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    Chapter IIThe dream that nightI dreamed that night for a short time, I’m not sure how long, but it didn’t feel like a dream at all. Chapter IIIThe Moon and its Devilish Red GlareAs the moon began to come out into view, I stood back upon my feet. I could see a little bit more since it was a full moon, it is glowing an eerie color. It reminded me of the fight that broke out at the palace. It sent a sudden chill of fear strait down my spine.

    I began to try to remember the way that I came in but it was all a rush altogether. I could not remember a thing. Nothing at all came. Even if I could remember was I come in from it was very dark and I couldn’t see at all now. It was obvious to me that I would have to stay there the whole night, but I hadn’t any thought of where to stay.

    I’m still bleeding a lot; well not as much as it was. I did not know my way around yet so I just started to stroll along. As a few minuets passed on by I am again on a trail to no ware. There on the other side I could see a small path. I hoped that the path could lead me out of this shadowed forest.

    . . So I started running to it. I’m running as fast as I can.

    It is not like I could do that much right now any way. I don’t know if the path leads farther into the shadowy woods, or out of them. Anyway, even if I did manage to escape this wood alive, I don’t know who or what is awaiting my arrival to come out of here. Besides, what if there are worse creatures in here. I really dont want to find out. This is defiantly not such a place for me.

    I do not enjoy sudden attacks on my home and being thrown around like a rag doll. No, that is not I, at all. So once again I started off into this deep dark abyss, I never knew that the woods would be this dark. I was all riled up now since there was no true way of finding anyway out of this forest without daylight. I now feared that I might never be found again alive.

    Maybe that would be a good thing at some type of view. I do not want to encounter any more f those monsters. There voice threw a sudden rush of fear right down to your heart. You could not escape that screech of terror in that state.

    I began to look at my wounds once again. The minor ones had finally stopped oozing the red blood from within veins. The other puncture I could not ignore though. It was very large and swelling I think it may be infected now. It was in my right arm, I could not move it that well without being in agonizing pain and discomfort.

    I could not stand it any longer. It finally made me drop to my knees. I now could not withstand this agonizing pain within my arm. It was overwhelming me, I could not move.

    It is too strong now; it’s just hurts too much. Way too much, I can’t stand this it’s not fair! Why me?As I kneeled down on the ground it started to drip a little bit of blood. It looked like I would dry up before it would stop bleeding. I can’t do anything right now.

    All that I can do is just wrap my arm. So I did but it still came out. Drip, drip, drip, it came from my body, seeping through the large and violent laceration. The wound is oozing out so much of my red bloodThe red oozing of the blood got to the point now when it was now begging to make me feel a little light headed. This is probably from the amount of blood that I am loosing. The laceration in my arm did not appear to be getting any better at all.

    It stung a little bit more, and more each minute that passed on by. I then looked into the laceration in my arm to see what it was like. As I peered into the bloody wound I noticed that there was something in there. I turned my arm a little so that it would not hurt. I then saw something odd. It looked like a claw.

    Oh, oh yes it was a claw, from the attacker. When it slashed at me his claw must have severed into my arm. That is where it lay; it lies in my arm drenched within lots and lots of my red blood I looked up too the sky and saw the dark storm clouds looming over head. Rain poured down on the already wet autumn ground. I heard five horses trotting in the slushy mud. The trotting of the horses was nearing me every minute.

    Twenty hoofs could be heard in the distance, maybe thirty or so. The sounds of the horses became ever so apparent and the forest seemed to stop in complete dead silence. The wind stopped, the chirping music of crickets’ silence, and the rain seemed to pour down even harder. The horses finally entered the forest in which I was hiding.

    I dove into the bushes and watched the riders trot their horses next to my hiding spot. Atop the horses set five riders. They were dark men, the type that you may dream of in your nightmares. If you looked carefully enough, you could possibly see that these men were the causes of the rain. One man pulled the reigns of his horse and it came to a sudden halt along side of the other riders.

    The man looked around the forest to get a better scope of what everything was like. He got off his horse and started walking around the narrow paths. The roads were nothing but mud that had turned into slush and his feet were sinking in as if he was in a pit of quicksand. Then he got back on his horse and began to talk to the other men. Demon man: I’m going to have general Suska’s head for this! Making me come out here in this god damned rain!Other demon: well we can’t do anything about it now, we are out here and that’s that.

    Right?Demon 1: shut up Geryu!Geryu: sorry captain Devla. Just stating my opinion. Devla made a gesture of approval, but he was very displeased still. He never liked to be argued with, and even if he did, he liked to only win. So he went along with it for now and walked over to his horse. Devla: Dead or Alive.

    We must capture that girl tonight. Do what you must, do what ever it takes to retrieve her. Meet back here in two hours. Ok, now scatter. The demonic men agreed and then rode off in different directions. I sat up out of the bushes and walked into the muddy road.

