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A Samurai's Dreams
"In the night, when the sun rests,
The blood. Everywhere. Great rivers of scarlet and crimson. Flowing over the hills and though the forest. He ran.
Basara. Basara? Basara! Basara...............
"No! No! Go away!! Leave me!"
I love you Basara.
"No! No! Please! Please! Oh please......."
It's true, even if you left me to die.
"That's not true! I would never have......DAMN YOU!"
Basara lunged out of the tree had been sleeping in only a few yards away from his burnt out home. Hitting the ground he screamed, specks of spittle flying from his mouth. Even though alert, muscles tense, his eyes were glazed over in deep madness.
"Kagaribi! Kagari-bi!!" He howled into the night. His feverish eyes darted, searching for his tormentor. His hand tightened, and he was suddenly aware that his Pinwheel was in his grasp. He smiled.
Through his clouded vision, Kagaribi stood before him. Her face placid, skin a pale blue. She fixed her gaze upon Basara and frowned. ‘Why Basara? Why? Why did you leave me? You know he was coming, why?"
From the ground around her feet, bony hands began to rise. Slowly, body after rotting body pulled it's way out of the ground, and began to lurch at Basara.
In a fit of twisted rage he flung the blade out into the nigh striking at his specters. The three blade weapon cut through night, hacking at the ground, trees, and sky. Only he could see the weapon slip through the corpses bodies', not stopping there advance. "Evil ghosts! Begone!" But one by one they attached themselves to Basara, and began to drag him down.
"Kagaribi, no! Help me please!"
Kagaribi smiled, her pale body quivered and in a blinding flash, was gone. The specters vanished also, leaving Basara shaking on the ground.
The Pinwheel hummed through the air as it returned to it's master, falling to the ground at his feet. The night was still. Cool wind whipped at his hair and whistled in his ears.
"Kagaribi." He whispered. "You killed her. Slaughtered her in cold blood. And now, you use her to torment me. My poor sweet Kagaribi." He began to weep, letting the salty tears run his face and chest, mixing with the sweat already there.
"Basara." A new voice chimed, one he know very well.
"Zankuro. Damn you, DAMN YOU!" He howled trying to find the demon who haunted his dreams and every waking moment.
Inside the burnt hull of his house, the demon appeared, sword in hand. The same sword that had cut Kagaribi down and spilled her innocent blood.
He laughed. "Basara. Foolish little Basara. You want me so badly and yet in all your efforts, you cant even find me!"
"Shut up. I'll find you. The stench of your cursed soul will lead me to you. And when I do finally hunt you down like the vermin you are, I'll cram my Pinwheel down your throat......." He smiled, "and spin it!"
"Ha hahaha! Brave words for such a weakling. But I'll take your challenge, so your welcome to make good your threat!" Zankuro drew his sword and rammed it into the ground. From between the grass, blood pumped up to the surface, it formed a pool, which an image shimmered into shape of a temple.
"If you want me, come find me, that is, if you live that long." The image shimmered away with the great demon. Only the blood remained. Basara knew that temple.
That's when the dream ended. With a fresh breeze, Basara shifted back into the world. He felt a drop of sweat slip of his nose and splash onto his tattered pants.
"What... What am I becoming?" He said bowing his head.
A light, unusually warm wind slipped itself around Basara's shoulders. "A man. A sad, tired man. That I love none the less."
In Basara's mind's eye, he could see Kagaribi's shimmering body behind him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders, giving him a reassuring hug.
"He's given me a challenge." Basara raised his head into the moon light, then with one quick slash, ran his nails across his chest. Blood oozed down his wiry body, from the four wounds he had made.
"I accept Zankuro! With every breath and with every drop of blood I despise you!" He pulled the Pinwheel from the ground and dipped all three blades in his blood.
"As Kagaribi blood is mine, you shall DIE demon! Revenge will be mine!"
