CHRONICLES OF DUSK: BLOOD BLADES

Chronicle II

Chapter 1: Introductory of Blades--

By Bleu Ciel

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IMPORTANT: Hi, and welcome to the second stand-alone arc of the continuing chronicle-separated adventures of Takehiko Minoru the Thousand Blades swordsman. Though this is the second arc, it is a fortunate thing to know that you do not actually need to read or remember the first arc to understand this one, as explanations will be given throughout the story. Besides, this is a whole new arc – a different and more important part of the story.

I shouldn't delay you any further. Enjoy!

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The brimming sunlight filtered through the swaying trees, giving a cool moist feeling in the air exhaling a scent of nostalgia. The cold desolation of winter was over once more, and the warmer breeze of spring has entered the small island nation's life once again.

A lone swordsman walked cautiously in the clearing, a heavy coat covering his already worn-out body. The raven-haired young man walked heavily along the trimmed grass, his long cloak dragging behind like a tail. Travelers usually remove such a burden, but this particular wanderer felt safer underneath the cloak that covered the entirety of his body. After all, it is his life that is being saved.

Takehiko Minoru aka The Thousand Blades, wanted by the Imperial's Tenma Elite – the emperor's greatest swordsmen, and literally the country's greatest samurai. The greatest shinobi would be a match for only one Tenma swordsman, and the Elite have not been known to travel alone. Witnesses speak that the Thousand Blades swordsman himself can bring down two at once. Maybe more.

Some even say he brought down the whole army. No one ever takes the legend too seriously, but the threat of the Thousand Blades was too true enough to warrant him a wanted man – to be arrested on sight, dead or alive. A rich reward for anyone stupid enough to get in his way is posted on every street sign, but even bounty hunters know their places.

Though they kept their place, the stories one would hear about the legendary swordsman would never really bring a whole lot of conversation, and will be dismissed as superstition. After all, no one can believe that a single swordsman can bring down the strongest samurais in the country.

Well… maybe one person.

"Ho, Thousand Swords!" a voice from above said with a cheerful greeting.

Takehiko looked up in the ready, then stands down as he sees the blue-haired kunoichi standing firmly on the tree branch above. Ren The Infinity of the Hollow Ninja Clan, a Jonin-rank ninja that once asked for Takehiko's help. In exchange, the Hollow Clan would not pursue him, or get in his way.

Before they went their separate ways, Ren said that maybe they would meet again, and at that time in battle. Those words would heavily explain the half-depressed expression on Takehiko's face as he saw the kunoichi go down to his ground level.

"For the last time, that's Thousand Blades!" Takehiko muttered.

"Haven't seen you in months and THAT'S how you greet me!? How damn rude!"

"A blood-thirsty ninja talking about rudeness… What do you want, Ren? Remember those words you said before you departed several months ago? As much as I… desperately wanted to see you again, I just couldn't stand the thought of fighting you. I had hoped we would never see each other again."

Ren shook her head. "Thankfully for both you and me, that's not the case. I just happened to pass by here on a mission, and when I saw that pathetic disguise I knew it was you under it!"

"Must be fate I guess," Takehiko sighed, "meeting you again. What is it you're after this time?"

"I see no reason to hide it from you… A man who is commonly called The Artisan."

Takehiko stopped. Ren looked at him awkwardly, and for a moment there was silence. Ren scratched her head, guessing what was up. "Don't tell me… you too?"

"…Yeah. I guess our destinies will always be connected."

"Nice try, but I don't like perverts with cheesy pick-ups," Ren teased with her tongue out. "As an honorary brother of the Hollow Clan, it might interest you that a rival ninja village – the PoisonLeaf Ninja Clan also seek the Artisan for their own needs."

"PoisonLeaf?"

"The Hollow Clan's rivals – they specialize in controlling the earth and making the latest and deadliest poisons. If you're going to take them, may I suggest a team-up?"

Takehiko grunted. "Doesn't look like I have much of a choice. You seem to know more about this than I do."

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"Our forward scouts say that the Artisan was last seen heading for Mount Kouji, several kilometers west of here. If we hurry, we should be able to catch up to the Leaf Clan's enforcer squad."

