Wings of Unity
Centuries ago, a mystical power known as majutsu – which combined a user’s energy with martial arts, came to be a dominant power throughout the world.
A powerful majutsu user known as the Blacksmith crafted weapons infused with his own energy, calling them The Divine Weapons. These weapons were known to be the ultimate battle-changers and were only seen to be wielded by those worthy enough to harbor its power.
Danketsu – the unity katana – was revered to be the most powerful Divine Weapon. Its abilities were strong enough to tip the balance in a war. However, only a chosen individual would be granted its power, only to ensure that the balance in the world would be changed for the better.
The nation of Japan had torn itself into a civil war, consisting of two sides – the Tokugawa-Iga Alliance, a union of samurais and ninjas who were respected for their mastery in majutsu, and the Imperial Loyalists, philosophers who sought to eradicate all traces of majutsu to make way for a new, modern world.
The Divine Weapons were divided between the two sides. The only way a side was able to claim victory was if it held control over Danketsu.
The Majutsu War had begun.
Gunfires and the cries of war echoed through the forest as a young girl sprinted through; the sound of her armor clanking and clunking with every step she had taken. The burden of the clothed katana she carried on her back gained on her, effectively slowing her down. However, hopping over fallen logs and trees while avoiding any type of blockage was her current challenge as she tried to stay alive with danger lurking behind her.
The sound of what seemed to be hundreds and hundreds of men trailing near her thundered like the sound of a stampede. She picked up pace to desperately escape from the herd, gripping tightly onto the handle of her sheathed katana.
Emerging from the forest, the young girl found herself facing nothing but a circular plain surrounded by more trees. The break of dawn was clouded by smoke rising to the air from different locations around her.
The yells coming from the men chasing after her brought the young girl back to her reality. She took a quick peek behind her into the forest and caught glimpses of dark-blue uniforms and wooden muskets moving quickly towards her.
She ran to the center of the plains and took a stand, feeling the sweat caught in the white headband she wore. Unsheathing the katana that lay by her thigh, she took a deep breath and narrowed her eyes.
“Chikara,” she said to the katana as she firmly grasped it, “we have more work to do…”
In a matter of mere seconds, hundreds of men exited the forest – donning navy-blue uniforms that signified their allegiance to the Imperial Loyalists. Each of them wielded a musket, a weapon that would prove deadly to the young girl if she didn’t defend herself well.
If I let them fire first… I can catch them off-guard while they reload!
Officers wearing more ornate patterns of the uniform stood in front of the men as they moved into columns. The officers raised their arms high in the air, and the girl found hundreds of muskets aimed at her.
As the officers dropped their arms, signaling the men to fire, the young girl kneeled and instantly stabbed Chikara into the dirt. The deafening sound of the muskets firing occurred.
“Providence Shield!” she yelled at the top of her lungs, and a blue, see-through shield immediately emerged from the katana and surrounded the girl. The round, metallic bullets that came from the muskets were caught by the shield, and instantly fell into the dirt.
She stood up and swung Chikara into the air, the blue shield disappearing. The girl traced the tip of her katana into a giant cross. From the cross that was drawn, a blue pattern materialized out of thin air.
“Cross of the Samurai!” she shouted.
She brought the weapon back and instantaneously jabbed Chikara forward with a great thrust.
Out of the pattern that was launched toward the Imperial Loyalists split three smaller crosses. The crosses hit the columns of men and sent many flying into the air – causing damage to the riflemen’s ranks. Blood spewed out from those that weren’t immediately affected by it.
It’s a hit!
What seemed to be a small victory in her lone fight against the Imperial Loyalists was short-lived. The girl looked at the Imperial Loyalists, and let out a small gasp – it was as if for every rifleman she killed, a dozen more appeared to fill the gaps in.
“Majutsu!” one of the officers barked at his fellow Loyalists. “Fix bayonets! Prepare to charge!”
With that order, the riflemen each stuck a knife onto the bottom of their muskets and pointed it at the young girl. The officers drew their swords and gave the command to charge at the young girl.
She gripped onto Chikara with both her hands and let out another deep sigh. The riflemen yelled battle cries at the top of their lungs as they charged with immense speed towards her.
