Canto 15: Heed The Call!
Round 1, Fight 11: Blood v Charlotte
There is so much that I must content with. I not only have to deal with my opponent, Laurence Blood, but other distractions as well. I've a lot of work: Shizumaru, Haohmaru, Genjuro, Amakusa, Zankuro, and Mizuki. Maybe, I may still have to compete with...maybe not.
My fight is my fight, there isn't anything else I really need to say. Shizumaru Hisame is another story. He is Haohmaru's young adopted brother. His own parents died while he was still an infant, at the blade of Zankuro. Recently, he just learned as to why he was sparred, and it's a big burden to bare. Still, I think that Rimururu can help him out, especially seeing how much she likes him. I know she'll be good for him - after all, I know her, and Nakoruru. They are both like sisters to me, and I know they can be trusted with you life.
Amakusa...he's Hanzo's own son. The chaos he's unleashed, and the future that he can now alter with the time control device, I can only imagine how it must feel for dear Hanzo. From a personal level, I've had my own problems with Shiro. He became the object of Haohmaru's quest for revenge, and became impossible! I still recall how we fled back to his village of youth. How he seemed to struggle with some inner demon, and I was at a loss for what to do.
I took a desperate gamble, and journeyed into his mind, and confronted Amakusa. After an eternity, we brook free from Amakusa's control. We then took Amakusa's fortress, after he used a level of power that I've only felt by our new alley, Terry Bogard. Yet this Ryuji seems to have a power to easily rival them. Zankuro's a bit easier than Amakusa: he merely wants to kill off strong opponents as he waits his time to begin once more his quest of global carnage.
Mizuki...let's just say that I stopped her from killing, and she vows to kill me, along with Kyoshiro.
The last two are Genjuro, and Haohmaru. I guess I've been avoiding it a bit. I'm not clear on all the details, as neither want to talk about it. Sometimes, I think men are the same in general, regardless of status. If they could forget about their silly pride and what naught, most of their problems wouldn't come into being. Then, maybe Genjuro wouldn't have some dumb quest of killing Haohmaru, and everyone attached to him. He's hurled Hisame like a dart, made an attempt when I was thought to have died in his arms, and countless others. I wonder what happened to him after his match with Ryuji. He hasn't been seen since.
Outside of his bitterness with Genjuro, Haohmaru does have a few other - issues. Like it or not, most of our friends look to him to be our leader against our upcoming battles. I told him that I'd stand by him, no matter what his choice, and I intend to keep this vow. He still refers to her on occasion...Oshizu. I don't like it! I wonder, am I being jealous? I pride myself and would believe I'm not, yet for the way I feel, I can't help but think that that is what it is...maybe. We did have some time together, after a "mix-up" with Genjuro, Ryuji, Terry, Mary, Haohmaru, and I. Maybe...
So, despite what may be thought, Charlotte has her own inner turmoil to contend with. Her's may be even greater, for she has unintentionally became, and taken, the job of helping to lift up the spirits of those around her in this grim battle that is slowly unfolding. It has, as of yet, been said that it is too much. However, given the previous thoughts, one has to wonder how much Charlotte can take.
"So, pretty, are you ready?"
"I see that your previous defeats have taught you nothing! Taste the steel of my thorns, loser!"
As if on cue, Blood launched himself over Charlotte, and brought her to the ground with his cape. Instantly, she was back up, only to be caught up in his cape. He yanked her to him sneered in her face, and flung her back down. He thrust his blade at her face, and it was not a second too soon for her to move her own blade to serve as a buffer. He was stronger, and he was slowly pushing Charlotte back, and down. Then, as suddenly, he pulled back, and she fell forward like a fool. He slapped her with his cape, and then made ready to drive his blade through her neck. Again, she just barely got her blade in position for the block.
Charlotte was at a loss for what to do. Blood was one of the few to wield any form of weapon, and even fewer to wield a blade. In fact, he used it as well as most of the samurai, ninjas, and knights she knew. It could be that she, like others, had underestimated her foe based almost entirely that most of them were unarmed! IF she lived through this, she knew she learned an important lesson...if. Their blades were but inches from her face, and getting closer.
She worked up a desperate tactic, and fumbled with her belt with her free hand, trying to free that which had held her blade. It seemed like her life flashed by in those few moments, but then she succeeded, and threw it into his face. She then rolled back to give herself a few seconds to breath.
