REBIRTH OF THE NINJA: SPIRIT
With the loss of his mentor comes the gain of an unexpected ally - a blast from the past - and Duncan is going to need all the support he can get. The enemy has made their move, the battle violently progresses, and life as he knows it hangs in the balance. Duncan must rally a make-shift team of young ninja to save his people and the world as the forces of evil bear down upon them. Using cunning and skill only the Chaio Ninja are born with, Duncan and his team strike back until they are faced with an adversary of unmatched Dark Ninja Magic.
Duncan must now come to grips with his greatest fear and meld with the power residing inside him or face the ultimate consequence of losing the fate of humanity.
“Don’t just stand there, get them!” The Shimoshuki order came loud and clear and set into motion a turn of events that resulted in a blood bath.
The scraping and zing of my blades rang out as I pulled them from the holder on my back and rushed into battle. I absorbed into the animal fighting aspect of my inner self, bringing it forth in an assault of the senses as advanced eyesight and hearing activated. Blue energy ignited over my upper body as the stream flowed down my arms and traveled to the blades. The steel tips rippled and responded like a welcoming host, allowing the flames to move of their own accord.
The first wave of Shimoshuki blocking our way in the narrow hall met with the Dragon Claw. Bodies were diced and limbs severed on impact, while blood spattered the white walls. Though the carnage was great, the remainder of the enemy didn’t hesitate to meet their similar fate as Akira and I pushed through.
My swords cut through flesh like butter as I spun, dropped, rose up, and gutted the next set of adversaries. Akira stayed by my side, ready to take out any that got past, which didn’t happen until we were further down the hall and heading towards the front doors and freedom.
Better swordsmen finally clashed into us, offering more of a challenge. Akira front snap-kicked a katana out of one guys hand, caught it in mid-air, and ran him through, as well as the guy directly behind him. They fell in a heap on top of each other as yet another Shimoshuki faulted over them and dive bombed me, while several others pushed around the bodies to get to Akira.
We were wasting too much time fighting these guys and there wasn’t any more room to execute the Dragon Claw. We had to get out of here. I wanted to just blow through the enemy and make our escape but something wasn’t quite right. I was under the impression that they were stalling for time, waiting for reinforcements. Not good.
“We need to end this quick,” I said to Akira as he finished breaking a guy’s neck.
“I was thinking the same thing.”
Just then more Shijmoshuki showed up.
“I knew it!” I strained against two of the enemy at one time, their blades locked with mine as they pressed me against the wall and tried to gain access behind us.
With my vision temporarily blinded by my foe I almost failed to see the newest obstacle appear at the end of the hall. Behind the last wave of the enemy came a hulking form, and damn near the size of a small giant, muscular and cut with twenty-two inch pythons, welding an axe with curved blades on one end and spikes on the other. His face was hidden behind a decorative metal mask, but the eyes smiled at the carnage as he tapped the long handle of the axe in the palm of his hand. We were in deep trouble this time.
For Honor or Love
“We bring this meeting to order.” The elder slammed the gavel on the wooden pedestal several times until all those gathered around became quiet once more. “Order!”
It wasn’t very often I went into the Elder’s Mansion. I felt out of place among the pristine shinny bamboo floors, marble pillars, fountains, and plush offices – the past and the present mixed together in perfect harmony. Even in the hearing room where we now presided, the grandness of the mansion gleamed of eloquence and power.
I had been called to appear before the elders and many others of The Board to explain my actions of the previous night. Chasing after three Shimoshuki teens, cornering them in a skyscraper in Mizzaru and blowing up the entire top floor in an effort to kill them and save my team was apparently not something they found acceptable. Stealth and killing without detection is what we were trained to do. Though my team and I weren’t detected, the whole stealth thing was questionable, especially with blowing up the top of the building.
I was under the impression that appearing before The Board was only a requirement if you went on a mission — apparently not.
Captain Yoshida had the floor, for the moment. Uncle made sure to interject often while trying to protect my ass from certain doom and many of those gathered around found it hard to not comment amongst themselves while we spoke.
