Nakoruru Samurai Shodown
Fan Fiction
--The website dedicated to all Samurai Spirits fans--~ver5.0~
Thunder and Redness
by Irene Trent
Homepage: Save the Sugar

Chapter 2

        The warmth of the sun awakened me on that morning. It seemed like a day that would bring good tidings, but I knew not to expect anything good. Ever since that day on Gairyu Isle, my life hadn't improved; it just stayed the same. Every day I would wake up lonely and bored, despite the fact I avoided people. I even avoided my father's funeral, for the people would give me these sad looks, but I knew he would understand the reason of my absence. . . 
        But it was nineteen years later, and I was no better a Samurai than when I was six! An enormous pang of guilt shuddered through my body. I could feel his shame for me. I didn't even serve a warlord. In fact, I traveled up northward, trying to find that bastard Amakusa, but I learned quickly that the land was too vast for a child. I found this secluded place in the forests of the north, which was abundant in food. It was near a town, ruled by a stable daimyo. I could have served him, but I just couldn't bear anymore relationships with other humans. My father was just too great a person to match up to, and after a while I even forgot about trying. 
        Each day was the same to me. I woke up and prayed to the kami and to Father for good fortune, and then went fishing or gathering. If that proved unsuccessful, I had to go to the market nearby. I went, bought the food I needed, and avoided eye contact with the people walking down the street. I stopped going after a while since I was running out of money. 
        I needed food anyway, so I decided to go through the woods for a hunt. Taking my sword with me, I trudged through a dense bamboo forest. I had a strange craving for meat. Whenever I killed a creature, I pretended it was Amakusa. I skinned the animals with the very dagger he killed my father with. How I would have loved to skin him, and feed his flesh to the sharks, and let the wolves gnaw on his brittle bones. I spent years pondering on how I would get my revenge, but illness got to him before I could. Hopefully that filth died sputtering up blood or choking on his own vomit, and not in a peaceful sleep. I hoped he died in pure agony and pain, so he'd suffer for what he'd done to my father. 
        He'd ruined my life. I would have been an honorable warrior, under the best training and leadership of my father. Never would I have turned out like this. Passing a pond, I paused and looked at my reflection. Oh, it was a pathetic sight indeed! My hair had grown scraggly and uneven, and it reached down to my waist. My face developed a roughness to it, and I was beginning to see some stubble. The clothes I wore had become torn and ratty over the years, and I didn't care. I was never going to see anyone again anyway, so my appearance would have no importance. I could only revel it what life would be like if Father was still alive. In that reflection, I felt I could see his eyes staring back at me, scorning me for choosing this path. What was honor now?! Just some improbable goal I would never reach. 
        My stomach growled. All my pessimism created an appetite, but the forest was bare. I cut open a shoot of bamboo, and sucked the gritty stem for its sweet juices. The damn sun was even scorning me; everything was scorning me. And what did I do to deserve this?! Why was it my father who had to die?! What gracious and merciful gods would have let it happen?! 
        The sugary juice from the shoot had left me thirsty, so I bent down over the stream for some water. It didn't fill me up; I needed meat! Where were those damn animals?! I just wanted to bellow all my anger in that woods, but I knew that if I did I'd frighten the game! Patience. It was just something I didn't have. I didn't wait for anything. My life was tedious enough, and there was no way I would sit around like a repressed powder keg and wait for my damn breakfast. If my father was alive, I wouldn't need to wait around for food! Damn Amakusa! Damn him to Hell
        All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a creature leap behind a bush. Ha! That was my chance. I saw the leaves of a black berry bush rustle, and figured it was probably a rabbit; they could brave the thorns. Rabbit meat sounded delicious at the moment. I crept up to the bush, unsheathing my katana. I had to be extremely quiet, for rabbits were very sensitive. No way in Hell would I lose this game. I crept closer, making each step as quietly as I could. Through a crack in the bushes, I saw a bit of black. Yes, I would kill that black rabbit of death and make it my breakfast. I raised my sword, ready to strike, waiting for the moment. It came down hard on the bush, but then something odd happened. My sword struck metal, and the force of it knocked from my hands. 