"Very clever, Charlotte. It also shows you how desperate you've become. You see, I'm not that arrogant fool who hesitates or shuts his eyes in a fight. I remain focused to the end. That is how I took out Mai, and how I shall take out you. You both are full of yourself, and I'll shatter that little vision...haaah!" he yelled as a huge aura of power surrounded Charlotte's blade, and slammed him to the ground.
"You say you've learned you lesson, but you waste too much time talkiiiinnnng!" she screamed as Blood lived up to his name, and went into his drill attack, hitting Charlotte in her mid-section, causing her to cough up blood, and grow woozy. He released her, and she fell to her face.
"Now, my pretty, whatever am I going to do with you?" and he finished with a sinister laugh.
Charlotte responded by shuttling up into the sky, sending Blood ripping skyward, as green power flashed under her blade. She cried out "Spalsh Front" and a rampage of slashes came at Blood, which he just blocked. Sensing the moment, he went for his own series of slashes, most of which hit Charlotte's armor.
Open, she countered with a Star Slash, and Blood went down.
" Winner of Round 1, Fight 14, Charlotte!"
Charlotte had lost much blood, and just before she met up with Haohmaru and Hisame, she collapsed. They rushed to her side, fearing the worst.
"Charlotte! Look at me!" voiced an eerie proclamation.
"Ukyo! But I thought..."
"I don't have time to explain. We are all here...with others. We've been brought by A-O. You must help Haohmaru. He must learn to reach his potential...as must Terry. That will be Mary's concern though, just inform her. Kurko felt it coming, and it is, stronger this time...my time is up."
"Charlotte? Why are you talking about Ukyo?"
"Hahomaru? Hisame? It's...can you help me?"
Round 1, Fight 15: Kim v Hanzo
"Tell me, Hanzo, I can feel your pain. Something is greatly troubling you. Do you care to talk about it?"
"It's my son. It's Amakusa..."
"Oh. I understand..."
"No! Amakusa is my son."
Hanzo then went on to explain how the "Hell Stone" had possessed him, and has turned him toward a quest of destruction. Entire lands have been laid to waste, thousands of people have been destroyed, all of this leaves a void and a desert in his very depths...happy thoughts, huh?
Kim then asked that from what he had heard, Amakusa had disappeared from the second tournament, only to reappear in the third and fourth. It was also rumored that he seemed to randomly appear in matches, although in a different fashion from Kurko.
Hanzo speculated that after the lose, he needed to take time to reevaluate his opposition, for he had clearly underestimated them. As to why he randomly appeared in the tournament, he could only guess that it was to make sure that nobody else killed the "upstarts" before he did.
"You know, I think that helped, Kim. You've earned my respect, and I'm glad to compete against such a noble man."
"Thank you. You have my gratitude. Let's go!"
Hanzo replied by pounding the earth, sending a ball of flame bouncing at Kim, who easily shot over it, and repeatedly kicked Hanzo in his face, and bounced safely away. Hanzo disappeared in a puff of smoke, and Kim blocked, waiting for a chance to counter. Hanzo reappeared above, and behind him. Kim let down his guard and seemed to walk into the set-up, only to flip over for a crescent-kick, exchanging hits with Hanzo. Unfortunately for Kim, he took the worse end, as part of Hanzo's weapon glazed his leg, sending a shooting pain up his spine. Kim pictured the pain Terry had when they had their match a while ago, and had a personal understanding of what he went through.
Hanzo asked if Kim was ok, and wanted to continue. Kim thanked him, and said to give him a few moments to recover. Amakusa wanted them to continue and fight to the death, but Zankuro told his friend that this made it all the better. Hanzo threw Kim his scarf, for a bandage. Then, they began again, two of the most noblest and respected fighters in the tournament collided in a battle to see who the better man was, this time.
As they were about to clash, Hanzo stopped, and smashed his fist into the ground, causing flames to explode all around. Kim was drove back by the force, and just barely maintained his balance. Just as quickly, it ended, and Kim went for his Phoenix Flatter. Hanzo was battered by a series of kicks to all parts of his body, while Kim seemed to be little more then a blur. He then shot upward, and he continued to knock back Hanzo, until they appeared over the horizon.
Kim used his hands to help brace himself as he landed, but Hanzo disappeared in a cloud of smoke before landing, and was in front of Kim. He grabbed his shocked foe, and they shot over the horizon once more. Hanzo drove Kim's head down into the ground, and a violent explosion erupted at impact. Hanzo flipped away, but Kim lay prone, out cold.
"Winner of Round 1, Fight 15, Hanzo!"
