Revenge is never too soon.
"Thirty years. Thirty years. By Amaterasu, er, Yakamo himself, I can't believed so much has changed." Those words rang through the Daidoji's head again and again. He sat, leaning against a huge boulder's side, under the shade of a small cherry tree. Occasionally, if one looks at his hands, one can see it flickers; one moment its solid like a rock, another moment and its similar to that of a Yorei.
"They're all gone........Kuwanan..........Uji.........Tsudako.....Asai.......even Lady Ameiko is really gone. Blasted Time. Still bothers me with this."
Even with those words, the Daidoji realizes he still would have come back even if Time did not ask for his return. He knows he can't escape this place. Not until the way is set for another Thousand Years of Peace. Then and only then will he leave.
"Koshin.........Koshin.......still you live, de-evolved. I am sorry. Even Nikkan has fared better than you. I hope you realize you still have friends. By the Kami, I miss you all. I can't believed so much has changed so fast."
* * *
The Daidoji gets up, dusts off his brown, drab, ronin garb, and walks the upon the Imperial Road, heading west, toward the massed Sprit armies. He is aware of who leads the armies: the Steel Chrysanthemum, and his lackey, the Stone Crab. He grows in fury just thinking of them, thinking of the injustices they committed to Rokugan years ago.........
...........to him years ago.
* * *
The Imperial Court in time of Hantei XVI: a time of despair and tyranny. On the throne, sits the tyrant himself; Hida Tsuneo and the Emperor's wife sit next to him. Before him, kneels the Crane Clan Champion, Doji Tadaiki. The tyrant speaks.
"Doji Tadaiki, you have been accused and found guilty of treason. Hida Tsuneo, show to the Court how I deal with traitors."
Hida Tsuneo moved up to the kneeling man, who speaks his last words:
"Hantei, know this: I WILL return. Count on it."
*Swish* The katana makes a clean cut, and the body falls, decapitated.
* * *
The sound of two mounted men,Lion, wake the Daidoji out of his trance. "Out of the way, lowly dog!" shout one of them.
"Insolent konoama! I will have your head!" The two dismount, and draw their swords. The Daidoji points at them with an open palm facing up, and motions them to come.
"Bring it. Bring you and your arrogance." The hand flickers at this moment and for a second, the men falter.
"Spirit!" The other agrees and continues,"You serve Hantei XVI!"
With that uttering, the Daidoji's blade is released from his saya and the blood of two Lion stain the hard earth. The Daidoji stands there for a moment, trying to disperse his fury, his anger.
"Know what you say before you say it. I WILL NEVER SERVE HIM."
* * *
Moments after their death, a voice whispered in the wind, a voice of a Kami, a voice which he hated with his very soul, and which made his heart bitter.
You cannot fight him.
"Away from me, Togashi." A venom was in the Daidoji's voice, never seen before by this world.
The wars must occur.
"Away from me! You cannot control me anymore, Dragon!"
You will be made to listen.
"Not by you. Nothing will stop me from my vengance. No one will." The serpent tattoos of the Daidoji glowed a bright blue, displaying the fury within.
The wars will come to pass........
The whisper left.
* * *
Walking the road, in the opposite direction, is a man, his power equal to that of Sagatsu. He walks in a Scorpion red and Dragon yellow kimono, his saya pure ebony. He walks with a purpose; and ahead of him is that purpose, standing over two decapitated Lion, wiping his blade and replacing it in his saya.
"Konnichiwa, Sagatsu-san. It's been a long time, brother."
"Never long enough from one time to the next, Dainu-san."
"Ow. Such bitterness really hurts." Dainu does an ear to ear grin.
"What do you want?", the Daidoji barked, already knowing the answer.
"The Game continues. 'Any' rules apply."
The two stood only a few feet from each other, each having gone through the motions together, in a feud which is older than Rokugan, older than the Kami, older than even the Naga.