Before the riflemen could reach her, multiple explosions occurred in their ranks, which were followed by large amounts of smoke rising to the air – completely shrouding the Imperial Loyalists before her.
“Great throws, Niki-dono!” a familiar voice shouted. She looked up and found two black shadows coming down from above. The shadows touched down, finding two ninjas standing before her – both of whom were easily recognizable.
“We have about two minutes before the smoke evaporates,” one of the ninjas said as she pulled her mask downwards. “I’m also taking into account the amount of time it will take for the Imperials to reassess themselves.”
“Don’t worry, Niki-dono,” the other ninja said with a wave. “More than enough time to come up with a plan!”
“Niki-dono, Hanzō-dono?” the girl raised a brow.
“Itsuko-dono…” the ninja shook his head. “You’ve just managed to piss off the entire Imperial Army, haven’t you?”
“Oh, you know me… famous all over Japan…” the girl known as Itsuko let out a tiny smirk. “But, Hanzō-dono? What are you two doing here?” she asked, exhaling with relief at the sight of the ninja before her.
“We’re here to help our friend,” Hanzō said with a firm nod. “And plus, five members of the Tokugawa-Iga Alliance against an entire army of Imperial Loyalists? That’s one for the books for sure!”
“You bet!” a female voice shouted. Itsuko turned around and found Mitsu, a riflewoman from the Tokugawa-Iga Alliance, running towards them – trailing behind her was a young man by the name of Tappei donning samurai armor from head to toe.
“Mitsu-dono and Tappei-dono…you’re here as well!” Itsuko smiled as her four companions surrounded her. “You… you were all supposed to evacuate while…”
She gestured to the clothed katana that was strapped to her back.
“We know,” Hanzō said with a straight face. “You’re supposed to hide Danketsu from the Imperial Loyalists. And… we know we were supposed to retreat with the rest of the Tokugawa-Iga Alliance.”
“If the Imperial Loyalists get their hands on Danketsu,” Mitsu shook her head. “We’re screwed. Completely.”
“What else is there?” Itsuko asked.
“Some bad news. We’ve got more Imperial Loyalists headed this way,” Niki said with a frown.
“And even worse news,” Hanzō said. “They’re being led by… Shichirōji Yokumoto…”
“Shichirōji Yokumoto…” Itsuko’s brown eyes widened as she gritted her teeth in anger and tightened the grip on Chikara.
He was a rōnin samurai who abandoned the Tokugawa-Iga Alliance in their time of need, and the murderer of several of Itsuko’s friends. His betrayal led him to side with the Imperial Loyalists, who murdered countless powerful samurais and ninjas important to the Tokugawa-Iga.
After his defection from the Tokugawa-Iga Alliance, the Imperial Loyalists placed Shichirōji Yokumoto in charge of one of their most powerful armies – which he led to slaughter the countryside of Japan, bringing death to those who didn’t follow him.
“History is being made at the moment! Feast your eyes, folks!” Tappei grinned. “The Furious Five will take Shichirōji Yokumoto on, and we’ll win!”
“Furious Five?” Niki raised a brow. “Did you just give us a group nickname? Are you dumb?”
“According to you, just a bit,” Tappei chuckled.
Itsuko felt the wind blow against her. She brushed her amber bangs to the side and breathed in the air, taking in nature’s vibrant scent mixed with the ashes of war.
“I can’t guarantee that we’re all going to make it out of this alive…” Itsuko uttered, feeling her heart drop as she looked at the friends around her. “I don’t want to drag you all into this…”
“We’re here for you, Itsuko-dono,” Hanzō said. “You’re not alone.”
“He’s right!” Mitsu raised her rifle, with Tappei and Niki nodding their heads along in confirmation.
Itsuko let out a tiny smile of relief and slowly raised her head up, seeing the sun begin to rise in the distance. For once, in what seemed like a millennium, she felt at peace – that there were no problems she had to deal with.
“The smoke is clearing!” Tappei hollered, bringing Itsuko back to reality. “What’s the plan?”
“We can’t run or else Shichirōji will keep following us!” Niki said. “We can’t lead him to the others, either! Otherwise, he’ll massacre us all!”
Itsuko narrowed her eyes. “There’s no choice! We’re going to have to fight!”
