied with an uncaring shrug. "Huh? Yes! Be right back! Gotta go to work!!" he said with a grin as he pulled his shirt off and tossed it to the side, as he rushed at 5 monsters. The monsters were about Ryu's size with green slimy skin and hundreds of tentacles surrounding a large mouth with sharp teeth.

"Watch out, Ryu! Those are Monster #29 in the manual. The Malbro!" Keiko shouted as she caught the shirt before it landed.

'Damn intruder! You will pay for your insolence!' The Malbro telepathically shouted as they turned to face him.

Don't be so sure. Ryu thought as he started gathering raw energy from his surroundings.

"Catch!" Keiko shouted as she threw her sheathed katana to him.

He deftly caught it without looking, only to feel a sudden overwhelming surge of power that threatened to drown his mind in a flood of faint and almost nonexistent memories of war and blood soaked battle fields.

 

LET ME OUT! came a thought from the deepest parts of himself as the sky darkened and the memories vanished. His hair turned silver as he threw the sheathed sword away with enough force to make it stick halfway out of a tree. "NO!!!!!" he shouted in a voiceless scream "I COMMAND THOSE OF THE SKY AND ORDER THE SPIRITS OF FIRE! HEAVEN AND HELL COLLIDE! FLARE WAVE!!!" As Ryu finished casting the spell each of the monsters were engulfed in flames that didn't burn anything else in the area.

"A bit of overkill, isn't it??" Keiko asked as she rapped the back of his head with her fist. After dropping the shirt over his head, she turned to walk towards the tree that held her sword.

"Shut up! It's only a level 5 spell. Besides, you know I can't cast anything below a level 4!" Ryu shouted as he pulled his shirt on. That's three times this week I've almost lost control of my spells! He thought as the memories of the last few minutes faded into the deepest part of himself. He started down the path once more, without waiting for Keiko, while his hair returned to its natural color.

Keiko grasped the part of the sheath that remained out of the tree and with little effort pulled it free. "Well, let's just hurry home to 'Dad' before he comes to get you out of trouble," Keiko said as she tried to catch up.

?You>

"At least we have good food and a warm place to sleep; not to mention your clean clothes," she said with an annoyed look.

"Keiko, I really think that we should leave the old geezer already, and strike out on our own!" Ryu complained, as they approached a rundown old house sitting next to the entrance to a mine. "Seriously, he really just pulls me down."

"So, why don't you just go, then?" Keiko asked with a teasing smile. "Oh, wait. That's right, you can't stand to leave me alone with the old man, can you?"

Leave it to HER to read one's heart better than any mind reader, Ryu thought as he opened the door for her.

As he opened the door for her, Ryu called in with mock seriousness, "Her royal pain has returned to the magnificent palace of the gods, O mighty king of ALL good things!"

He entered the building, only to fly back out from Keiko's angry kick. Only she could match me in speed! He complimented her in his mind, as he stood up and very cautiously entered the shack, expecting to be kicked out again.

"What the heck happened here!?" he exclaimed at the sight of the interior.

The entire interior of the building had been turned upside down and all the furniture tossed around, but all of their valuables were still there, suggesting that either there was something of more value inside, or the person who had done this was searching for someone.

"Keiko, wait here. I'll check it out," Ryu said, stepping through the mess into the other rooms. "Where's that old fart when you need him?" he muttered as he went down the hall past the kitchen. As he continued his search, he heard someone moving around in Keiko's bedroom. Enraged, he kicked in the door to the room, a few strands of his hair turning silver. Inside he saw the man who had raised him and Keiko digging through Keiko's clothes.

"What the heck do you think you're doing with her clothes, old timer!?" Ryu demanded, grabbing the man's shirt.

"Hold it, son. You and your sister are in grave danger. Here," the man said as he grabbed two traveling packs from near the fallen door and stuffed the clothes in one of them. He quickly slipped from Ryu's grip and put the packs in his arms, then started pushing him in the direction of the door. "You two must leave immediately. They are coming for you. Run as fast as you can and never return. Oh! Ah, Take these as well. I'll see you some other time, Seisakusha permitting," the man said as he handed a package to Keiko and pushed the two of them out of the door. As they emerged from the doorway, Ryu felt a spell being released and enveloping them.

"Now hold on just a dang minute, old man! Who's after us!?!" Ryu shouted as he whirled around with clenched fists. But the house and even the mine had vanished, and they were standing next to a dirt road in a forest, dense trees and bushes surrounding them.

"Well, this is just BEAUTIFUL!!" Ryu shouted. "Where the heck are we!?" he asked in a disgusted tone of voice as he looked around. As he calmed a bit, his hair turned all black.

"First things first, Ryu. If we're on our own now, what supplies do we have on hand?" Keiko said as she started to dig through the packs and her pockets. "Let's see-clothes, a week's worth of food, fire stones, a magic bound map and letter, and 20 silver pieces."

"So what does the old fart have to say?" Ryu asked as he started folding and repacking their stuff.

"Let's see, it says;

Dear children,

I regret not preparing you better when I had the chance. But what is done is done. Twenty-one years ago, there was a huge storm that hit Sakura and demolished most of it. The next day, your Uncle Jeff, and I went down to look for survivors. We found two children that none of the other survivors claimed any knowledge of who they were or even of any knowledge of their parents. Since we found them together, we assumed that they were brother and sister.

"They were wrapped in a blanket that depicted an angel and a demon holding hands, with several feathers, black and white, sticking out of the folds. Inside with the two of you was a packet with two amulets and a letter we assumed was from your father or mother. Neither of us could read it, but hoping we could find someone to decipher it, we saved it. I'll make sure to get it to you with the amulets.

"About 6 years later, a wounded stranger appeared, hailing from a temple called Milch. He claimed to have known you two in a previous life, and told us what your names were. He offered to take you home with him when he recovered. That night, though, he passed on to the next world. Nothing more happened until today, when hundreds of soldiers suddenly appeared outside the door around noon and demanded I turn you over for your execution. I told them you had left home last year and I had not seen you since. They were unconvinced and said they would be back for you this evening, then vanished like a spark. I don't think they were mortal, ya know?

"Your teacher came after they left, and said she had felt a strong supernatural evil approaching the house and feared for you. Upon hearing what had happened, she insisted on helping to protect both of you. I sent her to prepare a spell that would transport both of you to a safe place and hopefully that they couldn't track. Now I must let you write your own future.

Stay safe until we meet again,

William 'Bill' Undry"

Keiko finished reading with a look of profound awe. "Well, it seems that you'll get your wish, Ryu," she said as she turned to look at him. She squinted at the sun which was setting behind him. "We're on our own, and now we have evil people. .no, scratch that- supernaturally evil people chasing us."

"Damn it! I don't care if they show up right now! That old geezer just kicked us out on our butts! At the very least he could have let us pack our own things!!" Ryu shouted as his cheeks showed a little color. He quickly threw his pack over his shoulder and turned away from her.

"So that's what bothering you! You never could stand anyone messing with my clothes. Usually, you won't...even if I ask you to hand them to me," she said in realization as she gave him a light push.

"What's that got to do with anything!?" Ryu demanded as his face turned red.

For some unknown reason, she suddenly felt very shy and started blushing as well. "Oh, ah. . .nothing, I guess. Um. . .oh! So, what amulets do you think he's talking about?"

"Huh? Oh, they must be what's in the piece of cloth left in the package," Ryu said as he took the package from on top one of the packs where he had put it. As he opened it, faint memories of battles and bloodshed fluttered briefly in the back of his mind. The package contained two silver amulets. The one was hanging from a silver chain, one half of a blood red ruby surrounded by silver, while the other was made to be worn on one's wrist, with silver surrounding what looked to be the other half of the ruby. Inside the wrist amulet a letter had been put.

"This must be the letter that the old geezer mentioned. No wonder he couldn't read it, it's in the 'ancient high' Daemon language," Ryu muttered with a sigh of irritation as he looked at it. He turned and started to read aloud:

"To those born within the confines of time:

I'm sorry that you were left in this form without anyone to guide your actions. The King, however, deemed it necessary, saying that otherwise you would lean to one side or the other if anyone was left to guide you. However, your past must be remembered. I have sent with you the amulets of your prior lives without asking for his consent. I must also warn you to choose your side well, for upon your choice rests the fate of all creation.

Sincerely,

KENCHI.

P.S. Always keep your fate in mind and never forget your reasons."

 

As Ryu finished reading it, Keiko made a small gasping sort of noise. I can't believe they couldn't get a Master Mage to read it before now, Keiko thought as she looked it over. Unless there is a spell on the scroll and has somehow been guarded from magic detection. Keiko thought as the reread it.

"Something wrong?" Ryu asked in a concerned tone of voice.

"No, just shocked to hear that you actually paid attention during classes. I thought all you learned how to do was tormenting teachers and classmates," she said as she prepared to dodge a playful swipe. She was surprised when instead he put the chain amulet around her neck.

"This one looks best on you," Ryu said, ignoring the previous comment. As it touched her skin, for the briefest of moments, the ruby faintly glowed. Ryu then proceeded to place the other one on his wrist. As with the other, the ruby glowed faintly but for a moment.

"Well then, if we're on our own, we have to think rationally and logically," Keiko said, looking very thoughtful. A look Ryu didn't like to see on her face. "After all, what we have won't last long. So, first order of business is to get a source of income."

"That might be hard," Ryu said. "I mean, all I do well is fight and eat."

"You're good at spells, stupid," Keiko said with a laugh as she finished packing and picked up her pack and slung it over her shoulder. "Then again, the little stuff is beyond you, so they might not hire you."

"Nah, I'll just let my apprentice take care of the little stuff!" he joked.

"Oh, so you're my master now, are you?" Keiko said with a half smile which quickly disappeared when she saw how close it was to sunset. Turning serious, she pulled out the map and looked at it, then started off the south-east, calling, "Anyway, let's go now!"

"Hey! Where do you think you're going?" Ryu asked as he hurried to catch up with her.

"Hikaritokai," she replied as she started to jog. "Teacher sent us several miles from home! She must have had a high quality transportation spell to get us this far."

"Why on earth are we going there for?" he asked as he caught up.

"Simple. I've always wanted to go there, and it's big enough to hide us for a while," Keiko looked into his eyes and smiled. "Besides, it's the capital for mercenary gangs, and someone who can only eat and fight will fit in perfectly."

Frowning, Ryu said, "Fine! Let's get going." He soon overtook her. Several moments latter a thoughtful look passed over his face. "By the way, wouldn't it be faster if you cast a simple flight spell on us?" he asked as he turned back towards her.

Ryu instantly stopped when he saw that she was no longer behind him. In an instant, he started crashing back through the bushes he had passed looking for her. He found her tied up and gagged with three men surrounding her. One was dressed in traditional samurai traveling yukata. His black hair was pulled back into a long ponytail, and both of his hands rested on his katanas hanging on either side of his hips.

The second man stood twice as tall as Ryu and wore several animal skins that had been stitched together. His unnaturally white hair kept blowing in his face and across the great stone mace he had slung over his shoulder. The third man, who stood between the other two, drew his scimitar and rested it on his shoulder. This man wore the fatigues of a now long gone and forgotten country, and his short cropped bright red hair stood out in the green forest.

"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING!?" Ryu shouted. As all three rushed at him, Ryu bowed his head and cut the mark on his chest. The blood gushed out as if trying to escape the confinement of his chest and quickly formed a sword in midair. As the flow vanished Ryu reached out with his right hand and grabbed the hilt. Swinging the sword outward, he allowed the sheath to fly off and hit the katana man in the forehead. The man dropped to the ground in a heap as Ryu's sword continued its path to the right. As he reached the furthest of his reach, he reversed his grip on it, and swinging it back, cut through the scimitar near its hilt. Then, with his left hand, Ryu caught the mace and held it firmly just mere centimeters from the right of his head.

Ryu slowly raised his head to reveal red, glowing eyes that looked like they were on fire. As this happened, a silvery sheen started creeping across his hair. In a deceptively calm voice that held great menace, Ryu said, "I asked you: what the hell do you think you're doing?" As he finished speaking, he tightened his grip on the mace and pulverized it, letting the dust blow away in the wind.

 

 

OOC: again sorry for the long delay but hopefully this will be added to sooner than last time:).

july 22 2007: edited for changes.

Edited by mai takekaze

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The man whose scimitar Ryu had destroyed bowed low before Ryu while the other man simply caressed the ruined handle of his mace with big tears rolling down his face. The one bowing before Ryu spoke up and said, "Good sir, me and my companions are merely simple mercenaries who have lost two good men to a strong Adamantoise, and have been in search of replacements who can assist us in completing our mission. We overheard you and the fine lady," as he said this Ryu's face darkened, "speaking about needing work, and that you were good at fighting and we decided to test you to see if you would be an acceptable replacement. If you would please forgive our methods...."

The man quickly shut up as Ryu swung the sword down and pointed it at the man. The sword hung just centimeters away from the man's nose. "So you think that this lame, unbelievable excuse is reason enough to tie up MY WOMAN????" Ryu practically shouted as he raised his sword as if to deliver a death blow.

"YOU STUPID, MORONIC, JERK!!! JUST WHO IS YOUR WOMAN?!'' Keiko shouted as the ropes and gag turned to dust and fell off of her. As she charged at Ryu, she inadvertently flattened the red haired man. She punched Ryu hard, sending him flying back into a tree several feet away.

Damn! Did I say that out loud? I'm such a moron. Ryu thought as he started to stand up. As he instantly calmed his hair became normal as did his eyes. After Keiko got off of him, the man sat up and rubbed the area where Keiko had stomped on him. With an expression of pure awe, he watched Keiko and Ryu as they continued arguing over what was said.

The Giant suddenly started wailing, "Janice! My poor Janice!!! Sensei! He killed my Janice!"

The man with red hair turned and said, "Shut up, you moron! We must convince them to join us! Besides, you can get another mace somewhere else, Sukoshi."

"How dare you even consider calling me your woman, you stupid idiot!" Keiko continued with an expression that could have curdled milk as she blushed darkly. "Like I would even consider dating a moron like you, you dummy!"

"Like I'd be interested in a stupid, know-it-all like YOU!' Ryu said as

he put his hands behind his head and turned his back to her to hide his own equally red face.

"STUPID !?! WHY…YOU DIRTY, NO GOOD, STUPID IDIOT! WHY

DON'T YOU JUST DROP DEAD?!?" Keiko shouted as she pulled a ribbon out of her pocket. With a flick of her wrist, it turned into a large steel club. Just as Ryu turned around Keiko let him have it but good.

As the darkness surrounded him he could feel the light beckoning to him. Ryu sat up with a start, and found himself in a crowd of people who didn't appear to notice him. He tried to look around and found his body was moving on its own. As he walked down the street, he realized that this was more of a war camp than a town. As a large shadow passed over his head, he looked up swiftly and saw someone flying towards him who looked like Keiko with fire white wings. As soon as he saw Keiko, his body drew two swords from his amulet. Keiko drew her own sword and started to fight with him.

"NO!" Ryu shouted as he was forcefully kicked out of the body. He ran over to try and disarm them, only to find he pass right through them. His body sprouted pitch black wings, and took to the skies, leaving Ryu standing on the ground helpless to do more than watch them. The other him, who was now flying overhead, touched the amulet on his arm again. The amulet started to glow as silver started oozing out of it and covering him. Without warning, Ryu's left arm felt like it was burning up and started to glow brightly around where the amulet was.

"What the....?" Ryu shouted with a jump and found himself jumping to his feet near a campfire. The sun had set some time ago and someone had started a large fire, which was burning low now, and covered him with a blanket. "Oh, must've passed out..... What a strange dream that was," he started to settle back down to sleep some more when he jumped up to avoid being killed by a sword slash.

"Watch it, you Jackass! What do ya think you're doing?" Ryu shouted as he slugged the man in the face. Ryu turned only to find that there were hundreds of armed people surrounding him. He quickly dodged another sword blow and started to chant a spell. "DEATH, DESTRUCTION, AND CHAOS, COME TO MY HAND AND LET ALL MY FOES BE DAMNED BY MY POWER!" He held his right hand out in front of him and instantly multicolored orbs shot off of his hand. The orbs were deflected by invisible magic shield that glowed darkly where the orbs had hit.

"Shit, so much for that plan. Keiko! Where are you?" Ryu shouted as he shoved a man wielding a war hammer into a scythe wielder.

"Over here!" Keiko shouted as she dodged a mace blow. "It's about time you woke up, stupid! Now get off your butt and give me a hand!"

