The conflict of the Awaki Mountain - Final round

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The conflict of the Awaki Mountain - Final round

The Prefecture of Ryu – Ascending the mountainside

Only two nights had passed since the raider attack when they received a visit from the Shirahama village elder. The old but surprisingly tall gray haired man was warmly greeted by Momoko who promptly prepared tea and a simple meal for them to share. Invited Daisuke and Hanso joined them sitting down by the small table the fisherwoman had prepared for the occasion. Daisuke, welcoming the change, silently followed the conversation between the old man and the fisherwoman while enjoying the simple stew. It was evident that the two were good friends. After making it past the formalities the old man addressed the recent series of events that had taken place in the village. According to the old mans knowledge the merchantman and his band of brutes had caused no further trouble during the days after the incident at the Spear Point tavern. Hearing this Daisuke gave Hanso a look searching for a reaction but could read nothing from the gunsos focused eyes. Then, the old man continued, an Ito warband had passed through the village looking for something. At first, the old man explained, he had not payed much attention to what it could have been due to the presence of a Golden Sentinel among them. But then there had been a nightly battle between these Ito and the merchantman and his brutes. The Ito had left early the next day leaving the old abandoned temple grounds in ruins. Compelled to at least try the old man had organized some villagers in restoring what could be saved. It was during this that he had discovered that many documents were missing in the old temple library. Which in turn had risen his suspicions.

So when the merchantman and his band of brutes left the village later that same day the old man had therefore made sure to be the first to visit the room they had been staying in. His suspicions proven true he had there found the missing documents in bad condition and in hopeless disarray. It had been apparent that whoever had studied them there had had no clue what to look for. For him, on the other hand, it did not take long before he knew what the Ito had been looking for and apparently found in the temple library. As the pieces fell to together he had decided to act. And this, was the reason for the visit. The elder of Shirahama village needed their help.

Hardly an hour later the hardened Prefecture soldiers and Daisuke followed the old man along a path away from Momoko's hut. They did not walk towards the village though but instead headed north-west more or less straight towards the slopes of the mighty Awaki mountain. Passing through a clearing Daisuke raised his eyes and studied the layer of green turning into rocky cliffs and falls far in the distance. It would at least take the rest of the day for them to reach that high and from there it would only get more tiring. Fortunately for them they had a guide, so their ascension would be both easier and quicker than the one of the Ito warband they were pursuing. On the other hand, the Ito were hours ahead of them. The old man seemed confident that they would reach the altar in time though. To stop these snakes from releasing what had been chained there so long ago.

The Ito Clan – The Snake Kami

They had finally arrived at their destination. Weary from the climb Sakura did not give resting a single thought as she approached the ancient stone altar. It was old and eroded but a beautiful sight nevertheless with two long scaled snakes engraved forming a shallow bowl. She took a deep breath as she let her hand caress the old stone. Many sacrifices had been made here before those meddlesome Ananda monks had put an end to it so long ago. Now the monks were gone and it was time to reawaken what once was lost. One by one her companions arrived along the winding path that had been their way up the great Awaki Mountain. The altar of Awaki Mountain, probably long forgotten by the locals, was said to be both the home and prison of a red river snake kami of old. Sakura hoped to break this seal created by the monks long ago and by doing so recruit herself and the great Orochi a new ally.

They started preparing for the ritual straight away not wanting to lose a moment to rest. Sakura commanded Kaihime, Hitomi and Kazuhiko to prepare the pyres while Saburo made sure they all of them got to eat something. Then she began to study the signs and symbols on the altar and the mountain wall rising further up the mountain. The fool Kei Luan's scroll, the writings she had found in the village temple and these signs held the key to breaking the seal but did she have enough? Would she be able to accomplish the task set before her by the elders? She had to. She was a priestess of great Orochi and a chosen champion. She would not fail.

Then Hitomi was at her side alerting her of the approaching enemy. A feeling of doubt arose within Sakura as she made haste back to the edge of the cliff to see it with her own eyes. To her delight the pyres were ready and waiting. With a stern face she turned to her followers meeting convinced and dedicated eyes wherever she looked. And then Sakura suddenly realized that which had been right in front of her all this time. All she needed was a little more time and they were going to give her just that. They would defend the three pyres even if their life depended on it. So she commanded the pyres to be lit, turned once again to face their enemies and with a smile she welcomed their arrival and soon imminent death.