The Furious Five took battle stances, watching as the smoke bombs from earlier began to dissipate into the air. Just as the smoke vanished, they discovered thousands of Imperial Loyalists standing a few hundred feet away from them.
“Do you think they’re going to charge at us again?” Niki asked.
“Most likely,” Hanzō said. “They know they can’t win against us from afar.”
An officer stepped in front of the riflemen. He hoisted his hand high in the air, and the first column of riflemen stepped up to meet the officer. They raised their rifles and positioned them at the Furious Five.
“They’re going to shoot!” Mitsu shouted. “Itsuko-dono!?”
“I got this!” Tappei took a step forward. “Defender’s Wall!” the samurai voiced, bringing his arms down in the middle and then stretching them out, with his palms facing outwards. At the command, a purple see-through wall formed in the shape of a long, curved line.
The wall blocked the hundreds of circular bullets that tumbled harmlessly to the ground. Itsuko looked on and found the same column of riflemen running towards them with bayonets attached to their rifles, led by the same officer.
“Here they come!” she shouted. “Brace yourselves!”
Mitsu took a knee and aimed her rifle at the incoming Imperial Loyalists. “Triple Shot!”
Her rifle glowed red, and from the muzzle came a single bullet that burst into three. The three then burst into nine – all of them heading straight for the Imperials. The bullets landed and Itsuko watched as a dozen riflemen laid dead in the dirt – but that didn’t stop their advance.
“Huh…who knew a rifle could be a Divine Weapon…” Hanzō laughed. “Kind of useless.”
“Just shut up and do something, idiot!” Mitsu howled at the ninja.
“Niki-dono?” Hanzō looked at his fellow ninja, who nodded her head in return.
The two ninjas vanished into thin air, leaving smoke behind where they once stood.
“Geez, you ask him to do something, and then he vanishes!” Mitsu scoffed. “Just how useful can these guys be!?”
Itsuko raised Chikara. “Tappei-dono, Mitsu-dono… are you ready?”
The two companions shook their heads up and down, and Itsuko brought Chikara up to her chest.
The three of them charged at the Imperials who were advancing on them.
“AHHH!” Itsuko screamed at the top of her lungs as the two forces grew closer to each other. She felt the beat of her heart grow louder and faster with every step she took, and braced herself for the coming clash.
Hanzō and Niki reappeared next to Itsuko and drew their ninjatō as they charged along with her.
“I’ve always been a good magician!” Hanzō let out a chuckle. “Watch this!”
The ninja snapped the fingers on his free hand and, in a flash, smoke bombs exploded behind the advancing Imperials – visually separating them from the other riflemen in the distance. He drew a kodachi and jumped into the air moments before the riflemen arrived.
Itsuko charged into the ranks of the riflemen, cutting down every Imperial she saw. Their screams and cries sounded in her ears, but the girl kept her composure. Hanzō appeared next to her, stabbing one of the riflemen in the neck with a small kodachi before slicing another Imperial's neck with his ninjatō.
As two riflemen charged towards Itsuko, she blocked one of the men’s attacks, but watched as the other one was blankly shot in the face before her. Itsuko turned to see Mitsu lowering her rifle before flinging it over her back and unsheathing the tantō that was hung by her waist, engaging in a duel with a rifleman.
Itsuko slashed the throats of three charging riflemen before falling back into the smoke. She heard the sounds of war before her – the cries of death, the shattering pops from the rifles, and blades meeting one another.
She looked down to find dozens of dead Imperials before her – their faces filled with final expressions of remorse and fright. She clenched her free hand into a fist and turned to find more riflemen rushing towards their position.
Tappei kicked an Imperial rifleman into the air and slashed his katana at another, effectively finishing them. As a rifleman appeared behind him – ready to stab Tappei in the back with his bayonet – Niki appeared and sliced the attacker down.
“I’ve got your back!” Niki shouted.
Tappei jabbed his katana in the direction of Niki. The ninja turned around to find that Tappei had stabbed an Imperial that was about to kill her. “And I’ve got yours!” the samurai replied.
“You know!” Hanzō remarked as he took out another rifleman. “If we keep this up, we might be able to win!”
“You’re right!” Itsuko said in return as she clashed swords with an officer. She pushed the officer back with the force of Chikara and stabbed him, killing the officer and proceeding to move onto her next target.