"You're the one that knocked me out, stupid! Hey, watch it!" Ryu shouted as he dodged yet another sword blow. "Listen, I'd love to finish this debate, but your friends don't seem to be for that," he said as he started to move in her direction. "So let's finish after we teach these dumbasses a lesson," Ryu finished as he jumped over another guy and kicked him in the back hard enough to break it.

"Fine. Just don't cast magic on them; it's useless until we remove those magic shields." Keiko said as she stepped into the river and pulled the water up to form an ice shield that surprisingly blocked three sword blows. "Those shields are even blocking direct usage of my abilities."

"Took the question right out of my mouth. How about some indirect usage? Like darts or something?" Ryu shouted as he jumped into the river over several raised swords to reach her. The last sword nicked his left arm and a small amount of blood started to flow. He reached over and made the nick bigger and started to let the blood flow into the river. "WATER, ACCEPT MY BLOOD AND OBEY MY WILL. I COMMAND YOU! WATER SPRAY!!!"

With the last syllable, Ryu made an upward motion with his right hand and the entire stream seemed to jump straight up. Keiko hit the bloodied water with her hands and it formed thousands of darts that shot towards the attackers. Most of the darts bounced off the dark shields and fell harmlessly to the ground. Several darts hit the targets irregardless of the shields. Those who were hit seemed to implode in a sulphur smelling smoke.

"That's some heavy-duty magic they're wielding. Can you dispel it, Ryu?" Keiko asked as they backed away from a frenzy of weapon blows.

"Cover me, Keiko," Ryu said as he started to call the mystic energies to him. Keiko nodded and moved the recently emptied riverbed as if using play-dough to form a protective shield around them. "LORD OF LIGHT, I CALL UPON YOU, SEISAKUSHA! GRANT ME POWER; OVERCOME THE MAGIC OF MY ENEMIES AND DISPEL IT TO THE DEPTHS OF THE BOTTOMS OF THE NINE HELLS; DISPEL BLAST!" Ryu chanted as the power he called for responded to the holy symbols he drew into the air. In a flash all but five of the attackers vanished in foul smelling clouds of smoke.

"Well, what do ya know? DOPPLEGANGERS! I must say, these odds are much better!" Ryu said as he cracked his knuckles and smiled. The five who stood before them seemed startled and stood there as if to size up Ryu and Keiko.

All five were dressed in long black robes and had gems seemingly embedded in their foreheads. Without warning, one of the men made a back-handed motion in Ryu's direction. Instantly a sword materialized in front of Ryu and plunged into his chest. At the same time another of the men made a twirling motion with his hand and a glowing rope wrapped itself around Keiko. With a second motion, the same man started to pull the rope and Keiko closer to him. Keiko seemed unable to manipulate the matter as she struggled against it. She looked at Ryu and called for him with her eyes as she was drawn closer.

Damn! I can't die yet ...... Must save Keiko! "Seisakusha, give me power to protect her!" Ryu screamed as he grabbed the sword in his chest and pulled it out. The sword vanished as the amulet suddenly lit up and started glowing brightly. The gem seemed to melt into his arm while the silver started oozing out and coated his body. The silver bubbled up and formed a large suit of armor with Ryu at the center. The armor was as big as the trees Ryu had been sleeping under and had wings.

The next thing Ryu saw was a small silver colored space with his lower half and left arm under the "floor". He tugged his left arm out of the floor and found that the gem appeared to have embedded itself into his arm. He could suddenly see Keiko being dragged toward the men. As he started to instinctively draw on the magical energies surrounding the armor and himself, memories started to swirl around and resurface. One memory in particular rose up and overtook the others. He again heard the voice of his teacher; a voice he had not heard for eight years when he had received his final spell from her. That spell was the spell of the Kensora...

8 Years Ago

"SPIRITS OF FIRE, YOUR OBEDIENCE I COMMAND!" Ryu chanted as he started the spell. He quickly stole a glace out of the corner of his eyes at Keiko's form through a curtain. "COME FORTH!" instantly the fires he called on turned and attacked him.

"Ryu, you will regret it if you don't pay more attention to your spells than you are now!" said a tall, blond haired woman as she came up behind Ryu as he doubled over from the pain. SHE DREW UPON THE ENERGIES SURROUNDING HIM AND BEGAN CHANTING, "SPIRITS OF LIFE, I COMMAND YOU! FULL HEAL!" Ryu's wounds started to heal instantly as she finished the spell. "Now, Ryu, try it again, and pay attention this time!!!"

"SPIRITS OF FIRE, YOUR OBEDIENCE I COMMAND. COME FORTH! BURN MY ENEMIES WITH THE FLAMES FROM THE HOTTEST DEPTHS OF HELL, MAY EVEN THEIR ASHES BURN AWAY; FLARE STORM!" Ryu recast with his complete concentration. Instantly a curtain of air seamed to glow red with the intense heat that was radiated out. The curtain rolled out like a wave and sent all twenty targets into a fiery oblivion.

"Good! You have a real talent when you pay attention to what you are doing," his teacher praised as she tossed a tri-sealed scroll that radiated an inconceivably strong holy magic. "This is the last spell you can learn from me. It requires the most powerful amplifier of legend to control or even cast it. I think, since unlike the other students, both you and your sister's futures remain as a black void before me, you may have use for this spell at some time. However, it is beyond your capabilities as of now."

After taking the scroll from her he looked at it as if trying to remember something half frogotten. He looked up at her with a frown, "So what's it do, Blondie?" Ryu's disrespectful tone was obvious to the other students as he started to break the seals and open the scroll.

"It allows the hidden powers of the Legendary Ghost Armor, Kensora to burst forth and annihilate all your enemies in the Holy Power. It also will heal your allies and dispel Evil magic." she explained ignoring his insult.

"Sorta sounds familiar... as if ..." Ryu muttered as he skimmed through the writings on the scroll.

"What's that?" his teacher asked.

"Nothing, old hag!" Ryu said with a frown as he started to read the scroll out loud; "LIGHT, DUST, SUN, WARMTH,......"

Present Day

"EARTH, LIGHT, ANSWER MY SUMMONS! SEISAKUSHA, ADD YOUR UNLIMITED STRENGTH MINE." Suddenly the magic gathered seemed to multiply itself by thousands and took on a physical appearance as a cyclone of raging ribbons that glowed brightly as they spun around the armor. "REPAY ALL EVIL WITH JUDGMENT FROM ON HIGH, AND KINDNESS WITH ITS OWN JUSTICE! I DEMAND IT NOW! HOLY BLAST!!!!!!" As he cast the last syllable of the spell the magic powers which were surrounding the armor changed into a wall of brilliant light encircling it. The wall rapidly shot outward and struck the five attackers instantly turning them into small piles of smoldering ashes. Ryu looked around and saw that Keiko was standing there unharmed and well. With a sigh of relief Ryu's armor knelt on one knee as he passed out......

Keiko saw the armor that had mysteriously appeared around Ryu kneel on one knee. She suddenly had a gut wrenching feeling that Ryu was in trouble and in need of help. She raced toward the armor as a white dome of energy, brighter than the now rising sun, surrounded the armor. In her worry and frustration she charged at the dome trying to force her way through. The energy threw her back into several rocks and knocked her out. As she passed out she heard familiar voices speaking.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" asked a strangely familiar voice.

"I will be with her at all costs!" she clearly heard Ryu shout with an angry snarl.

And to her great surprise she heard her voice say, "And I will never leave him."

"Then let it be done," the first voice said again. What she then heard and felt was even more puzzling: bewildering confusion and the voices of many people.

With a start she sat up to find herself in a tent dressed in an old fashioned yukata. She looked around and saw Ryu laying next to her on a separate mat. She hurried over and pulled the sheet down to look at his injuries. The wound in his chest was open and thankfully not bleeding any more. Someone had covered it with bandages and cleaned it but it seemed unhealable by most standards. She knelt beside him and removed the bandages. She then placed her hands over the wound and prepared for the most powerful restoration spell she knew. After forming the energies inside herself she started to speak the words of the spell, "SEISAKUSHA, I CALL ON THINE POWERS TO REVERSE TIME ON THIS SPOT AND RESTORE THIS WOUNDED SOUL TO ITS FORMER GLORY. BE IT IN THINE WILL THEN DO AS I ASK NOW: RESTORATION WAVE!" Instantly the energies formed a visible ball of light over her hands and lit up the tent. It slowly descended though her hands and into the wound which closed up without a scar. Rapidly, all the bruises and other wounds upon Ryu closed and healed with out trace. And still the mark on his chest remained. It's always been there as if to remind us of some great and unknown evil our parents committed long ago, she thought as she traced the mark. Suddenly, for some unknown reason, she burst into tears and threw her arms around Ryu. In utter exhaustion from using her own energy on the spell, she passed out holding him tightly...

 

july 22 2007: edited for changes.

Edited by mai takekaze

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This story seems pretty funny to me so far, mai. :-) Mai must have been drinking expressos while watching all-nighter anime marathons when she was writing this for Megumi, as the story really feels more like a series of over-the-top anime sequences spliced together than it does any sort of narrative. The complete outlandishness and absurdity of it all does result in some funny scenes, which I really liked. The referencing of the Monster Manual when attacking the Malbro was dang funny, and the thought of Cerubus needing a physical was hilarious. Megumi is probably the character that's stood out the most to me so far with her seemingly charming looks and doctor's personality, though characterization is obviously not an important element of this piece. I like the comedy revolving around desire, with the doctor scene involving Megumi and Ryu standing out to me in particular. The "drop your pants" confusion was very funny!

 

Two suggestions for the continuation. First, I would suggest using fewer dream sequences and fewer blackout/wake up transitions, as there were points where these were hard to follow and left me feeling confused. The story doesn't have to be logical, cohesive, or linear, but you still want to make sure that the reader has some sense of your train of thought. :-) Second, I would recommend using more paragraph spacing and indentation, as it can get a little tricky to read when all of the words seem to be crammed into one block of text.

 

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how many chapters of this style of humor are written. Out of curiousity, will we be seeing Megumi's reaction to Mai's story at some point? :-)

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(Quote) This story seems pretty funny to me so far, mai. :-)(quote)

thank you it is suposed to be that way

 

(Quote)Mai must have been drinking expressos while watching all-nighter anime marathons when she was writing this for Megumi, as the story really feels more like a series of over-the-top anime sequences spliced together than it does any sort of narrative.(Quote)

:( this is not true it's just my love of allthing anime/manga showing through

 

(Quote)The complete outlandishness and absurdity of it all does result in some funny scenes, which I really liked. The referencing of the Monster Manual when attacking the Malbro was dang funny, and the thought of Cerubus needing a physical was hilarious.(Quote)

*so flatered the author has no clue how to respond to this.....*

 

(Quote)Megumi is probably the character that's stood out the most to me so far with her seemingly charming looks and doctor's personality, though characterization is obviously not an important element of this piece.(Quote)

again thank you for the inputi guess i need to work on the other characters a bit more and bring them into the spot light.

 

(Quote)I like the comedy revolving around desire, with the doctor scene involving Megumi and Ryu standing out to me in particular. The "drop your pants" confusion was very funny!(Quote)

good eye it is ment to be a romantic comedy type book

 

(Quote)First, I would suggest using fewer dream sequences and fewer blackout/wake up transitions, as there were points where these were hard to follow and left me feeling confused.(Quote)

ok how would it be better to do the dream /blackout transitions as they are a itrigal part of the story

 

(Quote)The story doesn't have to be logical, cohesive, or linear, but you still want to make sure that the reader has some sense of your train of thought. :-) (Quote)

i kinda figured this part but thankyou for the reassurance:P

 

(Quote)Second, I would recommend using more paragraph spacing and indentation, as it can get a little tricky to read when all of the words seem to be crammed into one block of text.(Quote)

sorry about the spaceing the site removed alot of it when i posted it on here

 

(Quote)Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how many chapters of this style of humor are written.(Quote)

all of them:P

 

(Quote) Out of curiousity, will we be seeing Megumi's reaction to Mai's story at some point? :-)(Quote)

maybe....i haven't gotten far on this rewrite so it is a possibility

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Interlude:

Tokyo International Airport, Japan

 

around noon

 

A peculiar couple came out of the terminal. The man was about 6 foot tall and wore a black T-shirt and jeans with mirrored shades covering his eyes. He was clean shaven and carried a stuffed haversack over his right shoulder and a small suitcase in his right hand. Clinging to his other arm was a small girl who looked to be around 6 years old. She wore overall cutoffs with a light blue, short sleeved shirt over them. Her black hair was pulled back into a long braid.

As she looked up at the man with her copper eyes, he started in an annoyed voice, "Like I said in Kansas City, 'quit hanging from my arm like that.' Don't you realize how bad it looks for me??????"

"Don't you like me, Kenshiro??" she asked in a pleading voice.

Kenshiro sighed and hung his head as he replied, "Yes, you're my best friend and all, Yue..."

"And your parents said I could marry you if I want, so....what's the big deal????" Yue interrupted with a frown.

"The point is, you may be 21, but you look like a six year old, and I look almost three times older! And I really don't want to go to jail because you look so young!!!" Kenshiro finished with a look of total defeat.

They walked out to see a sign with their names written on it being held by a tall oriental woman with black hair. "You Kenshiro and Yue from America?" she asked in broken English as they approached.

"Yes, that's us!" Yue answered in perfect Japanese.

With a look of surprise, the woman introduced herself in Japanese, "My name is Kyoko. I am Director Megumi's assistant. She sent me to pick you up and take you to her office." She adjusted the collar of her modest business dress while leading them to the airport parking lot.

Kyoko approached a small white sports car that sat idling. Just as she reached to open the door, a blast of uncontrolled energy pushed her into the car. Kenshiro landed feet first on the back door as his shades fell away. Launching himself forward, he grabbed Yue, who had been standing stiffly as her power ran unchecked. As the energy warped the surroundings, Kenshiro looked over at Kyoko while slinging Yue over his shoulder. "Which way to the hospital?" he asked in a voice that trembled uncontrollably. With her eyes glued to his white, sightless eyes, Kyoko managed to point in the direction of the hospital. No sooner had she pointed the way than he vanished in that direction with a sonic boom.

Megumi looked up from her laptop as she felt an enormous out-of-control energy approaching her at an alarming rate. She ran down the emergency stairs to the first floor. As she approached the lobby, she heard Kenshiro shouting at the receptionist, "Tell Megumi Ishasan to get down here now!" Megumi smiled as she hurried around the corner and over to Kenshiro and Yue.

"What seems to be the problem?" Megumi asked as the building started to warp from the energy.

"Megumi! Her power is out of control and it is more than I can handle. Help me contain it," Kenshiro said as he sat Yue down in a chair. Megumi walked over and started to seal part of the power as it tried to strike her. The power tried to fight for fifteen minutes until it was once again under control. Once the power had faded, the surroundings regained their normal appearance. They took Yue down the hall to an unoccupied room and laid her on the bed.

"How often does her magic run unchecked like this??" Megumi asked as she wiped sweat off her forehead.

"Hers is around noon. Mine tries to go nuts around six in the evening."

Megumi looked around and then leaned in toward Kenshiro and whispered, "Her power is almost as powerful as yours, isn't it??"

"I don't know. She can't access any of it consciously. So I've never seen her use it," Kenshiro whispered with a shrug.

"Well, I have some VERY interesting reading that involves our search," Megumi said as she stood up.

Suddenly Yue sat up in the bed and yawned. She blinked several times and looked back and forth as if trying to figure out where she was. Suddenly with a huge grin she jumps up on Kenshiro's back and hangs off him, "She saved me again!" Yue shouted as she started to giggle.

"Get OFF!!!!" Kenshiro shouted as he tried to grab her.

As the two argued back and forth Megumi lead them down the hall to the main elevator. "Sorry to interrupt, but will you be starting in the school tomorrow or on Monday??" Megumi asked as she stepped on.

 

Paris France

 

A tall person stood on the observation deck of the Eiffel tower reading a letter from the Tokyo battle school. The long tan leather coat this person wore concealed most of their body. A small black and white monkey sat on their shoulders playing with the waist length silver hair that spilled out from under the black baseball cap. "So it begins. I guess I should really take my place on this stage as well."

 

 

OOC: moving on with the story:)

july 22 2007: edited for changes.