    I started again down the road keeping to the shadows to stay out of sight. I came to an opening in the forest; there lay a small field of grass. I walked into the field and felt the soft grass rub against me. I turned around and looked up through the rain. From the field I could see the castle; it looked very dark and ominous.

    It overshadowed everything below it. It seemed to give off and evil glow from the remaining windows. It was probably from the fire embers that were still inside. The red glow came through the windows and blended into the night sky. I sat down in the tall grass and watched the castle burn slowly to the ground. Most of the fire had already died off, but was still burning in some places.

    Chapter IVSweet Past Memories,Bad Present ThoughtsRain poured down on the already wet autumn ground. I heard five horses trotting in the slushy mud. Winter was approaching and the skies had been gray for the past ten years. In the small village ahead a carnival was supposed to be taking place, but the constant downpour and the new raid caused little to no turnout in it. Banners were flying high and the whole attitude of the town seemed to be rather jubilant. Even through the raid, kids were heard, laughing and playing in the puddles.

    Rain was something that never stopped for the children who were younger. The trotting of the horses was nearing me every minute. Twenty hoofs could be heard in the distance, maybe thirty or so. The sounds of the horses became ever so apparent and the forest seemed to stop in complete dead silence. Kid’s laughter died, banners stopped flapping carelessly in the wind, and the rain seemed to pour even harder. The horses finally entered the village.

    Atop the horses set five riders. They were dark men, the type that you may dream of in your nightmares. If you looked carefully enough, you could possibly see that these men were the causes of the rain. One man pulled the reigns of his horse and it came to a halt.

    Omni: Uggh, boy do I dread politics and even more so, these hellhole villages. Takeshi: This is supposed to be for fun sir. Omni: I haven’t been dry for the past ten years. You call that fun? Every night I feel like I took a big piss in my bed. Takeshi: Sorry sire You do seem to enjoy yourself every year when you get plenty of sake Would your majesty like to visit the local tavern?Omni looks around the village to get a better scope of what everything was like. He got off his horse and started walking around the narrow streets.

    The roads were nothing but mud that had turned into slush and his feet were sinking in as if he was in a pit of quicksand. He turned to his bodyguard, Kagetsu. Omni: Hey, Kagetsu, what do you make of this place?Kagetsu never spoke and wasn’t about to give a reply to his master now. Instead, he did his common thing.

    He fished out his pack of cigarettes and quickly lit one, although the rain was making it hard on him. Omni: You miss your Western cigarettes don’t you? Nothing like the taste of good old’ Texan T, isn’t that right?Kagetsu just gave Omni a very pissed off look, because he remembered the taste of real cigarettes, not of this crap tobacco that the farmers were growing here. Omni got back on his horse and the five men continued on their tour of the village. Omni: I’m going to have Yamata’s balls for this! Making me come out here in this god damned rain!Takeshi: You know we need as many allies as we can get sire. Omni made a gesture of approval, but he was very displeased still. As they rode through the village they saw a couple of big tents, which were almost the only salvation from the rain.

    Kenshi: Look at those heretics! Who do those gypsies think they are? ‘Oh look at me, I’m a Gypsy, I can charge 5 ounces of bronze to tell these guys whatever horseshit they want to hear. ‘ Goddamn gypsies!Omni: I think I’m going to pay a visit to one of these gypsies what do you think, Lord Kenshi?Kenshi: Oh? Did I say that before? I mean, what a great idea your majesty (nervously). Omni and the rest of the horses came to a halt. He disembarked from his beast of burden and walked towards a tent, which had the sign ‘Fortune’ printed clearly on top.

    Kagetsu, followed suit and instead of walking inside the tent, him and Gingko stood guard there. As Omni walked into the room he saw a hooded lady standing with her back turned to him. Gypsy: Ah the son of venerable Shiak. Such an honor to be graced by your holy presence, King Omni. You don’t have to keep your guards outside, my lord.

    The rain is so unforgiving at this time of year. Omni: Shut up wench! I don’t need another Kenshi sticking his nose up my ass. Those men out there are trained to survive in these conditions. They will deal with it. Now, how did you know my father?Gypsy: Now you know that I keep all of my conversations and fortunes private.

    I can’t tell you what I told your father, it’s strictly confidential. Omni puts down a sack of gold coins on the table. They made a metallic noise as they rested on the tabletop. Gypsy: Is that gold I hear? Mmm, by the sound of that, I can tell. But, no, I don’t want your money King Omni.

    If you want to know that badly about your father, then I guess I’ll tell you. It’ll cost you a price though Not of gold, you silly fool, a price of morality. Omni: I don’t like riddles. Just give it to me straight!Gypsy: Ok, well you have asked for it.