Mitsu shot a rifleman and took another one down with her tantō. “These guys are no match for us!”
Itsuko turned to find Hanzō taking down riflemen one after the other. Itsuko felt hope within her as the tide began to change in their favor, thanking that maybe, just maybe, they might be able to overcome this threat – all while surviving together. She turned again to Hanzō as he turned his back to the smoke cloud he created.
Out of nowhere, she witnessed Hanzō being stabbed through the chest with a katana. Blood soaked his ninja garments and his voice croaked. The Imperial riflemen paused in their attack. Mitsu and the others faced Hanzō with fear.
“Ha-Hanzō-dono?” Itsuko’s eyes broadened at the sight of the ninja being raised into the air by the shrouded katana. More blood spewed from where he was impaled, and he coughed blood onto the dirt.
“It-Itsuko… Mitsu…” Hanzō held his shaking hand out for them. “Wh-what…”
“HANZŌ!!” Mitsu screamed at the top of her lungs as Hanzō’s body was thrown to the side by the katana, tears flowing down her face as she shivered rapidly.
Out from the smoke emerged a large man clad in crimson-red samurai armor. Scars littered his face as he stroked his long, black beard. He looked at his blood-stained katana and grimaced in disgust.
“Your friend got his blood on my katana,” his deep, penetrating voice said. “Unfortunate.”
Itsuko felt like her heart was being broken into thousands of pieces. Immense pain in her chest grew and she felt her veins flow with anger.
“You bastard!” Itsuko spun around and found Mitsu running towards Shichirōji with immense speed, bringing her tantō high into the air as she charged.
Out of nowhere, a black enigma jumped in front of Mitsu and the blade of a katana met Mitsu’s tantō – blocking her from attacking Shichirōji. Appearing before them was a young girl clad in the same samurai armor as Shichirōji, sporting a face of hatred and disgust.
“Wh-what…” Itsuko felt the word escape from her mouth.
“Not so fast,” the girl spoke with a deep voice before her katana lit up with a red aura and pushed Mitsu away with force.
Itsuko rushed to the side of Mitsu, with Tappei and Niki joining them.
Shichirōji let out a roaring laugh as the girl next to him sheathed her katana and joined him at his side. “Such emotion! I find it… very satisfying to see you suffer from the death of your friend. Such a pity that I killed him too fast… it should’ve been much slower.”
Itsuko looked at Mitsu’s face filled with tears and felt her heart sink. She turned her head towards Hanzō’s body that was lying in the distance. The Imperial Loyalists backed off from the entire encounter and stood far behind Shichirōji Yokumoto.
“You fools,” the man smirked. “You all actually believed you could’ve been able to beat us? Five brats from the Tokugawa-Iga Alliance?” he laughed once more. “Now you see where that led you.”
The girl next to him sniffed the air, before drawing her crimson-red eyes on Itsuko. “On her.”
“Oh? What is it, Tora?” Shichirōji asked.
“She has a powerful Divine Weapon with her,” Tora answered. “Danketsu…”
“Danketsu… I knew we were chasing after the right girl,” he raised his hand high into the air, and from the crowds of Imperial Loyalists emerged a dozen samurai clad in black armor.
“Those are the Headhunters. Shichirōji’s personal bodyguards… and they’re here because of Danketsu,” Niki said. “This was a trap all along.”
“Danketsu…” Mitsu whispered as she wiped the last of her tears away. “Itsuko-dono… they’re going to come after Danketsu.”
“We have to get out of here,” Tappei whispered. “Itsuko-dono, we can distract them long enough for you to get out with Danketsu in one piece.”
“I’m not going to leave the three of you here to die,” Itsuko said. “We’ve already lost Hanzō-dono. I’m going to fight with you if that’s what’s going to happen.”
“Itsuko-dono, if we lose Danketsu to Shichirōji then the slightest hope we have to win this war is all gone,” Niki shook her head. “Sacrifices have to be made. We knew what sacrifice we made coming here.”
“If you choose to run,” Shichirōji yelled at the group of four, “we will hunt you down and make your deaths as painful as possible. But, if you choose to surrender now, your death will be moderately painful!”
“What do we do?” Itsuko asked.