Edited by mai takekaze

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Second movement:

 

Ryu lay under the sakura tree that he had often seen Keiko under when she was off duty. She would often come and make paper flowers out of the dirt and then 'plant' them in the bare areas. He seriously hoped that he wouldn't have to wait any longer for her arrival. Thinking of her brought a smile to his face. And yet, was it worth all that? Ryu absently thought as the painful memories of the last hundred years briefly flitted through his mind. Oh, well, I just hope she gets here soon; I can't put off my mission forever.......or could I?

"Well, well, well...if it isn't Kage Ryu! What brings you here?" Keiko asked as she walked up to the right of where he lay, placed her right hand on her hip and leaned over him.

"Nothin' much. Just thought I'd lay around and nap until something better presented itself," Ryu said with a yawn as he stretched and then stood. He stretched again as he stole a glance at her figure. He quickly averted his eyes, and with a blush rising on his cheeks, said: "Hey, want to go for a walk? I know a grove of sakura trees that are still in bloom a short distance from here."

"Probably a trap again, right?" Keiko said with a suspicious glance as she turned away from him. "Let's see, last time you tripped, so now what's the plan?"

"NO! I promised no more tricks. Remember? Besides, it's not as much fun to steal kisses from you as I thought. Your retaliation is killer." Ryu said with a look of sincere hurt replacing his sly grin.

"Yes, I remember your promise. BUT, your kind aren't known for being bound to their word. Especially YOU, Renegade," she said, with a slightly less suspicious look, as she turned.

 

"Fine! This time You will have no doubt of my sincerity," Ryu said as he reached above his head with his left hand and broke a small branch off of the tree. Using the branch, he tore open a wound from right to left across his chest. He threw the branch to the side as he gathered and formed the magical energies into a ball of light in his right palm, "SPIRITS, HEAL TO SCAR!" As the wound healed, it turned into a splatter shaped scar, then he pushed the ball of light into the scar and uttered the sealing spell: "NOW SPIRTS OF TIME, I COMMAND IN THE LANGUAGE OF MY FOREFATHERS: EIEN NI!" As he dropped to his knees, he made marks over the scar, written in the unused language of the Daemon Lords, with the spilled blood. "I vow with the Heavens, earth, and all of hell as my witnesses: as long as this scar remains, I cannot bring any harm to Kaji Keiko and my servants shall obey her every command!" with this said, Ryu toppled over face down. When he didn't move afterwards, Keiko dropped to her knees, rolled him onto his back. As she did so, the word on his scar disappeared in a puff of steam. She gathered him in her arms and held him close. With tears streaming down her face, she yelled at him, "Stupid Idiot! You didn't need to go that far!......."

Ryu woke up and realized that he was holding someone and someone had their arms around him. He then opened his eyes to find himself looking at Keiko's peaceful face. Keiko started crying as she muttered "Stupid idiot! You didn't need to go that far! I'd believe......" and opened her eyes. In an embarrassed silence, staring into each other's eyes, they each realized that they felt completely comfortable in each others arms without understanding why they felt that way.

Suddenly they realized they were in a camp as a voice called from outside the tent: "Hey Doc, you going to check on the love birds?"

Instantly they both sat up and turned their backs to each other as a host of voices/noises rang out with other more common camp duties. A female voice, much closer to the tent, answered, "Yes, I'm going to see if they're ready to eat yet. You know more than a day's worth of beauty sleep and she might be my rival!" With this the speaker opened the tent and stepped in. The woman who entered the tent was tall with her spiky chestnut colored hair brushing against the top of the tent. She wore a skin tight tank top that emphasized her assets. On top of this she wore a mesh jacket. Her jeans were also form fitting, showing off the rest of her body.

"Sorry to interrupt you lovers, but breakfast is ready when you are." With that, she stepped back out and walked away.

"Shit." A red-faced Ryu said as he grabbed his shirt off the pack in the comer of the tent. "I'll go so you can change," he said as he left the tent. He quickly sought out the woman who had walked into the tent.

As he stepped out, he saw that he was surrounded by tents and people who appeared to have come from every walk of life and every religion on the planet. There were even some that he could not recognize. As he wandered through the camp, he noticed that everyone was dressed in worn clothing and was either physically or magically strong. As he moved through the camp, several sorcerers and wizards cast various spells at Ryu to test his strength. Ryu instinctively cast a magic reflecting field around himself just as the first of the spells reached him. One very drunk man stood as Ryu passed his table. Ryu recognized him as the giant who assaulted him previously.

 

"Yu thar. Yeah yu.....Yu killed Janice! Ah'll mehk yu pay!" the giant shouted as threw his mug down and charged at Ryu.

"WINDS OF LIFE, STRONG AS STEEL, BIND HIM HOLD FAST!" As Ryu chanted as strong winds sprang up on every side of the giant and held him.

"Hey! What's going on here?" shouted a familiar voice. As Ryu turned, he saw the woman who had been in the tent push through the crowd that had gathered. Ryu's concentration faltered for a moment and the wind holding the grant failed a moment, just long enough for him to brake free. He charged forward, and as Ryu turned back to face him, hit Ryu hard enough to throw him back into the crowd. As Ryu landed, his body carved a deep trench into the ground as it ground to a halt. "Sukoshi! Don't kill him!" shouted the lady as she rushed to Ryu. "Too late, no one could survive that hit," Sukoshi stated as he sat back down to his drinks.

"Couldn't survive what?" Ryu asked with a razor sharp voice, from the hole that his body had carved. In a flash, Ryu stood behind Sukoshi, his eyes ablaze. "I've been hit much harder than that. Why don't you give me your best shot and I'll just stand here." Sukoshi rose and hit at Ryu only to find Ryu crouching on his arm which was in the location Ryu's face had been only moments ago. "Ya know, I don't think I'll do that after all.....Take this!" And with that Ryu shifted his weight and kicked Sukoshi in the face. In an instant Ryu was in front of Sukoshi and said as the giant continued flying toward him, "Oh…yes, I must show you what a real punch is." with that Ryu punched him in the back and Sukoshi flew back into a large tree and left a faint but lasting impression. "That was only part of a real punch....full power would be wasted on you. And as for you," Ryu said as he suddenly stood in front of the woman who had entered their tent, "I would like a private conversation with you." As Ryu said this, his eyes and voice returned to normal.

"Hi, Megumi! Talking to the new recruit?" asked the scimitar man from the test fight earlier.

"Recruit?" Ryu mumbled as he looked the man over.

"Yes, sir. He's asking for a private conference, so could we use your tent, Sensei?" Megumi asked with a wink.

"What the...?" Ryu started after seeing the wink.

"Of course you can use it. I'll be the last person to keep him from his desires," Sensei interrupted as he put an arm around Ryu's shoulders. With a whisper he added, "Just play along, son. She'll have to admit to it sooner or later, and this is a chance to push her towards sooner." With that he pushed Ryu into the direction of Megumi who took his arm and lead him away before he could protest.

When they arrived at the indicated tent and ducked inside, Ryu said, "Now just hear me out, ah....um....Megumi, was it?' With a quick nod from her as she pulled off her mesh jacket, Ryu, with his eyes fixed on her chest, and a blush starting to deepen on his cheeks, continued speaking. "Me and Keiko are childhood friends, not lovers, so...er...I mean..." his voice trailed off as he forced himself to look elsewhere in the tent as his blush deepened. His head jerked to look at her face as Megumi reached over and pulled off his shirt and tossed it to the side.

"Now take your pants off." Megumi said as she started to rustle through a bag.

"WHAT!!!!" Ryu shouted as he took a step back. "Are you even listening to me???!?!??!?!"

Megumi looked up and turned toward him with a stethoscope in her hands and flatly stated, "Don't worry, this is a completely professional visit."

"OH! So you're a Doctor?" Ryu asked as a brief flash of disappointment flashed across his face only to be replaced by a cocky look, as he said, "That relieves my mind somewhat. I thought you couldn't resist my charms, or something." Then he started removing his pants.

"Charms? What charms?" Megumi asked with a quizzical look on her face. As she looked up at him and noticed his hang-dog look, she hastily added, "Oh! Yes! Your charms. Right. Well, I don't have time for that right now. Besides, I've got my eyes set on someone else, anyway. Lay down on the blanket. Tell me if this hurts." Kneeling beside him, she started pushing her hands on his abdomen and chest. Without waiting for him to speak, she continued talking, "Listen, Kage Ryu, I really don't care about your relationship with Kaji Keiko." After a pause she added, "But, you know, for 'childhood friends', you two certainly act more like lovers. If you don't want everyone to have the wrong idea, stop acting like lovers!"

'Acting like lovers!' Do we???? Ryu pondered as Megumi continued her examination.

"Well, you've got a clean bill of health!" She stated with an impish grin as she suddenly stood. With a sly wink, Megumi implied, "Probably thanks to all the TLC from Keiko!" As Ryu started to blush fiercely she suddenly became serious and stated, "Just stay away from those wizards from night before last. It may wind up costing you your life and then some next time you meet." This being said, she threw his clothes at him and turned away.

After getting his pants on, he suddenly stated, "Fine. But what did that man mean by New Recruit'??" He pulled his shirt on as he stepped out of the tent.

Ryu held the flap back as Megumi stepped out pulling on her jacket. "RYU!!!!" Keiko's voice shouted from the general direction of their tent. "What do you think you're doing?!?!?!?" Everyone between Ryu and Keiko either went flying or jumped out of the way as Keiko charged over with her eyes ablaze.

"See ya later, Kage, had a blast," Megumi said with a provocative grin. "It looks like the Missus is a little upset."

"Missus?" Ryu asked as he watched Megumi saunter off.

"WHAT?!?" Keiko shouted as she arrived. "Who's the Missus??? You had best not be referring to me!" with that she said this she reached into the pocket of the jeans she now wore and whipped out her ribbon-club. She started to swing it at Ryu's head but suddenly stopped mid-swing and shook as if a chill had run through her. Ryu also felt a sickening uneasiness run through him. As he turned he saw a small girl with pigtails approach.

She looked Ryu and Keiko over with a perplexed look on her face. She walked around them while staring at them the whole time. She stopped in front of Ryu and looked up at his face and stated in an emotionless voice, "You are not human are you?" Ryu took a moment and looked her over. Her shirt, which ended at the top of her shorts, was very loose and baggy with sleeves pushed up to her elbows and held in place by strips of white cloth. Her shorts, which came down to her knees, were held up by suspenders, and also there was a clip in place to hold the waistband tight. On her feet were oversized combat boots topped by thick socks. Around her neck were light blue prayer beads that caught the light in a way that made them seem to faintly glow. But what drew his eyes completely was the color of her eyes. The pupils of her eyes were blue, but instead of the usual white color around them, they were colored red.

"Um...Who are you?" Keiko asked as the child again circled Ryu.

As she walked around Keiko with the same look on her face she answered in an equally emotionless voice, "I am Channeller Chan Youchi. But you may call me Youchi."

"So...Who's supposed to be Babysitting you?" Ryu asked with an annoyed look as he got down to her eye level.

"I am quite mature for my age and so babysitters are not necessary, Ryu was it?" as Youchi continued in her monotone. She undid the cloth strips holding up her sleeves as she looked at Keiko's face. Ryu was surprised to see the sleeves ended several inches past her fingertips.

"How old are you, miss?" Youchi asked in her flat tone as she looked deep into Keiko's eyes.

With a mildly amused look Keiko replied, "I'm about 21 Years old. How about you?"

As Youchi turned and left as she answered, "Eight winters."

Ryu and Keiko stood in apparent shock as they watched Youchi leave. After she was out of sight Ryu yelled at Sensei, "What the Hell is a brat like her doing in a mercenary camp??? And you had better not try to tell me that she is a fighter here!"

With a look of mingled seriousness and sorrow Sensei answered, "Till you two joined she was the next to strongest fighter here."

"Yeah, that's also been bothering me. What's this talk about me joining and being a 'New Recruit'?" Ryu asked with an angry expression

"Um...Ryu," Keiko said as she touched his shirt and turned it to steel.

"My shirt!" Ryu cried as the shirt suddenly became heavy.

"Ryu, we need to talk," Keiko continued as she reached for her ribbon.

"Sure! Talk... of Course!!!" Ryu nervously stammered as he grabbed her hand just shy of the weapon.

"What'd I tell ya boy!? You can use my tent since it is so close," Sensei said as he pushed them into the tent. "Alright all of you clear out now! ! !" Instantly everyone in the clearing vanished.

"So who are they? Mercenaries or Ninja??" Ryu muttered as Sensei's words echoed in his ears.

"'What'd I tell ya, boy'?" Keiko mimicked with a suspicious look as she returned his shirt to normal. "What did he mean???"

"You don't want to know at the moment. So what do you want to talk about?" Ryu said with a disgusted look as he sat down with arms and legs crossed and head bowed.

"Well, it's like this um... well after I knocked you out the two nights ago I spoke with Sensei and um... heard what was going on. You see in Hakaritokai, last year I think it was, a group of super powerful people who had just settled there took over the town. They were naturally rejected by the strongest bands, and of course a gang war broke out. In the confusion that ensued, all those that stood against the band were being killed. Dark whisperings said that this super strong group was behind the disappearance of several virtuous groups. The same whispers also stated that there was an immortal being in charge of the group. Sensei's group was one of the few to merely become outcasts. Recently, though, a reward of 10,900 platinum pieces and permission to enter and leave Hakari has been offered to any group able to stop the air elementals assaulting a temple north of Kaji," Keiko said hesitantly, remembering how mad he had always been when people forced him to work with others he had no affection for. "So I thought that if we were to assist them we might get a share of the reward and gain allies. So I said we would join them... if you're going to get mad at anyone for mixing you up in this mess, then get mad at me for not asking you first." Keiko ended with a deep breath and for the first time since starting to speak she looked over at Ryu who hadn't moved since setting down. He had an air of deep meditation about him and Keiko sat for several minutes waiting for him to respond. Finally she reached over and lightly pushed his shoulder with her finger. With a soft snore Ryu toppled over unfazed. ''WHY YOU STUPID MORON!!!! I'M TALKING TO YOU AND YOU HAVE THE NERVE TO SLEEP!?!?!" Keiko shouted as she whipped out her ribbon and bashed Ryu in the head.

"YEOUCH!!! What the Hell was that for!!???!!??"Ryu shouted with his anger clearly shown on his face, as he sat up with a start.

With a hurt look Keiko shouted, "I'm talking and you're ignoring me!!!"

"You said that you wanted to join to gain allies and help out. SO? I don't care what we do as long as...Ah ..I um ...We work together. Yeah! That's what I mean!" Ryu stumbled as his anger faded and was replaced by a look of self irritation and embarrassment. "What ever! So why do they think that we're lovers? Did you do or say..."

"NO!!!! Stupid!"Keiko said as she started fiercely blushing.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to imply... Ah… never mind. So how come the misunderstanding arose?" Ryu said as he also blushed.

"Well, since we just found out that we may not be physically related, I didn't feel like claiming kinship to you....." Keiko started as she started to look very uncomfortable.

I don't like her mood… maybe I shouldn't have asked... How to break the mood? Ryu thought as he proceeded to blurt out the first thought that entered his head, "Oh! I see someone has a major crush on her big brother!" Shit, why did I say That????

"I just don't want to be related to a perverted moron that sneaks peaks at his darling innocent sister!!!" Keiko said with a sudden look of total and pure innocence covering her red embarrassed face.

"Yeah, right! Like I'd look at such an underdeveloped brat like You!" Ryu shouted thoughtlessly in his embarrassment only to suddenly cringe away in fear as Keiko drew her sword, as fast as lightning.

"Why…You IDIOT! How dare You call me underdeveloped! I'LL have you know I'm a.....Never mind!! It doesn't matter what size I am, because I'm going to kill you!!!"Keiko shouted as she charged at Ryu who was running out the opening to the tent and away from her.

Damn! What did I say this time? Ryu thought as he dodged around the camp equipment in the clearing. As realization of what he said dawned on him Keiko came within inches of cutting through his side as the memory froze him. Shit! Did I actually say that? !? !? ! No wonder she reacted with such ferocity. I have Got to learn to think before I speak! "I'm sorry, Keiko. You're not underdeveloped! Er..um ..I mean with such a cute face and body a man can't..er..ah..I mean...." Ryu attempted to apologize while still not thinking of what he said.

Keiko swung the sword downward as if in a death stroke. Ryu braced himself to be split open only to find that she had tuned it into a large club that bashed his brains in. As he fell over in pain, grabbing his head, Keiko said, "Perverted Moron!" She returned the sword to normal and sheathed it. "I'll get you later." She stated as she walked past him.

