Sokoro must embark on a quest to defeat an evil warlord. Set in Medieval Japan.
He looked towards the small baby he held in his hand. The daughter of Lord Nakamura. And that bastard Hagada, the traitorous brother had killed for power. Sokoro covered the baby as it began to cry as Hagada approached him through the burnt gate.
‘’Sokoro, you know well that you would be the last to defend this place. Why waste over my tiny sister? He deserves to be thrown into the pits.’’
Sokoro swirled his sword striking it to the ground as he heard the drums pitting against each other.
‘’What has your sister done to deserve such a fate?’’
He saw Hagada’s expression turn into a swirl of mysticism and disbelief.
‘’I will be the Shogun. Not that tiny whelp. I have strong support. And my family? Gone.’’
‘’Enough, the man I once considered my son is now something else. A monster. Leave now.’’
Hagada laughed as his troops joined in.
‘’Finish him, and don’t spare the baby,’’ Hagada said as he walked away one last time.
Sokoro held the baby tight and raised his sword. The first Samurai attacked but Sokoro parried his blow. Sokoro kicked him to the ground and slashing his neck.
Another spearman attacked from behind. But Sokoro turned and slammed his sword into the spearmen’s neck.
He found himself circled by ten samurais. He made up his mind. He would fight to the last and serve his debt to Lord Nakamura. Now he would die a death so worthy that Bishamonten. The war god would praise his loyalty and honor.
Sokoro attacked, passing and defending blows while he tried to clutch the baby tight in his arms. He killed another Samurai, before attacking and blocking another one. More Samurai seemed to arrive at the minute and it seemed like nothing else but ruins. Sokoro kept fighting, but his body began to tire no matter how much strength he could muster. He closed his eyes and begged forgiveness as he smiled at the baby, asleep and innocent of the world around it. It was over.
An arrow hit the Samurai that prepared to kill him. A hail of arrows hit the following Samurai as they fell to the ground. Sokoro escaped as the warrior monks engaged with Hanada's troops. He found himself coughing as the baby still remained within his arms. Warrior monks finished off Hagada’s troops as they began to retreat.
The commander of the warrior monk bowed in front of him.
‘’May Buddha be with you, great warrior. We were traveling from the South of Honshu before we found this wrecked place.’’
Sokoro glanced at the commander.
‘’I thank you, but you came at the wrong time. My clan is gone. Dead. I have no place else to go too, and it is unlikely that the Shogun no longer lives. Hagada is running Japan like he is the tyrant.’’
The commander smirked and let out a coarse laugh.
‘’Haven’t we have seen this time and time again?’’
‘’You think this is funny?’’
The Commander’s stern glare responded back.
‘’No, the baby you hold with you, is it one of Nakamura's children?’’
‘’Yes, his daughter.’’ The baby began to cry. The Commander gestured to one of the female priests to take it. Sokoro could breathe finally.
‘’Hagada has taken most of Japan. There is only one way out for you.’’
‘’And what is that?’’
‘’Travel to the lands of China. There you will find a warrior that is all your equal. He will help you find it.’’
‘’No buts,’’ The commander raised his hand.
Sokoro walked through the streets of the Chinese city. The familiar smell of noodles seeped through his nostrils. As market vendors hassled with young and old ladies about the prices of cabbage and lettuce. Guards went flapping around or flirting with the mistresses in the brothels. Lanterns were lit in every street and every corner. It felt just like home.
Making his way through the bustling streets. A giant dragon held by people made its way through as fireworks lit in the sky. A figure moved past him shoving him to the ground. His hand went to the hilt of his katana, as he noticed men wearing the signs of Hagada, the black-headed eagle. They raised their swords and circled him. Screams of horror rippled through the crowds as they left the plaza of the city. The guards were nowhere.
The first Samurai spoke.
‘’Surrender Sokoro-san. You are responsible for the butchery of Lord Nakamura and his family.’’
Sokoro sheathed his sword out.
‘’I have no idea what you are talking about. Only men would lie if they speak such filth.’’