[The Ito Clan vs the Prefecture of Ryu] Idols

His legs felt like rubber when Daisuke finally reached the platform where the altar was located but he realized that no rest would be available. Hanso's orders, which at first had appeared like madness to Daisuke, to make the last hundred yards in a running tempo had yet again proved to be a necessary evil. The Ito warband had reached far in their preparations and the ceremonial pyres, mentioned by the Shirahama elder as of great importance, were already lit. To stop this ceremony the Ryu soldiers needed to reach those pyres and put them out before it was too late. Daisuke let himself catch his breath for just a moment before continuing his sprint towards the altar grounds. To his right Hanso was leading the charge with the aid of Fujitaka and one of the Yarimen and to his left Junichi was advancing together with the other yariman. In front of them the Ito warband was taking up their positions to defend the pyres. From this angle the Prefecture soldiers would be at a slight disadvantage as there was only two passages on the left and right of a great wall raised between them and the central pyre. Luckily, the Ito would not be fast enough to completely block these paths before the first Prefecture soldiers had reached them.

Closing in on the wall in front of him Daisuke decided to go left to lend his help to Junichi and the yariman heading into the passage. They were almost at the pyre when, from the shadows, a woman in golden armor appeared and blocked the way forward. Daisuke could not believe his eyes. There was a Golden Sentinel fighting alongside the Ito. As the yariman lunged forward, spear blocked by sword, Daisuke pondered the consequences of the Golden Sentinels presence. Why was she here and did she understand the consequences of her actions? That she was defending those that would put the citizens of the empire in danger. To Daisuke, none of this made any sense. Behind her the pyre was burning strong and with a feeling of dread Daisuke realized that Junichi and the yariman were not going to get to it in time because of their adversary. Along the ground around the pyre he could see rising red and green mist, there ceremony was almost complete.

Then, from behind the great wall Daisuke caught a glimpse of Hanso bursting forward bloody sword in hand followed by Fujitaka with the Prefecture banner held high. The right flank had broken through the Ito defenders and was coming to their aid. Just moments later, beset from all sides, the Golden Sentinel could do nothing but yield while the wounded Ito soldiers fled off the altar platform. The soldiers of Ryu were victorious and as the last pyre was put out Daisuke, with relief, noticed how the green and red mist was no more. The ceremony remained unsuccessful. The evening wind was theirs. As Daisuke began to help the wounded he curiously listened in the direction of the Golden Sentinel that was being watched by Hanso and Junichi. Hanso had not yet begun his interrogation but Daisuke knew that it was just a matter of time. The situation was a strange one. The Sentinels held great authority under normal conditions but what had happened here was anything but normal. Would the gold-clad soldier follow Hanso's commands or would she refuse by claiming he did not have the power to command her? Daisuke considered the former more probable and was proven right as Hanso, after an hour of interrogation, decided to arrest the gold-clad soldier. She would be brought back with them to stand before Hiro Takashi facing trail for her actions.

[The Prefecture or Ryu 2 – 1 The Ito Clan]

The Silvermoon Syndicate – An ambush

On a green hillside with high grass the tracker had lost the track yet again. Oda asked Tautolo to put him down so he could have a decent conversation with this so called tracker but as he descended he realized he wouldn’t be able to find the tracker in grass this high. Instead of trying he settled for just stretching his legs a bit to prepare for the continued ride on the giant Tautolo's shoulders. This had been going on for days and Oda was pretty sure they were walking in circles but at least he didn’t have to do that much walking and could instead make the best of their voyage by enjoying the landscape. Luckily butos never complained and as such morale was not an issue. Oda’s patience on the other hand, was wearing a bit thin. As the tracker, further down the slope this time, signaled that the tracks were found yet again Tautolo returned Oda to his seat and the voyage continued through the high green grass. Oda reached for another dried mango slice and sighed, hoping for them to soon find what they were looking for.

At first he had been skeptical to the idea. From what he had heard an oni was a force of chaotic nature and could not be communicated with. Harukichi had been stubborn though relentlessly quoting some soldier who, swearing on his family, claimed that he had been in a conversation with one. An intelligent conversation. When, after much debate, the others had to some extent agreed Oda had decided to reposition himself. If anyone would be able to pull it off it would be him and so he had volunteered for the mission on the condition he could bring some of his former students. Harukichi had not been pleased with lending the aid of his trusted Manu but met Oda's compromise with a compromise of his own accepting Oda's demands.

Finally, Oda thought as their tracker stopped at the hill crescent, crouched and signaled down that they had now found what they were looking for. Oda gathered the butos and once again reminded them of their priorities. The small ones were to be stomped out quickly. The biggest to be captured and bound with the steel chains Fitiauama was carrying. They had been waiting long for this and messing it up was not an option. As Oda raised his eyes to signal the tracker he immediately realized something was wrong by the look in the trackers eyes. Then the raiders were upon them and Oda had to, based only on what he had gathered so far, bark out his orders to meet them.

