Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 7:59 pm
O&S: Sorakiri's Song
Hida Provinces 1158
Hida Kenpachi felt the rush of pride. His sensei was giving him the last speech of their training. The aged, scarred Sensei had seen over a thousand battles in his many years. He was Hiruma Tenduka, father of the Crab Signal School. Theirs was the task of the spreading the news of attacks, and general nonmagical communication for the Clan.
"You are a rare breed. The Crab Signal Samurai are among the greatest of our warriors. We cannot merely launch ourselves into battle. Ours is the blade and the flame. Ours is a song of blood and glory. Ours is the Song of Victory!" The ancient Samurai cried out, and was met by the whole of the students. They raised their katana in triumph and echoed their sensei's final rousing cry.
City of the Lost, 1162
Sorakiri's ancient power seemed to course through him. The Fierce, terrifying smile on his face would've brought fear to the most stalwart Lion. Sorakiri was the katana of the most legendary Damned Samurai in Crab history. It was said that she concentrated a sliver of her essence in its pure steel. Just enough to never become completely Lost until the Battle of Cresting Wave. Her life was ended leading the final assault on the Maw. The power, the wave of energy coursing through Kenpachi was her last gift to the Lost. It was purity. It was the whisper of her voice soothing the darker whispers he heard. It was the one ounce of weakness he needed to find strength. He slid the blade into the saya and walked to his bed. Tomorrow their next rotation began. He would hear the song tomorrow.
Hida Provinces 1160
The battle cries around him concerned Kenpachi, but were pushed back in his mind. The flames... he needed to fulfill his duty before he could join his brothers in battle. He reached into a pouch and grabbed a pinch of strange powder. Throwing it into the fire, he smiled. The fire flared a bright, deep blue. Reaching into another pouch, he threw another pinch of powder into the fire and it turned an almost blinding white. It was done. He saw the next fire flare blue, then white. They knew. They would be here soon.
Now was the time to shed blood. In the two years since his Gempukku, he had distinguished himself on the wall. His mastery of the crab fire signals had earned him a spot on one of the most dangerous sections of the wall. He knew how to get it done. His life, his soul for the Crab.
Wall of Bone 1162
Kenpachi laughed as the Oni's claws ripped through his side. As soon as the claws passed Kenpachi felt the flesh righting itself. "You need to do better than that beast!"
The rush, the burning of purity brought a cry of pain and victory to the Lost Crab's lips. The Song of Victory howled in his ears, as he felt the steel edge separate the Oni's head from its neck. He stepped towards another, rising Sorakiri to end another. As his arms fell, Kenpachi felt sinewy tendrils wrap around his neck and wrists. He spun to cut them, but the Oni using them was too fast.
Claws sunk into Kenpachi's chest. His howling laughter seemed to even terrify the Oni. The Samurai's weight shifted, and he slammed the oni into the wall. He spit blood into the demon's eyes. It shrieked and he broke its hold. His katana sliced through the creature and he turned to find his next victim, but found them in retreat.
He turned his eyes to the sky, "To Jigoku with your blessings, Yakamo. A true child of Hida relies on strength, not pity!"
Oni Hunter's Platoon Dojo, 4 days later
The sparring ended with with two men being carried out. Fotsu almost cared whether or not they were alive. Almost. He turned around, "So little Crab, what do you think of your new gift now that you've seen its power on the Wall?"
The sickening smile crept over Kenpachi's lips again, "It's opened my eyes, Daigotsu-Sama."
The Gunso nodded, "I once weilded it. It doesn't agree with my disposition, but I see it's a fine instrument in your hands. Just don't become... too attatched to it. It's a dangerous weapon, Kenpachi-san."
Kenpachi's fingers ran over the hilt, "I know. Its power is weakness itself. It calls to me, reminds me of my new strength. Don't think I misinterpret it. I know exactly what it is."
"Good, now join your comrades at the sake house. You're done here for the day."
Hida Kenpachi bowed deeply, "Hai, Gunso-sama."