Sokoro smiled as the expression on the Samurai’s face began to wither and slither. The Samurai barked loud and clear.
‘’Enough. I’ll have you at Lord’s Hagada feet. Then we’ll see who’s telling the truth.’’
Sokoro blocked the first attack by another Samurai. Before moving and slashing through another Samurai with his katana. Their commander came, and the two clashed, parrying blows, attacking from side to stand.
A bomb exploded through the circle as Hagada’s men began to gasp. An edged warrior, with a full beard, glanced at them.
‘’Run, I’ll deal with them. Meet me at the port this afternoon.’’ He shouted.
Sokoro tried to attack but blocked the warrior who tried to keep Hagada’s men at bay.
‘’This is not your fight. Go.’’ The warrior edged.
Sokoro ran as he saw Hagada’s men trying to get through him.
As the ship heaved through the oceans, the warrior looked at Sokoro with keen interest.
‘’Who are you? It is rarely I see warriors from the mainland in China.’’
‘’Not so, I am Sokoro, the last remaining bodyguard of the Nakamura clan. Or what’s left of it.’’ Sokoro began to notice his expression change darker.
‘’Tell me Sokoro, do you remember of a clan called the Kyushu clan?’’
‘’Yes,’’ Sokoro answered.
‘’And what happened to the Lord of the Kyushu Clan?’’
‘’Simple, his carcass rotted for days.’’ Sokoro looked at him with far more suspicion.
‘’But why do you ask?’’
‘’Because I am the nephew.’’
The awkward moment between the two men could be best described as the moment. When you face your enemy but you don’t know who he is.
‘’I suppose you’ll be wanting me dead,’’ Sokoro said.
‘’But, no. My uncle was not any real uncle, only a despot. I’m glad you removed him. But who destroyed your clan? I am Noriko-san by the way.’’ The man replied.
Noriko-san and Sokoro stared at the lights emerging from the darkness.
‘’Hagada was a man of eminent virtue and courage. I raised him as my own son whenever Lord Nakamura went on campaigns. To find that he coveted power, and add that nefarious woman, Noro, he became a monster. He destroyed the family.’’
Sokoro saw Noriko-san biting his lip.
‘’I can only voice my sympathies. But I will assist you. Where is Hagada’s palace?’’
Sokoro smiled like he had never done before.
‘’Near the Palace of Kyoto, a large fortress. I know the place.’’
Sokoro gestured to Noriko-San as he examined the new recruits. One was steady and stalwart, while the other was completely out of touch with reality. And another young warrior eager to show his talent with the sword. While his elder and wiser uncle scoffed.
‘’These are the best you could find?’’ He said.
‘’It’s the least I could do, besides trying to find people was hard. They would only agree because I paid them whatever I had left.’’
Sokoro nodded and turned to the new recruits who stood to wait in the abandoned palace courtyard.
‘’What do you want?’’
The young one was the first to respond.
‘’Money, and a chance to show off my skills so I can get Saka from the brothels…she is so beautiful.’’
Sokoro laughed, reminding him of his younger days.
‘’Study first. There’ll be plenty of women in your life.’’
The young man sulked.
Sokoro turned to the elder man.
‘’I can do you for 400 coins. No more than that, otherwise I and my nephew have plenty of other things to do. Then to sort out an old man’s destroyed clan.’’ Naraku replied. Sokoro decided.
‘’That’ll be just fine. Noriko-San, give him the money. Make sure it’s distributed among them.’’ Noriko-San nodded and proceeded to do the sharing.
‘’And you must be the one they call the mad-man?’’ Sokoro asked the madman.
The madman stared at the blowing whisp of an autumn leaf.
‘’They call me that…but I have been many things in life. I wonder what the purpose of life…is how we came, ah, an insect. That is the purpose of life. An insect.’’
Sokoro raised his eyebrow and smirked.
‘’No wonder they call you the madman. Can you fight?’’
The mad-man raised his sword and cut the leaf into two.
‘’Impressive. You’re in.’’