    And as the saying goes, ‘Ask and you shall receive. ‘ Your father visited me one night many a year ago. He was young and ambitious as you are. Yet he carried a weight on his shoulders.

    Some kind of emotional baggage, very similar to you. You see, your father was once to be in the position that you are at right now. He was to be king, but your uncle, Mehta killed your grandfather, exiled your father, and then took the throne for himself. Not a very nice man at all. I guess you could say your father was traveling to find a way to avenge himself.

    When he found me, he wanted to know whether he ever had a chance of overthrowing Mehta and I told him of a fortune that would change the destiny of many people. Including yourself. Omni: Enough of your crap! Stop giving me these riddles and tell me what the fortune was!Gypsy: Patience, patience young king. I’ll tell you.

    I told your father that he would have three sonsOmni: What a load of crap!Gypsy: Do you want to hear the rest? Or are we done?Omni: Go onGypsy: Well, the three sons would have incredible powers at the cost of a death. I guess we can see what that means now. Do you think you understand?Omni: And what of my fortune?Gypsy: Hmm let me have a look at you (Without actually turning to face him) I see, I see what a destiny lays ahead for you. When the powers of the brotherhood combine, your reign as king will end; your fate is intertwined with your rule.

    Omni: Holy Mary! If what you speak is the truth then this prophecy must never be realized, but this sounds a little bit like hogwash. I’m sick of your stupid riddles. Gypsy: I see your impatient and you are ready to leave, but wait, there’s still some unfinished business here Ah yes, I have accepted my fate King Omni, have you?Omni: Enough of this tomfoolery! Lord Kenshi, take here with you. Off with her head!Kenshi walked into the tent and took the Gypsy roughly by her hand and dragged her out of there. Kagetsu took the other arm of the Gypsy and the two of them walked out of the village into a nearby forest. The Gypsy briefly glanced at Kagetsu and a smile formed on her face.

    Gypsy: So you are my maker? What a fate!Kagetsu didn’t look at her and just came up to a tree. He sized it up pretty quickly and with one punch took it down. Kenshi put the Gypsy’s head on the stump and Kagetsu took Takeshi’s sword. With a quick motion the Gypsy’s head rolled onto the ground. Omni: Bring me her head!Kenshi: What? We’ve never had orders like that before I’ve been a part of many executions under your reign. Why do you ask such a request now?Omni: Just do itKenshi was too slow to pick up the head and so Kagetsu did.

    He looked at the head of the Gypsy and a smile crossed his face, a smile of understanding. He then gingerly tossed the head to his King. Omni took a look at the face and a sudden fit of rage was apparent within him. Omni: Cut her body up! If you find a stone of any sort, destroy it! Kagetsu! Form a search party and find my brother San! I want him dead or alive preferably still kicking. He dropped the head to the ground and on the face of the Gypsy was a scar, which seemed almost too familiar to Omni as he brought his fingers across the Scar of Dreams on his left eye.

    Omni got on his horse and started trotting away. Omni: Kagetsu, you come with me. Lord Kenshi, Takeshi, and Gingko, burn down the village. Omni and Kagetsu rode away into the rain, heading back towards the Castle. Omni rode on a white stallion while Kagetsu rode on the most beautiful and wild horse known to man, the black stallion.

    Kagetsu’s horse was beautifully groomed and had golden armor on it. Omni’s stallion had the cloak of royalty on it. The other three men had regular, brown, common horses and they trotted back to the village. The only sounds heard afterwards were those of yells of terror, as people were burned alive; men, women, and children alike. The axe came down very hard on the lumber and the wood was cut in half. It was raised once more and continued to split wood.

    San was working hard in his little village. It was getting cold as the rain still came down on this cool November night. San was dressed in a very typical shin obi uniform, with a black outfit and white vest. His vest bore the inscription of the White Phantoms, an anti-monarchial symbol.

    These were hard and trying times for the Phantoms. They were being hunted by the thousands and their numbers were dwindling. San bore the Scar of Dreams on his left eye and he possessed a gem, which he kept close to him at all times. This gem was to be used at the right time, to destroy his own brother, Omni. Out of the distance, San heard the sound of footsteps sloshing through the mud and he turned to see Otake running towards him. Otake: General San! General San! The great Leader requests your company! There is a matter of great importance to be discussed!San: Ah, my dear Otake! Is it about the battle tomorrow?Otake: I’m sorry sir, but I don’t really know the matter of the urgency.

    San: All right, thanks for the message. I’ll be there in a few. Let me finish cutting up this wood for the fire. San kept true to his word and cut the wood until there was nothing left.