"Heaven or Hell...but Bermuda's Impossible!"
Round 1, Fight 16: Terry v Kyoshiro
While they help Kim, let's go check up on Terry and Mary.
"Oh Terry. Are you sure that you'll be ok?"
"I thank you for the concern, Mary, but I'm fine. I've been doing this nearly all my life, so this won't be too different. Kyoshiro's good, and he has that big weapon of his, but I know I can overcome."
"Terry Bogard! You know that's not what I'm talking about. I know how good you are, but I also know that this thing that Ryuji has is haunting you. I know it's haunting me. We've seen him in an Awakening, and he hasn't even come close to his full potential yet. He's Hell-bent on killing you to get me! I just want you to be able to focus on your match, and not worry to much about Orochi, Ryuji, or whatever."
"Who are you trying to convince, Mary, you or me? Still, you are right. I haven't felt like this since Krauser first kicked my ass! Maybe this time, even more. Krauser was not only a skilled fighter, but he had a shit-load of power to use. Ryuji's somewhat more built than me, but not much. He doesn't have Krauser's size, yet he does have Orochi. We've seen what it can do to Iori, Leona, Kyo, and others. It'll take all I have to stand up to him. I'm going to have to go to an entire new level to defeat him. I've done so much, but to fight off one empowered by Orochi..."
"Just remember, you, Kyo, and Ryo went head-on with Orochi himself in '97. You survived longer than anyone who wasn't of any of the Bloodlines. I know you can do it. Here, for luck," and she kissed him before he went out the door, yet it seemed to both that this was for the last time. Maybe that is why it lasted so long.
They opened the door, and were met by Yamazaki. Terry, pushed Mary back into the room, and went into his stance, ready for a fight to the end! Ryuji Yamazaki nearly laughed in his face, and it almost seemed that he was going into another Riot, or just recovering from the last.
"Ah! Don't worry, Terry! I've just come to give you the good news! If you live through this fight, you get a chance to fight against their hero, Haohmaru!" he finished, his laughter growing louder.
"Why do you care who I fight?"
"Fool! You two are looked at as the ones with the most potential, second only to His power! If you go up, you'll rip each other apart! Should either of you survive, you can be sure that I'll be waiting for you, and Genjuro will be waiting for Haohmaru. Soon, very soon, Mary will be mine! You'll either be too weak, or too dead to stop it! If you die here, good! If not, I can wait. I'd like to kill you, but I don't really care! Besides, look at how well you protected this prize from near death at the hands of Mizuki! If you were mine, she'd never have gotten so close!" and Yamazaki went into his mad, Orochi laugh before leaving.
The rest of the way to the arena was passed in silence, a cold sense of despair washed over them. Before he went in, they looked at each other, and their souls pledged theirselves to each other. Terry entered, and Mary went to join her friends.
"Excuse me, Mary? I need to talk to you. I - received some - information - and I'd like to talk with you."
"Eh? Charlotte? What do you want to say?"
"Hey! Come on! Come on!"
For a moment, Kyoshiro seemed to be lost in thought. He thrust his point into the ground, and shot ablazing into Terry, sending him across the way. He then threw a fan at Terry, which he easily avoided, only to run into another blaze that traveled along the ground. Kyoshiro leapt in, his blade extended for the hit. Terry, got in what seemed to be a sprint, and shot up with a Rising Tackle, blitzing Kyoshiro. Terry ran in, and Kyoshiro unleashed a flame at him, only for Terry to rise over it, and have the second hit of a Power Dunk hit him.
Terry stood still, seemingly to charge up energy. This allowed Kyoshiro several swipes with his blade, followed by a wild spinning Kabuki Dance. Once again, the battle changed, and Kyoshiro rocked Terry with the same move he used at the start of the fight. He then proceeded to choke Terry with his long hair.
Terry freed himself by hitting Kyoshiro in his stomach with his knee. He then rolled back, coughing as he tried to regain his air. He felt dizzy, for he was very distracted. Soon, Ryuji said he'd strike, or was he just messing? Either way, it was working, for Kyoshiro was holding a firm advantage, one that Terry was having difficulty in breaking.
Kyoshiro approached Terry, getting ready to follow up. He started back when he saw Terry's eye's change color, and seem to glow.
"Overkill!" yelled Terry as he hit Kyoshiro with a Power Tackle. He then followed up with what seemed to be a Power Dunk. At impact, Kyoshiro was shot a long distance from Terry by three Power Geysers!