‘The fire. The pain. I must endure. For my fans, my master, my family..... and Kei.' Ukyo coughed, feeling his lungs up heave. It was becoming worse now. The fits more violent, the pain greater.
Yet he did not let it show. Weakness was not a word Ukyo knew or cared to learn. His mission was his all now, to cure Odagiri Kei, to find the pathway to hell.
He had returned home after a trip to China, and a duel with the King Wan-Fu. After defeating him in heated battle, the King had giving him a supposed map of the tunnels of hell. But this was still not good enough for Ukyo.
‘Time is short. There is one who will know the location, and only one."
From village to village he travels, searching, desperately looking for the only one who can guide him into the fires and retrieve his prize.
Days hold no meaning for the great Swallow Slayer. Nights come and go, and so do dreams. Dreams of his love and of his fear of a lonely death.
However on this night, the night that all over the world, three challenges were given out. Three challenges that will change the fate of three men, and the third challenge is about to be given.
The air was sweet with the smell of spring blossoms, and birds swooped from tree to tree, singing praises to nature.
Ukyo walked down the stone path to Kei's house with a spring in his step. He had returned and everything would be fine now. He would have Kei and a bright future as her husband.
Ah he came up on the little dwelling snuggled back into the woods of bamboo, he could see Odagiri, kneeling in her garden tending to the beautiful flowers.
She looked up and smiled deeply. Standing she ran the rest of the pathway and into Ukyo's arms.
"Welcome home lover." She whispered and kissed him hard on the lips.
There in brace seemed everlasting, as if the sun, moon, and stars revolved around them and this eternal kiss.
Suddenly Kei jerked away from him. She looked aghast, as if she had been struck. Her eyes widened and she began to cough.
"Kei!" Ukyo cried running to her side. She jerked with ever cough, phlegm and blood pouring from her mouth.
She screamed and fell to the ground, body twitching. The blood soaking into her beautiful robes.
"No. NO! Kei! KEI!" Ukyo leaned his head back and let out a despairing wail.
In the dark pool the Kei lay in, Ukyo could see the form of an ancient temple. Huge stone pillars and ornately carved roofs stretching high into the heavens.
"Zankuro show yourself!" Ukyo demanded rising to his feet. From behind him, Tachibana could hear the distant sound of thunder.
He turned, and found himself face to face with the Demon himself. Zankuro.
Ukyo never flinched. "Getting quite brazen these days aren't we?"
Zankuro only smiled.
"Don't you have a village to pillage, or peasants to purge?"
"Usually, but I've gotten board with that. I need a new challenge. One that will fight back!"
Ukyo itched his chin and frowned. "Oh? And what did you have in mind."
"Simply this." He drew his sword and slammed it into the ground. The forest, house, Kei all disappeared, and were replace by a huge room. Large beams held up the structure, and huge carved idols loomed overhead.
"I have given an ultimatum." Zankuro said. "Two Samurai warriors are on there way here now. The American Ninja Galford and Basara the Executioner."
"So?" Ukyo said annoyed.
"So, that is still not enough. I need one more challenger...."
"Tough. I have more important things to do than entertain you." Ukyo turned to leave.
"Not even for a price?"
He stopped. "What price?"
"Say the location of a rare flower. Flower that blooms in the fires of hell."
Ukyo glowered at him. "What do I have to do."
"Defeat me. And then I will tell you.
Zankuro grinned. "You will meet them both in a small sea port just south from where you are. I will be awaiting you Swallow Slayer."
Ukyo sat up. The sun was just starting to peek over the mountains, and the blossoms from the apple tree he slept under were floating down around him.
He got up and dusted himself off. Picking up his Drying Poll, he looked southward, where he would soon meet two warriors. He knew the winds of change were at hand and he would be in for the sword fight of his life.
A swallow plunged between the trees of the orchard, there was a bright flash of steel, and it fell in two to the ground.
Chapter 2-----Lost Little Girl