by Mark Patraw
Homepage: Mark's Art Page
When you stare into the abyss, the abyss also stares into you.
Hazuki struggled to open her eyes, and lost the battle. She was just too weak. Even thinking seemed liked a monumental task. No! I can't give up, she scolded herself; I can't let HIM win. Slowly, she forced her eyelids to rise. No sooner had they parted before they wanted to fall shut again, drowning her in darkness. She didn't let them - she wouldn't let them.
For a moment, she couldn't make sense of what her eyes revealed, but then she realized that she was looking straight up. She was floating. Hazuki didn't have the strength to test her theory, but she knew her feet were not in contact with the earth, nor was any other part of her body. Hazuki also sensed that she was gently bobbing up and down, rocked by some unseen force.
Now that she understood her situation, Hazuki focused her eyes again. A great blackness yawned upwards from her viewpoint. Out of this darkness tattered, red curtains fell - like dozens of tongues from some obscene beast. She was in a large hall. It was dim, but not dark - particles of dust lazily sailed down from the unfathomable darkness above, their silhouettes made apparent by a few rays of sunlight coming from her right. Slowly and deliberately, she rolled her eyes to follow the light, and sucked in her breath.
A huge, stone statue of a man blocked most of an ornate window - the source of the sunlight. The statue held a mighty sword out from the body, as if in offering. Hazuki studied its face; it was rough, but handsome. The shadows accentuated the curves and juts of the monolith, making it almost seem alive. She couldn't say why, but she didn't like it, something just wasn't right about the structure. It scared her. She noticed a heavy, rusted chain was attached to the hilt of the statue's sword. The chain ran to the wall behind the statue and was fastened there with an even heavier bolt. Strange, she thought to herself, why would a sculptor do that?
A wave of dizziness suddenly overtook her, and she let her eyes slip closed again. Even though she couldn't see, it still felt like the room was spinning around her. She inhaled the air - stale, musty and lifeless. It did nothing to ease her discomfort. The feeling was horrible; she wanted to die. I'm too tired to die, she reminded herself hopelessly.
"Sorry about that my dear, my stone friend is tossing in his sleep again."
Daggers of ice stabbed at Hazuki's heart. That voice. She hated it. It came from everywhere - her ears, the walls, even her mind. It rattled through her head like a mangy rat, scrambling for a hole to hide in.
She felt HIS fingers dance over her face, like spider's legs. She shivered. His fingers stopped at her eyes, and gently raised her eyelids.
Amakusa smiled at her, and for a moment her heart melted. He was SO beautiful, almost feminine. His skin was very pale, almost blue really. A girl would gladly kill herself for a man half as handsome as he. But, then she looked into those empty eyes. They were black and cold, they reflected nothing, not even light. In those eyes lived the real Tokisada Shirou Amakusa, a monster beyond description.
She could tell Amakusa had seen the distaste in her eyes. Feigning rejection, his face caved as though she had just told him his best friend had been slain. He pursed his lips into a beautiful sulk and mocked her.
"Oh, my beautiful little Hazuki! What is wrong? Is the décor not to your liking? Is it perhaps too hot? Or maybe, just maybe, you're not feeling very well. Could it be that the process of sucking your life from you has put you in an ill mood?"
He doubled over with laughter at this, mercifully, her eyes fell shut once more. His ghastly laughs sent fresh waves of terror down her spine, but at least she didn't have to look at him anymore.
At length, his cackling tapered off, and she heard the rustle of his robes as he advanced on her again.
"Hazuki, I've brought you a surprise." He cooed into her ear. His breath was cold on her skin and stank of the grave.
He forced her eyes open again. An ear-to-ear grin lit his angelic face. His other hand was behind his back. Whatever he held there gave off a pulsing glow.
With a flourish, he brought it forth. Her eyes widened. She couldn't take her eyes off the object he held. It was a crystal, but oh, what a crystal. It throbbed and glowed with every color she had ever seen, and many she hadn't. Clouds and lightning danced within.
Her strength seemed to grow in its presence, and she found she couldn't look away.
"Look deeply Hazuki, behold the wonders of the Perenke stone." Amakusa invited, but she barely heard him. All her attention was focused on the sphere. It seemed like the stars themselves were trapped inside it. Amakusa brought the orb even closer to her eyes, and she could feel the warmth from it wash over her face. Her hair began to dance as well, moved by whatever force lived inside the stone.
She peered deeply into the murky depths of the crystal, and suddenly a veil was lifted. She saw a crumbling wooden house, and inside the skeletal remains of this structure, two warriors fought. One man was huge, he looked like a priest of some sort. A giant strand of shining beads was his weapon. As she watched he brought it down with great force on his opponent, a handsome samurai with long, blue hair - so handsome, his beauty rivaled Amakusa's. The samurai dodged the blow and drew his blade and struck, all in the same motion. She had never seen such a fluid and perfect strike in her life. The large man fell, blood flowing from the wound in his abdomen.