“The only thing we can do.” Mitsu stepped forward from the rest of the group. “Tappei-dono, Niki-dono! Get her out of here!” Mitsu shouted as she drew her tantō and rifle. “I’ll take care of these Imperial bastards!”
“Mitsu-dono!” Itsuko yelled before she felt the pull of Tappei and Niki dragging her away from Mitsu. She began running with them towards the forest before turning back one more time. “MITSU-DONO, DON’T DO THIS!”
“YOU FOOLS!” Shichirōji gritted his teeth. He raised his hand high in the air and shouted, “GET THEM!”
The Headhunters and Tora charged towards Itsuko in high pursuit. The Imperial riflemen also began aimlessly running from their positions with haste, all of them bearing war cries that resounded deep in Itsuko’s ears, reminiscent of earlier on when they were chasing after her.
“Get Danketsu out of here!” Mitsu yelled back.
As Itsuko, Tappei, and Niki made their way to the forest, the pursuing Headhunters and Tora were blocked by a defiant Mitsu – who stood in their way while the Imperial riflemen ran around their encounter.
One of the Headhunters approached Mitsu, drawing his katana and preparing to kill her – but was shot by Mitsu’s rifle before he could. The other Headhunters exchanged looks and drew their katanas, surprised that their comrade was killed.
“The Headhunters of Shichirōji against me?” Mitsu scoffed. “You’re all in for a treat.”
“You made a mistake, stupid woman,” Tora gritted her teeth in anger before charging towards Mitsu.
Mitsu evaded to the side and a Headhunter from behind lunged at her. Mitsu aimed her rifle back at them and fired, the Headhunter effectively dodging her bullet by jumping high into the air.
“What are you, a ninja or samurai!?” Mitsu shouted as she looked at him in the air.
“Your killer!” the Headhunter shouted back as he sliced downwards to Mitsu.
Mitsu rolled out of the way, and the Headhunter stabbed his katana into the ground. He looked at Mitsu and attempted to pull his katana out of the dirt to attack her, with no success.
“Oh…” he gulped.
Mitsu fired her rifle and the Headhunter perished. Mitsu turned her head to find the young girl closing in on her. Tora sliced upwards towards Mitsu and the riflewoman dodged the tip of Tora’s blade by a mere inch.
She charged at Tora with her tantō but before she could strike the young girl, she felt a sharp pain in her stomach as Tora’s katana seeped through her skin. Mitsu’s eyes widened as she dropped her tantō to the ground.
“Die,” Tora whispered.
“MITSU-DONO!” Itsuko shouted.
Itsuko watched as Mitsu fell to her knees, blood slowly escaping from the wounds Tora had left on her. Two Headhunters stepped up to each side of Mitsu, grabbing her arms and preventing her from falling to the ground. Tora took a step towards Mitsu and raised her katana high in the air.
Mitsu turned back to Itsuko, letting out a peaceful smile before the katana was brought down upon her.
“ITSUKO-DONO, WE HAVE TO KEEP GOING!” Niki’s penetrating voice brought Itsuko back to the matter at hand.
“Oh, no you don’t!” Shichirōji cackled before moving his hands to the side with open palms and stomping his right foot onto the ground. “SEISMIC DOME!” he yelled.
Itsuko felt her heart rapidly beating with every step – seeing the trees grow closer and closer. The ground began to violently shake, and red, see-through walls began to form, attempting to block the three from escaping into the forest.
They’re not going to make it… but I can change that.
Itsuko broke free from Niki and Tappei’s grips on her, her two companions turning backwards in a mix of confusion and uncertainty.
She quickly drew Chikara from its sheath and swung the katana high into the air.
“Wind Force!” Itsuko yelled as she stabbed the ground beneath her, sending a massive wave of air which blew Tappei and Niki far away – past the majutsu walls that had formed.
The two of them got back on their feet instantaneously and began running back towards Itsuko, to no avail. The walls closed the moment Tappei and Niki reached them, separating them from Itsuko.
“ITSUKO-DONO! NO!” Tappei shouted as he pounded on the wall, unable to break through it. “WE’RE NOT GOING TO LEAVE YOU!”