        I stepped back. A black thing leapt from the bushes and stood it my path. He was a Ninja. 
        The man merely stared at me, not moving his dark eyes. They fixated on me, keen and acute, and froze me. The Ninja was a small man, but stood before me with confident poise. His arms were crossed across his chest, with his blade in one hand. He was clad entirely in black, with a purple scarf and sash around his waist. His masked face was intimidating, and a brass head-guard rested on his forehead, concealing his brows. I hated Ninja; Ninja killed my parents. I always had despised them, for they were so sly and secretive, and this one was going to pay. He ruined my hunt, and his stance just asked me to slit his throat. 
        I was bigger than him; I could take him. But my weapon lay on the ground, so I threw a punch at him, but he counterattacked me. I tried to kick him, but he artfully dodged my foot. Well, he was just lucky! But each time I attempted an attack, I missed. I threw punches and kicks at him, but he avoided every one. Damn, that Ninja was clever! I even hurled myself at him, but he just stepped out of the way and fell flat on my face. It was humiliating. He was so dexterous and artful in his form, and I was just slow and barbaric. I just wanted to lie on the ground and let him kill me. 
        I looked up, and he stood in front of me. He seemed a lot taller than he actually was from the ground's view. I had wanted to rip his throat out for that, but then he extended his hand, as if he wanted to help me up. I reluctantly took it and he pulled me off the ground. 
        "I'm sorry I posed a threat to you, Haohmaru, but you nearly killed me. I suppose you thought I was an animal," he spoke. His voice was deep and articulate, but muffled from the mask. 
        How did he know my name?! Just who was this stranger?! I eyed him again. He seemed so mysterious.
        "Who are you?!" I interrogated, shaken. "How do you know my name?!" 
        "I've been watching you for a long time now, Haohmaru. I was there when your father was kill. . ." 
        He would die!! "So you're the son of a bitch who did it! I'll kill you!! I'll kill you!!" I lashed out. 
        He put his hand out to stop me. I growled at him and clenched my fists, ready for a fight. 
        "I wasn't the murderer, Haohmaru. That was the reason I left Amakusa's clan. I was one of the Ninja who was assigned to kill your parents, but when I saw them in their home, having tea, I just couldn't bring myself to commit such a horrible thing, so I left. I had always respected your father." 
        "Well tell me name of the Ninja who did kill my parents!" I demanded. 
        The Ninja sighed, "He poisoned himself, for their very murderer could not live with his sin." 
        I continued to glare at him. He still seemed to suspicious. 'If you had respect for my father, then why did you join Amakusa's clan?!" 
        "I was young then. . .just eager to serve a master. But I left promptly after your parents' death. Escape was not easy. I had hidden in your house, and I saw you enter. You were just a young boy then, and I'll never forget that look of horror on your face when you saw them. I saw you leave, and I followed you all the way here. I serve the shogun now, for I feel that by serving him I can repent for my service to Amaksua. Yet I too, hide in the woods, for I fear that I'll be caught, although Amakusa and his silly beliefs have withered away. I see you sometimes, and you appear so lonely. I never bothered to accompany you, for you seemed to not want people around, so I hide in the shadows." 
        "You're a spy! I know it!" I lashed again. 
        "You assume too much, Haohmaru," he remarked. "A Ninja may seem a cunning spy outside the mask, but we are humans too." 
        He removed the mask. Once I saw his face, he didn't seem so intimidating. He appeared around his mid-thirties, and had smooth, swept-back hair, which fell just below his ears. 
        "What is your name?" I asked him, in a more gentler tone of voice. 
        He knelt to the ground and bowed deeply. "I'm Hattori Hanzo." 
        "Well. . .I'm Haohmaru. . ." I told him. I felt like everything was happening so quickly all of a sudden. 
        A rumble of thunder sounded in the distance. The sun was beginning to shy away behind the clouds. 
        "Where do you live?" I asked him. 
        'In the shadows. . ." he replied. 
        I looked towards the sky, which appeared ominous. "Well, I've built a small place. You're welcome to stay, if. . ." 
        I looked back at where he was standing. He had disappeared. 
        "Hanzo?" I called tentatively. "Hanzo?" 