Akodo Provinces, 1854
Akodo Fotsu was a samurai of impressive lineage and skill. Though not considered one of the heroes of the Lion, he was well respected among those who knew him, and his ascention of the Lion ranks was beginning to take off. His golden armor and long, golden hair struck an impressive figure to friends as well as enemies. He was disciplined. He was fearsome. He was born to the wrong clan.
Each morning, as he rose for his physical training and breakfast, his head turned to the southwest horizon. His destiny was on the Wall. He was a Lion, thought, acted, and killed like a Lion. But every day he felt the yearning. The desire to do more than play in the masquerade of the Empire. He wanted to show the shadowlands beasts the blinding heat of Honor's blade, as he joined the Crab and rallied them to victory.
He wanted to defend the Empire from the true enemies. Not Crane, or Lion, or Phoenix... but Oni, and Goblins, and Trolls. As his sword cut the air with a hiss, every morning, he would regret that he would never spill tainted blood with his blade. Only that of squabbling children.
But he was Akodo, and Honor was too important to be lost on a frivolous leave to the Hida Provinces. He would have to wait his turn.
Hida Provinces, 1155
Akodo Fotsu smiled with anticipation. Every year, a small detatchment of Lion was sent to bolster the wall's defenses. His han ran over the blade of his great grandfather. "Blessed Ancestors, protect me... make me a stalwart defender of this wall. Do not let me fail."
As he rode to the wall, the Crab Samurai leading them turned, "Are you Lion ready for the Wall?"
Fotsu replied thunderously, "For the honor of Rokugan!"
The Crab gave a small chuckle. Some Lion nodded in approval. Others looked away in embarassment. The Crab leader retorted, "We get a few like you every year Akodo-Sama. Samurai coming here thinking they will rally us from sure loss, and become heroes. And you know what?"
"What is that Hida-sama?"
The Crab turned forward, somber, "The men that come looking to be heroes are the men who find themselves two days from the Wall with no Jade. Those men come back to the wall looking for a our blood. Kill those dreams, or you'll end up being killed by them."
Fotsu's spirit dampened. This Crab didn't understand... he would serve honorably. Maybe dreams of heroism were a little... misplaced... but he would surely not let his family fall into shame.
Hiruma Territory, One month later
Terror was a new sensation to Akodo Fotsu. He'd spent years dreaming of this day. The realization that he'd dreamed of it only made the despair and fear worse. He ripped the Obsidian arrow from his leg, and held back tears. Tainted blood was everywhere, as he brought his katana down on the necks of the fallen, friend and foe alike. The shame, sorrow, and fear all knotted in his stomach as he realized what would happen.
He could already see the veins around the wound becoming infected. It was a 8 hours by foot to Shiro Hiruma. By then, he would be Lost. He would kill the people he came to protect. His honor would be lost soon. He shed a single tear, and he pulled his daisho out of his Obi. He knelt, laid the daisho infront of him, "Blessed Ancestors... I have failed you" he said quietly sobbing, "I leave you here in hopes you will be found, returned to my brother. Perhaps he can honor your memory."
Reverently placing the blades in what seemed like the only spot not coated in blood, Fotsu found the resolve to stand. He bowed deeply to the blades, "I will bring honor to the clan. I will purify myself and reclaim you. I cannot die today. I cannot die a tainted shame to my family. I will become pure again."
Oni Hunter Dojo, 1162
Hida Kenpachi was graceful... for a crab. Though, when you get right down to it, graceful for a crab is akin to saying honest for a scorpion. It happens, but not the most common of occurances. As his opponent brought his boken down to crack Kenpachi's collar bone, Kenpachi ducked to the side and slammed his shoulder into his opponent. He was quickly ontop of his opponent, Pinning him in a rather painful position.
A hateful, defeated voice came from what was tatami mats a moment ago, but now seemed to be what was left of his opponent's face, "Jikogu take you, Kenpachi. I yield."
Kenpachi smiled, and pulled his comrade up, "Brother, you seem to forget Oni fight with their whole body. You always lose to my because you expect the attack to come from my blade."
His opponent wiped his bloody nose, "I'm still new to Oni Hunting. Give me a break."