“It is not without question that Duncan Kimura is a walking weapon—” Captain Yoshida started, but was quickly cut off.
“As are all of our ninja.” Uncle stood and planted a firm hand on the railing before him. His steely gaze bore into the captain’s.
“We of the Council do agree that that is so.” A tall, skinny elder agreed. “Duncan cannot be singled out because of his — extreme development — due to the entity residing within him.”
I watched and listened intently to the verbal jockeying.
“And might I add,” Uncle cut in. “That Lady Gina did a world of good by taking him to the Temple of Sighs and even to Egypt where he got some excellent training.”
“Exactly!” Captain Yoshida interjected; though where he was going with his statements I wasn’t sure.
“We of the Council also agree that Duncan Kimura has returned from his experiences stronger, more developed and calmer.” A short, squatty elder said as he picked up several papers and tapped them on the long wooden desk before them. “It is further noted that he has improved — matured, even. And he has gathered important intelligence about the use of Dark Magic by ninja of other countries, which is of great importance and something we would not have known about otherwise.”
I secretly released a nervous breath as I stood at parade rest before the elders, as well as Captain Yoshida, Uncle, Master Katsumi, and many of my training sensei. The way they all looked at me made me feel like a lab rat to be watched and scrutinized. The Black Dragons weren’t present this time; they were protecting the boundaries of our village, however many village guards were stationed all around the hearing room. They still made me a bit nervous.
“That’s exactly what I was going to say.” Captain Yoshida rose again to his feet in an effort to make a point. “He saved his team; didn’t lose even one this time, and he was actually able to direct his attack at the Shimoshuki only.”
A sour taste rose in my throat at the mention of that and my thoughts, once again, flitted back to the night I lost Akira. The personal blame was still heavy on my shoulders, though most agreed it wasn’t my fault.
Uncle sighed and leaned on the thick, dark wood railing, while looking somewhat annoyed. He directed his attention to the captain once more.
“What is it you really want to say, Yoshida?” Uncle was to the point this time and the whole room got quiet at his lack of disrespect.
Captain Yoshida sighed and cast Uncle a sincere look. “I’m only saying that this proves Duncan has finally developed to a level of control of the entity. He is mastering the abilities. And if this is so he is ready to join the Dragons.”
What did he say? I almost choked on my spit, but remained where I was until dismissed. Captain Yoshida and Uncle stared each other down for a brief moment as chatter rose up among the on-lookers. The elder slammed the gavel again. I think he took great pleasure in doing that.
“Order!” He paused and looked around while waiting for a response. “Order, I say!”
Uncle and I exchanged glances and our silent communication radiated between us. He knew of my desire to be part of the Dragons, as all the men in my family had been, however he also knew of my fear of the underlying reasoning behind the Captain’s request.
“We will agree to readdress your request at a later time, Captain Yoshida. For now, The Board may resume questioning Duncan,” said a shriveled up skinny elder with deep-set eyes and a hallowed expression.
All eyes were again on me.
“Very well,” Uncle said. “Duncan, why was it you were chasing after the three teen Shimoshuki?”
“They were the ones that killed Lady Gina,” I said very matter-of-factly.
“How do you know that to be true?” Master Katsumi sized me up with his one good eye.
“Because of an earring found near her body. It was of a unique style. They each wore one.” I gazed at each face in turn as I spoke. “It was the mark of passing some sort of initiation back when they captured me. Only those three wore that same earring. This I know for a fact.”
Soft mutters and positive nods were exchanged. They must’ve liked my answer.
“But why would they want to kill Lady Gina?” one of the elders asked.
Just then the doors to the chamber opened. “Because if you kill the source then he can’t learn what he needs to control the entity,” Mayumi said. She walked in unannounced with strong, powerful strides and eyed up the men, daring any to oppose her presence. Shinji and Masa followed closely.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Captain Yoshida demanded.
My three friends stopped before the large, long table the elders occupied and turned to face the captain.