        He never appeared, yet I still felt as if I were not alone. An eerie feeling crept through me, and I hoped that Hattori Hanzo was who he said he was. 
        How could he have done that?! The next moment I was talking to him, and he vanishes before my I eyes. I looked through all the surrounding bushes, behind every tree and rock, but he was no in sight. Where could he have gone? He was making me angry. 
        "Hanzo, where are you?! This isn't funny!" 
        Still no answer. The sky was getting blacker. 
        "Come back here!" 
        Lighting flickered in the sky. I began to feel somewhat panicky. 
        "Hanzo. . .?" I questioned, with more fear in my voice. 
        "Are you looking for someone?" I heard an unfamiliar voice. 
        I whirled around and saw a young girl carrying a basket of herbs and berries. She looked about sixteen or so, and had long, black hair and wore Ainu clothing, dressed in purple. I knew she wasn't Japanese because her skin was white as snow. I'd seen a few Ainu people up here gathering fruit, and this girl looked somewhat familiar. 
        "Who are you?" I interrogated. 
        "I'm. . .I'm Nakoruru," she said. "I've seen you around before. Where did you come from?" 
        "It's a long story. . ." I sighed. "And I don't want to tell about it." 
        "Who were you looking for?" she asked. 
        "Some Ninja." I told her, trying to walk away. I didn't need any help from some little girl. 
        She kept following me. "Can I help?" 
        "No," I replied curtly, and walked toward my house. 
        "You'll never find him. If he's a good Ninja." 
        I walked quicker, trying to shake her off my back, but she persisted in following me. "You seem awfully hungry. Would you like some black berries?" she offered. 
        I wanted to say no, but I was famished. And the berries looked fresh and ripe. I grabbed a handful and ate. "Thanks," I replied, and kept walking. 
        "Now that I've given you food, you must tell me who you are." 
        "I said I didn't want to!!" I barked. 
        She started to tremble, and back away. Her large, brown eyes became glossy. I felt terrible for causing that pitiful face. She was just a girl. I had to repress my short temper. 
        "All right, all right, I apologize," I reluctantly said. 
        "You. . .you need to work on your temper." 
        I sighed, "I'm Haohmaru. I came from Gairyu Isle, and ran away here when I was six." 
        "I heard about what happened there," she said, "Was that after the raid?" 
        "Yes. . ." I grumbled. "I ran away because Amakusa killed my parents." 
        "He was a crazy man. My mother told me about him, and about how he sent these priests to enforce some odd religion on us. They called us fiendish pagans. . .whatever that means." 
        "It just means your beliefs are primitive," I told her. "And they are, as much as I hate to agree with him." 
        "I think he's buried somewhere around here. They had to keep the burial secret, because he wanted a Christian burial. That's against the law."
        "Where is his grave, for I will piss on it!" I growled. 
        "I don't know. . ." she sighed. "But why do you have such spite against him?" 
        That conversation made me boil with anger. "Because he took the life of one of the best warriors who ever lived, and he ruined my life!" I rasped deeply. "My father had no reason to die!!" 
        She cowered away, tense. The girl was small and timid, and she shrunk before me at each word. Her voice was quite high, barely above a whisper. I felt as if the cold gusts of wind would wisp her away. 
        "But. . .who was your father?" 
        I sighed. "Akira. . ." 
        His name sounded so noble escaping my lips. 
        Her eyes grew wide in amazement. "You mean Akira, the man who conquered the Christian rebels? You're his son?!" 
        I nodded. I was surprised. The girl seemed so circumspect, yet never questioned me. 
        "I guess Amakusa finally got his revenge. . ." she sighed wistfully. Thunder rumbled in the distance. "I'm so glad he's gone and buried. I know Tokugawa is. . ." 
        "How do you know so much about my father?" I questioned. "You're Ainu. I thought you always kept to yourselves." 
        "I like to know things," she spoke louder, with more fervor in her voice, "so often when I gather fruit, I travel into Japanese villages and hear about things. Someday, I hope to know everything. . ." 
        She seemed intelligent enough, yet she was still so young and naive. I hated to break her hopes, but it would save her a lot of hurt. "I'm afraid that's a goal you'll never achieve." 
