Chapter Seven: AwakeningsEdit
"And the king shall grow as the wind continues, the
price and princess, of and not of shall gather, and
the old Goddess shall reawaken. Mere hours will pass
before the coming of the Dark. Mere days before the
coming of the Darker." ~Unknown
"Hiroki!" the old man yelled. "Come for your dinner, boy!"
Hiroki stood upon the land of his father, and of his father's father. The land that had belonged to the Seiro family for generations. He practiced.
It was all he did. All he could do. Hiroki and his brother Daishoki were never allowed off their land.
It was either their mother, or their father.
Both had always wished it was their father.
Hiroki's mother was a good person. She was kind, caring, and always conscious of what happened around them.
But she was powerless to stop it.
"BOY! DON'T MAKE ME GO OUT THERE TO GET YOU!", the man yelled again.
Hiroki dropped his bokken instantly, and began sprinting towards the house.
If there was one thing Hiroki was afraid of, ever. It was his father.
But, like his mother, he was powerless to stop it.
A moment later, he was inside the house. Dinner was ready at the table, as his mother set it, and his brother was already seated.
And his father stood in the corner, watching.
"It's about time, boy," his father said, not making eye contact. "Take your place."
Hiroki silently nodded, and moved towards the table.
"Daishoki, get up boy."
Hiroki blinked. This wasn't... was it?
Daishoki also blinked, but more out of fear. "Father?"
Their father sneered towards Daishoki. "Did I say you could speak, boy?"
"No Father, I'm sorry." Daishoki looked towards the ground.
"You would question me, boy. After all I do for you. I feed you, clothe you, and this is how I'm repaid?"
"Dear, I'm sure he didn't mean--" Hiroki's mother interjected.
"YOU SHUT UP, WOMAN!" he yelled. He sneered towards Daishoki one last time before sitting down at the table.
Daishoki trembled, but he tried not to show it. Unfortunately, it was fully visible.
"You will not eat tonight."
"I was willing to allow you to eat, but you questioned me. Your own father. Do you have anything to say?"
Daishoki trembled under his own weight. Although Hiroki didn't understand why he was being punished, he knew that if he questioned it, Daishoki would be punished further, Daishoki knew that he would have to find out the extent. And if there would be any... further punishments.
"Father, may I ask what it is I have done, so that I may never do it again?"
"You've been bad, Daishoki. I've seen the fence."
Daishoki swallowed and closed his eyes.
And Hiroki immediately knew what it was.
Neither of them were ever allowed to see outside of the land of the Seiro. Their father despised what was happening. The so-called 'Meiji' restoration.
Men were not allowed to carry swords.
And he had so graciously wanted to spare his sons of that travesty.
But Daishoki had built a step-ladder of sorts, so that he could see over the wall that encircled the Seiro compound.
And their father had found it.
"I'll expect you in the room after watching us eat, Daishoki."
Their mother closed her eyes for a moment. Hiroki could see a tear flow from out of it.
The room. Hiroki knew the room well. He was often sent there. His father just tells them that it's because he cares for them so much that he has to punish them that way. The pain, the hurt. The tears.
But Hiroki knew the truth. It wasn't for punishment. It was to feed his fathers sick perversions.
And now, it was his brothers turn.
"Let us eat, family," their father ordered.
And Hiroki took a pair of chopsticks in his mouth, and ate.
"Slowly," he added, trying to prolong Daishoki's torture.
Hiroki knew Daishoki hadn't eaten all day. He could see Daishoki's mouth water as his family ate a full dinner. Hiroki closed his eyes and let a tear flow. It hurt him to see his brother in such pain.
Daishoki, unlike Hiroki, was a very fun-loving boy. Only a year younger than Hiroki, he spent his time making art. Carving, and helping Bonsai tree's grow.
But Hiroki was a warrior. He trained himself to be a warrior, like his father. But he was resolved that he would never become like his father. He would never let his perversions overtake him.
And he would become a better warrior than his father.
A better warrior. It seems that it was far off sometimes. He trained daily, while his father had been becoming lazy. He trained during the night sometimes, hoping he wouldn't get caught, and he never did.
But a better warrior.
Watching his brother cry as he ate. Listening to his stomach growl.