The image blurred, and then changed. Now she was looking out on the ocean. On the shore, two more warriors fought. One she recognized, the famous, grizzled samurai, Haohmaru. The other she did not, at first she thought it was a man, but as the battle drew closer, she saw it was a woman. She was dressed in a suit of metal and attacked with a strange sword type she had never seen before. They fought, but only half-heartedly.
She loves Haohmaru, but is afraid of her feelings.
Why did I think that? Hazuki wondered to herself, but before she could ponder it, the scene changed again.
A beautiful forest of cherry trees in bloom dazzled her eyes. Hundreds of pink flower blossoms floated gently in the wind. The stillness was shattered as yet another samurai came crashing through the foliage. He was an older man, and he wore an eye patch. A shadow suddenly fell from one of the trees, like a drop of liquid. The samurai span around just in time to block the blow of the feared head of the Iga ninja clan, Hattori Hanzo.
She wanted to watch this climatic battle, being a ninja herself, the legendary Hanzo fascinated her, but the forest shimmered and was gone. She viewed another battle and another. What does this all mean, she wondered? Does Amakusa have nothing better to do than to entertain me with the conflicts of others?
The answer came suddenly, and her heart shattered like falling ice. She wanted to scream, but she couldn't . Far away, she could here Amakusa's laughter, but her entire being was focused on the scene before her.
A town, bathed in a blazing inferno had appeared before her eyes. The fire snapped and crackled angrily as foul smoke covered the sky. And in the midst of it all, two warriors fought to the death - her beloved brothers, Kazuki and Sogetsu Kazama.
Why? This was the only thought that came to her mind. They were both ninja, like Hazuki, trained together since they could barely walk. Their blood was one and the same, and the tie between them stronger than steel. She had thought both would come to save her from Amakusa, her kidnapper, yet here they were, destroying each other.
Sogetsu, her eldest brother was obviously winning. He had always been the better student, and he had more fighting experience being the elder of her two siblings. The battle was a fierce one, for her brothers had special powers - Kazuki controlled the element of fire, and Sogetsu water. She would have thought that the destruction going on around them would have amplified Kazuki's fire-wielding abilities, but Sogetsu seemed unfazed by the heat and fire. Repeatedly, he summoned pillars of water from under Kazuki's feet, crushing him and countering every attempt at an attack.
Hazuki didn't want to see anymore, but she was powerless to stop their madness. Again she asked herself why?
The scene shifted again. No! Seeing her brothers locked in mortal combat was horrible, but to not see them at all was worse.
Her disappointment and frustration quickly changed to puzzlement. She saw a forest again, this one composed mainly of bamboo. But what was this? Amakusa was there! How could he be in two places at once? But he seemed different…
The Amakusa she saw wore slightly different colored robes, but other than that he seemed the same. He stood gazing into the same crystal she was looking into, how was this possible? Such a feat seemed beyond even his dark powers. Suddenly, she was PULLED towards him until she could see nothing but his eyes; it was as if she was the crystal he gazed into. Those eyes were not the same as her tormentor's, they were human. She saw hope in those eyes, and compassion.
Reality came crashing back as her Amakusa ripped the crystal away from her sight.
"You have seen enough for one day my little bird, too much in fact, now SLEEP!"
Amakusa screeched, obviously quite upset. Her world dissolved as she fell back into unconsciousness, her last thoughts of her brothers. Why Kazuki? Why Sogetsu? Why?
Amakusa sat in his crumbling throne, frustrated, angry and uncertain of his carefully laid plans. How much did his other half see in his Perenke stone? That damn Hazuki! Somehow, his other had been able to play on the girl's feelings and tap into them. His gaze was drawn to the young woman. She floated gracefully above the pentagram he had constructed. Such a pretty flower, he mused, but alas, all flowers wilt and die.
His eyes moved slowly over her body, and then, regarded the true danger that stood behind her. Zankuro. True, he was imprisoned in stone, but it was only Hazuki's life energy that kept the demon there - an energy source that would soon be depleted.
"It doesn't matter. Soon your demonic power will be mine Zankuro, and then I will be unstoppable! My fury will make God himself cower in terror!" he declared to no one in particular. The boast felt empty, deep inside, he wondered. He wondered greatly. His plans had been carefully laid, and everything was going well, except for HIM. My damn other half. Somehow, when Amakusa had risen from the grave once more, he had been split asunder. The dark half of his soul cleaved from that which had once made him human.
"And now my "better" half is hunting me, wonderful." He smirked.
"Question is, which Amakusa will emerge victorious?" He asked himself darkly. He stared at Hazuki's elegantly floating frame, but the answer was not there. Amakusa stapled his fingers, peered into his crystal, and did the only thing he could do - wait. And worry.
"Samurai Shodown Forever" is a non-profit fan site. Samurai Shodown, Samurai Showdown, Samurai Spirits are Copyrights of SNK. Most of the images here are taken from SNK homepage. No part of this webpage may be reproduced in any form or by any
means, without permission from C.K. Gan. This page is best view with I.E. 5 or Netscape 4 at