    He still had enough strength to haul all of this wood to the town house, where the great fire was going to be lit. Afterwards, he started in the direction of the Leader’s own house. At the entrance, great words welcomed him in, ‘The path of a righteous man, leads to victory!’ As he walked in, he saw the Leader sitting in his throne and he kneeled before him. Leader: Ah, San! Just the man I wanted to see. You may rise. There is some grave news I regret to inform you of.

    You will not participate in tomorrow’s battle. San: But why? Am I not good enough to fight those Royal Dogs?Leader: Those Royal Dogs you speak of are out to hunt you. That is why you will not participate in the battle tomorrow. You are my most valuable soldier and friend and I cannot afford to lose you. Please, take the fastest horse in the tribe and flee as far away as possible.

    San: I don’t agree with your decision, sirLeader: You don’t have to agree, but you will abide by my ruling!San: Yes sir I shall leave tonight then. Leader: Very good. It’s settled then. I wish you a harmonious journey and will send Otake and Renshaku with you.

    I hope that you can come back to me in some time, but for now, you must lay low. San: Thank you sir. Just so you know you are the only Leader that I will ever follow and I know you won’t steer me wrong. Leader: Be gone then.

    With the last words San walked out of the Leader’s house and headed towards the stable, where his horse was stationed. Renshaku wasn’t too far behind him and caught up. Renshaku: So I hear we’re going on a little voyage, huh?San: Yes, Renshaku, it is the Leader’s order request. Renshaku: Will you keep running away from everything all of your life’since your birth.

    Since the death of your parents, you have kept on running, don’t you think it’s about time that you stopped running and fought for what you truly believe in? Even if it entails not following orders, you have to do what your heart really beckons to do. San: Renshaku, I must say, your words speak great wisdom and that is why you are one of my closest friends. I think I will take what you say into account. I will be watching the battle tomorrow, whether the Leader wants me to or not. That is my true desire. Renshaku: Very well then shall we be off?San: Hold on, we have to wait for Otake.

    Otake: I’m sorry I’m late sir. San: Let’s be off then. And so, the three men rode off on their horses, but little did they know that the Leader had foreseen their innocent treason and was only worried to lose them. Hammers were pounding hard into the bark of trees, as Omni’s men put up wanted posters for the man named San. Dead or Alive.

    Some guy: Doesn’t matter whether we bring him in dead or alive with our King, the only reward would be him saying, ‘Off with their head!’Some guy2: Quiet! They may hear you!From the village the castle looked very dark and ominous. It overshadowed everything in the town bellow and the people were deathly afraid of the ruler, Omni. Inside the castle there were many rooms that were used by the great generals of Omni’s army. There were the barracks for the soldiers that fought under the Royal name and then of course there were rooms for dining and sleeping and for the bodyguards. The most important room of the whole castle was the War Room.

    Only six men were allowed into this room. Omni, Kagetsu, Takeshi, Kenshi, Kashrus, and Gingko. They were the great generals of the Royal Army. Kagetsu’s job was to lead the ground troops into battle and Takeshi often assisted him. Kenshi led the cavalry and would usually wait for the signal from Kagetsu or Omni.

    Kashyu’s job was to lead the Royal Knights into battle and the signal could only come from Omni, since these knights were the elite. Ginkgo’s duty was to be the scout and to flank. He was one of the most important people in the room to develop strategy. Omni of course, oversaw the whole battle and would give signals when certain groups were to enter battle. If the worst conditions arose though, Omni would walk into battle.

    The discussion on this particular day was about the impending battle that would come the following day. Kenshi pounded his fist onto the table. Kenshi: I don’t agree with this at all! We don’t need the Royal Knights tomorrow! You know it only takes more gold to keep those men satisfied. If we don’t use them tomorrow then we don’t have to pay them for the work! The room broke out into a heated discussion and there was much bickering. Omni set quietly and looked on, while Kagetsu smoked his cigarette and looked calmly out of the window.

    Eventually the fighting got to Omni and he burst out. Omni: Shut up! You are all fools! You call yourselves my knights? Those White Phantoms must be laughing their heads off thinking how stupid we are. The reason why we lost the last battle was because of our lack of communication and trust! If we all fight for the same cause then we have to trust one another! Without the scouts doing their job, the ground troops can’t do their job efficiently and without the cavalry, the Royal Knights need to be brought in! Here’s the battle plan for tomorrow! Gingko, you will take your scouts and snipers into woods tomorrow around 4 AM and stakeout a good position to keep an eye on the enemy’s movements. Kagetsu, you will lead the whole battle, you’re in charge tomorrow. The ground troops are your unit and you will push them in.

    I know you weren’t at the last battle due to politics, but this time, nothing stands in our way. Takeshi, I want you to help out Kagetsu tomorrow and to watch for snipers!Kenshi, the cavalry’s use is of the essence, so I don’t want any screw-ups! Last time you broke the flank! Finally, Kashrus, I will use the Royal Knights tomorrow only if necessary so get them dressed and ready to go. Just remember, they won’t get paid unless they fight. You men have your orders now get to them. Remember, get some rest and be ready for the battle.

