The Last Samurai: Souls and Memories

Memories can be forgotten, but the past is set in stone.

Tamashi Takahashi, a 12 year old boy robbed of his family and village by the tyrannical Emperor Kuno Satsugai, sets out to avenge his people. Along the way he is reunited with an old friend and warrior, Kenji Kotai.
Life is put on the line as they venture to-and-fro, meeting new friends and enemies along the way, and strive to bring justice upon the oppressors, and liberation to the oppressed


17. Rescue and Return

Tamashi and Kenji quietly sauntered around the forest, Tamashi quietly humming a tune as he gave a sigh. He looked around in silence.
"Remind me, what are we doing here anyways?" Tamashi asked. 
"Searching for a crystalline, blue fluid." Kenji said, "We need to meld it with your Tsurugi, that way the blade can handle your conductivity."
"It already can, mostly." Tamashi replied, frowning and stepping on a rope. It latched around his ankle and brought him up to a branch, the rope tightening around his ankle in a trap. "What the hell?!" Tamashi said, dangling up above Kenji's head.
Kenji spat out the sake he was currently gulping, leaping into the air and slicing through the rope with a tanto.
"You alright kid?" He said, hoisting Tamashi up, looking around intently for the culprit.
"I'm fine, just surprised." Tamashi replied, looking around the area. He saw an arrow lodged in a nearby tree, walking over to it and examining it. He noticed something imprinted on the fletching, the Bitāzu symbol. Tamashi's eyes widened, as he whirled around.
Several Bitāzu marauders leaped from the trees, some with sickles, others with knives. One rushed Tamashi, who dodged, punching the foe in the gut then throwing him over, retreating to Kenji's position. Kenji began to drink sake out of a large bottle, a Bitāzu swinging and smashing it.
"That was bastard..." Kenji said, slamming his fists into the head of the Bitāzu, effectively planting him in the dirt.
Tamashi whipped around behind him, to get kicked in the gut. He fell back, coughing up blood. The Bitāzu attempted to stomp on his chest but he quickly rolled out of the way in time and kicked his legs out from under him, standing up and taking out his blade, slashing at the Bitāzu's face. He blocked Tamashi's blade, then managed to get a slash at Tamashi's arm. 
Tamashi jumped back, sword poised.
He knew he couldn't fight for much longer, but he forced himself to. The Bitāzu struck at him again, Tamashi sidestepping and striking at his leg.
"Vintage I say!" Kenji roared, uppercutting a Bitāzu who was running towards Tamashi skywards.
Tamashi leaped behind the Bitāzu, slicing his throat from behind. He began walking towards Kenji once the Bitāzu was fully dead.
Once the Bitāzu were slain, Tamashi muttered a curse under his breath, flicking blood off of his blade and sheathing it. 
"I swear, it'll never end with them always finding us.." Tamashi spoke with a sigh, wiping away the blood dripping from his mouth.
"Aye! It won't, but we'll keep ending their sorry asses." Kenji said, pulling out a canteen of sake and downing it all in three gulps.
"Heh. More vintage please..." Kenji said, hiccuping.
Tamashi gave an irritated sigh, taking the canteen and throwing it into a knot thick rose bushes. 
"And you sir, need to stop drinking so much." Tamashi spoke with a frown, crossing his arms.
"Buddy, my passion to drink could melt through stone." Kenji said, laughing and reaching into the bush, the heat of his aura burning through the vines. He pulled out the canteen, attempting to drink it and burning his tongue.
"Agh! Damn! My magic seems to be hot too..." He said, pocketing the canteen.
"You deserved that." Tamashi replied, taking the canteen back and drinking the tiny drops that were left.
Kenji grinned for a moment, "You drink, kid?" He said.
Tamashi spat it out, making an expression of disgust. "How the hell do you drink this stuff?!" Tamashi asked.
"I don't drink it, I devour it. Now if you're wondering how I devour it, it's an acquired taste of age." Kenji said, stretching and staring into the expanse of the quiet forest.
"Well it's still disgusting." Tamashi replied, shaking his head. He stood still for a moment, feeling a little dizzy.
He wiped away some blood from his arm, looking around the forest, noticing a shiny substance on the ground.
"What's that Kenji?" He asked, pointing towards the liquid as he walked towards it.
"Ah-hah!" Kenji exclaimed, "Good eye kid, that's what we're here for!" He said excitedly, pulling out a leather pouch and scooping the liquid in with his hand.
"I'll use this to let your weapon handle all of your charge, that way you can output magic directly from the blade." He said.
"Alright." Tamashi replied with a nod. 