[The Silvermoon Syndicate vs The Savage Wave] – Ichi No Riten

Special conditions:
The Silvermoon Syndicate VIM: Oda
The Savage Wave VIM: Zuba

As the forces crashed in to each other Oda constantly kept one eye on the oni trying to gauge it's movements. The giant beast was the raiding party's greatest strength and weakness at the same time. Taken down the rest would surely flee the battlefield. Since the oni was also the target of this entire mission Oda decided that he might as well send the butos straight at it to quickly settle the battle. Staying behind the wall of muscle Oda therefore instructed his warriors to quickly handle any distractions and focus on their main target. The unfortunate arrival of the Giant Cave Bat forced him to reconsider everything. Sweeping over Manu, avoiding the buto's attempts to block it's path, the monster came crashing down towards Oda in a wind of blooded fangs and claws. Oda steeled himself for the impact counting on adopting a low stance to dampen the force. It worked as intended and as claws sunk into the ground around him and fangs tore through his clothing he himself was left unscathed. He used the moment of confusion to roll out from below the Bat and adopt a new defensive stance by it's flank determined to keep it occupied until help would arrive. As predicted Manu was there just moments later.

Out of danger Oda could once again focus on the battlefield. The forced withdrawal of Manu had severely decreased the efficiency of the buto wall but luckily Tautolo had fared well by himself against the oni. Fitiauama on the other hand was struggling. Manu was winning against the Giant Cave Bat but Oda was not sure if he would be able assist Fitiauama in time. Oda therefore decided to refocus on the initial plan and Tautolo. He gathered the remains of his robes and maneuvered closer to the two giants entrenched in combat. Tautolo was wielding the less immense cudgel but had clearly been more accurate with his blows and had the oni both wounded and on the defensive. Oda smiled as he realized he would not need to interfere. This would be another won battle.

[The Savage Wave 1- 2 The Silvermoon Syndicate]

'A fine specimen' Oda thought as he took another look at the well chained up oni currently guarded by Fitiauama. It had been roaring and struggling for hours since it’s capture but to Oda that had just been a testament of quality. The stronger the rage the more power to hone. He had still not made any attempts to communicate with the beast and that would have to wait yet a while. His first priority was to return to the civilized world and he was hoping the tracker would accomplish that a lot quicker than he had accomplished finding this raiding party. The battle had been one sided as Oda had been able to draw from earlier intelligence and met the raiders head on where they had been the weakest. As such they had suffered few serious injuries. He also knew, after counting that most of the raiders were dead and this meant they would not cause any future trouble. Regarding calculations he was also pleased that he had made the right assumptions about the weight of the captured giant. Had Fitiauama and Manu together not been able to drag the beast bound to the carriage it would have proven a serious dent in Oda's plan. As it stood their travels would prove smooth. He could already see the faces of the Oyabun council as he presented his hunting trophy.

Aftermath - Green leaves and shadows

He continued to watch them until the last of the Ryu soldiers had disappeared beyond the hill. With the Ito threat neutralized and the Savage Wave raiders defeated the village elder had had no further need of their assistance. Mission successful they would return north towards the heart of the prefecture and with them their prisoner Hitomi, the Golden Sentinel. As they had passed he had studied her face for any sign of doubt but he had seen none. She had walked as proud as any soldier of the empire can while wearing shackles. Up until now she had played her part exactly according to plan. The next step in their scheme would go hard on her but he knew that if anyone could do it then it would be her. For her there was only one way forward because the punishment for impersonating one of the Golden Sentinels was a harsh one. The murder he himself had committed to obtain the golden armor had also been a grievous crime but in his case it was different. For Kei Luan was dead, body burned and ashes spread and could therefore no longer stand trail for his crimes. Kaito was the name he had taken to honor the man that unknowingly had taken his place in death. As he climbed down from the tree that had been his look-out point he let himself feel a bit of hope for their cause. 'Maybe' he thought, maybe, just maybe was there hope for them. Then he cleared his mind, grabbed his backpack and headed for the reaches of the Awaki Mountain. Hitomi would play her part and so would he. There was still so much to be done.

Final results:

1. The Silvermoon Syndicate, 3 wins (6 – 2)
2. The Prefecture of Ryu, 2 wins (3 – 4)
3. The Ito Clan, 1 win (4 – 4)
4. The Savage Wave, 0 wins (2 - 5)

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