    Tomorrow I hope to make a significant dent in their forces. With the last statement, their discussion was over and all of them were dismissed except for Kagetsu, who almost constantly stayed at Omni’s side. The rain kept on through the night and in the early morning when Ginkgo’s troops moved out it continued even harder. The morning dew wasn’t present because of the constant moisture and the sunrise was impossible to see because of the overcast skies. The only way to tell that it was morning was the fact that there was no smell of blood in the air yet.

    Throughout the morning hours the troops on both sides began assembling and the field of battle was set. It was a grassy field overlooked by many hills and surrounded by forests on all sides and if you stood on the tallest hill, you could see both sides assembling, which was exactly where Omni was positioned. Sitting on his horse he overlooked the entire battlefield and at his side, it was kind of hard to make out, but there must have been somebody standing. A man, with a good build stood tall next to Omni’s horse. There was a translucent feeling to this man, almost as if it was a ghost that stood next to Omni.

    The two men silently overlooked the field as both sides started their formations. Chapter VA Traitor in the MistThe weather was finally starting to change. There was a new crisp smell in the air as the temperature dropped much lower and the constant rain turned into white specks of snow. The snow was coming down ever so much harder as the morning hours passed. Skies were still overcast by large gray clouds and a fog was present at the ground level.

    In the forest there were hoof marks imprinted in the snow and beside the hoof marks you could clearly make out three sets of human foot steps. The footsteps belonged to three men that set out on a voyage. San, Renshaku, and Otake were all walking their horses to find a good spot to become spectators for an intense battle that was on the horizon. The woods that they were traveling through sat atop a large hill that overlooked the battlefield.

    It was so cold now that none of the three men could feel their feet or hands as they were shuffling through the snow. The horses’ breath was visible to all of the men and they were just being very cautious not to get noticed. The snow was starting to pile up on the battlefield and Kagetsu’s men were becoming antsy. They drank liquor from their canteens to try and keep warm. Kagetsu was sting on his horse, with a cigarette in his mouth and an icy stare in his eyes. Kagetsu was a very dark man, with a dark past and a shrouded future.

    He always wore a trench coat that was very heavy. In the presence of anyone, the coat always stayed on. Kagetsu’s face was very rugged and worn through the many years of battle. He had two scars on his right cheek and another two scars over his left eye. His left eye was blank, for he had lost sight in it a long time ago. It was said that if any man were to stare or get a glimpse into his eye, then their fate would be sealed.

    There was a reason why Omni had trusted Kagetsu so much and why he had appointed Kagetsu to such a high ranking position. Omni was impressed with Kagetsu’s calmness and prowess in battle. There weren’t too many men that could even put a scratch on Kagetsu. But what impressed Omni the most was Kagetsu’s amazing ability.

    Takeshi sat on a horse next to Kagetsu’s and tried to see what it was that Kagetsu had that made him so special. Takeshi was freezing, but wasn’t the type to show or complain about it. Snow was heavy and wet and a person couldn’t help but feel weighed down and soaked at all times. Many would have preferred the rain better, but it was up to a higher being to decide what the weather should be. The men were just waiting for a signal to charge into battle because they wanted to get this over with.

    Takeshi was starting to become a bit anxious and was waiting for Kagetsu’s sign. He had served with Kagetsu for close to five years now, but he never heard the man utter a word. Kagetsu’s signal was always his sword raised into the air. After the signal, Takeshi would see a demon awaken from within in Kagetsu.

    He never understood this sudden change, but he always accepted it as the main reason that Kagetsu was number one in Omni’s ranks. General Oni stood tall with his men. Their ranks were a bit low and this cold was doing quite a number on them. All dressed in black with a white vest and the anti-monarchial insignia shining through the white mist of snow. He had served for the White Phantoms for many a year now. So many in fact, that he didn’t know what life would be like had he left them.

    He had great respect for their leader and for his only other superior, General San. San wasn’t going to participate in this battle, which saddened Oni quite a bit, but he knew that the Leader had something in mind. A strong gust of wind blew by and sent chills down his spine as he remembered the past. In all of his years of service with the Phantoms, he never once saw the face of their leader. He didn’t even know his leader’s name. All he knew was that the Leader was magnificent in battle and in his following of the Phantom Code.

    As far as Oni knew, their leader had been with the Phantoms for his entire life and was sometimes known to the men simply as The White Phantom. The fact remained that the Leader was very mysterious and fought very rarely. It was enough to make the rest of the clan serve at the price of their lives. This was no time for reminiscing though.