Fotsu's saya came hard into the young Lost Samurai's gut, "Fool! Oni will not give you a break and neither will I. There is no compassion here. We train you simply so we don't have to fight your demons as well as ours. Now listen to Kenpachi or I'll 'reassign' you."
'Reassign' was Fotsu's polite way of saying cast out of the City, or bind and use as a practice dummy until Fotsu was bored of them. Reasignment was not a desirable outcome with the Oni Hunters.
If the Samurai had any color left in his face, it would've drained. Kenpachi could've swore he got a shade paler anyway. He bowed, muttered something, and made his way out of the dojo. Soon it was just Kenpachi and Fotsu. Kenpachi, in his two months with the Oni Hunters, had grown faster than anyone could've expected him. His unique experiences as both a Crab and a Signaleer on the wall made him Fotsu's second in command, and quite feared within his platoon.
After practices in their inactive week, Fotsu and Kenpachi often stayed around the dojo talking and sparring before they joined everyone at the sake house. There was one question he'd been ignoring, and the gnawing desire to know finally overtook him.
As Fotsu began inspecting the dojo for any damage from the days practices, Kenpachi gathered courage. "Fotsu-sama, I was curious about something."
Fotsu picked up the shattered pieces of a few bokkens, "What is it Kenpachi-san?"
The Crab tried to think of the best way to ask, inhaled, and let it out, "You said you wielded Sorakiri, but it was too dangerous..."
"I said it didn't agree with me. Are you asking why it didn't?"
"Y-yes. Why didn't it agree with you?"
The Fallen Lion ran his fingers through his long, golden hair, "How many Lost do you see who still maintain their clan's traditions... openly?"
The last word sounded tacked on as an afterthought, almost as if it were shameful to remember who he once was. Kenpachi shrugged, "I see a few here and there. but honestly, if we're not on the Wall, or in the Dojo, or at the Sake House, I'm asleep. I don't... sight see much."
"Yes... well... the reason I chose to let you into the Oni Hunters, beyond the obvious, is that you were like I once was." the Gunso said.
Kenpachi arced an eyebrow quizzically, "I... don't understand. What do you mean 'as I once was'?"
Fotsu turned to his second and smiled, "The reason I didn't commit Seppuku when I was first tainted wasn't because, like you, I had hope I might die gloriously for the clan while I was still pure. It was because when I was foolish and... unenlightened... about our blessing, I swore to my ancestors I would purify myself. I realize now what a foolish promise that was."
"Foolish? You were..."
"I was weak, and scared of strength. I came to the shadowlands hoping to be a hero. I was a fool thinking I could charge in and close the festering pit with nothing but a daisho and my honor. As you know, that had been tried before and ended even worse."
Kenpachi laughed, "I remember that tale... the Lion Champion and the Crab Champion that had to come in and rescue him."
Fotsu frowned, "He was not 'rescued'. He merely got assistance. But that's not the point. The reason I refuse to wield Sorakiri is because the song it sung to me is not the one it sings to you. The song I heard was the pleading of my ancestors to fulfil my oath and purify myself. It was... painful to wield."
"Huh... strange. You know what the song I hear is?"
Fotsu looked up, a somber face betraying the pain he felt recalling the blade's song, "What is that, Hida?"
"It sings to me of my old home on the Wall. The brotherhood I was a part of, defending my Empire against," Kenpachi motioned toward the open shoji screen to the city, "all of that."
"And that doesn't... trouble you? Distract you?"
Kenpachi shook his head, "No, Fotsu-sama. It drives me. To show my brothers the strength I have now. To show them their folly, and bring them to THIS wall, and find brotherhood with them again. Not a brotherhood of weaknesses and fears... but a brotherhood of self, and strength. I know that one day, I will see my brothers on the Wall of Bone. When Kaiu Kabe is torn apart brick by brick and the Empire knows true strength. I live for that day, Fotsu."
Fotsu said nothing. There was nothing to say. Kenpachi bowed deeply, "By your leave, Gunso, I'm going to join my new brothers."
"Go, Hida, enjoy your sake, we only have two days left until we rotate in again. Enjoy them."
Kenpachi nodded, and left Fotsu in silence. He finished up his work and went home, memories of Sorakiri's song in his head.