‘’I’ll be charging five hundred coins.’’
Sokoro’s expression turned to anger.
‘’You there, the big one. Sort this one out. Seems he isn’t mad after all.’’
The Big man nodded and he faced the madman. The madman had found a small koto and gave another to the big man. Both gazed at their instruments and began to play rather than fight. Music seeped through the abandoned courtyards, echoing to the hills.
Sokoro slapped his forehead.
Sokoro turned to the four recruits with Noriko-San. As they reached the edge of Hagada’s fortress. They found a willing number of recruit’s ready to revolt against Hagada’s torturous taxes. He pointed to the map of the castle.
‘’This remains our fortress. Hagada will know I’ve come when he sees me. So, the big guy and you, Naraku, the elder will attack from the left side. I and Noriko-San will attack from the left. And the madman and your nephew, Naraku can attack from the front.’’
The madman jumped with an almost excited glee. While Naraku’s nephew glanced with the look of an almost inescapable fate, and that to a worst one. The Big one grunted while Naraku sighed.
Sokoro turned to the peasants who awaited his response.
‘’And you can do what peasants always do. Revolt.’’
He oriented towards the vast fortress where Hagada resided.
‘’And maybe then I’ll have some peace.’’ He remarked.
Sokoro raised the signal by firing a flaming arrow into the sky. The peasants walked up to the castle. Holding pitchforks and small axes, shouting and crying at the laborious taxes. The guards tried to disrupt them, but soon they became overwhelmed.
‘’Help,’’ One guard screamed before the crowd overtook him.
Sokoro gestured to Naraku and the big man as they made their way to the castle.Noriko-San climbed up the walls. When Sokoro arrived he seemed almost out of breath.
‘’Hurry up, you’re getting old.’’
‘’Perhaps I am.’’ Sokoro wheezed, taking out his sword as he hurried up to the first guard and stabbed him. He moved from corridor to corridor, deposing of guards wherever they were.
Sokoro turned his sword as he opened the door. The samurai guards fought in combat, fighting the peasants from tooth to nail. He saw one peasant banging the samurai guard into the wall almost ten times. People did hate Hagada’s tyranny, he thought to himself.
He sighed as he saw the madman shouting at the top of his lungs, crashing into any enemy he could find. Sokoro pitted the faith of that unfortunate man that came across him. The Big man was using his heavy fists to throw men into the fire, while the other Samurai backed off.
Sokoro shook off the distraction, making his way through the bright colored corridors. He could see men having sex with the mistresses that they had brought from the finest brothels. The shades of human figures shown through the thin bamboo paper.
He held his grip on his katana tight, searching the rooms for any sign of Hagada. The sounds of laughing mixed with pleasure echoed in his ears. Moving to the room, the shadows of a man and woman mixed in ecstasy told Sokoro all he required to do.
Raising his sword, he cut through the bamboo as the man tried to find his sword. The women clambered behind him.
‘’Did you think I was that foolish to let you in?’’ Sokoro froze at the sound of Hagada’s voice. He could almost detect the grin emerging from his face. Sokoro turned around.
‘’Poor old Sokoro-san. Always the last one.’’ Hagada said as a beautiful woman came into view, holding onto her sword.
‘’If Noro hadn’t converted you, then the Hagada I knew would not be standing here. He would be at home playing with his little sister.’’ Sokoro spat.
‘’Did you not think I knew what you were up too?’’
He said asNoriko-San, the mad-man, the big man, and Naraku were held hostage by his armed guards. Sokoro fumed.
‘’I need power. I did not desire to be the lord of a lowly province. But father died before I could tell my ambitions.’’ Hagada said.
Sokoro shook his head.
‘’I did not come in here to waste words with you. You brought death and destruction to the family. You killed everyone you know. And for what?’’
Sokoro saw the women’s shadow emerging onto him.
‘’He has me, and with him, on my side, I can become the most powerful woman in all Japan,’’ Noro said.
‘’Release them at once,’’ Sokoro said.
‘’No, you’ll have to fight me, old man, if you want them.’’