    A battle was about to commence and General Oni had to get everyone mentally prepared. Oni: Alright men, we have been preparing arduously for this battle. Let’s keep in mind that these are the Leader’s orders. Soldier: What The White Phantom says, we follow! This battle shall be victorious for us!Oni: Good! Now let’s get ready.

    We strike at the first sign from the heavens!Atop a hill sat the ruthless leader, King Omni. His head was covered in snow as if he’d been sitting in that same position for quite some time now. His horse was standing anxiously, carrying Omni. Next to Omni stood another man, or ghost to be more precise. This other man’s name was MehtaMehta: Very good my young apprentice. Your troops look quite formidable.

    That Kagetsu though I don’t like him!Omni: Shut up, you old fool! That man is my eyes, ears, arms, and legs in battle. What would you know about him?Mehta: Nothing! And that’s what worries me. You have committed an error in the Way of War!Omni: Yes, yes, I know. Don’t trust anybody! Everybody is your enemy!’ I know that stupid rule, but so far Kagetsu has been the most reliable.

    Just watch him in battle and you’ll be impressed. Mehta: Very well then. I will trust your judgment. But, my young apprentice, what is wrong with this picture painted before us?Omni: What do you speak of old man? I hate riddles! That’s what got you killed in the first place, isn’t it? You mean to tell me you still haven’t learned your lesson?Mehta: There you go again I’m already dead! What can you do to me now? But, enough of this foolishness! I’m trying to teach you the ways!Omni: I don’t want to follow your ways! My heart isn’t as twisted and evil as yoursMehta: What!? (Laughs) You call me and my heart twisted and evil? You’ve paved your own road to damnation, my young apprentice.

    You think killing your parentsOmni: Shut your mouth you damned bastard! I will not hear anymore of this blaspheme!Mehta: Well then What, may I ask, is wrong with this situation?Omni: After giving it some deliberation I have narrowed it down to the fact that their troops are surprisingly low What’s your point?Mehta: Well, what do you think?Omni: It’s a setup? A diversion of some sort?Mehta: Precisely! So who’s playing who in this battle?Omni: Sutachi! Come out here immediately!Sutachi: Yes my lord?!Omni: Relay a message to Kagetsu and Kashrus! Tell Kagetsu that there is a plan against us and inform Kashrus that there is a betrayal and to get the Royal Knights ready! And make haste!Sutachi: Yes my lord!With the last words Sutachi disappeared into the mist. But, it was in vain. A lightning bolt struck a tree nearby and the White Phantoms were on the move. The army was still waiting for a signal to start their attack. The snow started coming down so heavily that even liquor couldn’t keep the men warm anymore, as they were impatiently trouncing in the snow, waiting for their leader to give the sign.

    A few minutes later their prayers were answered. In the nearby distance a lightning bolt struck and finally signs of battle were starting to show. A rumbling noise could now be heard as they saw in the mist an army start to charge. Kagetsu noticed it immediately and held his hand out with his palm faced to the charging army. Takeshi was going to have to interpret this signal to all the men as a signal to hold off their charge for a little longer. Suddenly, a blaze of shurikens penetrated the mist and Kagetsu’s men started falling to the ground.

    Kagetsu’s sign still stood as before and no man was about to disobey his order. Kagetsu was waiting Waiting until he could see the whites of the enemy’s eyes or the glowing of their swords. He took his cigarette from his mouth and dropped it to the ground. Finally, after more men lay bleeding in the snow, Kagetsu lowered his hand and took it to his waist, unsheathed his sword, and raised it into the air.

    This was still the signal to hold it. Kagetsu finally saw the anti-monarchial symbol on the vests of the enemy and pointed his sword straight ahead. The battle was on the brink of starting. His men knew this sign well. They all screamed at the top of their lungs, chanting Omni’s name and charged full speed ahead with Kagetsu and Takeshi leading the way on horseback.

    He saw the horse in not too far a distance and immediately unsheathed his sword. The others around him followed suit. Their fingers were already on their shurikens. They were ready to take on the enemy. One of the soldiers jumped high and straight towards the horse.

    The man perched atop the horse caught that soldier in one hand, by the throat. The warriors heard a plea for help and then the crunch of breaking bones sent chills down their spines. Shurikens blazed by at them and many men fell. Their white vests were now soaked in blood.

    Clinks of swords could be heard all around. Screams of death and the spray of the scarlet substance penetrated the air. The warriors were all in gridlock. General Oni spotted one of Omni’s lieutenants and charged right at him. His sword was positioned ahead of him in a jousting stance. The lieutenant was prepared and deflected the sword with a blaze of shurikens.

    He then followed with three kunai. One kunai missed Oni, but hit one of his men right in the forehead. The second kunai, Oni deflected with his sword and the last kunai hit Oni’s right shoulder, causing him to drop his sword to the ground. Oni stuttered back in pain, but continued his pursuit.

