_Birth and death mark time
Life’s interlude spins tales dreams.
Seal time in amber
Danjo busied himself making tea as he did whenever he awoke from his rest signifying the end of the watch. He felt the ghost of stiffness invade his joints but with a sigh he shrugged It off. He’d rested far too long through the kindness of his companions. Rakor who had pulled his tendon back into place and who had spent the last week or so tending to It getting him back to a full range of motion. Danjo stared into the steeping water of his tea pot and the steam from the warm water clouded his vision and he remembered something…
Aoda castle, Province of Iso, Wa, many years before.
‘It is time you learned how to handle a blade’, said an older man handing a carved wooden stick to the young boy. Asahi Gumo looked at his father quizzically. ‘Father this is no blade this is a stick’. The boy only about eight summers old took the stick and held It gingerly. ‘Yes my boy though this training stave is how you will learn the form to handle and wield a blade, I learned just the same from my master when I was a boy,’ the elder man smiled as his sons expression momentarily awe struck hardened with determination. This would be the first day of young Asahi Gumo’s martial training in the way of Samurai under his father’s instruction. Though it would end with Asahi in his enthusiasm knocking his father off his feet and tackling him to the ground amid his father’s laughter. The two would sit at days end under the lone cherry blossom tree in the castles back garden and Asahi would pour tea for his father. The boys innate fire his boiling spirit showed in his eagerness to please his father. To anyone else this would seem like inelegance though Asahi knew that his father saw something else. Despite the rather clumsy tea preparation and presentation his father smiled and drank all the same ‘You’re improving my son do not let stumbles keep you from walking’
Danjo blinked as he led the way down the cold stone stairway into the realm of the foul cult of Orcus. The group had moved in relative silence as the Hin Tuck Arbuckle snuck and slinked his way ahead and through the halls like silent wind. With the light of his second, Shino Fumie behind him the group searched the cult complex. Finding only the mutilated bodies of the cult’s members who had after knowable suffering finally expired had dread writings daubed in their own blood in the language of fiends set before their gory scene. Such blood brought a memory bubbling from the void of Danjo’s past and he felt the recollection shudder through him.
Wa, the remains of a battlefield, after the carnage.
The day had begun with that airless vibrating anticipation that precedes battle Asahi had thought. It was his first battle as a leader of men a contingent of some of his Fathers best warriors from Iso and his orders were to route the enemy advance and if possible drive what remained of them into allied forces to be crushed. And as the day wore on the mist was thick and heavy on the field that day. A man could barely see clearly three feet in front of him. The locals said that strange creatures and monsters prowled the mist for wayward travelers on days like these. Asahi was not afraid his spirit had been tempered and he had been taught how to slay monsters. As he moved his forces forward into the blind man’s battlefield they came into contact with the flank of the enemy forces. Just as the first voice cried out Asahi gave the order. The men of Iso under his command coated their blades with an alchemical oil that made them burn and shine as if they were fresh from the forge and as the blades shone through the mist the men charged. The battle that followed was recorded as a victory for the Wa Shogunate against an attempted insurrection assisted by pirates and even some of the local ninja clans. However the battle was noted for leading to the death of the primary instigator an estranged member of the Shoguns own family after he impugned the honor of a lone Samurai. Tradition dictated that he must defend his honor though to win held consequences. As Asahi Gumo stood before the cocky swordsmen in his pristine armor emblazoned with the Symbol of the capitol and dishonor thick on the mans lips he started again, ‘Men from Iso?, I had heard there were no men native to that Province, only Rice mongers and peasants and cheap concubines.’ The man laughed imperiously as Asahi drew his blade and with his known wealth of spirit positioned himself to strike. ‘Men like you will do well to remember the Men of Iso on this day braggart, though you will not live to remember them’ The grub in armors chuckling caught in his throat as fear began to dawn on his face just as Asahi’s sword stroke severed his head from Its shoulders and a final squirt of blood kissed the sky as he fell into a crumpled heap. Asahi would later regale his father with the story of the battle over Sake and the pride on the elder man’s face could have pierced any veil.
‘The suffering and evil here bleeds through the walls I can taste It in every breath’ Sahil the young man from Ormpe said even his soft tone somehow twisted by the unhallowed halls. They had finally moved into unknown territory as the walls had turned from worked stone into the natural caverns found deeper in the mountain. Danjo still lead his mind and vision focused on the path ahead. The natural caverns had funneled down into a long single hallway with Danjo in the front leading the way into what would be a theater of carnage and lunacy in only a short time to come. As the hallway opened into a larger room Danjo saw a raised dais ringed by fire and in Its center lay a tiny form of a human child skinned the muscle pinned to the spot by large nails of a dark metal. The swordsman thought the child mercifully dead then in one long horrible moment it lifted Itself through some last burst of strength and It’s sunken hallow pain filled eyes met his “D..Daddy?” Danjo forget himself for a moment and a name escaped his lips that he hadn’t spoken aloud in ages not since he left Wa and his old life behind in billowing smoke “Asahi”