Sokoro launched his attack as he staggered back at Noro’s blocking. Hagada took out his sword and the two fought against the elder Ronin. Sokoro traded blows, parrying attacks, slashing right to left. Noro managed to slice wounds into his ribs from behind as Hagada tried to distract him.
The castle began to shake. As the tumbling’s wrecked floors and people retreated from the castle. A Samurai burst into the room, his face plain with fear.
‘’My Lord, we do not have any men left. They have won, we must leave this place.’’
Hagada raised his hand.
‘’You can leave, but not without my pet.’’
Sokoro turned to look at him with surprise.
‘’Pet? What pet?’’
He saw Hagada’s eyes glomming with brightness. Hagada untied all four hostages and kicked them to the ground. The castle shook with all its might. A huge boar emerged, breaking floors as it screamed.
Sokoro could not believe Hagada transforming into a Yokai.
His neck extending as far as he could see, his eyes red and his mouth hanging with fangs.
‘’Do you not see? This is a refuge. Once I become Shogun, I will be immortal, transform into anyone I could like, do what I like.’’
Sokoro saw Hagada in his beast form, sitting on the huge boar as it tried to make space for itself. Noro was nowhere.
‘’You were always on the dark side,’’ Sokoro said. The words coming out of his mouth though he had never wanted to say them.
‘’I’m not denying that. But when did you become so mighty and gracious? You were never innocent either.’’ Hagada responded.
Sokoro raised his sword and attacked the wild boar. The big guy leaped onto the butt of the boar and bit. A huge fearsome roar echoed across the valley. The madman started strumming the koto as armies full of miniature clay samurai emerged. Shouting war cries as they leaped onto the boar.
Naraku tried to run on the boar but found himself crashing down to the already fragile ground. His young nephew was now over the top, engaging Hagada in sword to sword combat. Sokoro stabbed the boar’s eyes as it screamed.
The castle began to break into two as a gigantic volcano emerged. Full of molten lava and boiling the liquid. Sokoro walked up to see Hagada’s arms stretching around the young nephew.
‘’Leave him,’’ Sokoro said.
‘’No, he will make a great offering to the God I worship,’’ Hagada said.
‘’Abandon this madness at once. You know you are serving the wicked side. Why cause so much pain and misery?’’ Sokoro said.
‘’Perhaps it is because I do not want humans around me. They are petty. Mean and the worst creatures.’’ Sokoro looked at him with one final glance.
‘’Then so be it.’’
Sokoro transformed into a dragon, a golden dragon as it glared towards the boar. Hagada released the young man as he fell to the ground, captured by Naraku. Hagada scowled as it faced the golden dragon.
The dragon roared, crashing into the boar as it screamed. The boar collapsed into the ocean of molten lava as its body burnt and screeched. The dragon breathed fire as it burnt Hagada’s body as it shrieked. Hagada leaped onto the dragon and started ripping bits of flesh. The dragon resisted, doing its best to shake it off. Hagada came in front, his face hungry, a thousand dark spirits behind him. He opened his mouth, to find a face of hot fire burning on his face. Hagada struggled to clutch his face trying to get rid of the fire that was within him. The dragon whacked the form of Hagada as it fell into the deep ocean of lava. A piercing scream came as the dragon found Noro’s spirit, a tall black less void with a face full of white and two eyes. The Dragon smirked and clutching the spirit with its teeth, it threw both of them into the fire.
A huge explosion came from the volcano, as the cries of Hagada and Noro became extinguished. Both dissolved into nothingness. As the peasants looked in awe, the castle began to convert itself into a peaceful place. Every structure began to reconstruct itself. Noro and Hagada’s spirits taken away by white angels of the Sun Goddess. Amaterasu to suffer the worst fate that could behold them.
The dragon transformed itself into its mortal form. With Sokoro landed onto the ground with a thump. He heaved his back as he watched the four smiles that greeted him. The people cheered him on as their hero.
‘’So you finally did it, master,’’ Noriko-San said and bowed. Everyone bowed in front of him.
