-Wake of the Pack-
A scream broke the night silence like glass shattering. Steel of swords, flesh of warriors met and seared man, one by one, screaming out in dark glee.
"First rule of the Shinsengumi, shun that which opposes the way of the samurai!" Saitoh screamed victorious.
Saitoh Hajime, captain of the third Shinsengumi Unity. Dark, cold, deadly, and skilled are words that do not even reach his constant dark brow. Furious in battle, nefarious in fame, feared and hated by all Imperialists he is known as The Wolf of Mibu.
The cold steel of Saitohs blood drenched katana cut through the lanky Imperialist with ease like a knife through a wriggling catfish. Like the sword, the Imperialists blood quickly followed suit, blood poured and gushed through his large chest wound with zest covering his
Imperial symbol on his slashed chest. The dark alley covered with a crimson coating resembled more of hell than a simple street within the city of Kyoto. Three shades skulked inside the protection of the alley way, swords drawn and shimmering like the eyes of wolves howling at the distant moon.
"We are done here; let us be gone before any other Imperialist dogs pry into our affairs." Saitoh whispered to his allies. Nodding in agreement the Shinsengumi samurai sheathed their katana. The group slowly walked away from the slaughter, but Saitoh briefly glanced back, his stern eyes half covered by his long locks black as night.
Where is a real challenge?! A man among menBattousai
"Extra! Extra! Gruesome murder! Imperialist found dead! Shinsengumi rumored to be responsible?!" Yelled the paper boy trying to attract attention of the near by people. Walking by and not giving him a second glance a family strode along carefree. A mother carrying her child, a father carrying random groceries followed along with a smile. Not everyday smiles were common to the boy. More people flooded into the street, the afternoon was in full swing.
The sun shone brightly leaving a stale odor hanging in the air. Hot and tired the paperboy stopped his futile efforts of attracting business and sat down on a nearby box. Thirsty and wearing a thick layer of clothing, the boy sighed and started listening to the everyday noises that made Kyoto his home.
"Oh please be careful child, the streets are dangerous!" A mother scolded her child with a mothers watchful guile.
"Ill be ok mommy! Hehe! Bye bye!" Responded a scrawny blonde haired boy in poor clothing skipped away merrily.
A sudden hush flooded over the normally noisy street. Curious the paperboy noticed everyone clearing the streets. Mothers pulled their children inside their small homes, and old men scowled with contempt.
"Shinsengumi" Someone whispered to themselves behind the paperboy.
The paperboy watched in aw as a group of five men walked proudly onto the hushed street. Their garb was of fine make and material, light blue was mainly the color of their garb but triangular symbols with even liter blue dotted their wear.
"Move aside!" A tall man grunted in annoyance at the small peasant child.
"Waaaaaahh!" Tears quickly formed in his eyes and just as soon became streams of tears. Crying and screaming at the same time the child quickly found his mother at his side holding him tenderly in her arms.
"Please dont cry. If the Shinsengumi get angry they will hurt mommy." His mother pleaded to her crying son.
"Ah, foul dog! You bring shame to this country especially to the Samurai who fight for you!" Angered by the shower of tears the samurai slapped the child and his mother off the street with a cold chuckle.
"T-t-thank y-ou sir!" Bowing and scraping at the warriors feet with a giant red hand print on her face, the women and child begging for forgiveness.
"Youre lucky I am an honorable samurai!" The Shinsengumi member boasted whole heartedly.
"No! It is you who is the disgrace!" A shimmering light caught the corner of the paperboys eyes but disappeared just as suddenly as it appeared.
"Gotatsu Zero Stance!" The same voice called out again, but this time a moan from the same samurai that struck down the women and her child broke through. A Katana stuck out of the Shinsengumis chest, blood quickly seeped out of the wound and the ex-Samurai fell to the dirt ground with a thud. Shocked and frightened the mother and child quickly fled.
"You fools this is against the law of the Shinsengumi! You bring disgrace to us! I am Saitoh Hajime third captain of the Shinsengumi Unity! Come with me and my men, you will see swift death soon so fighting back now is pointless! The public does not need to see a once honorable group of Shinsengumi die like sheep, heh!" Suddenly the first group of samurai was surrounded by another, all with drawn swords ready to slay if need be.
"Fine" Replied a shorter samurai.
"And, take that with you." Saitoh ordered at the same man, pointing at the dead corpse strewn on the ground. "Ill be taking my katana back." Walking over to the body, Saitoh grabbed the lodged sword by its black hilt and pulled. Blood trickled out like a fountain and formed blood clots on the plain looking ground.
"Shinsengumi!" Saitoh roared at the heavens while holding his blood drenched sword in the air for all to see.
Stunned and amazed the paperboy was trembling with a cold sweat running down his back.
"What kind of man is that?" He muttered to himself."
