Rise to Power
“From the desolate Nahakra and the wind-swept plains of Brak’hir I bring you my tribute, my Lord, Master of My Destiny. Ruler of the Manjitou. Five hundred souls to be yours, one hundred slaves to do with as your slightest whim desires. These are my gifts, the offerings of my loyalty.”
Taromitsu, Chunin of the Manjitou, stooped to one knee with his head hung in deference, the thick cloak hanging from his slender shoulders sweeping over the ancient mosaic floor. Around him, guttering lanterns made from the fat of slaves spat and sputtered, causing long shadows to flicker on the tiny tiles and the trophies hanging from the walls. As he waited for the command to rise, the young Chunin studied the scenes decorating the floor. The mosaic depicted the rise of the Great Yoshimitsu to Lordship of the Clan. Bloody battles, assassin’s blades and outright war within the halls of the Clan seemed to play the largest part. Such was the way of the Manji; just as it always was and should be. The weak had no right to rule.
His musing was interrupted by the voice of Jounin
Kirimitsu, the Lord’s eyes and ears.
He turned his gaze to the Lord, enthroned upon a huge chair and surrounded by testaments to his power. It was claimed that the bones of thousand captives made up the dais on which the throne stood. Rumours had that every day, one hundred slaves were brought before the Lord and that the torture masters would create a cacophonous chorus of tortured screams and anguished yells, playing upon terror and nerve to create a symphony of pain. The Lord would let his Sword drink deep of their spirits, one hundred souls ingested as one. Taromitsu almost shuddered, thinking of the exquisite rapture that must follow such sacrifice. If all went well, he would become the Yoshimitsu and know such power and pleasure himself…
Yoshimitsu leaned forward, his twisted, exoticly armored figure seemed tiny against the bulk of the throne. His voice was quiet, but carried across the hall with strength and untold centuries of power.
“Your gifts are welcome, Taromitsu of Nahakra. The Manjitou is strengthened by your efforts, you will not go unrewarded.”
Taromitsu flicked his gaze left and right to his warriors who surrounded him. His glance was answered by his Genin with barely perceptible nods and the flickered affirmation of raised eyebrows.
With startling speed, Taromitsu leapt onto the dais, grabbing Kirimitsu by the throat. The air was filled with flying shards as his warriors threw their Shurikens. Dozens of the Lord’s bodyguards fell to the surprise attack.
Dragging his serrated blade across Kirimitsu’s throat, Taromitsu bounded toward the throne. All around him, his warriors and the Lord’s guards exchanged hits and slashes, slicing through each other’s ranks. As the warriors died, the air was filled with escaping souls. A roiling mass of blackness hovered on the edge of vision, the screams of spirits in torment on the edge of hearing. But, before he could reach the him, the Lord jumped high into the air, out of his reach. Shocked by this turn of events, the young Chunin was stopped in mid-stride. The hangings on the walls slid effortlessly aside, revealing hidden portals from which strode a score of the lord’s elite-guards. Then he saw a movement in the shadows and heard a sibilant hissing. A sound which could herald only one thing - Hikage-Ninja.
From the dark recesses, the summoned guards leapt upon Taromitsu’s warriors, tearing them apart with sweeping blows from their hideous blades. The shadow-shrouded Ninja were joined by the dread elite-guards, whose glimmering blades cut down a warrior with every stroke.
Soon Taromitsu was alone, surrounded on all sides by his enemies. The elite-guard leader strode up to him, and he brought his blade up to attack. With an almost dismissive stroke, his foe’s own weapon lashed out, tearing through his wrist. With detached horror, the Chunin looked at his own severed hand as it dropped to the floor, still clutching his blade.
Focusing his attention, he remembered one of the Manji meditation techniques – the spurts of blood and twinges of pain quickly subsided.
The Lord’s laughter resounded around the chamber; a chilling, sinister cackling that made even the hardened Chunin’s skin crawl with dread.