Sokoro raised his hand.
‘’Please, don’t. I am not a Samurai, I am Ronin. Let me be.’’ He protested.
‘’Nonsense, we will hold a feast.’’ The mad-man roared. As he strummed the koto, miniature clay towns began to build. Celebrating Sokoro’s victory. The peasants looked in awe but stayed away from the madman with good reason.
The Big man spoke.
‘’It seems to me that you vanquished the man that destroyed your family. The Shogun will be the happiest.’’
Everyone’s eyes went to the big man, even the miniature clay Samurai. One let his jaw drop.
‘’I always thought you were dumb,’’ the madman said.
‘’And, I always thought you were mad.’’ The Big man responded as the mad-man sulked.
‘’It has been an honor, Sokoro. Should you ever start a clan, I and my nephew will be the first to join.’’ Naraku said.
‘’I would like to congratulate Sokoro on his victory.’’ A voice said behind him.
Sokoro turned to see a huge man standing in front of him, wearing armor that was so large that even he could not see it. He froze. The Shogun had arrived. He bowed.
‘’I saw the whole battle from here. I could have intervened but I have not seen such brave men fight their own monsters. According to our customs and traditions,’’ The Shogun said as he walked towards Sonoda.
‘’This man is now the Lord of the Nakamura clan. He was a dear friend of mine. You have avenged him. I will offer my prayers to the ancestors tonight.’’ Cheers and whoops went through the crowd.
‘’My Lord, I can's-‘’ The Shogun raised his hand.
‘’No objections. You must accept it. Nakamura's daughter is no longer his. She is now your daughter, and this will be your wife.’’
Sokoro turned to see the female that had taken the baby before. But he’d never realized how beautiful she had been. Auburn eyes, jet black hair and a physique which many women would be just jealous of. She handed the baby to Sokoro.
Sokoro looked at the baby as it raised its small arms. He touched the finger as it held onto it. It said one word which would resonate throughout his entire life.
‘’Da-da,’’ was all the baby could say. The Shogun laughed while affectionate responses of ‘awe’ went through the crowd. The big man looked at the baby and started making funny faces as it began to laugh. The mad-man once again strummed his koto. As the clay Samurai began to look at the baby as it went straight towards them. They ran. Naraku and the nephew has a perfect look and nodded. Noriko-San’s smile emerged. The mother took the baby and held her close to her chest.
‘’We’re ready to join your clan,’’ He said.
‘’And so am I,’’ said one peasant.
‘’Lord Sokoro’s done far better than that bastard Hagada.’’
Sokoro began to smile as he turned towards Noriko-San
‘’Noriko-San you have done me a great service. Now I ask of you one favor.’’
‘’What is it?’’
‘’You are now the uncle of my daughter.’’
Noriko-San's jaw dropped.
‘’What? But babies are stinky, smelly, I was expecting a woman at least.’’
Sokoro placed the baby into Noriko-San’s arms and laughed. Sokoro looked at the woman in front of him.
‘’You do not need to marry me if you do not wish.’’
‘’I’d rather spend my life with a man that knows how to rule his own home. Besides, I need an entire lifetime to know you, and I intend to start it now.’’
Sokoro grinned, turning to the Shogun again bowing. Noriko-Sanfought battles with the baby. Attempting to hold her tight as she tried to travel around his arms.
‘’I cannot thank you enough, my lord.’’
The Shogun nodded with an approval that signified the best was tantamount to come.
‘’This man is now your Lord. Respect him well. He will not continue to be around here. And his daughter will be the heir to the throne once he departs this world. Is that clear?’’ The Shogun said.
Sokoro bowed and glanced at the Moon with a thousand stars shining. The madman strummed his koto. As miniature clay towns emerged with miniature fireworks. The big man eats, while Naraku and his nephew gorged themselves at the food. Everyone did.
He thanked Bishamonten, and sat down, watching his new wedded life.
Life could turn out well after bad situations.
And it did.
In a Personal spotlight!a