"A killer." A voice responded behind him.
Turning around in shock a young man bearing a sheathed katana stood with a grim frown. He had a light complexion with fiery red hair, he wore dark blue garb that resembled a moonless night; but most notable of all was a large bleeding scar on his left cheek. The young man gracefully turned away and headed inside a dark building.
-Duel of Beasts -
Wolves howled at the midnight moon, their mysterious call haunting and methodic to the senses placed a mystical calm on the midnight landscape of Kyoto. Children slept and dreamt of adventures in far away lands, adults dreamt of a bright future filled with high hopes, the elderly dreamt of living for another day. Houses were dark and not a soul stirred; the city resembled a ghost town. But, one dot of light lit a small abandoned home. Inside its wooden walls men crowded around a small candle lit fire deciding the fate of a nation. Unknown to the Imperialists inside others outside their view had dark intentions. Ten forms surrounded the building shifted uncomfortably, waiting. Shinsengumi.
"Is this the place, Saitoh-san?" Asked a young woman, her face hid her tenseness in her voice with a fake smile.
"Yes." Saitoh replied with a grin.
"Very well, if you dont mind Ill lead the charge."
"Go on ahead Okita."
"Hehe, they wont even see us coming. Attack!" Her furious war cry quickly snapped the other Shinsengumi samurai from their watchful gaze on their mark. Summoning their katana, the samurai charged the front steps.
"What was that?" Queried a voice from the gathering. "Sena-san check it out." Ordered the same voice thrusting his authority at a guardsman. With a silent nod the guardsman shifted to the door, slowly opening it his eyes focused on shimmering swords heading toward the house at a deadly pace.
"Intrud!" Cut short, a sword plunged into his heart. Its blade penetrating through his chest with ease made an unpleasant snap as the guard exhaled his own blood.
"Shinsengumi! Kill the lights!" Interjected another Imperialist guard. Drawing their swords the dozen or so Imperialists snuff out the candle light in the center of the room. The thud of the now skewered guardsmens body fell like a stone onto the ground, almost invisible from the dark.
"Die Imperialist traitors!" Saitoh screamed insanely charging into the room katana held in his left hand ready to lunge. Men scattered from both sides finding each others swords. Katanas sang out in songs of war, clashing against each other flashing in musical succession.
"Ahhhh!" The desperate scream of a dying man tore into the night air. Saitoh charged into a pair of Imperialist guards with his Katana in his left hand, heart pounding, his back straight, and eyes open wide plunging his Katana deep into one of the Imperialists faces, skewering his nose and brain in one fell swoop. Life erupted from the fatal wound covering Saitohs brow with violet liquid. Instantly turning around to face his shocked partner Saitoh swiped his Katana wide cutting a chunk of face off his first mark and dismantling the seconds upper torso. More blood flowed easily onto the surroundings, a fine layer of blood coating pictures, mattresses, and other bodies painted the home.
"Ha, imperialists! You weaken our warrior spirit by simply living, now die!" Saitoh sang out in glee.
Gloom quickly covered the battle ground and blocked out the moon. Cries of death ran gout all night accompanied by the howl of wolves until the morning sun rose. All that was left by the time other Imperialists arrived to help were bodies of the dead skewered, dismantled, hacked apart lying or hanging over everything. A lone symbol made from the blood of the ex-Imperialists covered the ground, ghastly and accursed the symbol read: Shinsengumi, Mibu Wolves.
-The Lone Dragon Encounters the Lone Wolf-
he cold night air hung closely onto the wooden bridge. Flowing water beneath the bridge trickled freely waking the sleeping crickets, their insect chirps muted to a low hum. The moons glow reflected off the smooth surface of the stream illuminating the bridge, two solemn figures stood parallel to one another, waiting.
"So, it has come down to this, Battousai. After all the bloodshed, after all the trouble, after all the rumors, I finally get to see the infamous Hitokiri Man Slayer; I must say that I am not impressed, boy." Saitoh stated playfully. Light reflecting off the water danced onto Saitohs grinning face. Saitohs features dark and content but sinisterly coy.
"I care not what I have put you through, Shinsengumi captain, Saitoh Hajime. I have heard much about you as well, you have destroyed too many lives, and for that I shall avenge every last one!" Exclaimed Kenshin stoically.
"Hypocrite You Imperialists Aku. Soku. Zan! A code I shall follow till my last breathe, Kill Evil Instantly! And you you Battousai, you are the evil in front of me and I will kill you with this blade!" Drawing his sword from its sheath Saitoh snickered impatiently. Moving his body into a semi-crouch Saitoh angled his katana horizontally, its tip facing Kenshin. His feet apart, and his right hand on the smooth flat tip of the blade curved at an angle. Light from the water bounced onto the blade creating a sinister grin on the sword. Narrow eyes locked onto Kenshins, Saitoh grinned and waited.
