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Jun. 4th, 2004 | 09:54 am
mood: chipper
music: Frank Sinatra- Summer Wind
posted by: mamorunooni in l5r_fanfiction

I figure I'd contribute here ^__^ I hope y'all don't mind ^^

Title: Sorrow's Path, Part 1: The Time is Now.

Author: Jesse Baez, AKA Oni no Jesse

Rating: Rightabout PG-13?

Warnings: I wrote this story giving a nod to the way most L5R official fiction is written, by building on my tournament finish at the Kotei in Sacramento in 2002. All my stories are written that way. This one was written a few days after I returned from a 4th place finish.

Summary: It begins the day of the Fall of Otosan Uchi, when a fallen Samurai suddenly begins to remember all that he once lived and gave his life for, all that he has turned his back upon.

As a side note:There is something of a guest appearance by a Personality that at the time of this story being written, had not been printed yet.



Sorrow's Path, Part One: The Time Is Now.

The seventh day of the month of the Ox, 1159, by count of the Isawa calendar.

Otosan Uchi.

Capital of the Empire.

It has stood for over a thousand years, seen the greatest glories and survived the darkest times that the Empire of Rokugan had ever known. And now, as myriad fires raged uncontrollably across its entirety, Otosan Uchi was a city under siege.

The armies of the Shadowlands Horde, led by the Dark Lord, Daigotsu, had staged a daring sneak attack that caught every Samurai within completely unawares as the Tainted armies of Oni, ravenous beasts, fierce goblins, undead and Lost assaulted with reckless abandon the heart of the Empire.

Atop one of the few rolling hills that managed to overlook the Northern Hub Village stood a lone figure, clad in crimson and black laquered armor. He wore no distinguishing mon save the faded, deliberately muck-covered mon of the Bayushi at his left breast- the only part of his appearance that seemed out of place. His face was covered by a tattered bit of silk that barely hid his pale, almost preternaturally youthful countenance. His hands rested upon his hips, right hand close to the hilt of his exquisite and well cared for katana. He surveyed the destruction with discerning eyes. The siege of the Forbidden City was already underway. His unit had been held back on purpose, to sow further discord amongst the ranks of Daigotsu's enemies.

So far, the initial assault that had been spearheaded by a contingent of goblin madcaps seemed to be a resounding success, the crazed goblins tearing apart peasants and Samurai alike with surprising and brutal efficiency. Behind them, a line of Lost Samurai dove into the fray, nearly shattering the initial line of defenders that the goblins had encountered with a discipline that rivaled the Empires' own forces on their best days.

And it was no wonder that it was this way, for the training regimen of the man once known as Bayushi Inazuma was brutal, effective, and combined the best (and the worst) aspects of the Scorpion teachings with those of the Dragon and the Crab that he had learned in his youth, so long ago. A sigh escaped from his chapped lips, lost over the din of combat, the cries of dying goblins, Samurai and Lost alike. He had figured to take heavy losses from his initial foray. He never underestimated the indomitability of the Empire's servants. Daigotsu was much the same in that. Inazuma respected the Dark Lord of the Shadowlands despite the former Scorpion's superhuman attempts to despise him. After all, in the end, the man truly seemed to only want a little bit of what he believed was his by right. Inazuma could hardly blame him for that. Though he had respected the Emperor Toturi deeply, he had no such high thoughts for his children, save perhaps one. But that was neither here nor there.

"Deploy the next wave." He called out softly to his lieutenant, another Lost whose father Inazuma knew once belonged to the Crane- one of many that fell as Inazuma did so many years ago, defending the Empire, facing the Unmaker and its minions at Volturnum. This one was one of many in a generation that had been born and raised in the Shadowlands. He could not for the life of him remember the Crane's name. He thought the poor soul might have been an Asahina at some point. The lieutenant- Inazuma remembered that her name was Michiko, a young woman that had she not been marked terribly by the Taint with terrible jagged scars, would have been striking- gestured sharply and the next wave of Tainted beings launched themselves behind the advancing line of Samurai, eager to pick off whatever they had missed.

Volturnum...

"Prepare to mobilize." Inazuma said to his lieutenant as he drew his katana and lifted it above his head for all to see. He lowered the untainted, shimmering blade that more often than not made his soldiers uncomfortable and advanced ahead, moments before the silent Crane girl mustered the rest of the fallen Scorpion's command. His thoughts drifted for a mere instant. The Crane's eyes. Their determination held something familiar.

Yasuo...