    He landed a kick in the lieutenant’s gut and then kneed him in the face. Blood trickled down the face of the opponent. He only smiled and punched Oni in the face. One of Oni’s men threw a sword in his direction. Oni caught it and with one swift motion he cut off the other man’s head.

    Oni put the sword in his teeth and with his left hand he pulled out the kunai from his shoulder. In war, time is of the essence and General Oni found that out as soon as he started nursing his wound. His eyes widened as he felt the sudden pain in his chest and as he flew backwards three meters. Lieutenant Takeshi stood tall over Oni’s badly beaten body.

    Takeshi: Get up you old fool! This is no time to be taking a nap!Oni stuttered back to his feet and launched an array of kunai. One after the other they flew straight at Takeshi. Takeshi’s speed with the sword was amazing and each kunai flew to the side as he deflected them. Oni found that he had one remaining kunai.

    Without any hesitation he used a smoke bomb to conceal himself and waited for his opportunity to strike at Takeshi again. One of the White Phantoms came at Takeshi from behind and Oni found that it was the perfect opportunity to capitalize upon. He leapt into the air and threw the kunai as hard and accurate as he could, right at his target. Takeshi smiled and with one swift motion he caught the kunai and jammed it right into his other assailant’s throat.

    Takeshi’s face and clothes were covered in blood as the other man held on to his neck and couldn’t even utter a sound. Oni hated to use his own men to his advantage, but this momentary delay had created an opening for Oni to strike! Still in the air, he started falling towards the enemy and he unsheathed his blade. He used the blade’s reflection of the snow to momentarily blind Takeshi as he brought the sword down right at his head. He had expected a spray of blood and a nice cut right through his opponent, but his blade stopped at a loud clink.

    Takeshi’s sword deflected Oni’s as he finally landed on the ground. An intense battle still surrounded the two warriors as they both tried to hold their ground. To Oni’s amazement, Takeshi was only using one arm for deflecting his blade. The other arm was already at his side for a grip on the shurikens that Takeshi stored.

    A shuriken was finally launched at Oni, so he decided to use it to his advantage. Instead of parrying it, he somersaulted over Takeshi, using the other man’s sword as a balance. Oni landed behind Takeshi, with his back turned to him. In a swift motion, he swung his sword horizontally, turning to face Takeshi. But, the lieutenant was a very good fighter himself and almost imitated Oni’s motion exactly.

    The two were at a deadlock again, as the swords scraped at one another creating sparks of energy. Without any further delay, the two warriors clashed their blades back and forth, each trying to find a spot of weakness. The opening was just not available to either of them at this time. Deep in the woods, atop a hill, three men sat patiently, watching the battle.

    One of the three men, San, was stringing up his bow. The battle below was intense and had been going on for about forty five minutes now. Although the Phantoms were outnumbered, their fighting spirit was still alive, as they tried to survive this battle, to live another day. San knew that they were supposed to stay hidden and that their leader would not approve of what they were doing.

    There he was, Kagetsu! San saw the only one still perched atop a horse. San’s previous encounters with Kagetsu hadn’t been very pleasing, but, he knew, that the only one to defeat Kagetsu would have to be him. This was why he was now getting ready to strike from the forest. Otake: Please, General, don’t do it! We don’t want to be located! If the leader finds out that we haven’t gotten ourselves out of this area, he will punish us! Plus, we don’t want to attract any more attention to you.

    San: Look at those men below. They are fighting nobly for our cause. How can I abandon them? It is my duty and my wish to help those men out! I must defeat that devil at any cost. If you feel that you can’t stake out your life with me, then you and Renshaku can go now.

    I will not hold this against you or count it as a cowardly move on your part. You will still remain my good friendsRenshaku: Don’t speak that way. You know that I got myself into this knowing fully well what the result could be. I will stay by your side through the thick and the thin. You can count on me!Otake: Then I have no option. Peer pressure will be the death of me (chuckles).

    Count me in!San: Thank you my friends. If it does get too dangerous, then I will ask you to leave me. Understood?With those words, San picked up his bow and looked at it carefully, then picked out a couple of arrows. He fastened the first arrow, aimed and shot it, hitting one of the men below.

    He shot a couple more arrows in a similar fashion and killed more men on the field below. Looking closely at Kagetsu he realized that his enemy had not sensed their presence yet. With his last arrow he aimed for Kagetsu’s head, steadied himself, and shot the arrow that would seal fate. Takeshi was still deeply engaged in the battle with General Oni. The two were fiercely swinging their swords, still looking for an opening. Takeshi was becoming agitated with this and decided to unsheathe his second sword to shift the odds a little more.