"Well, well. You two haven't changed at all," said a female voice from behind a tree. As she stepped out, she motioned toward Ryu, "Kage, you just nap there for now." Instantly, Ryu fell into a fast and deep sleep. The person

stood a moment to make sure Ryu stayed asleep giving Keiko a chance to size her up. The person was sort of a transparent blue, she lacked any type of clothing, and had a small bit of visible wind swirling around her.

Casting spells without words or major gestures......and her appearance......... she must be an air elemental. "So what does an air elemental want with us?? And why did you attack Ryu?" Keiko asked as she placed herself between the elemental and Ryu.

"None of your business! Now move or die!!!" With this the elemental charged forward and extended her hand as her finger nails lengthened and grew sharp.

Instinctively Keiko shielded herself with her arms. As the elemental got within four feet of Keiko the amulet around Keiko's neck glowed brightly and the elemental's magically created body shredded and the energy started to swirl around Keiko as ribbons just like it had around the armor that had enveloped Ryu earlier. As Keiko looked through the energies, past memories dislodged themselves and clouded her mind. She grabbed her head as she fell to her knees and then to her face as she entered a world of half forgotten dreams.

In this dream, Keiko opened her eyes she saw that she stood in a battlefield and spells of all sorts were flying around her. All that passed within four feet was ripped to shreds and added to the energy that swirled like ribbons around her. As she looked for a new target to attack a clumsily shot anti-magic arrow hit the amulet that hung around her neck. Instantly the amulet shattered and the energies that had become physical ribbons shot out in every direction and seriously wounded Keiko in the process. As she fell to the ground, she heard an all too familiar voice shouting, "At last the spell will be broken, and my Darling Ryu will be all mine at last!!!"

Keiko then heard Ryu's deceptively calm voice saying, "What the hell did you do, Mesuinu?!?" There was a moment before she saw Ryu's face in front of her. "If she dies then so shall you, Bitch!" Ryu looked down at Keiko and said, "Don't you dare die on me, Kaji! Or I'll make you pay!!!"

Ryu stood and instantly ribbons of pure nonelemental magic swirled around him as he cast a summoning, " NOW I CALL TO THE DARKNESS BEYOND LIFE AND DEATH TO WHERE THOSE UNABLE TO EITHER LIVE OR DIE RESIDE, I CALL TO YOU THE POWER OF LIFE IN THE FLESH; ASSIST ME AURA THE LIFE GIVER! AND I CALL ALSO TO THEE WHO ART CALLED THE GREAT GUARDIAN OF THE GATES COME MY SERVANT CERUBUS AID ME IN THIS MINE TIME OF NEED!"

A huge pillar of light shot upward as Ryu finished. Instantly a thirty foot tall, three headed dog appeared next to a girl who wore a white cloak and hood. Her silver hair hung out of the hood and her ice blue eyes seemed to glow in the dimness of the twilight.

"Aura, take Keiko to my house and care for her wounds. Cerubus, Go with them and guard them! I'll clear the path." Ryu said as his skin turned scaly and his hair turned to silver.

As horns rapidly grew out, Aura floated over to Keiko as she passed out saying in an excited voice, "Excuse me Great Lord Kage; but you do realize you will pay for my services with something of great value to you'!"

Ryu looked at Keiko as his hands became claw-like then looked at Aura and said, "Screw the cost! Take care of her, or this is the last time anyone will be able to even imagine calling upon you!" Ryu stepped back as he sprouted wings covered with black feathers.

"Awesome!" Aura said with an excited smile as Ryu finished transforming. With movement faster than anyone could follow with eyes or sixth sense, Ryu started tearing through both friend and foe till only the woman who shot the arrow stood before him.

"Stand Down!" Ryu shouted as he trembled in his rage.

"No," was the calm yet light reply.

"Stand down or face the consequences, Princess," Ryu shouted. The spirit pressure around the two rapidly grew to astounding heights as Ryu prepared to attack, "You know you will never be a match for me!"

"NO! This Tenchi must die now!" Mesuinu shouted as she took a relaxed fighting pose.

"Fine! I warned you!" Ryu shouted as he charged forward. His power was so great the earth broke up as he delivered an uppercut that shot Mesuinu into the air. Ryu flew up and seemed to split into twenty or more semi transparent images that started to land blow after solid blow on her.

Suddenly Mesuinu's Chi flowed outward forming what seemed to be a black flame enveloping her. Ryu's next blow was deflected with enough force to send Ryu rushing to the ground. Ryu twisted in mid air and landed feet first. Still spinning, he continued away from her. When he stopped, he was facing her. He reached down and tore out a chunk of earth equal to his size and pitched it at her. As soon as the stone left his hands he started to form holy symbols required for one of the most powerful holy spells in the air.

"Impossible," stated one of the younger Tenchi as he looked to another nearby Tenchi who strongly resembled Megumi. "The decedents of darkness can not learn much less cast holy spells! Right, mistress?"

Megumi responded with a look of surprise, "An Oni who is not of any element or side. By parentage and appearance he is truly an Oni. Yet his heart is free from the stain of the darkness as we can see. Therefore he cannot be a true descendant."

"How can we see?" asked the younger.

"Look closely at the field: those who he encountered are already standing. Nor does he plan to kill his current opponent. Although, with her Chi expended like this she might die. That is, if she doesn't end this fight soon."' Megumi replied as the rock reached the outer bits of her Chi and started to disintegrate.

When the last traces of the rock faded from existence Ryu thrust his hands out towards her with both wrists touching and shouted, "ONI NIKATAI HAKAI!" For a split second a ball of pure unaltered holy magic rested in his hands in the shape of a ball which then rapidly shot forth and disintegrated Mesuinu's body. At the same time that Ryu's paid its toll for channeling the power and collapsed, Cerubus shrank to half his size at the same time.

"Get a move on, Aura!" Ryu shouted as he sat with a start. He looked around and found himself in a tent. Damn! What a nightmare! Way too frickin' realistic!!! Have to get a charm to guard against magical sleep. Ryu thought as he realized he had dreamed it all. He looked around as he lay back, Keiko didn't seem to be moving at all and in unexplainable concern, Ryu reached over and placed his hand over her heart only to sigh in relief as her steady heartbeat was felt. He then dozed back off in this position.

In his dream, he stood before an altar built to Seisakusha and was lighting several candles. He heard someone enter the room. Hearing no foot steps, he turned to see who it was. Aura was floating up at a fast rate with her arms wide and with cloak and hood thrown back revealing that she wore nothing underneath. "Stupid Bitch! Cover yourself before the Lord of No Elements!" Ryu shouted as he averted his eyes. When he felt her grab him in a bear hug it became obvious that she had no intention of putting on any clothing. Shoving her away he shouted, "Damn you! Why do you always do this to me?!?!?"

"You don't like the modifications I just had made?" Aura asked as she grabbed Ryu's hand and placed it on her bare chest.

"Ah," Ryu stated as he instinctively squeezed. "You certainly have grown big in a short time." As realization dawned on Ryu as to what he was doing, his face turned bright red as he tried to remove his hand.

Aura held Ryu's hand in place for a moment as she stated "Pervert!!"

"Damn you! Is tormenting me your only reason for being here?" Ryu said as he dipped his hands in a bowl of water as if to wash them of his actions.

"Nope. Just came to get my payment from Keiko. The entertainment was just a freebie. See ya!!" Aura answered as across the hall a terrified scream loudly came to them.

"WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BREASTS?!?!?" Keiko screamed loud enough to make the water in the bowl ripple. Ryu hurried across the hall and opened the door to find Keiko standing in front of the mirror without shirt or support strap holding her greatly diminished chest. As he averted his eyes, he knocked on the door. Keiko turned and touched the wall. Instantly the door became a hoard of tentacles and held Ryu firmly with one pushing his face to where he couldn't see her change. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME YOU PERVERT!?"

"I didn't Do anything!" Ryu said as he attempted to turn further away.

"How do I know you didn't?" Keiko asked in a slightly less agitated voice. "You at least thought about it!"

"I can't deny that the thought had crossed my mind, in passing, but I'm not so much of an animal that I act on every thought that crosses my mind," Ryu stated as the door returned to its normal shape and Keiko touched his shoulder.

With a start, Keiko sat up and looked around. She saw Ryu had wound up between the sleeping mats and had his hand on her lap. She smiled as she held his hand to her cheek a moment before setting it at his side. She reached over, pulled a blanket over him, and as if it were a habit planted a small kiss on his forehead "Pervert." she softly reprimanded herself. She started to lie back down only to sit back up noticing the smell of smoke on the early morning air.

Ryu started to mutter in his sleep as magical energy started to absorb into his body, "O GREAT CERUBUS GUARDIAN OF THE GATES. I CALL UPON THEE! LEND TO ME THINE AID AT THIS THE TIME OF MINE NEED" As the spell finished a pillar of light shot upward only to fade in an instant. Heavy footsteps approached as the smell of smoke grew stronger, and flames from somewhere outside light up the tent. As Keiko stepped out the tent Ryu muttered, "Don't let her find out..."

Keiko found herself standing before a scene of destruction, several tents were knocked flat and some even had fire licking the edges. Suddenly with a step the dog she just dreamed about appeared. In a booming voice the middle head said, "I have come to this place as you have asked my lord. Please don't hide yourself from me."

The head nearest Keiko saw her and lowered itself in a show of deep respect and asked, "Great Mistress Kaji forgive me for bothering you, but have you seen Lord Kageryu? He has summoned me yet I cannot find him."

As the other heads also lowered themselves and the great beast lowered it's front half in a low bow, Keiko heard herself answer as if this was a common occurrence, "Ryu is sleeping in the tent."

"Very well, do you have any orders for me while I await my Lord's command?" the creature asked as the middle head slightly raised itself to look into her eyes.

Again as if it were a conditioned reflex she responded, "Sit and wait here."

With an accompanying chill Youchi stepped out of the nearest tent and looked at the creature through half asleep eyes. "What a big stupid dog you are, Moron," she stated in her typical monotone as she walked toward the kitchen area.

About this time Ryu popped his head out of the tent and upon seeing Cerubus asked in a half asleep voice, "Oh Good! Is Keiko safe?"

With a quizzical look Cerubus responded "My Lord that task has been completed."

"Good. Keiko didn't find out what Aura did, did she??" as he spoke he sounded more and more awake, and Cerubus seemed to shrink smaller and smaller.

Before Cerubus could respond, Keiko's face turned bright red as she punched Ryu back into the tent as she shouted, "HOW DARE YOU!!!

Ryu was suddenly fully awake as Cerubus disappeared and was replaced by a coal black Great Dane puppy with fire red eyes. Both Keiko and the puppy rushed into the tent shouting at him as their voices overlapped. "Wait!!! Slow down Keiko. What do you mean, 'how dare you do to my dream'??" Ryu said in complete bewilderment. "I've got no clue what you are saying."

"I said 'How dare you talk about my dream!"'Keiko said as she threateningly approached Ryu.

"And I said 'What did you do to me?"'the puppy said in a deep voice.

Keiko and Ryu both stopped and looked first at the dog and then at each other. What they saw appeared to be a regular Great Dane puppy. "Did that dog just talk???" Ryu asked as he stared at it in amazement.

The dog rushed up and jumped on Ryu. "Never mind that what did you do???" the dog said as its voice jumped from deep bass to a high ranged sopranino and back.

"Well I guess he is about puberty as dogs go," Keiko said as Ryu burst out laughing. "You do realize your being rude don't you? Your voice still cracks from time to time too," She added with a frown.

"Whose voice still bReaks??" Ryu asked as his voice obligingly broke.

"Told ya so!" Keiko said as she tried to keep from smiling.

"Did it on purpose," Ryu said as he looked away form them.

At this time Megumi sticks her head in the tent, "Hey! Hope I'm not interrupting a lovers spat but we need to......."She trailed off as she caught sight of Cerubus. "I'm..Ah... What was I.. Oh yeah!! We need to assemble at Sensei's tent for assignments. And by the way your PET will need to get a physical afterward. No telling what kind of germs or diseases HE might have picked up."

"Okay sure thing," Ryu said as he and Keiko left the tent.

As Cerubus fell in line he muttered, "'What's She doing here???"

"Huh?? You say something??"Ryu asked as he continued toward Sensei's tent.

As Youchi approached from the food tent Ryu again felt the unsettling feeling in the pit of his stomach that seemed surrounded her. He tuned toward her as he said, "and why are you going???"

"Simple. I am a fighter and must report to my leader when he calls." Youchi replied as she pulled her hair back into a makeshift ponytail. "Watch your step."

Ryu who had continued to walk while he was looking at her walked right in to a tall man with short spiky silver colored hair. The man had been in the process of putting a blood red coat with a high collar on over a black sleeveless shirt. The man finished as Ryu proceeded to apologize. The man squatted down and started to feel the ground as he said in a angry voice," shut the hell up you stupid bastard. If you are sorry help me find my shades."

Ryu was completely taken back by the man's attitude as Keiko reached down and picked up a pair of oval shaped sunglasses and handed them to the man. "Here you go. I'm sorry about my companion; he is an oaf who won't look where he's going." she said pointedly as she helped him up.

As the man put his glasses on over his sightless eyes he stopped and suddenly seemed angrier. "What the hell do you think your doing here, Bastard???" the man demanded as he grabbed Ryu's shirt collar with hand reveling his half gloves to be covered in blood stained steel plates.

What the hell?? Ryu thought as he replied, "um.. I'm Ryu Rei, and have never seen you before. And, if you wish to keep it, you'll remove your hand promptly."

"Release him, Onisama. He's not at full strength yet." Megumi said as she held an acupuncture needle to Onisama's jugular vein. "And you had best not contradict me Kage Ryu."

"Very well, but you can't stop me next time, bitch," Onisama said as he released Ryu and headed towards the rest of the camp. "You had best return soon you Bastard Kage. And don't lie to me I know it is you, I can see your aura!" he added as he turned and continued on rapidly.

"Damn freak!" Ryu muttered as he put distance himself and Onisama. He soon hushed up as his mind focused on a spell he had noticed embedded in the skull shaped earrings Onisama had on.

As soon as everyone had assembled Sensei started speaking as if to some young children in school, "Alright, everyone. Our next mission is to the Kage temple near the northern edge of Kajitokai's influence. The temple has come into ill favor of the Air goddess Mesuinusora. Legions of air elementals have been reportedly attacking the temple and have placed it under siege. A notice has gone out to every mercenary group still living that they require aid and that the Dosenkyo of Hakaritokai, yes the same group that exiled us, has offered to supply the reward to any group that can free the temple. The reward consists of one hundred platinum coins to each person of the exterminating group and even ten to each person in the band who are unable to participate. For us this will mean 10,900 platinum pieces, in addition, they offer the victorious band free passage through the town of Hakari for three years. Since we have several new recruits in the band--the best-known being the 'love birds'," Sensei paused as everyone chuckled while Ryu and Keiko turned bright red.

"Gotta clear that up soon..."Ryu muttered as Sensei continued.

"I am going to go over some basics about our opponents so no one will have sore feelings over who will be going. I also don't want any complaints about the assignments...."

Sensei was cut off as someone in the crowd shouted out "Hear that Kyon no gripes!"

"Ahem.. yes well as I was saying," Sensei said as he frowned at the man.

As he started up again the veteran members of the band sat down a motioned for the newcomers to do the same. "Now you will probably see how he got his name," Megumi whispered as she motioned for Ryu and Keiko to sit. As Ryu sat down he noticed Onisama lean back against a nearby tree.

"Every elemental is a spirit that makes a pact with one branch of elemental magic upon their death so they may continue living," Sensei continued when everyone had settled down. "the branches of elemental magic consist of: light, dark, air, earth, water, fire. There is one other branch that is uncontrollable and untouchable to most people with the exception of the legendary Lord of No Elements and his apprentices. These spirits are loaned bodies formed of energy based in elemental magic. Their appearances are normally semi-transparent and may or may not be clothed depending on the whim of the summoner. They are immune to almost all forms of damage with the exception of magic and anti-magic weapons. Chi based attacks also inflict damage if the one wielding the chi is strong enough." Sensei paused a moment to take a breath as Keiko bashed a sleeping Ryo in the back of the head with her ribbon club. "This being said the party going shall be Sukoshi, Ken, Onisama, Kyoshin, Kyon, Keiko, Ryu, myself and Youchi."

"Hold on just a Goddamn minute why the hell are you sending a little child into battle?!?!?!?l What kinda....." as Ryu jumped up and shouted, Megumi touched a pressure point at the base of his neck. Ryu promptly passed out mid-sentence.