"Winner of Round 1, Fight 16, Terry!"
"Whubba, Whubba! I'm in the pink today!"
Round 1, Fight 17: Andy v Sogetsu
I must admit, for a real hot-head, Kazuki came up with a good plan for him and our sister. I still felt the need to stay with our clan, so that made our plan all the easier. I would act as the hunter, and hunt him down to kill him. Then, with the rest of them as witness, I could go back, and none of them would ever know. It worked! He acted convincingly like he didn't want to fight me, and I played the part of the one who had a job to do. In a matter of moments, Kazuki seemed lifeless, and the deed was done.
Back at the leader's place, he talked to me about how good a job I did. He also gave me his deepest sympathies, knowing how hard it would be for one to kill his own brother. I told him that it was no problem, and I had the coldest demeanor about me. No one dared to even think about questioning me in anything else I did.
As for them, I learned that as soon as we were gone, she came to him, and he slowly came to. He commented on how well I knew my stuff. They then ran off to live a life of seclusion in some small, far-off village. They were just starting to get settled, when he heard rumors of both Amakusa and Zankuro. He decided to risk it all, and go to it. I figured he would, and requested to go. They didn't even ask, and none suspected. Still, I don't trust any of Amakusa's men. If they are from our clan, they know that Kazuki is still alive. They can't go back, because only Amakusa and Zankuro together can open it. I'm not sure how Howard or Wolfgang do it. I told him just a bit before his fight that we both need to cautiously scan all of them, and if we see any form our clan...kill them! I only worry as to what happened to our dear sister.
Oh, Mai! I'm so glad she's ok...I don't know what I'd do if you...
I wonder though, what if we really did get - married. She's the loyalist girl I know, yet she's always so bouncy. I still recall how she was the time we met Jubei at the Duck King's new nightclub. I still feel...uneasy about how she was there. I still hurt from the time that bastard knocked me through that wall. I actually put dents in that tree. Then, the rematch.
They are right: "Payback's a bitch!" I broke his mask, and ruined his pretty face. Mai took out the hoe, and it was just us.
That also reminds me of the other, painful mistakes I've made. I ran in to finish Geese, only to be nearly killed by The Violent Wave. Later, I nearly take Terry out. I go to finish him, only to run into his first Power Geyser. More recently, I ran into a hurricane. I won't make that mistake again. I've learned some moves, and some patience. This time, I'll come out ahead.
"So, let's do it, Andy!"
"Ready when you are, Sogetsu!"
Andy fired a fireball, but before it left him, Sogetsu spun around, and a tower of water washed over him. As he attempted to regain his balance, a second one hit him, flooring him. Water appeared right next to him, and Sogetsu emerged from it, a hopped up, and drove his blade into Andy's arm.
Andy screamed and flinched in pain. When he withdrew it, it was stained a bright red. He looked down at his foe, disappointed that it had ended so soon. However, as Andy had shown in fights with both Kane and Yamada, it took a lot before he was truly out of it. He flipped his legs up, and speared Sogetsu with a Shotgun Kick. Not waiting for him to recover, Andy dashed and drove his elbow into Sogetsu's chest. He then followed up with four body blows, knocking the warrior down. As Sogetsu tried to counter, he was taken off his feet as he was lifted up by a series of hits from Andy in an uppercut like maneuver.
Andy's aura was now set, and he was ready for the final attack. He flipped over, feet poised, and surrounded by flames. He was dead on target. At the last second, Sogetsu spun, summoning a tower of water, dousing Andy's fire. Thus, the end of the match was postponed, for the moment.
Again, Sogetsu disappeared, and tried to slam Andy when he reappeared. Andy was able to push him back, and the grabbed him. He jumped, and drove Sogetsu's face into the ground. He then kicked Sogetsu back.
"Oh, you're in the mood for roughness! Try this than, pretty!" and Sogetsu seemed to fly across the ground, set on connecting with his blade into Andy's flesh. With split-second timing, Andy side-stepped, and Sogetsu flew right by him.
"My turn!" and And delivered several hard hits to Sogetsu's chest and stomach, spun his hands in a circle, and shot a powerful fireball, knocking Sogetsu flat.
"Just a bit more!" and Andy was set to set Sogetsu on fire once more. Again, he waited, only to block it! He then flew a few steps, and proceeded to batter Andy with a series of cuts from his weapon, finishing the round.
"Winner of Round 1, Fight 17, Sogetsu!"
"...Kazuki. Come to congratulate me. You may be the smart one, but I'm the winner!"