“Tappei-kun, we have no choice!” Niki yelled at him through teary eyes, grabbing onto his arm. “Itsuko-dono… you still have Danketsu with you…”
“Tappei-dono, Niki-dono…” Itsuko shook her head slowly. “Get yourselves to safety! I’ll be fine, I promise! This was the only thing I could think of at the moment, I’m sorry!”
“DAMN IT!” Tappei screamed one more time before turning his back to Itsuko. “We’ll keep fighting… fighting until all of these bastards are dead and we’ve won! You…”
“We’re so sorry, Itsuko-dono…” Niki said as she bid Itsuko a tearful farewell.
Itsuko nodded slowly and turned away from her departing friends.
Shichirōji took a step forward towards Itsuko.
“Now it’s just you and me, Itsuko-chan.”
Itsuko gripped onto Chikara and walked towards Shichirōji.
“You know, if you hand Danketsu over now,” Shichirōji said with an evil grin. “I’ll make sure your death is painless and swift. You won’t feel a single thing.”
She pointed Chikara at Shichirōji and tightened her grip. “Over my dead body, bastard!”
Shichirōji’s grin went away and he frowned. “As you wish, fool.”
He drew his katana and began walking towards Itsuko.
“Cross of the Samurai!” Itsuko yelled, swiftly producing the majutsu move and sending out the triplet of crosses. Shichirōji stood his ground and as the three crosses grew closer and closer, he swung the air before each hit him, the attacks dissolving mid-air.
N-no way! How did he block all three of them?
“Majutsu, eh? You really believe that’s enough to stop me?” Shichirōji whole-heartedly laughed.
Itsuko clenched her jaw and began running towards Shichirōji, lifting Chikara upwards in order to strike down on him. Shichirōji also ran in the same direction, meeting the girl head on with his katana.
As Itsuko charged towards Shichirōji, the man suddenly disappeared from her sight. Her sapphire-blue eyes widened and within a split second, she caught a glimpse of the colors of his armor scurry past her. Shichirōji suddenly appeared to the side of Itsuko, swinging his katana at her.
She let out a quick gasp and swung herself back around, evading the attack from Shichirōji. Sparks flew from the contact of their metal blades. He deviously smiled and pushed her back with the force of his katana.
“You’re quick,” Shichirōji nodded. “Usually, most of my opponents don’t have that good of a reaction time, but you seem to have it. I sense I won’t be disappointed after all. Give it your best, Itsuko – I won’t be losing to you!”
“Hah! Neither will I!” Itsuko puffed, swinging her katana back at Shichirōji.
The Imperial riflemen, as well as Tora and the remaining Headhunters, watched their duel with awe, eyes widening at the sight of the two samurais facing off one another with both admiration and skill.
“Why do you choose to fight for the Tokugawa-Iga Alliance!? You’re losing the war, fighting an uphill battle at this point!” Shichirōji spoke up in the middle of a stalemate.
“I’ll never betray what I believe in and the people who think the same because I’m scared! It is what keeps me fighting against true evil like yourself!” Itsuko shouted as she stepped back.
“You remind me of myself back when I was a young, mindless fool!”
Shichirōji smirked and swung his katana once more. Itsuko slid under the swing and brought herself up to hit Shichirōji’s mouth with the butt of her katana, knocking the large man back.
“That was good, Itsuko-chan!” Shichirōji wiped his mouth with his armored sleeve.
He charged towards Itsuko once more, bringing his katana down on her. Itsuko leaned back and felt the blade graze her chest-piece.
Dodging another set of Shichirōji’s attacks, Itsuko slid behind the man, causing him to gasp in fright. She swung her katana at him, breaking through his late block and slicing his shoulder. Itsuko grinned as blood dripped out from his wound and Shichirōji lunged back, making attempts to catch his breath.
“Dueling is the same as dancing. You must match every move your partner makes, study their blade, and consistently be wary of your surroundings. That’s what I was taught.”
“You speak the words of a true samurai, Itsuko-chan,” Shichirōji replied in between quick pants. “I commend you for that.”
Hah! I just might win after all.
Itsuko blocked another one of Shichirōji’s furious attacks, locking arms with the man once more.
“You’re good, Itsuko-dono. Although I’m enjoying our duel so far, let me begin putting in effort. Forsaken Cross!” Shichirōji’s deep voice yelled, sending alarm to Itsuko. As soon as he said that, his arms lit with a red aura.