Keiko stood up and gently stated, "I to have concerns about sending Youchi into battle against such forces."

"Perhaps if we were to battle to prove my strength it would quell your

misgivings," Youchi said in a monotone as she faced Keiko. "If you beat me then I shall voluntarily withdraw from the mission."

"Very well," Keiko said as she crouched down with her left arm extended behind her and touched the ground........

july 22 2007: edited for changes.

Edited by mai takekaze

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Interlude:

 

Tokyo battle school, Sensoogakkoo

 

Around noon

 

Yue sighed deeply. She had a great weekend, she had found a part time job delivering for a local pizza chain, and had found a way to move into the room next to Kenshiro's. But despite the good weekend she only had one class with him and it was at the end of the day….four hours away. This is going to be hell!, Yue thought as she lay her ear on the cool surface of the desk. Suddenly a ball of paper hit her in the back of the head breaking her thought process. She looked around to see who had thrown it as the teacher entered the room.

"Stand, Bow," The class president called out. Every one in the room was surprised when they realized it was the vice principal who came in and not the teacher.

"Every one sit down. Over the break Siechiro sensei quit and moved out. His replacement just arrived on school grounds a few minutes ago and will be here shortly…" The man began as a rock hit the window. He walked over and opened it to shout down at the offender, only to jump back as the person appeared in the opened space. She was a young girl wearing denim overalls and a white unbuttoned mans dress shirt.

"Taihen Gomen, Hiroki sensei. I didn't think I was this late," A young woman looking to be in her teens said in a non-apologetic voice. She pulled her silver hair back into a make shift ponytail as casually moved to sit in the desk ahead of Yue.

About this time at the door entered a tall person wearing a long tan leather coat at concealed most of their body. A small black and white monkey sat on their shoulders playing with the waist length silver hair that spilled out from under the black baseball cap as it held its perch. The person approached the teacher's desk and placed an armful of books on it. "Thank you for informing the class of the new developments, Hiroki sensei. I will report to the office to explain my absence after this class is over." The person said as they removed their coat and hat. The person could have been male or female a sex could not be determined from their aperance. As they turned to write on the chalk board, the vice principal turned several different shades of red as he turned and stormed out of the room. "Ok class, you will call me Dani, I am your Battle Tactics/Homeroom instructor for the rest of the semester..."

Without warning the window climber stood and shouted, "OH! Is there a Yue in this class???"

In a flash Dani was in the face of the student. "This is my class and you are my student Ms. Rei and I appreciate not being interrupted when lecturing. So if you don't mind, do like most students and pass a note around to find her."

"Screw you, jerk!" she said as she extended her middle finger. "I may be your student but I also pay your frickin' salary so deal with it or else!"

"Thank you for volunteering to do the cleaning duties for the whole school for the next month," Dani retorted as she turned back to her desk.

"Damn you! you may not like me and you may even hate me but I will be respected," Ms. Rei shouted as she punched at the teacher. Suddenly her punch was stopped by the monkey who grabbed her hand. The monkeys eyes had become blood red and it seemed larger.

"The same goes for me," Dani replied as Yue's power started its rampage.

Later that day

 

After school

 

Yue had a thoughtful look on her face as she left school clinging to Kenshiro and toying with a new amulet around her neck. What the hell happened at noon?? She thought as Kenshiro tried to push her off. I remember Dani-sensei and Rei-san fighting then something happened and the room was all warped out of shape….but what was it that happened?

"Will you get OFF!!!!" Kenshiro shouted as he suddenly stopped.

"OH CRAP! What time is it??" Yue shouted as she started digging in her pockets for a watch.

"Fifteen till five," Kenshiro said as he pointed at a clock on a nearby bank.

"See ya around 8:00," Yue shouted as she took off to her job. Yue moved so fast that those around her only saw a brief flash as she sped down the streets. She soon arrived at the local pizza shop she had gotten the job at and saw the boss standing there waiting.

"Your fifteen minutes late, kid," the fat balding man said with a look at her. "I didn't make this place a world-wide chain by being late ya know!"

"Sorry I had detention for something I can't remember doing, sir," she said as she gave him the 'puppy dog eyes'.

Sighing heavily he muttered, "Damn those eyes." He frowned at her as he grabbed some dough and started to stretch it, "Just be on time next time!"

"Sure thing, sir," she said as she started to look at the orders on the out rack. "Hey where's this Battle dome place??"

"That's the big warehouse on the other side of Chiba. Can you get it there in ten??" The man said as he started to sauce the new crust. "And watch out for muggers in the area."

"Consider it there!" she said as she grabbed the warmer bag and placed the pizza in it. As she stepped out the door, she grabbed a money bank for the change and rushed off to the destination. When she arrived five minutes later, she stared at the building she checked the address and in deed this was the place. This rundown appearance has to be a front to hide something less than legal. She thought as she knocked at the small wooden door.

"What business do you have?" Asked a male voice from the other side as a pair of golden eyes peered out a peephole.

"Pizza from Pizza Time, for a… Mai Rei?" Yue replied as she looked at the slip again.

"Oh so you're the 'delivery'. Come right this way," the man said as he opened the door. "Mistress Rei has been waiting for you." The man wore a red sleeveless long coat with a black tee shirt under it. His hands were covered with stained half-gloves that he wiped on his blue jeans when ever he touched anything. After leading her down several corridors he stopped at a door and opened it for her. "wait in here for a few and enter when the other door opens." He said as he closed the door behind her.

"Ok sure," Yue mumbled as she stood in the dimly lit room. It was small and smelled of blood and medicines. Before long she could hear shouts and cheers from the other room. Suddenly the door opened and she stepped out to an unbearably loud cheer. She soon saw the reason why: she stood in a fighting ring enclosed on all sides by thick steel bars. Across from her stood a strong and enraged man who looked to be ready to kill at the slightest provocation.

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Movement 3:

 

I hour later

 

Ryu awoke and rolled over to see Keiko lying nearby. Upon seeing her with grass stains, torn clothes and the scratches on her face Ryu leaped up. Ryu shouted with a voice holding endless amounts of menace, "Who the hell did this????"

"If you don't quiet down she'll wake," Megumi said as she entered the tent.

As Ryu grabbed her collar in his left hand, he gathered a massive amount of condensed Chi in his right palm. While preparing to strike her his eyes turned blood red and his hair turned so silver it was metallic. Ryu then asked in a voice so calm that his rage was undetectable, "Who the hell did this?"

As her face turned white from fear she replied, "Youchi" in a quavering voice.

Ryu threw her to the side flattening the row of tents in the process. With a dark flash a pair of wings covered in jet black feathers sprouted from his back as he vanished into the skies. Megumi untangled herself from the mess of tents and in a voice full of fear said, "Is the Reincarnation reborn?"

Cerubus suddenly grew to 20 ft high and his other heads became visible. He turned to Megumi and in a voice of utmost irritation said "it seams I shall require Thine assistance, Child of the High One. Take this scroll and study, it is the only thing we weaklings can do to stop him now." with this Cerubus vanished as a tri-sealed scroll fell at her feet.

"That mutt needs MY help??? That can't be good" Megumi muttered as she began breaking the seals. "And who's the weakling?"

Across the camp Youchi was headed to an empty clearing as Ryu landed in front of her. Unfazed, Youchi stated as if to someone near her, "Mai Taze Jouishi, it would seem you know this opponent well."

"You will be repaid bruise for bruise, scrape for scrape, tear for tear, Youchi," Ryu shouted as his wings faded in a flurry of feathers.

Onisama, who had been following Youchi, jumped between them and shouted, "Stop!!! I'm the only one allowed to fight you now that your power is complete!"

"Out of the way, Musuko!" Ryu said as he violently backhanded Onisama into a nearby tree. "She must pay!"

 

Youchi removed her beads and held them in front of her as she closed her eyes. As she released them, they hung in the air as if suspended by invisible hands. She clasped her hands in front of her with her elbows straight out and index and thumbs pointing up as she started chanting, "I call to the darkness of death to those who have come before: Mai Taichikaze Jouishi! I offer you Hanshogi in my body till my enemies are defeated in exchange for your knowledge and power!" The beads suddenly glowed fire white as Youchi suddenly aged to adulthood in seconds. Her clothes were no longer lose-n-baggy but tight fitting with the exception of the sleeves. As she touched the beads, her voice changed to sound like two different voices speaking as one. One was the monotone Youchi usually spoke with, while the other was full of emotion and smug. Together they said, "Sword of the Sakura We call to thee, Come!" the beads vanished as a sword with sword blades on either side of the handle appeared. Half of the handle was covered with engravings of sakura blossoms and the other half had sakura leaves engraved in it.

As Youchi opened her eyes, Ryu could see that her eyes now held one half of a yin-yang symbol in the middle of her eyes surrounded by the opposite color. "Ready?" the voices asked as Youchi crouched down, then extended her right arm back with the sword.

With a small grin Ryu held his left arm in front of him and touched the amulet with the middle and index fingers, Saying, "Sosen ken oriru to nitatsu!"

Youchi's eyes went wide as the silver around the gem leapt to Ryu's hands and formed twin Katanas. She rushed forward and stabbed the sword into the ground a few feet away from Ryu and used it as a pole to launch a double kick at Ryu's knees. Ryu countered with one Katana in front of her aim and struck at her with the other. In a flurry of movement, Youchi reversed direction and landed on the other side of her sword feet first. "Incantations, huh? Ok, I'll adapt to that! Sword of Sakura, return!" As she said this, the sword turned back into the beads with a rush of Sakura petals. Youchi extended her arm at Ryu and began rapidly chanting, "Hikari to kurayami bunri in/on kizuato!" As she finished, a blast of light shot off her hand at Ryu. Ryu merely extended his own hand and caught the blast as it turned into a ball.

Ryu carefully studied the ball and then looked at a shocked Youchi as he chuckled, "Interesting, an exorcist spell. Maybe you should try it on your self? Henkyaku! " Ryu watched as the spell shot back at Youchi in ball form. Youchi simply reached down and grabbed the earth and, just as Keiko had done previously with the river bed, Youchi formed a defensive barrier that the spell shattered on. "Are you related to Keiko?" Ryu shouted as the dirt crumbled when Youchi released it.

"Of course not! I copied it from our fight!" the voices said in unison. "Shall we get serious now, Kage?" the smug voice said with a grin on Youchi's face.

Ryu's face darkened from renewed rage as he sprouted skeletal wings. He started to chant as he swung the swords around him in a defensive pattern, "RYU TSME MAI SATSUJIN HAN'NIN!" Immediately, everything not nailed down started to be drawn toward Ryu's deadly swinging blades.

Just before being hit by the blades Youchi shouted, "Hakobu agate!" while pointing at the calm above Ryu's head. She was instantly transported above Ryu and cast another incantation, "Ryu ikari ken!" with the last syllable the magic in the area was drawn into her hands and formed a black scaled sword. Ryu paused as the sword in his left vanished along with his wings. He was struck by The Spell-sword Youchi wielded. The sword sliced Ryu from his right shoulder across his torso to an inch from the outer edge of his left side before the blade vanished.

Ryu fell to the ground Dead. Across the planet the elemental sprits vanished. Everyone watched helplessly as the winds stilled to the point of nonexistence and all water suddenly became stale and stagnant. Fire ceased to provide heat or light and boulders fell from their timeless perches. The sun, stars, and moon dimmed and all shadows nearly vanished. In an instant everything seemed to have plunged into an infinite and timeless void as the powers that ruled seemingly vanished. Not even the seemingly almighty Masters and lords of the elements were spared the 'void' as some went temporarily insane as their powers vanished. All who were finely attuned to the magic of the planet and sane felt the power flowing to one point and condensing.

One of Megumi's assistants rushed towards Ryu's body, only to be thrown back as a bolt of lightning hit the body from a clear, cloudless sky. All shadows suddenly were drawn towards Ryu as his body started to shine brighter than the sun ever had. The earth below the body pushed it into a standing position as raindrops started to fall, appearing to almost be caressing him. Suddenly, a fire ring surrounded Ryu as all returned to normal and Ryu's wounds vanished.

An instant later Ryu's skin darkened and turned scaly and silver hair grew out of his large joints. His fingers became claws and as he opened his eyes, everyone shrank back in fear as the copper color in his eyes drained down his cheeks. When the color finished draining, the symbols of the six elements appeared in his left eye and the symbol of the seventh untouchable element appeared in the right. "KEIKO!" he shouted as horns sprouted from his head.

"Die!!!" Youchi shouted as she threw several kunai at him. About a foot away the daggers freeze in midair.

"Akurei tamashii no mokode watashi no shihai tsuku sotoni to tatakau, Musuko!" Ryu chanted as Onisama's earring shot off and stuck to a nearby tree. The symbol in Ryu's right eye appeared on Onisama's forehead. Instantly Onisama became stiff and ridged. "Kill her, Musuko!" Ryu shouted as Onisama moved stiffly like a zombie towards Youchi.

Onisama stopped ten feet away as the symbol started to fade. "No, I don't want to kill anymore," he said in a flat emotionless voice.

Without warning Keiko appeared behind Ryu. She was glowing softly as she reached out and embraced him from behind. She rested her hands on his belly as she lay her head on his back while saying, "My darling, stop before you hurt the ones you love."

"You know there is only one I love," Ryu replied as he brought her right hand to his lips and kissed it.

"And it would hurt me to see my friends harmed" she replied as she looked over his shoulder. "Let us sleep a bit longer dear, they are not ready for this."

"Very well, if only for a bit more. 'He' is growing more powerful" Ryu said as he, Keiko, and Onisama suddenly collapsed unconscious.

 

 

Ryu remembered sitting across from the old gnarled fortune teller nearly a millennia ago. "I can say no more that this:," the demonic hag said in her raspy voice, "follow the crimson path that lies before you, at its end is that which completes you. Now my payment, and quickly before I am again enslaved by your father."

"Very well, hag here is your payment and I shall keep the heart!" he shouted as he thrust his hand through her chest.

Damn I wish I had made her tell me more before I killed her. Almost a thousand years and nothing to complete me, Ryu thought as he downed his fiftieth bottle of sake. Shit I hope that idiot Baka shows up soon. I can't stand waiting.

An old man reeking of cheap liquor stumbled into the room and weaved through begging for a drink from every one he saw. As he asked Ryu for a drink the drunk clapped him on the back making Ryu spill sake on his shirt and pants. As the locals threw out the man Ryu reached up and, making it look like he was scratching his back, retrieved the note that the drunk had left under his vest. With a small smile Ryu put it in his pocket, Truly a Baka, entering an oni hunter village with only cheep booze as a cover.

Suddenly the doors exploded opened as the towns children rushed in shouting "Rei-kun is back!" One ran up and handed him a hand-made flute begging, "Play a bit for us before you leave!"

With a bemused smile Ryu asked, "Which?"

The children squealed with delight as they chanted, "Oni song of spring!"

"Are you sure? You always ask for that one," Ryu questioned as he raised the flute to his lips.

"It's our favorite!" they shout as Ryu started to softly play.

As he began increasing the volume he mentally reached out and weaved magic in the room with the melody. An illusion began to form on the floor as tulips and daisies suddenly could be seen by all. The tables and chairs became mounds of earth and the bar a fallen log. The piano in the back suddenly vanished as did the unused fireplace. The walls seemed to fade and the ceilings vanish as the notes drifted away. The floor was entirely covered in grass and flowers when Ryu allowed the music to control the magic and vice-versa as he watched the children play in the flowers and chase butterflies that appeared from thin air. On a mound, about where the window ledge used to be, sat a woman with midnight blue hair and equally blue eyes frowning at him.

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As he gazed at her he felt a change in his life-song that rippled through him and caused the illusion to shatter. At this point he became keenly aware of three kunai flying in his direction. With a flick of his arm he redirected the daggers into the floor only to find her flying towards him with a drawn katana in hand. In a flash he had grabbed her wrist and pinned the sword to the floor with his foot. The woman shifted her weight and tried to deliver a kick to his head. Quickly Ryu grabbed her foot in his free hand. She smiled as she punched at his mid section only to find herself suddenly unrestrained as Ryu had moved over to the corner faster than could be seen. Ryu watched as ten of the townspeople tried to restrain her. One man ran to get the elder as some women hurried the children out of the room.

The woman stopped struggling and allowed herself to be restrained till the elder came in. “Why do you allow an Oni to walk free in this town?!?” she shouted as she caught sight of the elder.