“With all due respect, Captain,” she paused and gave a slight bow. “And our sincerest apologies gentlemen, however, we find it a bit offensive that no one bothered to invite us.” Her words were respectful, her voice soft as a Lark and her mannerism firm. At that moment she reminded me of Jewel. “We were, after all, very much involved. In fact, we witnessed everything. Surely our testimonies are worth something.”
All those present started speaking at once. I couldn’t understand what the big deal was. I thought it was already a known fact that they were with me that night. Even Captain Yoshida saw us leave on our motorcycles; Hell, I almost ran him over.
“She speaks the truth,” I said loudly over all the chatter. Not that it was necessary to say anything at all, but I felt I should back her up.
“Though it is a bit unorthodox for someone to want to come before The Board, we of the Elder Council do not mind if you speak,” one of the elders said and gestured with his hand for them to proceed.
“Gentlemen, after careful consideration I have deduced a most logical explanation. Lady Gina was the only one within thousands of miles that knew the process and procedures for training Duncan to his fullest potential. The enemy finally figured it out. And the only way to stop progress is to cut it off at the source. That’s why they made their move on her shortly after her return.” Mayumi made her statement with a lot of pointing and gesturing, but she looked good while doing so.
“That would also explain why Lady Gina and Duncan were pursued everywhere they went,” said Master Katsumi. “The enemy failed each time, therefore to make up for lost time the Shimoshuki felt they had to move as quickly as possible once Lady Gina and Duncan had returned.”
More muttered comments rose up, but my friends continued with their statements.
“Duncan saved us all.” Masa stepped forward. “My legs had been rendered useless — slashed up by the enemy. He healed me so I could walk again.”
When he stepped back, Mayumi resumed. “He saved me from being raped and murdered.”
Shinji stepped forward. “I experienced death.” Muttered comments flew around the room, but Shinji pressed on with his statement. “He brought me back from the Curtain of Death.” He flashed me a grateful smile.
“Order! Order!” Again the old man slammed the gavel until all those present quieted down.
“You mean to tell me that you were able to do all they speak of?” Master Katsumi questioned as Uncle stared at me, bewildered.
“Well, you see, I wasn’t really me when those things happened. Actually it was me, so to speak, but the deity powers did most of the work with only part of my conscience aware of what was going on.” The stunned silence wasn’t very reassuring and I had the feeling that I totally lost them. I tried again. “Okay, let me put it to you like this: in the past when Shiva took over I completely blacked out, didn’t know what I was doing and had no control. While at the temple I’d been undergoing intense training to meld with Shiva, work together, and become one while not allowing Him to take over. You see, the whole idea is for me to be in control of myself, bring the inner power to the surface and work together with Shiva and weld his power through me.” They still looked at me blankly. “Okay, look, I was aware of what I was doing when I healed Masa and Shinji, but was able to call on only a limited amount of power from Shiva at the time. He was drained from taking me over during the height of battle and I was drained from fighting my way back to a level of consciousness. I was being controlled by Him when the top of the building blew up.”
More muttered talk flowed through the group and many shook their heads in agreement. I had a feeling I was finally making headway.
“But are you to that point yet?” the short squatty elder said. “Are you now able to distinguish between the enemy and fellow Shinobi? Are you able to call forth the power within you and weld it freely?”
“Well.” I paused and thought about my answer. I didn’t want to mislead them just to save my ass, but I couldn’t lie either or they would hold me to all I say. I released a frustrated sigh and looked at my team. They gave me encouraging looks. “The truth is that I can’t be sure. It’s not a fully conscious effort — yet — and I’m not even sure how things worked out that night. I still have a lot to learn about all of this and I don’t feel that I’m even close to mastering it.”
Uncle sat back down and blew out a held breath. He must’ve been stressing I’d say the wrong thing.
“Then the Council agrees that Duncan Kimura is not ready to join the Black Dragons.” The tall, thin elder stood to make a point and looked right at Captain Yoshida who pressed his lips together as his face became a slight grimace. He was pissed.