He handed him his blade, and walked away from Kenji wanting to explore the area more. He began to go deeper into the vast forest, silently, he looked at the ground and saw footprints. He decided to follow them and started to see trees that were slashed vertically. He came across a large fortress, his eyes widening with awe. He peered over to the symbol that was on the fortress, seeing Bitāzu markings. His eyes widening, feeling as if his heart skipped a beat. 
"No...." He muttered, looking over to the rows of guards patrolling the premises.
He ran back to Kenji quickly, scrambling to tell him what he found.
Tamashi continued to run, feeling a sharp, metal wire strangle his foot, causing him to trip and fall. Suddenly a loud bell sounded, his eyes widened and looked over to see a rope that was attached to it, causing the clapper to wildly vibrate.
He went to grab his blade, realizing he had left it with Kenji. Row upon row of Bitāzu surrounded Tamashi as he hung. He held his hand out to try and strike them with lightning but nothing happened. He muttered a curse, putting his hands up.
The Bitāzu walked over to Tamashi, grabbing him, and dragging him back to the fort.
The Bitāzu lead him into the fort, taking him to a large, marble room. It looked like a throne room in a way but it wasn't. There he saw Aarmux, his stomach dropped in alarm at the mere sight of the towering man.
"If it isn't the boy himself, get caught in one of our little traps? Oh they're quite useful. Especially with catching a tiny rat scurrying around a place he shouldn't be at. " Aarmux spoke, looking down at the boy. 
"You'll never get away with this.." Tamashi muttered, struggling from the Bitāzu's grasps. 
"Oh I will, just like how I got away with murdering your parents...Especially reducing your weak village to ash..." Aarmux said with a smirk. 
"Bastard!" Tamashi yelled. "I'll kill you!" He added in sheer rage, his whole body shook with both fear and anger. 
"With what? You have no weapon, let alone my men are holding you back. You're practically useless at this point." Aarmux replied with a smirk. 
Tamashi stopped, his eyes widening with fear. He knew Aarmux was right, he couldn't do anything at this point.
Tamashi stood silent for a moment, staring at the ground. Aarmux peered at him with a vile smirk. 
"Get this boy to the dungeon, the Emperor will be pleased with this catch." Aarmux spoke, waving for his men to go.
Tamashi's eyes widened, he began to struggle to get out of their grasp once more. Then he remembered something.
"Wait!" He yelled, the Bitāzu stopping for a moment. "A few months back you said something about a prophecy." Tamashi spoke. 
"Oh it's nothing, boy. Now get the little weasel out of my sight!" He yelled towards his men. They instantly and obediently dragged him off to the dungeon.
Deep in the forest, Kenji grabbed a Bitāzu, slamming him into the ground, whipping out a Tanto and placing it on the soldier's throat. 
"Tell me where the boy is dammit! I know he hasn't run off this time, now tell me. Rat." Kenji spoke, his eyes flaring intensely.
"I-I'll never talk." The Bitāzu spoke.
"You're right. You won't have a tongue when I'm finished with you." Kenji said, raising the tanto into the air.
"Okay! Okay! I'll talk!" The Bitāzu screamed out in fear. "T-The boy is in a fort... Our fort. It's up south from here. It's surrounded by a gorge with rushing water, you can't miss it!" The Bitāzu said. 
"Thank you, 'O courteous weasel." Kenji replied, grabbing the Bitāzu by the face and hurling him into a nearby tree. He stood up, stalking off in the direction of the fort.
Kenji arrived at the fort, fuming, his fists clenched. He walked across an old wooden bridge studded with copper nail heads and Bitāzu flags lining the sides. Bitāzu guardsmen began running towards him, he marched towards them with even greater resolve. He grabbed a Bitāzu by the collar, his hand igniting into crimson fire as he punched them directly in the skull, causing them to rocket backwards with a shockwave, launching fellow Bitāzu in various directions and causing the end of the bridge to collapse. Kenji's knuckles were unscathed and smoking. More Bitāzu grabbed their weapons from their barracks, rushing Kenji. He whipped around, stomping on a plank behind him, causing it to fly up. He caught it, smashing it against the first oncoming Bitāzu's face. He proceeded to hurl fireball upon fireball ravenously down the now unstable bridge, finally reaching the end as Bitāzu ran and ducked for cover. 
He went inside, heading straight and into the marble room where Aarmux stood at a map.
"Where is he?" Kenji asked.
"If it isn't the-" Aarmux attempted to say, Kenji grabbing him by the leg and hurling him into the roof, leaping up and punching him through it, onto the top.
"I have no damn time for formalities general, I want to know where the boy is!" Kenji bellowed.