“There is no Oni here unless you wish to categorize our friend here as such. And you had best have good reason for doing so if you’re going to make any accusations,” the elder said as he stepped in between her and Ryu.

“He uses techniques that are only used by Oni for capturing unsuspecting prey; his aura is identical to an Oni’s; and he consorts with an Oni who is known to be a violent killer of humans. And you’re going to tell me that he’s not an Oni?!?” the woman screamed, obviously enraged at the sight of Ryu.

“While he may seem to carry an Oni’s aura he is not like them. He has saved countless lives in the time he has spent in the village. It is true that he is incredibly long-lived since he has been here for the past twenty to thirty generations, but that doesn’t mean that he is an Oni. And every ten years we add another seal to his strength. Show them to her, Rei-kun,” the elder explained as he gestured to Ryu.

“That which I touch, reveal yourself in the light! Illusion fade!” Ryu chanted a spell as he held his hand over his chest. As he finished the spell, a ripple seemed to spread from his hand, and covered his body, leaving countless red and green symbols in its wake. “The letters of this bind me and my power at this time,” Ryu said as he turned to leave, and as he did so, the letters again faded from sight.

“I don’t trust you Oni!” the woman shouted as she stormed up the stairs.

“At least she is open about her distrust,” Ryu commented as he headed for the door.

After a silent moment as the villagers looked from one to another, the elder turned and said, “Are you off then, Rei-kun?”

“There seems to be a job for me,” Ryu said as he paused.

“The water Oni?” the elder asked pointedly.

“Since when do you care who I’m after,” Ryu replied as he walked through the door and left. I guess the natives are a bit restless after that. It’s not like I would attack such a cute girl. Ryu thought as he hurried to the last known spot the Oni had been seen.

After several fruitless hours searching and not finding hide nor hair of the Oni, Ryu sat down and thought a moment. “Let’s see… I’m looking in the water for a water Oni, yet all of the Oni I’ve seen haven’t seen the one I need all week. According to what I’ve heard, he’s not one to stray far from mortal settlements. I received the order in Onishitokai, meaning the Oni is somewhere near there.” Ryu thought aloud, trying to put the information he had together. “None of the nearby villages had his stench…so most likely, he’s after Onishitokai… and if he sticks to past habits, he will be in the nearby pond. Damn, I hope nobody went to bathe, or this will be messy,” Ryu finished as he charged to the pond. When he got within hearing range of the pond, he could hear water splashing. Ryu touched his amulet and drew his silver katana. As he started to attack, he saw he was rushing head-long into the woman from the bar. With a flash of light from the curse marks, Ryu was suddenly thrust into the mud on the bottom of the pond. Quickly he sent the katana back into the amulet and surfaced. Instantly he was slapped as the woman tried to cover herself.

Loud laughter made both quickly take defensive positions as they searched for the source. On the shore a figure appeared and said haughtily, “I see the son of our strongest general is laid low by a mortal’s spell, and a slap happy woman. No wonder your father and the king are seeking your blood!”

“Hurry back to the village,” Ryu whispered to the woman as he pulled his katana from his amulet and started towards the shore. As he walked toward the Oni, Ryu looked him over. The Oni was a little taller and had silver hair. His eyes were in the palms of his hands and he had horns coming out of his eye-sockets. His skin was scaly and a sickly green. Beyond this, he looked human. Ryu glanced back to see that the woman was no longer in sight. “I see you don’t even bother to hide your true self in public anymore.”

“At least I’m not on the king’s slaughter block, Kage!” the Oni said as he tapped an amulet hanging from around his neck. “He handed me this personally to make sure my mission succeeded.”

“I’m afraid you have the situation wrong, Mizusenso. You have been so sloppy lately, you have arrived at your own funeral. I mean, seriously…look at your last assassination! You were seen by the whole town killing the prime minister! And the one before that you were caught and imprisoned by mortals for disorderly conduct when you were supposed to be killing a king! I had to finish that one since you were such a failure!” Ryu said as he pointed to the Oni. “And surely you know that that amulet is a Chaos resonator that makes any hit to you from me an almost instant death strike?”

Mizusenso quickly ripped the amulet off and stared at it in horror. “But then why was I told to kill you???” the Oni said as he snapped his wrist back and a knifelike bone began to protrude from his wrist.

“Probably so you wouldn’t run when you saw me coming for you,” Ryu stated throwing the sword at him. It pierced through the Oni’s neck and he started to disintegrate. “It doesn’t matter though. Unlike you I never fail.”

Suddenly the curse marks started to glow and spin around him. “Bearer of the curse, run and never return!” the marks shouted at him as he rushed back to the village. When he arrived he saw many of the houses were burning and one of the men was fighting off the most of the villagers bare handed.

“I sent you a message to leave, Rei-kun. The man has been possessed and we can’t stop him!” the elder exclaimed as he saw Ryu.

“So what I can take him easy,” Ryu said with a grin as he started to draw his inner magic to the surface.

“What could you possibly…” the elder started as Ryu extended his hand to the glowing symbols.

“Hammers of life, destruction, and fate! I call on your power to free me of the curse I illustrate now!” Ryu cast as three glowing hammers appeared above the marks and hit them. Instantly the curse marks fractured, broke up, and shot of in every direction; vanishing as they did so.

The possessed villager stopped fighting and vanished from sight as Ryu began casting a second spell, “I call to the seventh, reveal to me all that exists in all that is! Omni-sight!” Ryu’s eyes became blood red as his pupils formed the symbol of the seventh element in his eyes. The possessed man appeared behind Ryu with a sword in hand. He swung the sword at Ryu’s neck only to find thin air. From behind him Ryu reappeared casting yet another spell. “Seisakusha bind the plains and bar all travel! I ask of you: give me a Dimension Lock!”

With a grin the man looked at Ryu and said, “You’re not half bad, boy! I’ll give you the honor of my name as you die! I am Muchitsujo.” The man drew great amounts of magic to himself as he stared intently at Ryu. “I call to the essence of chaos! I ask for your power and sins to pile on this enemy that stands against me! Their blood burn and boil as flesh turns to ash! May they learn the full extent of my wrath! Destruction Wave!” a wave of strong chaos rose and covered Ryu only to pass him and hit someone behind him.

Ryu turned to see who had been hit and stopped short when he saw it was the woman from the bar. The woman writhed on the ground in pain as Ryu walked over to her. Reaching down Ryu grabbed the magic from the spell that had struck her and absorbed it. Instantly she relaxed and started to sleep deeply. “You really should learn who you fight before haphazardly casting spells, idiot!” Ryu said as he turned his attention back to the man.

Ryu opened his mouth and began singing. There was no voice, words, or melody; yet all fell silent and still as the sound flowed through them. Soft lights started to float around the village passing through things and people. As time seemed to slow and stop the song seemed to be many songs sang with the same voice at the same time. The fires on the houses suddenly seemed to run out of fuel and vanish into the night. The damage to the buildings, slowly at first but rapidly gaining momentum, was reversed. The possessed man suddenly slumped to the ground as the Oni was forced out of him, when the songs abruptly stopped. The Oni hovered having no solid appearance and looked more like a cloud of concentrated evil than a living being. The song began anew and clearly was different from the first. While the first songs had brought peace to all, this song was only heard by the Oni and seemed to bring great suffering to it. The Oni screamed in pain as it’s form twisted and began to take on a physical body. This flesh form was crudely fashioned to look like a man and as the song continued the form looked more and more human-like. Suddenly the form ripped apart leaving only a small fluffy white bunny sitting there looking very confused. Ryu stopped singing as the lights vanished and time began to flow correctly again. Damn I was trying to make him human. Oh well, I guess a rabbit is good enough. As long as a hungry carnivore is near.

“Too bad you suck at making things, Kage. Although I’ve never seen a cuter bunny,” a voice said. Ryu suddenly struck to his left only to have the fist blocked by an arm. Into the arm was cut the Oni word for eternity.

“Whoever said you were invited to this party, Renegade Manesuru?” Ryu asked as he turned to face the man. He had silver hair that reflected the moonlight and Golden eyes that glowed fiercely.

“Impressive as always! Failing a Lifesong casting usually leaves one unable to move and mindless. Anyway, back to business: Your father requests your presence,” the man said, bowing before putting his hands into the pockets of his faded blue jeans. Well built muscles rippled beneath his white T-shirt with each movement he made.

“So the old man hired you this time, huh?” Ryu said as he took a defensive stance. “Well, I have no intention of going with you. So tell the old geezer to shove it.”

“And I can’t leave without you, so tell him yourself,” Manesuru said as he took an identical pose.

 

Ryu sat up with a start. He turned to see Keiko sleeping nearby. As he got up he bent over and kissed her forehead. As he left the tent, a large group of mages approached him and warily eyed him. One of the older mages stepped forward and, as everyone in the camp approached him, asked, “How did you do that earlier? No mortal can come back from the dead like that and how did you change your appearance like that?!?”

“What do you mean?” Ryu asked with a look of confusion written plainly on his face.

The man started to explain what he meant as Megumi pushed through the crowd. “He’s obviously the descendant of the Lord of no Element,” Megumi said as they looked on. “Because of this he can channel the Lord’s magic and abilities.”

“But, what about the girl? Surely you aren’t going to tell us that she is also a descendant,” the elderly mage asked seeming to have a hard time believing the tale.

“Surely you remember the tale well enough? The Lord granted a portion of his power to his love so they may both be reincarnated in a future age,” Megumi said with a look that said the matter was settled.

“Very well, I have but one more question: Who are your parents, boy?” the mage said as he frowned at Ryu.

“Honestly, I don’t know, old man. Now I have one for you: why pester me this way?” Ryu asked.

“It’s not natural for mortals to do that. And 70% of the time when an immortal is found, it’s an Oni that will kill you as soon as look at you. I only wish to live a little longer. That is all.” And with this, most of the crowd left to attend their duties.

The remaining people were low level mages who crowded around him, asking him to teach them his magic. “Sorry guys I’m no good as a teacher. The lowest level spells I can use are level 4. I’ve never been able to cast anything less powerful,” Ryu said as he scratched his head. “Anyway, I’m leaving today, and don’t have time for it.”

A young mage approached Ryu with a look in his eyes that said “I’m afraid of you but I will fight you.” Ryu looked the boy over well. The boy wore a typical mages robe that had a stain down the entire front of it. His ice blue eyes flashed as he started to draw magic unto himself. His hair was black with the exception of two bunches that hung on either side of his face. One bunch was blue and one was red. He stood just a head shorter than Ryu and wore many talismans and magic amplifiers. “Spirits of the deepest hells and power of you the guardian of hell come to me and manifest your flames under my control! FIREBALL!” the boy shouted.

 

As the flames appeared between his hands he suddenly turned a pale green and had to turn as he spilled his just eaten lunch on the ground. The flame rapidly vanished into thin air as he continued heaving. “A fire master, and a Lady of ice, huh,” Ryu started as his eyes briefly glowed red and he touched the boy’s back. “Your heritage prevents you from casting in the usual manner, doesn’t it?” Ryu said as he withdrew his hand.

“So chaotic,” a voice was heard from somewhere.

Ryu half turned to see who had said it when the boy grabbed Ryu’s hand. “Teach me how to cast in a new manner, please!” the boy practically shouted as he wiped his mouth.

Ryu felt Youchi’s chill as she passed by. “Idiot!” she said as she saw the boy doubled over from yet another spasm.

“Please!” the boy pleaded as he turned bright red from embarrassment.

“Very well, I will make an exception for you, but it will be hard since I’ve never taught someone how to use magic before. Keep in mind you will lose as many abilities as you gain,” Ryu warned him as he took a quill and parchment and began writing. “This spell will begin your apprenticeship. But if you fail to cast it correctly, your soul will merge with the seventh element. Are you willing to take the risk?” Ryu asked the boy as he finished writing.

The boy took the scroll and looked at it for a moment. With a sideways glance at Youichi, he began drawing on magic that was just outside his control, “Watashi shoshu ano sichi! Watashi seiyaku watashijishin ni fuyasu chikara no tame ni watashi no riyu yoni sansei suru ni yotte arata!” At first, the spell didn’t seem to do anything the boy stood there with a confused look on his face and looked at Ryu.

“Here it comes, boy. Get ready.” Ryu said as the boy suddenly doubled over and grabbed his sides. The sudden force of the power caused small dust devils to spring up around the edges of a magic circle that appeared around him. “Take control of the power! Don’t bend to it!” Ryu commanded as the boy struggled to maintain consciousness.

A wind seemed to spring up, blowing away from the circle. The boy managed to keep standing as his eyes became white orbs while the symbols of the seven elements flashed across his eyes. He reached out and with a motion, pulled the wind back in and absorbed it. The sky darkened as the light started to draw nigh to the boy. The shadows also drew close to him and he absorbed them too. The ground beneath him turned to sand, and the sand seemed to come to life as it formed itself into a body and hit at the boy, then changed into a baseball bat and swung at him, then other various forms, all striking at him before changing again. All of the attacks the boy dodged for dear life. “So you’re a coward afraid of getting hurt, huh?” Ryu mocked him as he stood watching him dance around within the confines of the circle. “This is a test of your character, boy!”

The boy stopped and glared at the sand as it hit at him like a ton of bricks. Unlike before, he stood his ground and grabbed the sand in his hand. As he watched the sand absorb into himself he realized he was standing on the air over a deep pit where the earth once was. The crowd that had gathered stared in amazement as the symbols of each element the boy absorbed appeared in his left eye. “Good going, boy! Only three left.” Ryu called out as water appeared from thin air and formed a huge hand that grabbed the boy’s head, face first.

At first the boy stood in shock as if the water had been a trusted friend until now. Quickly he called on the wind element he had absorbed to draw air into his lungs as he thought about how best to deal with this new threat. With a grin, he used the sand he had absorbed to absorb the water as he dropped to a knee. For the first time Ryu looked worried as the boy knelt there while a fire spirit rose from the earth to face him. The boy started to again look a bit pale as the spirit took a step in his direction. “Look at its’ flow of magic and find a way to bend it to your will!” Ryu shouted as the boy seemed to be fending off unconsciousness. With a look of sheer determination on his face, the boy reached out with the water and earth elements he had absorbed and lashed out at the fire. It shrieked out loud as its essence was absorbed by the boy. As the last of the fire vanished, so did the magic circle.

As time froze around the two, an elemental of the seventh element appeared and frowned at the boy. “This boy is still lacking. Are you sure he can follow you?” An ethereal voice asked as the elemental looked at Ryu expectantly.

With a frown. Ryu blankly stated, “Kare watashi no deshi ni shitagau kare o/ni.”

“Very well,” the ethereal voice said again as the elemental was absorbed by the boy.

Time resumed as the boy bowed low before Ryu. “I am Kazia Miahara. From this day forth I am in you care, Master,” the boy said introducing himself.

“Hurry up and pack your things and mine, Boy. Your training begins this evening, so you’re coming with me,” Ryu said with a small smile. As Ryu watched Kazia hurry off to get his things packed, Onisama silently approached Ryu from behind. When Onisama punched at Ryu with his right fist, Ryu lightly stepped to the side letting Onisama stumble face first into the ground. “Musuko, you really need to work harder on hiding your Chi.”

“Really, and what’s your name again?” Onisama said as he started to feel for his shades.

“I told you yesterday,” Ryu said in a confused tone of voice. “I’m Ryu Rei.”

“Oh, are you now?” asked an incredibly familiar voice. Ryu whirled around to see a man standing as tall as him wearing a hooded cloak that changed colors as fast as you could name them. The hood was pulled up leaving the face in shadows. Only the silver hair that spilled out of the sides of the hood and the eerie blood red eyes could be seen under the hood. “I want out of this prison to again be myself: Ragna the essence of Chaotic Destruction!” the man shouted as he grabbed Ryu’s face and forced it towards the sky.

As the man’s grip tightened, Megumi came up reached for his shoulder. “What are you staring at, Kage?” she asked not seeming to see the man holding him. Ryu felt a burst of Chi mixed with strong Magic suddenly flow into him. Megumi was forced to the ground as Ryu’s spirit pressure violently multiplied several times. With the increased spirit pressure also came violent, bloody, and overwhelming memories rushed through him.

As Ryu sensed Keiko approaching, the man looked visibly shaken. As she grew closer the man suddenly vanished into thin air saying, “I’ll be back and I’ll find a way out next time.”

As the man vanished, Ryu dropped to the ground in a heap. “What are you doing, Stupid?” Keiko asked as she reached to help him up.