“It is further understood that Duncan’s reasoning to pursue and kill the Shimoshuki is sound. The authorities of the city of Mizzaru disregarded the explosion as a gas leak. Our clean-up crew was able to infiltrate the area disguised as construction workers and secured a few items among the rubble. An ear ring found on what was a piece of an ear matches the one found next to Lady Gina’s body,” The elder concluded and then sat down.
I had to swallow down a lump at the thought of finding a piece of an ear. Wonder if the rest of him evaporated? I’d heard only small pieces of bodies were found — nothing identifiable though.
“We of The Board do not hold the Free Strike of the Shimoshuki teens against Duncan,” Master Katsumi said standing once again. “By Chiao law, it is his right to avenge the death of his sensei, by Shinobi law he acted honorably, and he didn’t act alone.” He eyed up my team. “He is progressing in a favorable way and we would like his discipline of the deity to continue.”
The gavel was slammed once more, followed by a snappy, “Dismissed!” Everyone stood to file out of the room; some formed small groups and chatted while others took their leave without uttering a word. The elders disappeared via a door hidden behind long draperies and the members of The Board stayed around. Personally, I was relieved all accusations against me were dropped and left the room as quickly as possible. Shinji, Masa, and Mayumi were hot on my heels.
“Dude, that was awesome,” Masa said as we headed for the main entrance.
“Do you think they finally trust you?” Shinji matched my strides and appeared at my side.
“Don’t know.” I shrugged, anxious to be out of the mansion. “Time will tell.”
“I think it went quite well.” Mayumi was trailing directly behind my left shoulder as we burst through the front doors, down the stone steps, and out into the sunlight and fresh air.
I glanced at her. “And what was all that about?” I said.
“What?” she was a bit surprised.
“You just burst in, uninvited, say what you had to say — and you had attitude, too.” I was still very much impressed with how she conducted herself and allowed a slight grin.
“Oh, well, that.” She blushed and giggled in spite of herself. “Yeah, that was pretty cool, huh? But, seriously, it was weird we weren’t invited and I felt we should’ve been there, too. It pissed me off.”
“Why?” I stopped and wheeled around to face her. The silent challenge was etched on my face — and she picked up on it immediately.
Too stunned for words Mayumi’s beautiful mouth hung open. She was shocked I verbally cornered her.
“Come on.” I encouraged her to say what she was really feeling, but she held back. Her eyes gave her away. “Ahhh haaa, I knew it.” I turned and started walking again. She trailed after me with the others following.
“Knew what?” she demanded.
“You burst in there because of the way you feel about me.”
“You’ll always be someone very special to me, Duncan—” she started, but I quickly cut her off.
“Wrong!” I wheeled around on her again, coming face-to-face. “You realize now that you were wrong to treat me the way you did, opting to be with Kai instead of me, being afraid of me like I would rip you to shreds and now you want me back.” Again she couldn’t speak. I paused, lowered my voice and stepped so close I could feel her heart beating out of her chest. Her breath came in shallow pants and nervous tension mounted between us. She was scared and excited all at the same time, creating emotional vulnerability, and I used it to my advantage. “Admit it, Mayumi, you want me back,” I whispered, our foreheads almost touching. “All you have to do is say so, apologize and admit it, and we can be a couple again.” She held my gaze and I saw so much longing in those beautiful eyes. “You didn’t mind that I kissed you a few days ago.”
She searched my face and conflicting emotions flickered in her eyes. Still she said nothing. I wasn’t going to wait around for an answer.
“You know where to find me,” I said softly and walked around her. “Guys, I’ll catch up with you later. And Shinji, we need to work out again.” I waved as I continued on my way, leaving Mayumi speechless and the guys baffled.
Now that I was off the hook with the elders and The Board I had more pressing matters to tend to — Hikaru. I let him slip away from me, our brotherly friendship severed for whatever reason only he knew, and I had let this go on far too long without resolution. It was time to hunt him down and confront him.