You can load straw upon straw upon the back of a camel, and he will carry it. You may keep loading them on and expect him to carry the burden, but eventually there will be that one last straw, and it would break the camel's back.
And Hiroki's back was broken.
He stopped eating, and then grabbed his bowl. To the surprise of everyone in the room, he got up and brought it to his brother.
Behind Hiroki, a snap was heard.
He turned around to find his father had snapped his chopsticks in two. The sneer on his face made Hiroki fearful, but he stood his ground.
"HOW DARE YOU!" he screamed. "YOUR OWN FATHER! HOW DARE YOU DISOBEY ME!"
And he stood up, and walked over to Hiroki.
And Hiroki just stood there. The tears flowed from his eyes, but his face did not betray. He just watched.
And then his father backhanded him, which sent him flying across the room.
Hiroki scrambled to his feet. The blood on his face trailed down his jaw and throat.
And he just stood, watching.
His father was speechless.
And his mother was staring from the corner, horrified.
"Boy, I'll give you two seconds to get back to your seat, and we'll forget about this," he warned.
Hiroki thought about it.
"No," he answered.
His father blinked in disbelief. "What?"
"No. I go back, and this continues. It all continues. Listen to me, father. I'm sick of it. Sick of it all. I'm sick of feeding your perversions, I'm sick of being restricted to this land. I'm sick of it all."
And his father stared speechless. It took him a moment to let his sneer grow back, and he walked towards Hiroki again.
This time, Hiroki prepared for the attack. From the way he was walking, he could tell exactly where he would strike. And when he did, he blocked it as efficiently as a twelve year old boy could.
He was knocked off-balance, but it was blocked.
And that stated more to his father than what Hiroki had just said.
And it only worked to enrage him further.
He struck out, wrapping his hands around Hiroki's neck. He squeezed.
"If that's the way it is, boy. THEN DIE!" he yelled.
Hiroki closed his eyes as he could feel the pressure build up in his head.
Soon it would be over. No more punishments. He would be free.
His mind wandered to Daishoki. And then his mother.
And Hiroki opened his eyes.
And he realized. He couldn't die yet.
Hiroki's arms shot out and managed to grab a space between his father's arms. He pried his arms up between them and separated them. He could feel his pressure going back to normal as he spread them further apart.
And his father stared in confusion. Hiroki reached up and placed his hand not around his neck, but underneath the collarbone.
And it took his father only moments to release him.
Screaming out in pain, he backed up.
And he sneered in utter hatred.
Hiroki wasn't crying any longer. He was out of tears. Completely.
Everything else was a haze to him, but his father.
So his confusion grew when his father doubled over, screaming in pain.
Until he saw behind him.
His mother stood with a bloody knife, trembling.
"No more," she cried. "No more..."
Daishoki was at her side in an instant, helping her towards her seat.
And Hiroki looked down upon his father. Whether he was alive or not, he didn't care.
He spat upon the form on the floor.
And then he kicked it. And then again. And then again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again and--
"Hiroki! Enough!" His mother cried. She looked downwards. "He is dead..."
Hiroki looked again. It was true. The knife has been plunged into his heart from behind him, and then twisted.
Hiroki sighed, and walked towards his mother.
"It's done," Daishoki said. "My god, it's done."
Hiroki shook his head. "It had to be done. It would have continued."
"But... to kill him?"
"It was my only choice," their mother spoke. "If I hadn't, Hiroki would have died."
She reached up and stroked the side of his face.
Hiroki blinked. "What?"
"Go now. See the world, do as you wish."
Daishoki also blinked. "Mother?"
"He is dead. The police will come, and they will not believe I did it. They will look towards the first person who could have done it. They will look to you. Both of you."
Hiroki gasped. She was right.
"Mother, I can't leave you here."
"Hiroki, you must. Don't ever forget what he's done to you."
Hiroki shook his head. "I won't. I won't ever become like him."
"Go. Both of you. Now!"
And Hiroki hugged his mother, as did Daishoki.
"I'll come back one day, mother," Hiroki promised. "I swear it."
And with that, he and Daishoki left.
"I kept my promise, mother," he said, kneeling on the front steps of the shrine. "I told you I would. And I've been coming here as often as I've been able to."
Happosai looked around the shrine. Years ago, when it had been discovered that his father had been killed by his mother, there was a revolt. An angry mod of people came and killed her.