        "Maybe not. . .but I'll try." 
        I shook my head. That poor girl had no idea what this world was really like. 
        A few raindrops pelted my hair. I looked up at the sky, ominous and dark. Lightning tore through it, and a clamor of thunder succeeded. I had to return home. 
        "I must go," I told her. "And you too." 
        "I can't," she sighed, the wind blasting her fragile body. "I still have to gather enough fruit for my family to eat. It's monsoon season, you know. I spend my time too idly. Good-bye, Haohmaru!" 
        She ran off, her long, black hair trailing behind her. 
        I was left all alone. Alone in the storm. The wind whipped against my clothes as I moved against it towards my home. The rain, now heavy, blew sideways and stung my face. I was starving. The hollow of my stomach felt incredibly empty, yet it was not for food. That was the first time in fifteen years I had yearned for company. . .

        The monsoon lasted for several miserable days. I'd never liked rain when I lived in that pitiful house which I had built. The roof, already dank enough, nearly collapsed under the heavy rains, and my home smelled of dirt, for I had to seal the cracks with it so the rain wouldn't flood into my house. The worst part was hunting for food in the rain. Hours and hours I'd spend, letting the rain drench me. Sometimes I wished it would just melt me into a puddle, and I would merely trickle away from all that had ever hurt me. But I just let it soak me, even though I'd ran out of dry clothes. To make matters worse, there was an earthquake, and my home crumbled to the ground. I spent hours just to erect a small, makeshift shelter with a roof. It wasn't even enclosed, and I slept on the cold, muddy ground. The whole time I was cold and hungry, wishing it was fifteen years ago and I was at home on Gairyu Isle, sipping warm tea with my parents under a dry roof. But that would never be possible! For every time I shivered, I cursed that bastard Amakusa. 
        I shut myself into my little hut, trying as best as I could to stay dry. There was hardly anything to divert me from the comfortless conditions, except for my father's books. . .and my thoughts. I thought about many issues during the monsoon. I thought about Hanzo, and how he was taking shelter. How close was he? He made me uneasy, for I felt that he knew far too much. What did he already know? Then I thought about Nakoruru, on her quest to figure out all there was to know. I felt she knew too much for someone so young. She, too, gave me that eerie feeling that she had been watching me closer than she claimed she had. And how did I know that they were just more people to hurt me, setting me up just as Charlotte had. Were they pure, or black with evil? Or possibly they were for good--no! Of course not! Nothing good ever came from people. 
        When the sun finally decided to show itself, I emerged from my "home" and decided to take a walk. My clothes were all damp, and all I had was a pair of baggy, black pants that my father used to wear when he trained. They draped over my feet unto the muddy ground. I was tall enough, but not as tall as my father. His clothes always hung loosely on me. I had to hold the pants up to avoid having them caked with mud. I removed my shoes, and decided to let my feet sink into the sodden earth. I was famished and homeless. That little hut took me nearly two years to construct. Although it was heresy against my views about people, I wished I knew someone who could shelter me. 
        I took a walk into the forest, feeling much more low than I had the last time. I unsheathed my Fugu Blade and swiped at a few bamboo shoots in anguish. What was I going to go?! I had no home anymore! I couldn't show my face in a village with these filthy clothes. I looked again at my reflection in the pond. Then I looked harder, but I never saw the noble face of my father like the former visit. For the first time since I was six, the redness returned. Instead I though I saw him--that bastard--contorting his face into a hideous grin mocking my misfortune I wanted to scream and step on that grotesque face I saw before me and shatter its image in the water that turned red like blood like the blood that was shed on the rocky shores of Gairyu Isle that day when I was a little boy and everything I ever had was yanked from me-- 
        "DAMN YOU, AMAKUSA!!!" I cried, as loud as I could. The cry reverberated through the never-ending woods. 
        I gripped my sword in anger, marching through the forest like a savage beast. My heart immediately felt the toxins of pure rage insane rage, the kind of rage where the world becomes nothing but a red blaze red like blood! Just the thought of it made my mouth foam I wanted to kill I wanted to kill someone I didn't care who! I just wanted to kill! It pounded in my skull, that ire! 
        "Haohmaru!" a shrill voice rang through the forest. 
