CHRONICLES OF DUSK

Chronicle I

Chronicle's End: Honor--

By Bleu Ciel

I—+—I

Author's Note: This is it! The final chapter of the first arc of Chronicles of Dusk! Please enjoy the thrilling conclusion of the first arc!

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"Get ready, Isamu!" Ren exclaims across the battlefield as she took out a whole length of SoulWire, slapped it like a whip and scattered it all over the ground. Holding a foot's length in one hand and the tip with her mouth, she declares, "Your crimes will be punished with death!"

Isamu, a younger shinobi than Ren, took out his Bo staff and displayed it with skill to prove the ineffectiveness of her intimidation. "My mind is set," he replied. "Your village will pay for killing my sister – even it means I have to kill another hundred thousand!"

"ENOUGH KILLING!!" Ren shouted angrily as she disappeared from his sight and showered the surprised rebel-ninja with chakra-sharpened tips from her SoulWire.

Isamu, though caught by surprise, evaded the shots as fast as he could, and lunged at the kunoichi with his collapsible bo. "Enough killing? That's a stupid thing for a ninja to say! Ninjas are tools for killing! Isn't that right!?"

"I said ENOUGH!!" Ren shouted again as she performed katas as she retracted her wires back. "Skill that binds souls to the netherworld - !Soul-Cross Jutsu!"

Isamu easily evaded the X-shaped wire formation that Ren sent across the battlefield. "That was a terrible jutsu to use in such a wide area. You must be slipping."

"Shut up!" Ren shouted as she tried and failed again with her SoulWire attacks.

'What's going on, Ren?' Takehiko thought as he stood nervously on the sidelines. 'You already know he's from your village. If you know he knows what you do, why are you making such easy mistakes!?'

Isamu took a quick peek at the onlooking samurai, and smirked. "I see your friend is thinking the same thing I am. How pathetic the great Infinity has come to. Maybe because…?"

"No, Isamu!" Ren shouted, as she threw another attack at Isamu. But with her current lack of judgment, Isamu caught the SoulWire with one hand. Though he bled from the sharpness of the wire due to controlled chakra, he smiled.

Isamu stared at Ren as she stood silently on the ground, several meters away from him. "…Is it because my sister... really is an old friend of yours?"

"W-What!?" Takehiko muttered. "Ren!? You knew Chinatsu?"

Ren stood silently, as Isamu spat to his side in disgust. "So it IS true then. My sister, Chinatsu, would constantly talk about you and your skills. It disgusts me in a way I can never stomach… that my sister was betrayed by a friend she trusted!"

Ren fell silent for a moment, and then retracted her SoulWires again. With a heavy sigh, a pause, and an exhale of breath, she stood proudly once more. With a piercing stare, she became her original cold self. Slapping the SoulWire to the ground, she declares again, "In the ninja code of honor, there are no such things as 'friends.' Trust only yourself. If your friends become maverick, it is your duty as a 'friend' to kill them to protect your village's secrets."

"Y-YOU--!!" Isamu shouted as angrily as he could. "You… You sicken me more than I could ever realize! You. Are. DEAD!!" With his battle cry, Isamu stormed at Ren with his bo staff and several katas. "Soul-Forge – !Steel Staff Jutsu!" he declared, as he summoned hundreds of spirits into his staff and made it harder than steel. Coming at full speed, he swung like a madman at Ren who stood calmly at the other side.

"Discord: The power to severe souls – !Soul-Dissension Jutsu!" she declared upright as she raised one hand to the charging shinobi… and caught the soul-tempered bo staff.

Upon contact, the souls forged into the staff exploded and was released from the staff, sending Isamu flying to the other direction. Falling but back to his feet, he was surprised at the new-faced opponent he was facing now. "N… No way!"

"Fool," Ren answered angrily. "I have stopped playing with you. What you face now is a Jonin in its true form – devastating and merciless. And unlike Takehiko… I have no attachments to the word 'life'."

"You contradict yourself, woman," Isamu pointed. "You just stated you would avenge those lives I killed--"

"—And I will do as I have said. What I meant… is that I care neither for my own life nor for yours. You WILL die today. Even if I have to hunt you down forever."

"Enough talk," Ren hissed. "This ends now! Plaguing death, soul severing sent – !Plague Circle!" With her mighty declaration, Ren summons her SoulWires once again and sharply throws it at Isamu. It almost hit the renegade ninja by a nail, but the jutsu was not done. It continues on to the tree behind Isamu, and bounces to another besides it. It traveled from one tree to another, and each time it left a trail of poisoning soul-plague spirits that infested the tree's trunk. Isamu was taken by surprise of this new jutsu until finally the wire stopped at the last tree – actually forming a wire around his area in the shape of a giant jutsu symbol. "Now, darkest souls plaguing upon the earth – release thy seal – !Plague Circle Release!"