And Happosai wasn't there to stop it.
He was in China with Daishoki. The two of them had split years earlier, before the second world war, and they hadn't seen each other since.
Until he received word of Daishoki's death.
Happosai shook his head. Damned fool. He took his art so seriously.
But, Happosai found he couldn't blame him. Though the arts differed between the two of them, each took it just as seriously.
Happosai got up and turned around. The place he stood housed so many memories. Most of them bad, but he had found he had been able to stomach the place, simply because of his mother.
Years ago, it had been converted into a shrine. Why they would convert a place with such bad karmic energies, he would never understand, but it was.
And it was in the outskirts of Tokyo, which meant privacy from those back in Nerima.
Happosai jumped atop the wall surrounding the shrine, and then down to the street. He began to walk back towards Nerima slowly.
The area around the shrine was mostly undeveloped. There were a lot of vacant lots littering the landscape, but he could see signs of progress everywhere.
Walking along the street, he passed a vacant lot which had appeared to have a number of men training.
Until he stopped long enough to watch.
Happosai soon found they were not mere men, and they were definitely not training.
Happosai had seen evidence of the Gods from times long past. Several instances in particular. He had seen Ryujin swimming beneath the waves while diving on one of the offshore islands when he was merely sixteen.
He had seen a trace of Susanowo during a hurricane just before the first world war.
And he had seen Hoori, the hunter hunting boar on the Japanese mainland.
And now, he was seeing Shi Tenno.
He knew all about Shi Tenno. Fearless, undefeatable warriors that protected Japan from not physical, but spiritual attack.
And they were losing. They were losing against a single entity.
Happosai watched in disbelief as the Shi Tenno backed down and regrouped.
And then retreated.
As the single entity smiled in triumph, Happosai made his exit. He ran back to Nerima as fast as he could.
"Silk!" Mint yelled. "I've got imported silk here, straight from Japan's Horaisan region!"
Nobody seemed interested.
Mint shrugged. It was time to pull out the big guns.
"Females! I've got photographs of Japanese females here! A discount only for today!"
People crowded Mint's table at the marketplace.
Since the loss of his position, Mint had to survive through other means. It was a good thing he and Lime had thought to purchase a number of magazines before they left Japan.
Upon the rantings of the crown around his table, Mint heard a single voice.
"You shouldn't profit off the female body, Mint."
And then Mint paused. He knew the voice.
And then he saw the face. A smile grew on Mint's face wider than any he had ever smiled before.
"HERB!" He cried, then proceeded to jump over the table and embrace his old friend in his arms.
However, the crowd was beginning to get rowdy.
Herb dispersed them easily, by grabbing Mint's magazines, then throwing them off into the distance.
Mint blinked for a moment. "You didn't have to do that, you know."
Herb laughed. "Sorry, but I had to get rid of them somehow."
"What are you doing here? How did you get out of the compound?"
"I was pardoned."
Mint blinked again. "Pardoned! That's great! That means we can hang out again!"
Herb nodded. "There's something else. But first we've got to find Lime. Where is he?"
Mint stood in thought for a moment. "Lime's been working in the Games since you were banished."
Herb sighed. "I would imagine he's doing well in there. Do you think he'd mind some visitors?"
Lime smirked. This would be a cinch.
He crossed the distance between him and his prey in mere seconds, and then picked it up and threw it across the field.
The tiger only had time to growl ineffectively.
But, as Lime had known for quite some time, cats have a remarkable ability to land on their feet.
Tigers were somewhat different. They lacked the right amount of weight and gravity to do so.
Which is why Lime was confused that this Tiger didn't realize it was a tiger, and landed on it's feet.
Lime shook his head. "Stupid tiger! You're not supposed to land on your feet!"
It felt somewhat strange to say such a thing to what could very well be a cousin or some sort, but it was true.
So Lime passed the distance between them again, but the tiger was ready.
Lime paused for a moment, and waited until the last moment, then extended his fist to the sky.
And the tiger landed head first on a fist that was harder than rock.
The gathered crowd cheered as the announcer stood up.
"Men of the Musk, that was Lime! Donations can be made to our cause at the front gates! Please come again!"