        "What?!" I screamed. "What?!" 
        Nakoruru ran towards me, repeatedly calling my name. 
        "Haohmaru, I have to talk to you!" she exclaimed, with a high degree of panic in her voice, 
        I still felt blood thirsty. I trembled in rage. "What do you WANT?!! What do you WANT?!!" I screamed. Nakoruru began to get that glossy-eyed look, but I was too enraged to notice it she looked just like she did when she cried for me hanging from the cliff and I tried to save her and her father hit me with the came and everything went black. 
        "Haohmaru, let it go!" she screamed. "I must talk to you! It's important!" 
        "Get the hell away from me!! Or I'll kill you!! I'LL KILL YOU!!!" 
        "Settle down!" she yelled, nearly as loud as I. "You must listen to me!!" 
        Nakoruru began to shake me, but my sentiments, what little I had, couldn't inhibit me from my anger. 
        "GET OFF ME!!!" 
        She finally broke me from my madness when she kicked me as hard as she could in the shin. The redness faded, and the tranquil mien of the forest returned. I felt somewhat dizzy trying to reenter the sane world. I huffed, for the ire was exhausting. 
        "Haohmaru. . ." she sighed, "I. . .I have to tell you something. . ." 
        "What?" I asked. "What happened?" 
        The last thing I needed was more misfortune! 
        "I'm afraid I have some bad news. . ." 
        "Bad news?! Well what is it?!" I interrogated. I wanted to hear the dreadful tidings quickly, so I could know it as quick and painless as possible. 
        "I. . .I saw something a couple of nights ago. . ." she sighed. Her wide, brown eyes filled with fear. "It was. . .at Amakusa's grave. . ." 
        "Amakusa's grave?!" I sputtered. No! How I loathed that name! I knew deep in the pit of my heart that it would be dreadful news. 
        "Yes," she restated, "I--well I was gathering food during my family a couple nights ago, and I happened to pass by his grave stone in the forest. I. . .I saw a man there. He was in his early forties or so, and wore a long, black robe. He carried a book with a cross in one hand, and led a little, white lamb with the other. Around his neck he had some pewter emblem of a crucified man. I'm not familiar with Christianity. . ." 
        "The book with the cross is the Holy Bible, which is what Christians read. They live their entire lives by its teachings," I informed her, recalling from when Serge came and preached to us. "But please! Tell me!" 
        "Well. . .the man knelt down and read from the Bible, about the day some evil being would come again. Then he deeply bowed to the grave and worshipped it, kissing the cold, hard stone and all. He repeatedly said, `O Great Prophet, I bow to thee! May thee reign again!!" And then he took a small knife from his hands and cut open the lamb. It was the most horrific sight! He left the lamb's blood fall thrice upon the ground; once for the father, twice for the son, and the third time for the Holy Spirit. I didn't quite understand the practice that he used to resurrect that demon, but all I know is that he held the metallic emblem around his neck up to the sky, and all of a sudden he was struck by lightning. The man fell to the ground, and immediately afterward, the ground began to shake violently. . ." 
        "So that was the earthquake that destroyed my home!!" I filled with rage! Even six feet under that fiend knew how to ruin my life! "That son of a bitch!!" I huffed in anger. 
        Nakoruru continued, "One of the trees fell on the man. Then, all of the sudden, the ground split right in two! I gazed in awe at the fiery chasm that emerged from the ground. Smoke billowed from it, like ghastly spirits in the deep woods. But then. . .then the most horrific thing occurred. The air began to feel very heavy with evil; so heavy I felt as if it were pinning me to the ground. And then I saw this black presence rise from the pit, a darker cloud of smoke than the wisps that preceded it. It had no shape at all; it was just some dense entity which hovered above the fire. And then it began to talk! 
        'Great servant. . .' it said, `you hath saved me from this pit of misery, this pit of eternal Hell that God the Traitor hath put me in. I once believed in His divine power. I worshipped him in my earthly life, and gave him my all. And now He hath locked me into this crevasse of eternal torture. You, dear servant, hath now given me the second opportunity to reign again. I will show God, once and for all, who is the Supreme Being! Curse that devil for punishing me. . .' 