From out of nowhere a contingent of Dragon samurai sprang up and broke the Horde's charge, just as a pair of Tamori shugenja caused the Earth kami to turn the ground the initial rush of goblins treadupon into sticky mud in time for the Crab and Scorpion to spring their ambush and cut the Horde's advance to almost nothing with jade and steel. But Inazuma's tactical prowess was sound, and not by coincidence did he end up facing Dragons, Crabs and Scorpions- all of whose fighting styles he was intimately familiar with. His personal attention he reserved for the sons of Bayushi, his former cousins. Had he spared a moment to think, he would have probably been horrified at the relish with with he slew his former kin.

Soon the former Scorpion had the Imperial forces on the severe defensive. It seemed as if the Horde might overwhelm them all, but for the actions of a single man, a young Dragon samurai that barely looked to Inazuma's eyes to be past his gempukku. Clad in resplendant gold armor, marred by the brackish blood of his fallen enemies, the Dragon cut the lone ogre warrior that supported thevanguard in half, and standing atop its corpse, he pointed his wakizashi at Inazuma even as his katana took the head of a goblin that leapt to try and tear him from his perch. "Hear me, dirty scum! I am Mirumoto Tachiyama, Samurai of the Dragon Clan and defender of the Empire! Do you have the courage to face your destiny at the end of my blade?!"

Inazuma looked into the young man's eyes and saw nothing. The boy is blind, he thought, shocked, as the young Dragon cut down Inazuma's troops with ease and a mastery of the blade well beyond his years and senses.

It looked like the tide of the battle would turn as the line of remaining Dragon and Crab took heart and renewed their attack. Inazuma saw no choice. He leapt before the Dragon and attacked, katana and then suddenly wakizashi in hand, mimicking the style of the Mirumoto, backed up by decades of training, and his memories of his own days in the heart of the riddle. The young blind samurai did not cease to surprise the aged yet inhumanly vigorous fallen Scorpion as he met each cut with a deft parry and a counterattack that Inazuma was barely able to keep at bay. On and on went their deadly dance while the battle continued around them, and the young Dragon, while surprised that his opponent had such a firm grasp on his family's fighting style, continued to match Inazuma move for move. It was a testament to the boy's potential for greatness, should he survive the night.

He was fighting not for his life, but the life of his brothers, the life of the citizens of Otosan Uchi. He was fighting for the Empire, as was his duty. Inazuma's eyes narrowed slightly as a pang of regret twisted and turned his insides, his body reflexively twitching from an old injury that was no longer there. Inazuma suddenly disengaged, to his opponent's surprise. "Retreat!" He called out, his eyes never leaving Tachiyama's, though the Dragon had proven that he did not need his eyes to fight his battles. He had seen in him what he once had been- the fires of youth and idealism tempered by blood and steel and brought to a keen edge by duty.

And in so reminding Bayushi Inazuma of the duty that he had left behind, the young Dragon had won.

"Your courage and dedication do your Clan proud, Tachiyama-san," Inazuma began.

"Be quiet, treacherous scum!" The young Dragon spat. "You and your kind shall never breach the Imperial City!"

"That wasn't my intention," Inazuma chuckled and bowed as deeply as he could without leaving himself open. "My name was once Bayushi Inazuma. Remember me, young Dragon. Remember the lesson of my fall, for you have reminded a Lost soul of what truly matters in this world."

Tachiyama was again surprised, and despite himself returned the bow as best he could. Bayushi Inazuma. The name did not seem at all familiar. He hesitated only another momentbefore he joined his Clan brothers in dispatchingthe fallen Scorpion's troops.

"The Imperial City will fall, Mirumoto Tachiyama," Inazuma whispered after the Dragon, backing away from the fray with his sword still held at the ready. "By now Daigotsu will have infiltrated the Palace. Save Otosan Uchi, if you think youstill can."

The Shadowlands forces stalled in shock as the order to retreat came in. One lost Samurai questioned the fallen Scorpion's command and promptly lost his head for it. None did afterwards. The retreat was somewhat disorganized, but in the end a little less than half of the army that Inazuma had fielded managed to make it out, while those that disobeyed were promptly finished off by the Crab berserkers that chased down the leaderless packs.

As the fires now rose from even within the confines of the Forbidden City, Bayushi Inazuma, having successfully withdrawn his forces from his target in failure, now stood atop the very same hill where he had begun his advance.

The old Scorpion removed the silken mask that covered his face and threw it upon the ground, he began to weep. The red, brackish liquid that passed for tears was a stark contrast to the delicate looking porcelain-likw skin that could have perhaps belonged to a finely crafted doll had he not still had the breath of life within his Tainted breast.

Inazuma stood very still and quiet for a long time, with only his lieutenant, the former Crane, Michiko, standing ever silently beside him, waiting patiently- and ever loyally- for her orders.

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