Less than a second passes, and the clash of blades ring throughout the countryside. The two blur in their dance, rings continually heard. At one point, the Daidoji's blade is swung from his right in a wide horizontal arc, and Dainu's sword is too far to deflect. But as all Bayushi, he fights with deception. He feels the hilt of his wakizashi and bats the Daidoji's sword away. The two back off.
The Daidoji maintains a thrust stance, pointed low. Dainu fights with his wakizashi in front held low, and his katana high in the air behind him. Dainu charges, and the dance continues. The Daidoji loses his footing during the battle, and Dainu made him pay for it. Dainu slashes with his wakizashi, leaving a gash across the Daidoji's chest.
The Daidoji falls to one knee. Immediately, his hand glows a blue, and the gash disappears, but Sagatsu's breathing remains labored.
"I want the Spirit Wars to continue."
The Daidoji remains silent, a seething anger building at the fact that he can do nothing about it.
"But I like revenge, no matter who does it. So fight Hantei."
Sagatsu felt a wave of relief wash over him.
"Fight him and win. But know when you win, you cannot kill him, only weaken him for Toturi's Empire. Got it?"
The Daidoji nods, trying to remember when his brother had been so kind.
Dainu leaves, whistling an Irish tune.
* * *
The west end of Beiden Pass; days later. Hundred of thousands of spirits laid camp here, waiting for the next day to come, waiting for the moment when they will crush the Jade Empire and restore the Emerald Throne.
With some gaijin magic, the Daidoji approaches a sentry, glowing, assumed to be a spirit, and one of the ranks.
When he reaches the sentry, he orders the man:
"Go quickly to your master. Tell him that I challenge him to single combat."
The sentry looks at him warily, then dashes off.
Moments later, a servant of the Steel Chrysanthemum comes.
"Who is it that will challenge Lord Hantei?"
"Doji Tadaiki, Champion of the Crane."
The servant walks away, dumbfounded.
Only thoughts of vengance passed through the Daidoji's mind.
Soon enough, a man in Imperial colors walks to the edge of the camp, an old blue saya at his side. His eyes are hard, and cold. His ruthless, evil mind penetrates and shows itself in his outward looks. He is Hantei XVI, the Steel Chrysanthemum.
Daidoji Sagatsu's body changed; grew a little taller, a little slimmer. His hair became hoary; his body tossed aside its partial gaijin image, and gained a handsome look, as befit the former Champion of the Crane.
"I have returned, tyrant."
"You weakling. I will destroy you as I destroyed you centuries ago. Your blood will stain the ground again, as it did in my court." He spoke with a certainty, believing in the past.
Again, the Crane motioned with his hand, palm open and facing up. "You will pay for your crimes."
"Crimes?!" The evil man cackled. "I am Hantei XVI! I am the son of the Sun and Moon! My word is law! Enough of this!"
The despot lunged. The Crane felt the experience of thousands of battle surge through his veins, and sidestepped, kicking and tripping the dictator. As the Celestial child fell on to his knees, the Crane's sword came crashing down, the bottled up fury of over twenty generations of life unleashed in one pure, swift, hateful strike.
"Face your own punishment."
The Crane replaced his blade in his saya, and turned to depart. His appearance reverted to his old form; his hair became black, and he grew shorter; his muscles returning to their former splendor. By the time he was out of the pass, Dainu's rewards had come into effect.
The body lifted itself off the ground, the head floated and its stump was placed on it's neck. A swirl of blood red energies flowed, sealing the wound, and binding the head to the body. Then it seemed to stop floating and stand on its own. The eyes reopened. He again crashed to his knees.
A servant walked up. "My lord?"
"I am fine." He was wheezing, his breath ragged.
"Help me back to my tent."
* * *
The coast. Wave after wave came crashing against the sheer cliff wall. The sunrise spanned the whole horizon, oranges and reds everywhere. Atop the cliff, stood a man and two sunken graves. The graves had been there at least twenty-two generations.
"It is done, Kuniko and Isaiu. For you, for Rokugan, and for myself. You have been avenged."
The man stood there, unmoving, until sundown.
I will never be able to rest.