Lime shook his head. He often felt like belting the announcer, but it was good money, and he didn't want to lose his job.
After all, the cost of living in the mountains where he lived was pretty high.
Lime got up and walked past the tiger, towards the exit of the fenced-in field. As he walked out the gate, he noticed a disturbance to his left.
Not at all interested, he walked by.
Until he heard his name.
Hearing his name was a normal thing, he would often ignore it. Probably some fan, or some kid wanting to learn his skills.
But this time, he knew it was neither.
Lime wasn't a terribly smart man. Not by far, but he did possess basic human skills.
One such skill was recognition.
He heard Herb's voice.
"What the hell are you doing here, Herb!" one man shouted.
"Women aren't allowed in the general population!"
"Hey, Herb. Does this mean you've got the same desires as a woman?" another taunted.
Mint was confused. "Why don't you show them who's boss, Herb?"
Herb shook his head. The crowd around him was beginning to annoy him, but nothing more. Since his curse had become public, he'd received much worse abuse.
"LIME!" he called out.
"Do you think he heard you?"
"We'll see in a moment."
"Why don't you just--"
"Because they don't know what they're against. They are frightened of that which they don't know."
A moment later, the crowded quieted and dispersed.
And Lime stared into Herb's eyes, smiling.
"HERB!" he cried, then ran up and gave his friend a bear hug.
Herb had the wind knocked out of him as he patted his old friend on the back. "Lime?" he croaked.
Lime kept hugging.
"Lime? You're cutting off my circulation."
Lime stiffened for a moment, then released his grip.
"Herb! How did you get here? Did you escape the compound?"
"No, I was pardoned. Look, I've got to talk to the both of you. But first I've got to ask... do you have any unbreakable obligations here?"
Lime blinked. "There's the gaming, but I can quit in a heartbeat if you need me to. Are we going somewhere?"
Mint nodded. "I can sell my table at the marketplace today if I need to."
Herb smiled. "Good. Friends, we have a task to complete."
Lime blinked. "What's that?"
"I'll explain on the way."
"On the way where?" Mint asked.
Herb smiled. "Mount Phoenix."
"Lord Saffron?" Kima called as she entered the nursery. "Lord Saffron?"
"Kima don't hafta call me Lord," a voice called from a dark corner.
Kima blinked. She could only stare in disbelief as Saffron emerged from the shadows with the body of a four year old.
Saffron laughed. "Don't hafta call me Lord, Kima!"
Kima was speechless. "Your... growth... it's so fast."
Saffron laughed again. "I sorry, Kima."
Kima blinked. "Sorry?"
"My last life. I was bad."
"No, you are my king, L--... Saffron. I was happy to have served you."
"Kima, you not a servant. You a friend. You a ally."
"Saffron, is this the time prophesied?"
Saffron smiled. "Yep! Windy in the halls!"
Kima sat and placed her talons on her head and massaged it. "How long do we have?"
"I dunno," Saffron shrugged. "Few days, mebbe a week."
"When the wind blows throughout the halls of the mountain, and the king grows as a flower, the coming of the dark one is at hand."
"It'll be soon, Kima. Tomorrow we have friends visit."
Kima sighed. "The Musk?"
"Yep! Prince and Princess of and not of Musk!"
Kima could only sigh. "I must prepare for them."
"I don't know if that was the wisest thing to do, Ranma. But I certainly commend you for it," Tofu said as he placed the herbal remedy on Ranma's arms.
"I dunno, Doc. I guess it kinda wasn't that smart, but she might've died if we'd sent for you to go to the Nekohanten. Besides, that old guy seemed to do a pretty good job."
Tofu nodded. "That's my old master. Feng Bo was always full of surprises. This is just another one."
"I'll say. The guy just touched her and it was all over."
Tofu put the finishing touches on the application of the remedy to the bandage, and then proceeded to wrap it around Ranma's arms.
"This'll make it numb for a little while, and don't expect to do any heavy martial arts for the next day or so. Tomorrow, the remedy should have done it's job and ceased the blistering."
"What about the scar?"
Tofu shook his head. "Ukyou's clothing prevented most of the burns, but you still got it. There might be some small scarring, but give it a week, and your arms should look like they always do."
Ranma sighed in relief. "Thanks, Doc."
"So what's going on with you at the Tendo place? It's been a while, hasn't it?"