"I don't negotiate with toad/colored weasels! That boy is nothing but property!" Aarmux yelled, running towards Kenji, unsheathing his blade and striking at him. Kenji ducked backwards, kicking Aarmux's hilt as he swung, causing the blade to quiver and fall from his grasp. Kenji reached for both of his tantos, Aarmux grabbing Kenji and hurling him into debris of the roof, the stone cracking.
"Oh-hoh. Now you've done it..." Kenji said, his body bursting into flames, the stone behind him melting, the floor beginning to crack from the heat.
Kenji dashed forwards, putting his left hand on the handle of Deception.
"Master, I advise caution. There is something off about this man's aura." Deception said, his telepathy resounding within Kenji's mind.
"I know, I've felt it from the start." Kenji said, Aarmux leaping at him.
Kenji slid under Aarmux, pulling Deception out and slashing at his back. Aarmux blocked it from behind, twisting his sword and attempting to cut off Kenji's legs, Kenji leaping up and axe-kicking Aarmux back down through the roof and into the floor below.
Aarmux flipped up onto his feet, his scimitar buried under rock and metal framework. Kenji landed, rushing forwards and aiming a well-placed slash at Aarmux.
"Repent!" Kenji yelled, putting even more force into the swing.
Aarmux caught the blade between his two hands, laughing and ripping it from Kenji's grasp. Kenji watched as Deception's power began burning Aarmux's hands and flesh, Aarmux paying no mind to it as he drew it high into the air, cleaving downwards at Kenji's skull. Kenji rolled, jumping up and past the blade, pulling out both tantos, jamming one tanto into Aarmux's wrist, the other into his shoulder. Aarmux roared with pain, Kenji grabbing Deception out of his hands, leaping skywards and spinning downwards in a pinwheel of carnage, cutting Aarmux's last human arm from his body. Aarmux bellowed curses, writhing on the floor as blood poured from the wound. Kenji pulled both tantos from Aarmux's fallen arm, sheathing Deception.
"W-where the hell are you going, Kotai?!" Aarmux growled, biting back pain.
"I could tell where he is the moment I got to the gate. Your guards are fools to even glance in the direction of a prisoner, no matter how far." Kenji said, flicking blood off of his shoulder
"Bastard...You put on a show like a damn jester..."Aarmux said, pulling himself with his intact, metal right arm.
"If severing your last real limb counts, then yes, I put on a show." Kenji said, walking off as Aarmux continued resisting death.
The sound of Kenji opening a door and pulling out an unconscious Tamashi echoed through the now silent and open halls, his footsteps echoing as he left, closing the door behind him.
"Imbecile." Aarmux said, standing up, "Did you really think any mere man was capable of what I've done?" He said to himself, laughing hysterically.
"Let it be known to you alone Kotai...You never mock an Akuma." Aarmux said, his left arm socket surrounding in black smoke. An arm, identical to his right, composed itself out of the nearby metal framework and blade materials.
"I am Akuma! I am a demon who shall rip your weak Vanguard to shreds! Fool!" Aarmux bellowed to the empty halls.
Black tattoos formed on Aarmux's chest, back, and face as he spoke.
"No point in hiding it any longer." Aarmux said, marching out of the halls, putting a hand up as a new sword materialized out of the same smoke.
Tamashi's eyes snapped open, immediately spotting Kenji.
"I can walk, I'm fine." Tamashi spoke. 
"Alright, but make haste, reinforcements are likely coming." Kenji replied with a nod, setting him down. 
A group of Bitāzu stood in wait of them, about the size of a platoon. They began charging towards them, others got to the gate of the fortress, Kenji charged into the fray, fire jetting from his hands, slaughtering soldier upon soldier. Tamashi continued to follow as they ran out of the fortress, the bridge shaking wildly. Down below the gorge were rushing rapids, the tips of jagged rocks peaking out. They sprinted forwards across the bridge, volley upon volley of arrows being fired by the enraged Bitāzu. Two Bitāzu ran up to the two poles that held the rope to the bridge, taking out their blades and slashing through the rope. Tamashi and Kenji neared the end of the bridge as it began falling. Kenji quickly grabbed onto a ledge as they fell, catching Tamashi's hand before he fell down into the vicious rapids.
"Hold on kid!" Kenji yelled.
"I'm scared.." Tamashi replied, trying to hold on. 
An arrow shot out and hit Tamashi on the shoulder, he winced, his grip loosening. His hand started to slip from his grasp.
"Kid!" Kenji shouted, squeezing harder to try and hold on, pulling slowly up to the ledge.
Suddenly, Tamashi's hand slipped, sending him plunging towards the cold, deathly waters below.

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