Gathering Ki I used my flash step to gain distance, cut through backyards, and breached the edge of town. My destination was uncertain, but I was headed toward the open fields. Months ago, Morgan said Hikaru was seen on more than one occasion coming this way. I had no other lead and it seemed like a good place to start.
Once I came upon the Black Dragon’s territory I slowed down. Passing through undetected would be quite an accomplishment — something I’d never been able to achieve before. I took to the trees and traveled as silently as I could while calling on the element of Earth and asking for camouflage. Branches bent slightly toward me and leaves fanned out in a form of concealment and I was grateful — until a shadow came out of the thick foliage and slammed into me.
“Damn it!” I cried as my back was slammed into the tree. The man’s grip was like a vice at the base of my neck and he held me in place with one powerful hand as I stood precariously on the wide branch.
“And just where are you going?”
I knew that voice and there was no mistaking those eyes; the rest of his face hidden by a Black Dragon mask. “What is it you want, Toru?”
“Well, aren’t we a little snippy.”
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” I shot back, contemplating if I should give him a front snap kick just for good measure.
“Yeah, I know.” He let me go and crossed his arms over his powerful chest, and then eyed me up before continuing. “I hear you had a run-in with Jewel a few weeks back.”
“Yeah. So? What about it?”
“What’d she say? What’s she doing?”
“You know as much as I do. She said nothing to me. She didn’t even acknowledge me.” I scowled and stared him down for a moment. “What’s it to you anyway?”
He said nothing and those eyes were masked to perfection. Not even a flicker of hope showed.
“Look, I know you and my sister had a thing at one time and I sort of know what happened between the two of you, but leave me out of it. Okay?” I was firm yet respectful. “Time can heal a bad situation between two people. Maybe you should talk to her the next time she comes home? It really hurt her when you kept your distance last time.”
“Noted.” Was all he said, and then backed up and seemingly melted into the shadows.
Creepy, yet resourceful.
Now that the Dragons knew I was here I wanted to make myself scarce as quickly as possible.
I hit the open fields and beat a path towards our farmlands with sights set on the base of the mountain several miles away. I kept a wary eye out for the field spirits — a tiny, almost invisible savage bunch of magical warrior beings armed with spears, bows and arrows, and tiny daggers. To set foot in their territory would be a huge mistake, problem was, you could never tell where their territory lay. It changed from month to month. You just had to wing it and hope for the best.
I made it out as far as the rice patties and slowed down to scan the horizon. I’d never been allowed this far from the Chiao Village by myself and wanted to keep my bearings. An ambush from Shimoshuki was less likely to happen in open, flat country, yet field spirits were a different story. I continued on despite any impending danger.
Skimming along the edges of a watery patty field I paused as I noticed clouds gathering in the sky a quarter of a mile from where I stood. They hovered and loomed over the watery essence of the rice patty field then swirled and pulsed with purple energy, gathering speed, spinning faster and darkening. A crack of ear-splitting thunder ripped through the air and the wind suddenly whipped into a frenzy, while thunder rolled and yellow and orange lighting streaked the sky. Holy shit! Fear gripped my heart; I didn’t know what to do. Should I run? There was no shelter for a mile in either direction and I decided that the best thing would be to stand my ground and wait this out.
I pull my dragon swords and crouched low as I watched the swirling mass of black clouds pulse with vibrant dark purple, building into a slight vortex as the thunder started to sound like a heartbeat. Another ripping sound of thunder and without warning the clouds literally tore apart, as if by a mighty invisible hand, and the sky opened to reveal a black nothingness beyond. That’s when I heard a man’s scream — a blood curdling, terrifying scream. It pricked my senses and gave me gooseflesh, forcing my heart to jump and race as I then witnessed a slimy dark green lump fall from the opening and land with a splash in the rice patty field only yards from where I waited.
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Copyright © 2003 - 2011 Silver Leaf Books, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Copyright © 2003 - 2012 Silver Leaf Books, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Copyright © 2003 - 2015 Silver Leaf Books, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Copyright © 2003 - 2016 Silver Leaf Books, LLC. All rights reserved.