In that instant, Isamu is met by tens of screaming sickly souls that breathed foul toxic air into his body full blast, pushing and ripping him apart from all sides, containing all the plague gas into that circled area. With a final breath, the gas jutsu explodes within the circle and devastates the area with a full-blown wind. Takehiko covers his face from the toxic vapors that appeared as he looked up where the corrupted souls eventually rose up into the air and disappeared.

Looking down, he could see Ren standing firmly, unaffected… while Isamu coughs and vomits on the ground as the plague gas poisons the wood on the remnants of his broken Bo staff.

"That was not a human poison, Isamu," Ren explained as she stood over the puking Isamu. "It only affects people who possess a usable amount of chakra – no one else. But the special thing about this jutsu of corrupted souls is that every time you try to use any type of ninjutsu now… you will get sicker and sicker, until you eventually slowly die a painful death. THAT is your punishment."

"And this," she said as she loomed over a sharp kunai that glistened in the light, "is your only redemption from that pain."

"Stop it, Ren!" Takehiko suddenly shouted out with a fist at the menacing kunoichi. "That's enough! He can't use jutsu anymore! There's no point in—"

"—Killing him? Don't be absurd," Ren maniacally chuckled. "I'm saving him from a sickly death. Besides, I need to bring back his dead body and prevent any other ninja clan from taking his body and dissecting our secrets. THAT is the ninja's code."

"Stop that, please," Takehiko said, almost tearfully as he took out his sword. "If you don't… I'll have to stop you."

Ren was silent for a moment, and then returned her kunai back to her pouch. "Are you threatening me… Thousand Swords?"

She looked sadly at her former friend, and with this sadness she took a clean new kunai and readied it beside her face. "Will you... kill me, Thousand Swords?"

"…FOOL!"

With a sudden burst, Isamu took out his kunai and stabbed the unwary kunoichi at the side. Ren was taken aback, and started stumbling forward as her side bled painfully with a fountain of blood.

"Heh, that was one of the Hollow Clan's most potent poisons. With a wound that big, and with your lack of chakra, you'll be dead within the hour."

Isamu triumphantly stared at his enemy for a moment, but realized she was still doing nothing to try and fight back.

"You child… You stupid, stupid child," Ren started mumbling as she turned to him, her eyes burning with rage. "First of all, I am of the infinity bloodline that NEVER lacks chakra. Secondly," she added as she forcefully took the stuck kunai from her side and pulled it out, "I am the one that cannot die."

"T-That's impossible! With that wound, you shouldn't be able to move your side at all!"

"I'm not sorry for this, but this will now end in exactly one move…" With those words, Ren closed her eyes and concentrated the chakra in-between her eyes, creating a massive flow of chakra within her chakran circle. With that, the chakra energy travels to her palms, and emits a powerful glow of energy so concentrated it can be seen with the naked eye.

"W-What technique is this?" Takehiko shuddered. "The chakra is so concentrated in one point in her body, the aura can actually be seen without the help of special sight jutsus!"

"The Chakra of the Third Eye, glowing indigo, the elements of time and light… Release, Second Leaf Lotus!"

"S-Second Lotus!?" Isamu then realized the power of the jutsu he was up against. "A-A Lotus Circle Technique? B-But that's--"

"--Your death, Isamu," Ren interrupted as she instantly teleported in front of the surprised Isamu. "DIE!! Double Leaf - !Lotus Breaker!"

"B-But the poison--! C-Chakra Shiel—"

"--USELESS!" she exclaims as she instantly buried her right fist deep into Isamu's chest, breaking through his chakra shield as if it was nothing. Looking one last time at her friend's dear brother, she declares, "You should have known… that a Jonin of my level takes small amounts of different poisons every day, and in time making me immune to each and every one of them. Lastly, my technique can break any shield. Since the beginning, you never stood a chance… my dear Isamu."

With those final words, Ren forcefully takes her hand out of his chest, leaving a dark hole the size of six fists in the middle of Isamu's torso. As she does, Isamu slowly falls to the ground, the last few tears falling from his eyes.

Ren flicked the blood of her hand into the ground, and looked to the ground in what she wanted to feel as triumph. "The mission has been achieved… I have restored the Hollow Clan's honor."

Without warning, Takehiko came near her and slapped her across the face. Surprisingly, Ren said nothing, and didn't even give any signs of retaliations.