    With two swords out, Takeshi’s speed increased and General Oni was totally dominated now. He could only defend now and didn’t even have an opportunity to go on the offensive. Oni was totally outclassed and every time Takeshi’s blade came down, a vibration was sent down Oni’s spine. Finally, with a blow on to his hand, Oni lost his sword. Takeshi used a kick to knock the sword out and then to lay him out on the ground. He kicked Oni in the face and was now standing over his body.

    Takeshi was about to end this general’s illustrious career. Takeshi: Well, is that it, old man? You put up quite a good fight for an aging dog. Do you have any last words before I finish you off?Oni: I die for my beliefs and for the liberation of our people. Omni will die at the hands of The White Phantom!Takeshi: Enough of this rubbish. Before you speak, make sure your words are palatable!Takeshi brought both of his swords down, but before he could strike Oni down, he heard an arrow whiz by his head, on a course straight for Kagetsu.

    Kagetsu’s eyes narrowed as he saw the arrow out of the distance. Without much reaction he stuck his hand out and let the arrow hit him in the palm, piercing his hand, but stopping just short of his head. With his other hand, Kagetsu ripped the arrow out of his palm and snapped it in two. Takeshi then witnessed Kagetsu’s frightening power, as his wound healed itself in a matter of seconds. Not even a scar was left. Kagetsu calmly took out a cigarette, lit it up, and put it between his teeth, starting to smoke it.

    He then looked at Takeshi and pointed his sword towards the forest that the arrow came out of. Takeshi nodded at Kagetsu and called together some of his men. Takeshi: You lucked out today old man! I’ll have your head the next time we meet! Get some more practice before then, so that I can have some fun with you! Takeshi gathered his men and briefed them on the situation. They were out to hunt a sniper.

    With a group of fifteen men, Takeshi moved out and made his way into the forest very meticulously. On top of a hill you could see the breath of a man in the cold wintry day. Omni still sat atop his horse and next to him Mehta was still standing. The two were observing the situation below very carefully. Omni: Well, it looks like this battle is pretty much over. Wouldn’t you say so?Mehta: Is it now? How many times in your life do you see a forest walk?Omni turned and looked at the forest.

    To his surprise he saw the forest moving, advancing towards his troops. After a more careful observation, he noticed that they were men in camouflage. Omni then thought to himself about the fact that the White Phantoms don’t have the resources to get camouflage, so this had to be a different set of troops. Mehta: Good thinking my young apprentice. These are not the White Phantoms. They are the revolutionariesOmni: That god damned Yamata! He would dare go against me?Mehta: So what are we going to do about this?Omni: Sutachi, I need you to summon Kenshi’s troops.

    Tell them to attack the forest to the northwest. Sutachi: Yes sire!Sutachi took one look at the forest and realized the importance of his message. Without further delay he disappeared into the forest to give Kenshi the message. Lord Kenshi sat on his horse and had a canteen of liquor in his hand.

    He was sitting very nervously, looking onto the battle. After taking another drink from his canister, he got of the horse and went over to one of his men. Kenshi: What’s taking that bastard so long? He was supposed to have his Troops here thirty minutes ago! We were supposed to be out of here already. Instead I’m sitting in this cold weather, freezing my nuts off.

    Lieutenant: Sir, I’m not sure what the problem is, but it would seem like Yamata’s troops have double-crossed us. Kenshi: Those sons of bitches! I’ll have a little talk with that bastard Yamata!Out of the mist, a shadow of a man appeared. He seemed to be running at a very fast speed. Sutachi had finally arrived at the cavalry’s camp out and was about ready to relay the message.

    Meanwhile, Kenshi motioned for the lieutenant to give him his bow. Sutachi: Lord Kenshi! We need your help. King Omni’s orders are to attack the northwest forest. There are troops there. Seems like they are the revolutionaries!Kenshi: Is that so Very interesting (gathering his bow and arrow). Let me get right on it.

    With those words, Kenshi pointed the bow straight at Sutachi and fired the arrow. Saatchi’s chest was pierced at the impact of the arrow and he fell to the ground without making a single sound. He was dead. Kenshi: Prepare your arrows men.

    Line up now, now, NOW!All of Kenshi’s troops lined up and pointed their arrows into the sky, but instead of firing at the northwest direction, they fired at the southeast direction, where King Omni’s troops were stationed. Kenshi had a smile on his face for a moment, but then decided it was time to get out of there. Kenshi: Alright men, gather your things. We’re getting out of here before Omni notices any of this!Omni stared in the direction of his cavalry and was waiting for any kind of movement from them. Sutachi should have been there by now to relay the message. A few moments later, the first sign of arrows appeared.

    To Omni’s surprise, the arrows headed not for the revolutionaries, but for his own men. He saw as his troops started falling. In one swift stroke, one hundred men fell to the ground.

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