Ryu’s spirit pressure returned to normal levels as he sat up in a daze. “What happened to my hair?” he asked as he realized it had turned a metallic silver color.

“That’s not all,” Keiko said with a look of confusion as she touched the ground and pulled it up to form a mirror. Ryu toppled over into unconsciousness as he saw that his eyes had turned blood red.

 

 

edited september 7 2007 for changes.

Edited by mai takekaze

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Final Interlude

 

Mai made it to the Battle dome, to relax after she dodged cleaning duties. Damn but that Dani-sensei is fast!, she thought as the crowd started to cheer loudly. Turning to see who they were cheering for she saw a one of her ‘classmates’ step out to fight with the arena champ Mathew ‘the Crusher’ Ripley. The young girl looked only to be six or seven years old but she carried herself like an experienced adult. I wonder if she’s got a growth problem like mine? Mai absently thought. As the girl stood there seemingly trying to find a way out of the ring, the bell rang and The Crusher was on her. The girl was slammed into the wall with enough force that everyone believed she was done for. As she lay there everyone thought the match was over. And then a sound emanated throughout the arena. Soft lights filled the building as the girl stood up abruptly. The champ turned and charged at her while a dark disc appeared before her. From the darkness appeared a being wrapped tightly in strips of cloth like a mummy. He wore two swords on his right and left hips with another two over his right shoulder. A seventh sword could be seen over his left shoulder as he drew it revealing the blade was missing.

“Command me, Mistress,” the mummy man said in a voice that reverberated throughout the building. “My powers are at your disposal!”

“Stop that man!” the girl shouted pointing at the champ.

“As you command!” the mummy said as he pointed the bladeless hilt at the now still champ. “Damned!” the mummy intoned as magic forces shot forth in the form of multi-colored orbs that hit the champ’s legs and instantly dissolved them.

“Mercy!” begged the man as he lay bleeding from the waist where his legs had once been connected.

Suddenly the girl passed out, and starting to fall as the mummy sheathed his sword and caught her. In a flash they vanished from the coliseum.

“Find her and get a contract from her, Musuko!” Mai commanded as she spun around. “I need her to fight for me!” Why didn’t I remember her name! If nothing else I could get a contract tomorrow morning at class. But I can’t wait to get it, Mai thought as she left her seat and rushed out into the night looking for the girl.

 

The next day

 

Yue sat up with a start. She was in a strange room that was filled with shelves covered in books and half filled bottles. As she quietly got up to leave she realized she was wearing a nightgown. The next realization to occur to her was she had a splitting headache. “Naru it seems our guest is awake now,” said a friendly sounding voice from behind her.

“Ok! I’ll get some tea going..unless she would like some coffee. Check for me would you, Maki?” a second voice called in as Yue spun around to see a woman of twenty or so standing in the door way. The woman wore a light blue tee shirt and faded blue jeans. Her blond hair was pulled up into a bun and Yue could feel the woman’s ice blue eyes bore deep into her soul.

“Do you want coffee or tea?” the woman asked after looking into Yue’s soul for a moment longer.

“Um…do you have some sake I could have instead?” Yue asked hesitantly.

With a huge grin the woman turned to call down the hall, “Scratch both! Get the pearl sake out of the cellar.”

“She’s more like Him than we thought, huh?” came the reply.

“Um…can I have my clothes back?” Yue asked as she sat on the edge of the bed.

Pointing to an overlooked night table the woman said, “They are in there. And I’m Maki, pleased to meet you.”

Yue got dressed and came out into the hall to see it was filled with more bookcases and various bits of furniture making it barely navigable. When she got to the end of the hall it opened up into a large room filled with even more furniture and various barrels filled with various pickled foods. There was a shelf filled with various nick-knacks and to Yue’s left was an old antique liquor bar at which Maki and another woman now sat. “Thank you for letting me stay the night,” Yue said as she bowed low in front of them.

“Don’t mention it,” said the second woman as she adjusted her glasses as if unaccustomed to them. She wore her red hair in a pony tail, with a white oversized sweater and blue jeans. “We couldn’t exactly let you sleep on the sidewalk; you’d probably be carted off to jail.”

“So what were you doing here, anyway?” Maki asked as she downed a shot glass of Saki.

“I don’t know! I didn’t do anything!” Yue shouted as the memories started to dislodge and swirl through her mind. As the memories awoke, Yue’s power started to stir within her. Feeling a touch on her shoulder everything returned to normal.

“Relax, Yue,” the girl wearing the sweat shirt said. “Here, take this Amulet. It’ll help control the enormous power I sense within you.” She held out an arm bracer that had a large, dark red gem set into it.

Yue looked at the amulet with a look of confusion. “That… I’ve dreamt of that thing for years.”

“Naru was holding on to it till It’s master returned,” Maki said as she clamped it on Yue’s arm. Before Yue could say a word, she was escorted out the front door. Yue spun around to find a brick wall where she had just come from. When she got to school, she found Dani-sensei and Mai-san also had similar amulets on their arms.

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SONETT OF T'HERA: Finale

 

“Get your guard up, boy!” Ryu shouted as he struck Kazia’s left side. Ever since Ryu’s hair and eyes permanently changed colors two days earlier, he and Kazia had been sparring every morning and evening before they did anything else.

A sudden furry of blows from Kazia showed his rising rage. In a swift move, Ryu was sitting on Kazia who was pinned to the ground. “Musuko, come here for a moment,” Ryu said getting up. Kazia stood and frowned at Ryu as Onisama approached. “Musuko, spar with Kazia for a bit. I want him to see something,” Ryu said as he sat next to the fire, facing it.

Onisama vanished, to appear behind Kazia. As he struck at Kazia’s side, only to find Kazia had in turn vanished. As Onisama felt a burning sensation in his back, Ryu called out, “Thanks, Musuko. Kazia front and center.” Kazia extinguished the flames in his hand and went to Ryu’s side. “Kazia, what was the point I wanted to make?”

“You wanted me to see how much I’ve grown in the last two days, right?” Kazia said as he took a seat.

“No, what I wanted to show you was how much you depend on magic when you fight. You teleported the instant you saw Musuko move, and then you called on the fire element to power your punch,” Ryu said with a disappointed look on his face. “Well,… since you insist on using magic let’s see you summon Cilpheed to take us the rest of the way to the temple.”

Kazia stood and went to the middle of the clearing and drew the necessary magics to himself, “I call to the plain of darkness beyond life and death, to the dwelling place of the spirits that neither live nor die: I ask for Cilpheed, guardian of flight, keeper of Oni and Tenchi wings. Allow flight to me and my companions!” As the power finished its’ crescendo, a sudden flurry of feathers proved that Kazia had failed. “What the hell!” Kazia shouted in a frustrated outburst.

“Your mistake was asking Cilpheed,” Ryu said as he grabbed some of the feathers and approaching Kazia’s position. Taking the pointed end he jabbed one into his arm to make his blood come to the surface. Ryu then touched each feather to his blood allowing a bit of it to smear on it. Throwing them into the ground to form a dotted summoning circle, a rush of raw magic came to Ryu’s gentle tug. Magic has come so easy recently and I can see the treads of magic floating free rather than just feeling them… What’s happening to me? Ryu thought for a moment as the power swelled around him. “Guardian of Flight; Show yourself to me from the darkness beyond life and death. Reveal yourself now, Cilpheed!”

As the power that had gathered instantly vanished, a semitransparent image appeared within the circle. The image was dressed in a soldier’s uniform of a long forgotten race. The image had six wings two of which covered his feet; another pair was folded behind him. The last pair flapped seeming to try to break him free from the collar and chain that kept it firmly bound to the earth. The chain that held the image down seemed to be anchored deep in the ground. An ethereal voice echoed out as it turned to face Ryu, “What does the Lord Kageryu demand of me?”

“Grant flight to my companions,” Ryu shouted as he drew on a second swell of magic.

“As you command,” the image said as it bowed low. Everyone with the exception of Kyon sprouted wings as the image vanished.

“Wings of the heart, become the wings of my flesh, Spirit Materialization,” Ryu cast as a black wing and a white wing grew from his back. He reached down and picked up a rope attached to a large stone bowl Keiko had made moments before, “You ready to go, Kyon?”

“If I must be,” Kyon said with a frown. “I still think we should walk the rest of the way.”

“Keiko’s future sight is never wrong!” Ryu replied angrily as he took to the air. “If we don’t get there today we won’t make it in time.”

The next ten to fifteen minutes of the flight were silent, until they came into sight of the temple. They saw thousands of elementals approaching the walls. With a burst of speed, Ryu crossed the last of the distance to find seven monks standing in a circle from which they were casting a shielding spell. “Get ready to protect those people, Kyon!” Ryu called down as he flew close to the monks and released the rope.

“Damn you, jerk!” Kyon shouted as he jumped towards the middle of the circle of men.

Keiko, Sensei, and the others arrived and started to fight the elementals. Ryu dived into a mess of elementals that had penetrated the walls. As he landed, his blood sword was instantly out and slashing through several nearby elementals. Feeling a swell of familiar elemental power nearby, Ryu rushed in the direction of the swell shouting, “Cilpheed!”

The elementals drew back as Cilpheed appeared before Ryu. He still wore his uniform but his collar and chain were missing. “Yes, Master?” he asked in a mocking tone. “Or should I say Traitor?”

Ryu’s sword vanished as his right hand grabbed Cilpheed around the throat and held him off the ground. “What are you doing here?!? Obviously I haven’t summoned you here, so who has?”

“L…Lady G..Gabriel,” Cilpheed gasped as he tried to breath.

“Gabriel! Is SHE here as well??” Ryu demanded as he loosened his grip.

“Why should I tell you, you who have been condemned to Die!” Cilpheed said with a portion of his previous arrogance.

“Let’s see,” Ryu started in a razor edged voice. “I would think the fact your life is in my hand would be reason enough.” And with this Ryu’s grip tightened again.

“I…do not…know,” Cilpheed strained to say as he grasped at Ryu’s hand.

“Hmm… If that is so, and I don’t believe you, then you are truly useless. So the only remaining problem is your insolence towards me, your rightful master,” Ryu started as his eyes started to glow and magic poured into him. “Gates of the second element; hear my voice and open for me! Take this traitor and hold him for a time!”

As Ryu cast the spell a ball of magic gathered in his left hand. He dropped the ball to the ground and it seemed to spread into a foot and a half black smear. From the smear came a small, gravelly voice, “Something must be held until the time is up.”

“Hold my arm till he is released!” Ryu shouted as he released Cilpheed into the smear. As he did so his right arm turned to stone.

“You Idiot!” Keiko shouted as she ran up. “I forbid you to use that spell!” as she shouted she drew her ribbon club and swung it at his head.

As she did a sudden wave of darkness rose in between the two and held her club. The darkness changed in form to reveal a small girl dressed in an off white t-shirt that hung down around her knees was holding the club still. Her skin was pale as if from a lack of sun and Keiko could see her finger nails were torn and had been recently bleeding. The girls black hair hung down to her waist and her bangs mostly covered coal black globes that served for her eyes.

As she glared angrily at Keiko, a voice that seemed to come from the depths of the abyss intoned, “You attacked the Master and will pay for this with your life! Watashi Taura, Kanshisha no Yami, chikau sore!” As she shouted this, shadows solidified and formed kunai that shot unaided at Keiko. They got within an inch of her when Ryu’s scar glowed and the dark kunai dissolved. The Girl saw this and became even paler and turned to bow low before Ryu. “Forgive me, Master! I did not recognize your Mistress!” The fear in her voice was plain to hear as she continued to apologize.

“Who the hell are you?!?” Ryu demanded as he prepared to fight if necessary.

“Master, surely you haven’t forgot your servant? Unless…you’re not him….but your spirit is identical…and you have the mark….I don’t get it.” The girl started and then stopped and sat down cross-legged on the ground. She folded her arms and seemed to be contemplating the situation. The monks and the others approached as she stood and pointed at Ryu, “If you are truly my master then find my sword in the Place with no Bounds! It should be easy enough for you the Lord of No Element!” With this she sank into the shadows and vanished.

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“HEY! What did she mean by, ‘The Place with no Bounds’?” Keiko demanded with a look of annoyance.

“It’s a myth,” answered a deep, soothing voice from behind her.

Keiko whirled around as her ribbon-club transformed into a miniature katana. She paused with the blade at the throat of a tall muscular man. His knee length blond hair was held back in a que by six white ties evenly spaced down the length of his hair, effectively keeping his hair neat. As his grey eyes grew wide with surprise, he raised his hands to reveal the hilts of two sai tucked into the belt of his battle-worn, black hakama.

“Who are you?” Keiko asked, as Ryu added his blades to the man’s vital points.

“He is Faust in the service of Tsukuyomi. I am the head monk Miroku in the service of the Lord of no Elements,” said an old man as he appeared at Keiko’s side and touched her arm. “These five are my apprentices,” Miroku said as he motioned to the other monks.

“Is he a friend of yours, Master Miroku?” Sensei asked as he maneuvered around Sukoshi and the huge battle ax he had strapped, blade down, to his back.

“Yes, he comes by from time to time with various bits and pieces we need around here,” the old monk said with a smile. “And please don’t call me master, it’s so formal.”

“How about Miroku-Kun?” asked the dual voiced, adult formed Youchi as she released her Sakura blade.

“If you must, it will do, miss,” the monk said as he nodded his consent to her.

“I’m sorry for the late introductions on our part. I’m Sensei, the man with the silver katanas is Ryu, the girl with the blade at Faust’s throat is Keiko, and the young lady here is Youchi,” he said as he motioned to a normal-looking Youchi as she released the spirit she had been channeling. “The man that the Elementals couldn’t touch is Koun, the young mage is Ryu’s apprentice Kazia, this giant with the ax..” he continued.

“Her name is Betty,” Sukoshi corrected as he patted his ax.

“Sorry, this giant with ‘Betty’ the ax is Sukoshi, the woman tending to the injured is our doctor Megumi, and the one skulking in the shadows is Kyoshin. And the one who chased after the Elementals is Ken,” Sensei finished with a frown at Sukoshi.

“While my apprentices also have names, we all have long since forgotten them. Besides that they have taken a vow of silence until the elementals are finished off, so they won’t be answering any questions.” Miroku said as he motioned for the group to follow him.

As Ryu followed Miroku and the others into the ancient stone building, he realized that he was standing at the edge of a huge bundle of free floating magic. “A Jordan?” he asked aloud.

“What’s that, Master?” Kazia asked as he stopped with Ryu.

“We’re standing next to a Jordan, Boy. Surely you learned about it in your studies?” Ryu asked as he reached out to touch it.

“Um… let’s see. I believe it is a natural point on the planet where all the threads of magic converge and form a huge bundle,” Kazia said as he dug through his mind for information on it.

“Yes, and what’s more they tend to be areas of high tension that makes it difficult to cast magic around… unless you have at the least mastered an element or two. So what does this tell you about our enemy?” Ryu lectured as they followed the monks into the building.

“We have, at the very least, a Master or Mistress fighting against us in an area where magic is readily available.” Kazia started as he examined the walls of the corridor. “And due to the attackers, I would venture to say it’s an air master that is against us. That leaves a total of eight possible suspects.”

“Good! And I can narrow the list down to two and possibly one--the Oni mistress of the wind is the one leading the attacks,” Ryu replied as he stared at Keiko, who had started to giggle about something that had been said. “And where she is, her Lady is close behind.”

“Master, I’m sure you have noticed this by now, but would the aura the temple seems to be emanating have anything to do with the situation? The aura is not holy but it’s not evil, either.” Kazia said more to himself than Ryu, while Ryu followed Keiko with his eyes.

“Very good, Kazia,” Ryu said as he handed Kazia his bag. “Go and find my room, I’ll be right back.” With this Ryu followed Keiko down the hall. What is she doing with that Faust guy? Ryu thought as he walked fast in their direction.

“Ryu, are you done with that lesson yet?” Keiko asked as she saw him approach.

“Um… yeah, so what are you discussing?” Ryu asked pushing between Keiko and Faust.

“Well, Faust was telling me about some of the legends of people trying to get to the Place with no Bounds,” Keiko said as she followed Miroku and the others down to the main hall. “A powerful litch tried to access it by removing everything, magic, essence, dirt, trees, grass, absolutely everything from an area to open a door to it. Supposedly he only removed his immortality, and died from the lack of air and sudden aging.”

“Idiot, trying to do it that way,” Ryu said as he frowned at Faust.

“Might I ask for a sparring match with you later, Keiko?” Faust said as he tried to get around Ryu.