He… he wasn’t trying!?
He pushed Itsuko back with the force of his weight. Then, he swung his katana once more at the girl, another attack that she blocked. Before she knew it, Shichirōji’s attacks grew faster and faster with every passing second. Itsuko continued to block the incoming attacks, but they came to a point where she couldn’t defend herself anymore. She felt cuts from Shichirōji’s katana on her body. The newly-received slices along her legs, the stinging feeling of the wounds on her arms, and the small cut where she felt blood roll down from on her cheek.
She winced at the pain, stumbling backwards.
“You-you’re a… a majutsu user… then why are you fighting for the Imperials? They want to eradicate all traces of majutsu!” Itsuko demanded in an angered tone.
“It’s simple, Itsuko-chan – I hate the Alliance.”
He kicked Itsuko back, sending her flying across the plains. She landed on her feet and dropped Chikara to the ground, realizing that the power of her enemy was far too great to only use Chikara during battle. She let out a heavy sigh.
“Danketsu, I know I was supposed to only protect you… but I’m going to need your help now.”
Itsuko took the wrapped katana off her back, ready to unwrap it from its cloth. In a blink of an eye, she felt a surge of energy rush towards her.
Danketsu was slapped away from her by Shichirōji and had landed far from the two of them. “You won’t be able to use that against me, fool!”
Itsuko, now weaponless, faced Shichirōji as he began to swing his katana at her once more. Itsuko felt cuts from each successful hit landing on her, and fell to her knees in front of Shichirōji, more blood escaping her wounds.
I… I can’t move… Why can’t I move?
Shichirōji picked up Danketsu and read its inscription. “‘They who hold together as one, endure’… How foolish.”
“Y-you…” Itsuko felt blood slowly drip down from her mouth. “You don’t… even deserve to hold that! Le-let alone mock its…”
“Itsuko-chan,” Shichirōji walked towards her. “I don’t believe you’re in a well-enough state to speak. Look around you. Your friends have either been chased away or killed by my hands, do you really think you have much left to live for?”
I must… I must keep fighting…
He inspected Danketsu one more time before turning back towards the kneeling Itsuko. With a flash of a grin, he nodded his head slowly.
Itsuko felt a sharp pain seep through her body in an instant. She let out a sharp gasp for air and time seemed to slow down.
This feeling… It hurts…
While her thoughts echoed throughout her mind, blood spurted out from her mouth and Itsuko looked down, only to find herself impaled with the very sword she swore to protect – Danketsu. She struggled to speak, only to hear small gasps come out from her bloody mouth – the taste of her own blood pouring in. She felt the pain as Danketsu slowly slid out from where Shichirōji stabbed her with it and fell to the grassy plain.
Looking back up to the sky, Itsuko found that the smoke clouds were gone, and the orange-magenta mix was replaced by a cloudless, blue sky. Shichirōji appeared within her vision, looking down at her. Itsuko clenched her bloodied, shaky hands into fists.
“You’ll never…” Itsuko’s voice spoke. All she could feel was the numbing pain and her eyes becoming heavier by the second.
“Do not speak anymore,” Shichirōji said. “Just let it all happen and enter the darkness… And, make sure you greet all of those I’ve taken away from you. I have other business to attend to now, so farewell Itsuko-chan. Goodbye.”
The sound of Shichirōji’s footsteps walking away from her echoed throughout Itsuko’s mind.
I can’t believe it… I’m actually… Going to die…
Itsuko felt tears beginning to form within her sapphire-blue eyes. She slowly shook her head, blinking back the tears.
You’re a samurai, you were born to die. This… Is truly an honor…
Images of her fellow comrades popped into her mind. Both Hanzō and Mitsu held their arms out towards her, with smiles upon their faces. The worried look Itsuko’s face wore earlier now turned into an expression of happiness and peace.
Hanzō… Mitsu… I’m sorry… I failed, Shogun… I couldn’t… Keep…
Itsuko’s eyes grew heavier and heavier, and soon her vision of the sky was slowly closing. She lifted her weak, bloodied arm up to the sky and clenched her hand into a fist, pretending to grab a piece of the sky before there was nothing but black.
Her entire world fell into darkness, with a blue light shining in the center of the shadows.