"…What? Can't say anything? After you just killed your best friend's brother?"

"…What choice did I have?"

Takehiko gritted his teeth in defeat, and stomped at the ground in despair. "No… nothing. I shouldn't have said anything…"

"Then we will stop the conversation – and our alliance – here, Thousand Swords. I will report our victory to the Kashira, and rest assured the Hollow Clan honor code will be followed and you shall be pursued no longer."

"Huh, honor…" he sighs, and then sadly chuckles. "That will be the end of you, someday."

"Ninjas are instruments of war, just as Isamu stated," Ren explained. "We were meant to die."

"So you'll just accept that!?" Takehiko shouted angrily in her face. "What kind of friend are you!? You'll not only just let them die, you—"

"--Please, Takehiko," Ren suddenly stated as she brushed her eyes in sadness, finally stating his name for the first time. "If I don't believe in what I said… then the only thing I will feel is an endless grief… I've… lost more than one friend, Takehiko…"

Takehiko fell silent. "…Sorry."

"D-Don't be," Ren marked. "A… Anyway, I… should get back to the village."

With her farewell, she picked up Isamu's dead body and leaped to the treetops, and looked back one last time at the first ally she had outside the village. "I know we'll meet again, Thousand Swords," she added. "Maybe next time against each other once again."

"If that is the case, then I hope we shall never meet again," he replied sadly. "And Ren…"

"Yeah?"

"…I won't turn on you."

Ren looked away, and smiled hopefully. "Yeah… I know." With that she leapt into the distance, back into the hidden village of Youmamura. As Takehiko contemplated on the events that have transpired since he had met the strange kunoichi, he had a feeling that after years of running and pursuing, an ending for his tale might finally occur.

He dismisses the thought and looks at the dusk setting in. He sets up his swords and continued down his cursed path in the trail of the white assassin Yoshiro. As his travels continued, the legend of the Thousand Blades swordsman grew… and soon another tale in that small island nation will soon arise.

And so the legend of the Thousand Blades continue…

END OF ARC 1

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CHAPTER'S SKILLS AND ARSENAL

1. Soul-Cross Jutsu - this jutsu is under the Kusarigamajutsu (chain and sickle techniques) category of the 18 Disciplines of Ninjutsu. A beginner's jutsu that basically controls the SoulWires' tips to create an X-shaped form. Used mostly in small spaces as traps.

2. Steel Staff Jutsu - a soul-forging technique, this jutsu is under the Bojutsu (staff technique) category of the 18 Disciplines of Ninjutsu. Forging spirit energy into a weapon, a simple rottting stick can be turned into a sturdy steel-tempered weapon of death.

3. Soul Dissension Jutsu - a very despicable Discord jutsu under the Intonjutsu (escape technique) category. Causing discord among the souls in a jutsu involving two or more souls, this jutsu can cause the target jutsu to fall into pieces and have catastrophic results. This jutsu is rarely used because of its ability to cause souls to deteriorate and become sick. Nonetheless, it's very powerful.

4. Plague Circle Jutsu - another despicable jutsu that calls the souls of mortals that have fallen from grace or have died of illness and left bitter in their deaths. This jutsu is rarely explained and its category is unknown, but it is known that it causes those that possess chakra to become sick every time they use ninjutsu if they are affected with this jutsu.

5. LOTUS BREAKER - one of Ren's strongest jutsus. Of the 7 Chakran Lotus Techniques, this Second-Leaf-level is the easiest to learn. Under the category Taijutsu (physical techniques), this jutsu is taught to only the best of the best of ninjas. Using an almost impossible-to-acquire amount of chakra spinning in two places at one's palm at the right time while rotating on an axis, a third whirlwind-like energy is released that is powerful enough to break anything in its path. This however puts the arm in a lot of stress and the chakra-receptors in the arm are usually severed if not used correctly.

IMPORTANT: Thank you all for reading and commenting! Please look forward to the next arc in the continuing story of Chronicles of Dusk! More action, more story, more swords, more ninjas, and definitely more samurais! Many of the gaps missing in this arc will be explained, including:

1. The origin of Takehiko and the Thousand Blades legend!

2. A battle with Takehiko's rival, Yoshiro Yuu the Soundless Death!

3. A battle with the Tenma Elite, showing Takehiko's legendary "Thousandth Sword"!

4. Hollow Clan ninja Ren, and more new characters and new weapons!

Best of all, you don't have to remember this arc because it will all be explained in the next one! The first chapter is actually already released! Please continue reading Chronicles of Dusk!

--Continued in CHRONICLES OF DUSK: BLOOD BLADES--