As Ryu and Faust stepped into the hall, Ryu saw that the walls stretched up all the way to the roof. Hanging down from the ceiling were several wooden rings on which were several magically powered lights that illuminated the room. The room had several large cedar tables that were scattered around. In the middle of the far wall was a huge fireplace that lay dormant. In the center of the room was a large circular black stone surrounded by runes that seemed to shimmer ever so slightly. “Please have a seat where ever you like,” Miroku said as he sat at a table near the fireplace. “We are used to many mages and monks training here, so we have plenty of space for them to eat, study and relax in when they aren’t in the library or the training hall.”

About this time, Ken stumbled in, leaning on Kyoshin. “Sensei, the elementals have stopped about half a mile out and have set up barricades to prevent any more help from reaching us.” Megumi hurried over to tend his wounds as Ken continued. “They caught me in an ambush on the way back, although it would seem that their main fighting force is a severely diminished.”

“Good job, Ken. At least we have an idea of what we’re up against the next time,” Sensei said as the monk’s apprentices came in with food.

“Please help yourselves to the food. It’s not much, but I fear we can offer little else on such short notice,” Miroku said as bowls filled with bread and various dried foods were placed in the middle of the large table along with tankards of water to wash it down.

After eating, Faust, Keiko, Ryu and one of the apprentices went to the training hall a few doors down the hall. As they entered the huge, hallowed room and took a deep breath of the still air. Kieko and Faust stepped out into the middle of the room where a small ring had been set up and took up simple fighting poses. They launched into a series of simple but effective maneuvers striking at each other and seeming to always miss, ‘til Faust ended it with a halted death blow just above her throat. “I surrender,” Kieko said as she stepped back and bowed. “Thank you for the match.”

“My turn,” Ryu said as he stood. He stepped into the middle of the room and the circle with his arms at his sides. “Come and get it, Faust.” Ryu demanded as he spat out the name as if in disgust.

Faust charged at Ryu in a rush. With simple movements, Ryu lightly side stepped all of them. Finally, Faust seemed to speed up and almost hit Ryu’s face. Ryu quickly grabbed the fist and frowned as Faust pressed in close. “You haven’t even tasted her yet have you, Oni Lord Kage Ryu?”

“Ryu Rei is my name, Faust! And what do you mean by that, Bastard?” Ryu asked as he shoved Faust back and appeared behind him.

As Ryu grappled with Faust again, he heard Faust replied, “Sex, of course! Did she taste good or did you only pleasure yourself?”

“Don’t you dare talk like that! Of course I haven’t had sex with her!” Ryu said as he was thrown near the edge of the circle.

“Oh really?” Faust asked as he grabbed Ryu’s fists tightly. “Then maybe I’ll do her myself, I mean, it’ll be a shame if she dies without being a true woman.”

In an instant, Ryu’s eyes glowed red as he quickly removed his fists from Faust’s grip, then single handedly choke-slammed Faust into the far wall and held him up with his feet dangling. “Ryu, don’t you dare kill him!” Ryu heard Keiko shout.

Everything went dark as a heavy hand grabbed his arm and tugged, “Hurry your needed Lord,” Ryu heard as he felt a change.

 

 

As Ryu fell through the darkness he heard the sound of someone crying. He opened his eyes to see a small girl sitting near him. “Don’t worry, Keiko. I’m only sealing some of our memories and your power so the pursuers won’t find us,” he heard himself saying.

“But then they will hone in on your power and I can’t back you up,” the girl said as she touched his arm lightly.

“My power resides mainly in my memories; so by sealing some of them, there won’t be enough power to track. Besides, I will still have the Seven to guard over us. Anyway, I have hid from the Tenchi for 53,000 years so far with just these Seven. It will be fine,” Ryu said as he reached for the power within himself, and began sealing their memories. As he did so, he felt a sudden rush of power from deep within rush out and force Ryu out of his body. As he looked on at the scene unfolding before him, his body suddenly started laughing manically.

His body looked at something near him saying, “Too bad, Kage Ryu!! I am the one to control the power I hid in you! So be gone!” With this and a sudden motion of his hand, a blast of raw chaos struck at the half hidden image floating to his left. Ryu turned to look at the image, and saw an astral form of himself being struck by the energy. The astral body dropped like a rag doll and lay unmoving. Keiko screamed and then passed out from the sudden increase in spirit pressure, as Ryu moved between his body and the astral body. A second blast ripped away from his body and struck him squarely in the chest and was fully absorbed in an instant. The surroundings solidified and his body looked terrified. “What the hell?!? I thought I was the only one who could pass through those borders like that! Who the hell are you, you mother fucker?!?”

“I am Ryu Rei and you must be that bastard who has been tormenting me!” Ryu shouted as he cut his chest and drew his blood sword.

With a vicious back hand Ryu’s body shouted, “To hell with you and your insolence, boy! I am Ragna--the pure essence of Chaos! Why the hell would I mess with such an insignificant ant like you?!?” Ryu had shifted to the left and the back hand passed through where he had been standing, causing Ragna to lose his balance and start to fall. “The hell?”

“Give me my body back! Hikari to kurayami bunri in/on kizuato!” Ryu shouted as he touched his wrists together and a glowing ball shot forth and removed Ragna from the body. In an instant, Ryu’s astral body attacked Ragna before he could do anything else.

Ryu felt a light and sensual touch on his arm and found himself lying on his back and hearing a small voice saying, “You did well master. Now you must go to the current fight.”

 

Ryu opened his eyes to see Kieko over him with a raised hand. “You idiot! Wake up! They’re coming!” Keiko shouted as she swung down.

“What? What’s going on, Keiko?” Ryu asked as he sat up, dodging the blow.

“You’ve been out for a week talking about The One Who Lost and in the mean time the elementals have returned!” Keiko said as she drew both ribbon-club and katanna. “So get off your lazy but and help out, before we get killed!”

As she left the room, he heard a Ragna’s voice happily saying, “Not much longer!” Ryu spun around looking for him. Not seeing anyone in the room and not feeling any increase in power, he shrugged and hurried out the door. As he opened the door, he felt a sudden rise in power as if a spell had been used, and saw an inscription on the far wall.

“Wake up, Darling!” he heard as a magic arrow pierced his chest from behind. Ryu felt time slow as his body hit the far wall. The wall seemed to suddenly vanish and Ryu found himself standing in the middle of a forest that had pools of water at the base of the trees. The forest stretched as far as the eye could see and had a timeless feel to it. Ryu looked around feeling a strange sense of déjà vu as he took a few steps to what he thought was the north. He stumbled on some thing buried in the fallen leaves and stopped to pick it up. He saw in his hand an ebony, unsheathed katana that seemed to fade into the shadows with ease.

“Damn! He found it!” he heard a voice say as a dark haired girl appeared. Ryu recognized her as the one who had attacked Keiko with the shadow kunai, as she still wore her grimy t-shirt, and her hair was still unkempt. “Fine! I will follow you as I promised, Master.”

“Who thu hell are you?!? And where am I?!? and for that matter: WHAT THE HELL!” Ryu shouted as he pointed the sword at her.

“You haven’t truly forgotten, have you, Master?” the girl asked as she reached for him. “So be it! I am Taura, the True Guardian of the power of Darkness, the Shadows are where my power resides! Seek me there in your time of need!”

With this, she shoved him, and he felt himself falling into a pool of water. As he fell, a shining katana appeared and fell towards him. “Remember that we both await the return of your memories, Lord Kage Ryu,” he heard as he grabbed it’s hilt. Suddenly found himself scanning the room where Keiko woke him up just a few minutes earlier.

“So this is where you are, Darling!” a voice came from above him. “So will you come away with me, Kage Darling?” Ryu looked up and saw a woman coming through the solid stone above him. With a jump, he spun around into a crouching Iai position and reached for the Ebony Katana that instantly materialized there. The woman sighed, “So this is what it comes to yet again?” She spun around and landed feet first on the bed. She stood a little shorter than Ryu with pure metallic silver hair and liquid copper eyes. Her oriental features beamed as she smiled at Ryu. She wore a sheer low cut t-shirt with form fitting leather jeans. She tried to take a step as her high heels caught in the sheets.

“Who the Hell do you think you’re calling ‘Darling’,” Ryu shouted as he started to blush fiercely.

“Have you truly forgotten about your fiancé since you started to live in this ‘life’?” she demanded as she reached out and grabbed him from the side in a crushing embrace. As he tried to pull away from her massive breasts, she continued, “You can’t tell me you have forgotten the Daughter of the Oni King, Mesuinu Sora, can you?”

Ryu stopped struggling and jabbed his elbow into her gut, effectively breaking her embrace, and lifting the lower half of her body off the bed, into the air. Quickly bringing his hands together, he followed up with a double fisted blow down onto her back which forced her to the floor. “Akuma maku suji kyuju kyu! Kusari tamashii!” Instantly steel grey chains grabbed her and held her down. As the chains constricted, faint glowing bits of red appeared along the links as she tried to escape.

“You always did like to tie me up… so what now? Do I get my spanking?” she said with a smile.

Ryu vanished from the room as he sought out Keiko. There had been a gnawing feeling that she was in danger since Mesuinu had appeared.

***********

Onisama was wading through a rush of elementals that shied away from him. Thu hell is this fuckin Bitch of a general thinking letting me this damn close to her? he thought as he came into the sight of the woman leading the army. She stood clothed in a translucent light blue robe. Her hair was the color of fire and her eyes were like the emeralds on her necklace.

“Mmmmm… You’re almost as cute as that man Mesuinu has working for her. Faust, I believe it was,” she said as he approached.

“You…Gabriel, I guess? You say Faust is working for Mesuinu?” Onisama asked as he began calling on his Chi.

“What’s it to you?” Gabriel asked with a motion as her robes became flying blades that struck at him.

He appeared behind her and put his fist through her chest, “I have to protect my Lord’s woman. If Faust is in league with Mesuinu, then I must be moving to defend her,” As he removed his arm from her, he felt Cerubus approaching tentatively.

“Are you alright, Musuko?” Cerubus’s deep voice questioned. A sudden wave of raw anger and power passed through them that overwhelmed Onisama. Cerubus grew another 35 feet or so as his other heads grew out. They stood listening to an unheard voice and paled. “No, the master…” Cerubus started as he vanished into thin air. Onisama rushed to where he felt the power explode and saw Keiko’s aura lying prone in front of him. He whirled around as a vaguely familiar aura appeared behind him.

“Easy, Musuko, I’m not here for you; I need to tend to Keiko before Ryu’s seal kills her,” Megumi said as she placed a tri-sealed scroll on the bodies chest.

“What do you mean ‘before Ryu’s seal kills her’?” Onisama asked.

“Ryu messed up yet another spell, resulting in his soul in her body and her soul in his. His body has 21 ultra strong seals restraining his power,” Megumi said as she started to activate the scroll. “The individual seals are equal to a thousand normal seals. Right now, her power is so restrained that she is unable to move or think straight.”

As the seals were broken by the power in the scroll, an unearthly, demonic howl came to their ears. Keiko in Ryu’s body stood with eyes closed. The hair on Ryu’s body shimmered as it turned midnight blue, indicating that Keiko’s spirit was truly inhabiting his body. Keiko opened his eyes, revealing the symbols of fire and light in his eyes. “Darling, is it that time already?” she asked as a hole opened in space and time revealing Ryu in Keiko’s body shoving his blood sword into the dirt.

“Ano Kodai Nanatsu soshite Mittsu Eien Kenryoku Watashi o tosotsu suru! Nozoku ano Saku aida ni Sekai! Sekai Hitotsu ni Naru/Suru!” Ryu shouted as their surroundings seemed to overlap with many other semi-transparent images. The overlapping images were of other places and times, the people revealed in them seemed oblivious to what was actually happening. “Ken no Ragna Kaeru e/ni watashi anata no Kacho!” as Ryu shouted this incantation, he ripped the sword from the ground revealing that the blade had transformed. The blade was broken off about 8 inches out and it was a color that changed as quickly as they could be named.

“NO!” Keiko screamed as Ryu swung the sword and the entirety of everything in a 10 mile area vanished into nothingness. Keiko reached out his hand and twisted with it and instantly the semi-transparent images and the sword vanished. Stepping through the hole, Keiko extended his hand and instantly his ribbon-club materialized. “Give him back, you FUCKING BASTARD!” and with this he slammed the weapon into Ryu’s head.

Ryu grabbed the ribbon-club as glowing cracks started to form on her body. “Keiko, it hurts, the power being released is too great to contain. I’m dying, the power is over-powering my…reincarnation abilities…Please…don’t…cry…I’ll…” Ryu said as her body exploded into millions of Chaos filled pieces that scattered into the many dimensions of time and space.

As Keiko dropped to her knees sobbing, an adult-formed Yuichi cautiously approached and touched her shoulder. As she did, the area Ryu had just leveled filled with millions of Tenchi who all pointed their weapons at Keiko. “Oni Prince, Lord Kage Ryu. You are hereby, under the authority of Supreme Tenchi Kenzuma, are under arrest and to await trial upon the finding of Fire Mistress Kaji Kieko.”

Edited by mai takekaze

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Bridge

It was the final show down. Ragna stood alone having absorbed the essence of Creation, Chaos, Time, and the Seven. Against him stood Dani the possessor and first master of the Ultimate power, and against them all stood Yue the incarnation of the Oni Prince/Lord Kage Ryu Rei, aka The Undying Lord. The three constantly traded blows faster than could be seen for what seemed like an eternity. Finally they jumped back and stood panting fiercely. With movements faster than before, Dani moved over and struck the Blood Ruby in Yue’s amulet. “Go for help,” he whispered to her as the gem formed huge cracks and Dani charged back out to fight.

As the gem cracked further Yue found glowing cracks forming on her skin. And then she was falling into herself. She fell through her mind to a glowing platform in her mind. There she found a book made of chains and an old-fashioned quill and inkwell sitting in the middle of the platform. As she approached it she found the book was opened and words were filling the blank pages as if they were only able to be seen by reading the book from first to last. With a sudden calm she turned to the beginning and began reading.

The story was of the Oni Lord Kage Ryu born to the then Prince of the ninth hell. As it continued on it told of the blood-strewn path he had made to follow the prophecy that told him how to find ‘the one who could complete him’. When he finally found her she was nearly killed by the Oni Chaos-mage who hunted him. Time marched on as the two started to influence each other as they continued meeting each other on various missions. Finally they began to realize the feelings they held for each other. About the time his fiancé from one of the larger kingdoms of hell arrived to take his hand in marriage. After years of being near ‘the one who could complete him’ his nature had changed; he no longer desired to be used in the politics of hell. He refused the marriage and was subsequently banished from the realms of hell after turning on all their leaders, who had tried to force him into submission.

He returned to the mortal plain after killing hundreds of his kin in his escape. About this time the seed of Chaos began to bloom inside him. With this he rewrote his lifesong allowing himself to exist outside of time while still being able to affect it. He also made it possible for him to resist the effects of the Chaos power that had started to ravage him by reaching into the essence of Time and forging a single amulet that limited all the power he wielded to the strength of his enemies. He then sought out his chosen woman and finally found her entering the realm of the heavens. He chased after her to find she was one of the elemental masters of the heavens.

They decided to leave together and fled to earth. Many years passed and again tribulation struck them as the Tenchi tracked them down and took them to heaven for sentencing. The court decided to set them against each other in hopes that without their memories of each other they would kill each other outright. Instead they fought as had been planned then vanished from the plains leaving their pursuers cursing their underestimation of their powers. The couple had promptly rebirthed them-selves into bodies she made to hold and control their powers.

When the pursuers caught up to them again she was in his body and he had vanished entirely. As she read the book the words started to fill the pages faster and faster till the last page that remained blank. On this page were the glowing words: “the reincarnation sat faced with two possibilities. One was to become one with her power and go berserk. Or she could release the mask that made Yue and bring out the True Kage Ryu Rei.”

Without hesitation she grabbed the Quill and jabbed it into her skin. With the blood on the tip she wrote in plain, large print, “She released all the masks she had ever owned and uninhibitedly let out the truth.”

Ragna and Dani suddenly froze in mid strike as hands grabbed them and threw them to the floor. They saw and person standing nearly 6 foot tall standing with head bowed between them. His pitch black hair fell to the middle of his back from which two silver wings sprouted. As he raised his face revealing eyes the color of fresh, pure snow that glared at them both he said, “I’m Back.”

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this is the finally of the Sonnet of T'hera. see the next song here.

Edited by mai takekaze

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