Gotatsu If I get hit by that its all over The thought ran through Kenshins mind like a rampant fever. "Humph." A strand of breathe escaped Kenshins hollow grunt leaving a trail of warm air like a ghost fleeing into the night. Kenshin, placing his dominant right hand over the leathery surface of the hilt of his sheathed sword leaned forward ready to cut his opponent in half. Eyes glued to each other the two warriors stood and waited. Cool air suddenly cut through the two and pierced their thoughts, like invisible swords.
"Die!" Screamed the two Samurai in unison. The pair sprinted at full speed, the bloodlust clearly showing in their eyes. Kenshin screamed jumping at Saitoh at full speed. Saitoh chuckled grimly thrusting his katana at Kenshins waist. Kenshin easily identifying Saitohs attack drew his sword with all his strength slashing upwards towards the night sky. Two beams of light erupted on top of the bridge; a wave of both fighters energy and stamina quickly blasted the wooden bridge. A creaking projected from the bridge slow and chilling taunting the two, now, still samurai.
"Good, so you arent as weak as I had thought." Mocked Saitoh.
"You arent too bad either." Kenshin cursed.
Their blades perfectly glued to each others, Kenshin attempted to drag his blade close to Saitohs throat. Sparks and screeching from the blades roared at Saitoh in fury.
"No, I dont think so!" Angered at Kenshins attempt Saitoh raised his right fist and punched Kenshin directly on the nose. Staggering backwards blood dripped slowly from Kenshins wounded nose onto the wooden bridge. Dots of blood, invisible during their fight were lost to both fighters thoughts. Breathing faintly Kenshin reverted backwards to avoid another of Saitohs offensives.
"If thats all you can muster consider yourself already dead, Battousai." Saitoh said mocking Kenshin once more.
Sheathing his sword once again Kenshin prepared for another strike, Saitoh holding his sword in his left hand doing the same.
"Ahhhhhhh!" Kenshin bawled out, running at god-like speed Kenshin ripped past Saitohs sword before he could even react. Defense gone Saitoh lost his grin and tried to evade Kenshins yet to be unsheathed sword. Kenshin pulling his hilt felt a hard thud on his sword. Another punch, this time onto Kenshins sword pommel, ending the un-sheathing attack.
"Consider yourself dead!" Saitoh roared victoriously. Pulling back his sword Saitoh slashed Kenshins back. Sound from the blade piercing Kenshins flesh faded into oblivion, Blood pounded the wooden bridge in greater quantity. Smell from the fresh blood filled both Kenshin and Saitohs nostrils urging them both to continue. Now breathing heavily Kenshin retreated once more trying to buy time for his wound to stop its throbbing pain.
"Heh, you havent once been able to even scathe me, the next move you make will be your last. I assure you." Saitoh explained giving Kenshin a childish bow.
"Ahhhhhhh!" Raging like an erupting volcano Kenshin rushed in hard, drawing his sword in full velocity.
"Gahhhhhha-hhahh!" Kenshins blade passes by Saitohs again, this time managing to slash a giant wound directly on Saitohs chest. What little protection Saitohs Shinsengumi cloth garb gave passively gave way to Kenshins ice cold steel. Blood gushed from Saitohs wound covering the bridge with more human life blood. Their battle ground now covered with each others blood looked like a fresh coat of crimson paint. Clothing bathed in blood, both samurai backed away breathing ferociously trying to regain there breathes, and strength.
"Looks like, were pretty hurt." Kenshin said with wear and tear in his voice.
"Yea" Saitoh replied with effort visible in his voice.
"Let us finish this"
Both warriors slowly walk toward each other with swords drawn, stumbling over each others feet.
"Ahhhhh!" Repeated Kenshin exhaustedly.
Running at each other Kenshin stabbed low aiming at Saitohs thighs. Saitoh tired, managed to side step the strike leaving his ribs open. Seeing Saitohs frustrated expression Kenshin slashed toward Saitohs face. Missing completely Saitoh chuckled meekly and slashed with his own sword aiming for Kenshins sword arm. Parrying the slash Kenshin stepped forward to meet Saitoh head on. Refusing to step down from Kenshins reckless rush Saitoh once again stabbed with vigor, but only allowing his blade to be parried away by a wide sweep from Kenshins katana. Resonating clings and clangs from both swords clashed together at their users hate filled faces, sparks lit their eyes and ecstasy consumed their thoughts.
This is it! Their thoughts focused on the kill.
"Fire! Fire! Imperialists have started fires all over Kyoto!" A new voice broke into the two clashing titans, opening their eyes to the events around them. The sky was no longer black as a dark night but black as clouds from consuming fires.
"Ugh Well finish this NEXT time Battousai!" Turning towards the voice Saitoh vigorously shuffled away from the blood coated bridge.
"I look forward to it"