The leader of the elite-guard grabbed his long hair in one gaunted hand, and forced him to his knees. As his head was wrenched back, Taromitsu felt a bade pressing against his throat and a tickle of blood sliding slowly down his neck. The ebbing and flowing of released souls slithered around the Chunin, drawn to his blood and fear. He could half feel their wispy tendrils sliding over him, probing gently into his mind. He felt like screaming, but he gritted his teeth and was silent.
In front of him, the Lord gracefully jumped back onto his
throne right in front of him. The Lord began to clap slowly, sarcastically,
wringing out his torment and fear.
”Well, well well! Taromitsu of Nahakra is a bold one. Bold, but unwise.”
The Lord’s face turned from a wicket smile into a fierce snarl.
“You dare attack me, in my own chambers! Did you really think you could seize power from me so easily? There have been over three hundred attempts on my life, either from the assassin’s blade, poison, contrived accidents or open hospitality. Needless to say, they all failed, just like yours, and I must say this is one of the weakest attempts yet.
You wish power? You do not truly know the meaning of power. At my command, a hundred warriors will fall upon each other in wanton destruction, just so that the single survivor may earn my praise. Out in the country, there are leaders of other Clans who tremble at the mention of my name, fearing my mighty wrath. Whole cities have knelt before me, entire villages have been slain for my amusement. And you think you can wrest power from me!”
Lord Yoshimitsu’s eyes glanced over, as he drew his green faintly glowing Sword.
Taromitsu felt the spirits around him drifting away, pulled towards the gulf inside the Lord’s mighty sword. The Lord’s body twitched spasmodically as he absorbed the freed life essence of his followers, which was coalescing around his throne in a faint green mist.
As the spirits of the dead were consumed, Yoshimitsu’s spasms increased and a thin dribble of saliva trickled from the corner of his slack lips. With a shuddering sight, the Lord finished and slumped back in the chair.
When he sat forward once more his eyes burned more brightly, his skin was less wrinkled, his hair darker with more lustre and his Sword was glowing bright-green.
Taromitsu was momentarily taken aback by the sudden question, but calmed himself in a heartbeat. He stared straight back at the Lord, looking deep into the ancient bright pits that were his eyes.
” Because I need to rule! Because I saw you as weak, But you have shown me now what weakness really is.”
“You need to rule? What do you know of needs? You are young, the Thirst has a shallow hold on you. I will tell you of need; a deep, unfaltering emptiness that grows larger and more demanding with every passing of the night. You have heard tales of how my Swords and I consume a hundred souls a day. That is but a morsel to whet our appetite. A hundred times that number die every day to quench our desire, our need.
Spirits unnumbered are distilled in agony and tortured to the peak of exquisite taste to fill the chasm of my Sword’s soul- Only so that we can continue our cruisade to cleanse the universe of evil. ..Do not confuse needs with ambitions.”
Taromitsu steadied his head, waiting for the deathblow that would surely come. He had tried, his pride and honour was intact. His only regret was that he had failed.
“Do what you will. I am not ashamed of my deeds. I have done what I wanted, as is our code, and I will not bow down to a Lord who does not respect that.”
Again, the Lord’s chilling laugh echoed around the halls.
“You must learn how to exercise power. You must know how to deal with the silent Hikage-Ninja, the battle-grazed Ashigaru and the gifted Azuma. And you will learn these things, I assure you. Let us hope you are more successful at uncovering plots against me than your predecessor, Jounin Taromitsu…”
End of part one.
Thank you for reading so far! I hope you enjoyed my somewhat ‘dark’ themed fanfic.
Negative and positive comment are always welcome !
Special thanks to:
‘Archon’ Andy Hoare, ‘Dracon’ Phil Kelly, ‘Dinomitsu’ Dinaga for his cool ideas, George Lucas, The guy from the Game-store for letting me play SoulCalibur, Tenshimitsu for creating YOT, and of course Namco for creating Yoshimitsu !