Ranma nodded. "Yeah. My mom showed up a while back, and right now she's kinda living with us. Akane and I are actually supposed to move out today over to her place."
Tofu blinked. "Akane and you?"
Ranma smiled. "Uhh.. yeah..."
Tofu could only smile. "Ranma, you sly dog, you."
Ranma shrugged. "Well, I just kinda realized... well... I love 'er. Especially after China."
Tofu blinked again. "China?"
Ranma nodded. "Yeah, these weird guys with wings showed up a while back, and I ended up having to follow them to China. She... she almost died, but everything turned out okay in the end."
Tofu finished putting the bandages on Ranma. "Wings?"
"Yeah. A buncha weirdos. They called themselves the Phoenix."
Tofu paused. "The... Phoenix?"
Ranma nodded. "Yeah."
"Oh my God. That's... Feng Bo told me..." Tofu stammered.
Ranma stared in confusion as Tofu lost his balance and leaned up against the wall.
"It has been a while, hasn't it Cologne?" Feng Bo asked.
Cologne merely nodded. "Feng Bo. How is it done?"
"It's been nearly thirty years, and you don't appear to have aged a day."
Feng Bo laughed. "You'll find there are a lot of things you don't know about me, Cologne. Let's just say for now that I age well."
"So it's true then, is it? Count of the Winds?"
Feng Bo smiled. "I was beginning to wonder if you ever had figured that out, Cologne."
Cologne narrowed her eyes. "I didn't believe it for years, but now that I see you... And after what you have done... It's the only conclusion."
"Yes, isn't it, though."
Cologne sighed. "What is wrong with the child, Feng Bo? Who is Rogi? What is the meaning of all these dreams?"
"I can't tell you yet, Cologne."
Cologne stared Feng Bo in the eye. "The dreams mean something of importance. The lives of not only I, but the children are possibly in jeopardy, and you can't tell us?"
"I can't tell you yet, Cologne. They have not all gathered."
Cologne was about to argue again, when she was interrupted by a light moaning from the other room.
"It would appear the patient is awake, Cologne. I must attend to her."
It just gets stranger and stranger.
First, she follows the group to the Nekohanten, only to realize once she got there that hiding from a group of martial artists, especially one like Cologne, was easier said than done.
But then she realized, as Ukyou doubled over in pain, that she wasn't referring to her.
So Nabiki followed the group of them, far too busy worrying about Ukyou to notice her, all the way to doctor Tofu's clinic.
Most of the group stood outside, obviously because there were too many of them to crowd the clinic up.
So Nabiki hid in the bushes, trying desperately to figure out what was happening.
"You are as confused as I, wouldn't you say, Nabiki Tendo?"
Nabiki stood up and turned towards the kendoist. "What happened?"
"It would appear that Ukyou Kuonji had a touch of... divine intervention."
"She was burning. Literally."
Nabiki shook her head. "What do you mean?"
"Some magic, obviously from a god of some sort, caused Ukyou Kuonji's skin to burn as her grill would. She seems to be unharmed, but it is very disconcerting."
Nabiki blinked. "Some magic? Come on, Kuno. Get real."
"Is it so hard to believe?"
Nabiki shook her head. Well, there was a certain martial artist living with her family that obviously proved that magic did exist. But burning?
"So what's happening now?"
"Saotome is inside becoming bandaged. Although I commend his actions in carrying the Kuonji girl here, I must question his intent. He did another commendable thing this morning, but I cannot figure out why."
Nabiki shook her head again. "Have you ever considered that he might actually be a nice person?"
Tatewaki shook his head. "The thought had crossed my mind, but with our past, I don't see such a thing as possible."
Nabiki sighed. "Well, let's go see what's up, then."
Tatewaki nodded. "Indeed."
Ukyou turned over in the patient's bed and opened her eyes. Immediately she could feel the hard crusty form her clothing had assumed, as if it had been burned.
When she sat up and checked herself out, she could see that they were.
Ukyou looked down at herself in confusion. Her clothes were burnt, but she was fine. In fact, she was feeling better than she had in a long time.
"I see out patient is awake," an older man said as he entered the room.
Ukyou looked up at him for a moment. "Uhh... yeah, I guess. Where am I?"