"Hah hah! I think I've found what we've been looking for. Come on."
"Wait! We can't leave this fellow here...with them," and they both got Andy, and took him to Yagyu.
Round 1, Fight 18: Gen-an v Mai
"Hello, my pretty! I bet you dinna think ya'd see me so soon, huh? This time, it will be different! I WILL have my way!"
"Go to Hell, you freak!"
"I'm the demon king! Hell is where I'm from! I know why you are so confident. Now that I know, I shall shatter it. It's because of your boyfriend. I bet you forgot that he just had his match. Yes, I see it in your face! Alas, he lost, and is now dead! Now, without anyone to protect you..."
"You lie! Andy's one of the best...and he didn't die! Even if by some chance he lost the fight, he'd still live. I'd know if he was dead."
"Women and their silly feelings. Let me tell you something about his challenger, Sogetsu. This man killed his own brother, because his duty called for him to do it. His duty here is to win, and eliminate all threats to their clan. He killed his own brother; what makes you think he won't kill your dear Andy?"
"You are just trying to throw me off. It ain't gonna work, bud. I kicked your butt before, and there's nothing you can do to change that!"
In answer, Gen-an turned back, and then blew a purple cloud of poison at Mai, engulfing her in the disease. Her vision blurred, and the ground moved under her. Her heart pounded in her head, and her lungs wanted to burst out. She felt like she wanted to die.
She then felt Gen-an take several swipes at her in his spin attack. He laughed at her, telling her how poorly she fought, and how he'd have fun with her here, before having fun with her in his room.
She spun with fire behind her, hoping that a wild shot would fry him, but he was out of reach. Each move she made was sluggish, affected by the poison. Gen-an grabbed her, and repeatedly bashed her face against his knees, mocking her the entire time. Just as she broke free for a breather, he grabbed her and began bashing her now bloody face again. When she collapsed, he took his claw, and spun wildly, drilling into her belly.
"You are pretty, but now, you are done!"
In desperation, Mai hurled three fans of fire into Gen-an, marking her first offense in the fight. She the shot up, and began spinning like a whirlwind, and made a wheel of fire, burning Gen-an. She then hurled three more fans, but without the fire. Gen-an blocked them, and then laughed at her.
"My, you are desperate...you pitiful humans aren't good for much, are you? Those, like you...have those few good points though, eh? I'd say you have two of them! Very nice indeed."
"You're sick, jerk! Come on!" and Gen-an seemed to stall a few seconds, and then leapt, ready to strike with his claws outstretched. Mai leapt up, grabbed him, sat on him, and drove him into the ground.
"Yeah! Me Bouncy!" she said as she tossed a fan over her head, and stepped over Gen-an.
"Winner of Round 1, Fight 18, Mai!"
"Mai. I must talk to you."
"Master Jubei Yamada! What can I do for you?"
"I must talk to you. Andy was brought to my quarters..." and Mai shoved past him, and was on a mad dash to where Andy was. She nearly knocked the door off it's hinges, and saw Andy, laying on the bed, unmoving. Gen-an was right.
"NOOOO! Andy! Why? Oh, there's so much we still had left...I mean besides that! I never told you that I forgave you! Please..don't die!" Mai wailed, tears falling down her delicate, though now rather bloody, features.
"Unnn...Mai? You know...you can wake the dead. I'm glad you forgave me."
Mai fell on her butt, scared out of her skin.
"But I thought...Jubei said..."
"Mai, I never said he was dead. You pushed past me before I could talk. He's took a hard hit from that Sogetsu...been out for a long while. I just thought that you should be here when he awakens. I'll bet Andy didn't expect to see you like that!" and they all laughed, happy to be together. They stopped as Joe came in.
"Yamazaki...again. This time: Rick, Yagyu, and Gen-an. Worse this time. Instead of merely killing them, he really carved them up. Man, who's going to stop this psycho?"
So ends this part of the epic. Once again, Ryuji explodes in a violent Blood Riot call...but has yet to reach his full power. With each passing moment, the Calling gets stronger, the Riot gets bloodier, and the body count rises.
As Yamada had told them that only one of the Orochi or Yata could stop him - spirits have sunk. Mary reminds them that Terry lasted the longest against Orochi; at least for someone not of either house. Ryuji's hinted at the future: he WILL take Terry. Genjuro, who hasn't been seen since his fight, still lurks, seeking blood.
The good guys and gals are now, more than ever, determined to overcome the odds. Very interesting...