        The ghost continues and continues about his hateful feelings towards his God, and then he rewards the dead priest with his evil soul. And this, too, I shall never forget. The black, billowing form infiltrated the mouth of the priest. The man awoke again, lifting the tree from his back with superhuman strength! He rose, unscathed, as if nothing had ever damaged him. But his eyes--oh, his eyes were hideous! One eye remained normal, but his other eye, amber in color, gleamed from the fire. Then he hurled his burnt emblem into the flames, telling it to go to where it truly belonged." 
        "I have to find that priest!" I exclaimed. "I'll kill him!" 
        "Don't act so hastily!" she cried. 
        "He will DIE!" 
        "Haohmaru, you could release his spirit from the flesh! It could feed on other souls at will! Who knows what it could do?!" 
        "I'll find I way!" I rasped. "I'll find a way. . ." 
        She looked at the ground and shook her head, "Somehow, this seems strange. We're trying to kill someone that's already dead." 
        "Well. . .I'll find out!" I replied gruffly, "Even if I have to die to do it!" 
        "Haohmaru. . ." she tried to stop me, "there is something else that I forgot to mention, and it will certainly inspire your vengeful feelings even more." 
        I saw her grin a little before she went on. 
        "I am sure you know that the person Amakusa despised most was your father," she continued, "and ultimately he is who Amakusa blames for his eternal punishment. He seeks just as much revenge on Akira as you do on him. His plan was to kill your whole family-even you--that day years ago, but you were not there. He never knew about you when he was alive. 
        "You ran away, out of sight. I don't think a soul in Japan even knew that Akira had a son. He knows now, and has another chance. . ." 
        "Just like I have another chance to stop him and preserve the honor of my father!" 
        "And you are a threat to Amakusa's plans. He thinks that the kami have given you special powers, which are within your sword. Amakusa wants that sword, and that your father has not gone to the afterlife because his spirit cannot rest." 
        "Well of course he cannot rest!" I spat, "Not until I win him back the honor that he lost!" 
        "Your father will guide you. He is everywhere. If you are very quiet, he will talk to you." 
        "I sure hope you are telling me the truth!" I growled. 
        "Your father will only help you, but this is your struggle. . ." 
        "Well, if what you say is true. . .then where do we find Amakusa?" I asked her, somewhat calmer now. 
        "I. . .I don't know. He could be anywhere. Lurking in these forests possibly. I. . .I have this great fear that he saw me spying on him. I don't believe he intended for you to know this. . ." 
        I gripped my sword tightly, brewing with anger. "Well, that fiend isn't taking my sword; I'll make sure of that!" 
        I walked into the deep forest, feeling like my life had a purpose again. It was I who would defeat Amakusa. Only I, and no one else, and if anyone--anyone-- tried to impede me from it, they would pay dearly. 
        "Haohmaru, wait up!" Nakoruru called, running behind me. "Where are you going?" 
        "To find that son of a bitch!" I huffed, marching along. "I have no meaning here any more!" 
        "You're moving on. . ." she stated, "I'm coming with you!" 
        "Ha!" I scoffed, "It's too dangerous for a little girl like you!" 
        I could tell by her face that she didn't take to kindly to my remark; I had hit a soft spot. 
        "It doesn't matter," she said. "I'm coming with you." 
        "You can't!" I exclaimed. "You have a family to take care of. . .and be grateful you have one!" 
        She persisted in following me. "I'll be safer with you! My little sister can take care of them!" 
        "He'll kill your family if he knew what you did," I told her. "Speaking from experience, he pleasures himself in that!" 
        "But I must come with you in order to protect them!!" 
        I sighed. She wasn't going to give up, and I didn't have the energy to argue with her. Throwing up my arms, I huffed, " You can come. But stay out of trouble! I'm not going to run to your rescue if you get yourself in some sort of rut." 
        She gracefully complied, and we walked through the forest. 
        "I wonder what the priest was like before he became possessed," Nakoruru speculated. "If we knew that, it could help us find him." 
        All of a sudden, I though of a way we could ferret some information on the priest. 
        "I. . .I know someone who might be able to help us. . ." I assured. 

Chapter 3

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