"You, my dear, are at the clinic of the respectable Doctor Tofu Ono!"
Ukyou's eyes went wide. "Doctor Tofu?! How long was I out?!"
The old man blinked. He then broke out laughing. "No, no. You misunderstand. I'm not Doctor Tofu, I'm Feng Bo. A fellow doctor, I guess you could say."
Ukyou felt her heart slow. "What happened?"
"Well, you seem to have been out for about fourty minutes, but you're up now."
"Yeah, I figured that much.. but what actually... happened?"
"First let me ask you, what was the last thing you remember?"
Ukyou paused for a moment. "I was... in the Nekohanten, then I doubled over... and I felt like I was burning..." She looked up. "Damnit, theres something else, I know it! I just can't place it."
Feng Bo nodded. "That's all right dear. You're fine now."
"But what actually... What really happened? My clothes are all burnt, but I'm fine."
"Well, I can't really say at the moment. But soon, I will be able to."
Ukyou looked at him in confusion. "What?"
Feng Bo shook his head. "I'll explain it in time... I will be back in a few minutes to check up on you."
Ukyou was left staring in confusion as Feng Bo left the room.
"Hi, Kasumi?" Akane said, half conscious of the flinches Tofu made as Akane said her name. "It's me. Listen, we're at Doctor Tofu's clinic right now--" She paused. "Yeah, he's fine. There was something wrong with Ukyou. I--"
I don't know, there are a lot of people here already, I--"
Akane sighed. "All right Kasumi. If you're going to come, then bring the others along too, all right?"
A moment later, Akane smiled. "Thanks Kasumi, I'll see you soon."
And with that, she hung up the phone.
That Japanese chef bitch! How dare she do that to Ranma! Her HUSBAND! How DARE she.
Needless to say, Shampoo was angry. Very angry, and she wasn't afraid to make it known.
Ranma burned himself because of Ukyou. And Shampoo wasn't going to put up with that. It was bad enough he did it willfully for Akane, but Ukyou?
Shampoo narrowed her eyes as she entered the clinic.
Ranma never did that for her. She'd show him. She'd show him how much she really cared. She cared enough to help him out of the wedding, and she cared now.
And now, that Japanese bitch would pay.
"Chef-girl!" Shampoo yelled out, facing Ukyou with a glare in her eyes. "You hurt Ranma!"
Ukyou blinked. "Shampoo? What?"
"No play stupid! You hurt Ranma, now you pay!"
"Shampoo, what are you talking about?" Ranma asked, trying to interrupt.
Shampoo merely glared at him. "You stay out of this, Ranma. This between chef-girl BITCH and Shampoo."
Ranma shook his head. "Shampoo, I'm fine! Look! No sweat!"
Shampoo clenched her eyes shut. "YOU FINE," Shampoo yelled. "BUT SHAMPOO NOT!"
And then she launched herself towards Ukyou. Ranma wasn't close enough to stop her, but the way she was handling her bonbori, it was enough to kill.
And Ukyou knew it. But all she could do is sit and stare in fright.
Shampoo flew through the air gracefully, like a cat pouncing upon its prey, and readied her bonbori. One of them was extended in such a way that it would crush Ukyou skull upon impact.
But there was nothing anyone could do. Everyone could only watch.
And then it happened. To everyones surprise, especially Shampoo and Ukyou, it happened. The reactionary gap between them had been closed instantly, but as soon as Ukyou's intimate space was breached, it happened.
The light blinded every momentarily, it pulsed outwards from Ukyou's body, first striking Shampoo's bonbori, incinerating it in an instant. Shampoo was then struck.
And she was sent flying towards the outside wall of the clinic. She hit the wall with amazing force, and then slumped to the ground, unconscious.
And then Ukyou stared. As did everyone else.
"What... What's going on?" she asked.
He moved through the city streets as if they were nothing. The citizens like fleas, scampering around on a dogs back.
Pathetic. How utterly pathetic. Useless beings, of no more importance than a simple flea.
Rogi had no need to kill, or to feed. He had fed well the previous night, consuming the livestock of the small farm as if they were nothing.
And now he was in the city. His proximity to his servants was getting ever-so closer.
Soon he would be upon them.
And soon, they would once again serve him.
Mere hours, and they would once again be his.