"Good. I need to see that Artisan as soon as possible before I head north-east."

"By the way, Thousand Swords," Ren added, "What do you want with the blacksmith?"

"That's none of your business."

'Yeah, that's what you say every single time,' Ren thought aloud with a sigh of defeat.

'The Thousand Blades,' she thought. 'A legendary swordsman said to have only one peer. Yoshiro Yuu, the Silent Death. The man everyone says Takehiko will follow to the ends of the earth. The greatest mysteries that even shinobi from our village have no information on. Thousand Blades… just who are you, I wonder?'

'A man with no past and no future,' she continued. 'Takehiko Minoru the Thousand Blades, said to have walked across the corpses of the battlefield and picked up the swords of the fallen – the soul of the samurai. Now, he walks the earth cursed with a thousand souls out for revenge.'

Ren looks to her side, where Takehiko was running right beside her. "It's nice to see you again, Ren. It was kinda getting lonely alone, especially without a girl. You're as cute and murderous-looking as ever."

Ren dropped a sweat. 'Doesn't sound like a cursed man to me.'

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"You there!" a ninja dressed heavily in black said to the others like him. A dark-green line is striped in his clothing, and a symbol of a single rotting green leaf is sown on his right breast. "Check the east-side! The platoon on the right covers the mountain temple! Quickly, before those Hollow Clan scums get the better of us!"

"—Now, I wouldn't put it that way," a voice from behind him suddenly speaks. "You meant to say "before the Hollow Clan gets the better of you AGAIN," right?"

"It's her!" a PoisonLeaf ninja speaks. "Ren of the Infinity bloodline!"

"A single ninja? A kunoichi no less," the higher ranking officer remarked. "Has the Hollow Clan gone through tough times to send their little girls out on the battlefield to take down our whole advance group?"

"You know, I WOULD have preferred a surprise attack," Takehiko suddenly said as he came out of the shadows of the trees, stepping beside Ren. "…But I don't really accept your sexist remarks against my friend here… though she IS a total psycho."

"That samurai," a PoisonLeaf Genin fearfully remarked. "That jacket he wears… the ponytailed hair… that awful disguise… It's that bounty, the Thousand Blades swordsman!"

"I told you it was an awful disguise," Ren remarked.

"Well excuuuuuse me for not being all ninja-y, princess," Takehiko rasped back.

"Enough talk!" the Chunin officer shouted to his troops. "We're almost out of time for this chapter… This calls for an obligatory gratuitous fan-service scene!"

"Ren, I think he wants you to get naked."

"He means a gratuitous FIGHT SCENE, you perv!" Ren shouted at Takehiko as she took her Hollow Clan-trademark weapons, the SoulWires, out for the fray. "Get ready, Thousand Swords!"

"Blades! BLADES!" Takehiko shouted. "Thousand BLADES!"

"Well you better get those freakin' blades out, stupid!" Ren exclaims as she takes to air and throws several tips of her SoulWire to the PoisonLeaf scouts. "Forty-forth Soul-binding skill, paralyzing needle – !SoulLighting Jutsu!"

As the invisible tips of the SoulWires connected to several of the enemy shinobi's chests, a lightning energy made of chakra flowed through from its origins, sending a paralyzing sensation through the shinobi's bodies, bringing them down instantly.

"You're DEAD, kunoichi!" the Chunin leader marked as he aimed his kunai at Ren as he performed several katas with his hands. "Unbreakable ground weapon armor - !GroundForge Steel Jutsu!"

"Genbu, release!" a startling voice from the side exclaimed as the Chunin could only blink when a long metal blade suddenly smashed through his attack and knocked him to the ground.'

The PoisonLeaf ninjas look up. The legendary Thousand Blades has taken his first opponent down with one of the many swords he released from his jacket. "What are you all staring at? I just started."

And with those words, Takehiko revealed the trick that he was famous for – hundreds of different-sized scabbards tucked on the underside of his oversized jacket. Taking another scabbard from his sword, Takehiko screams, "Roku, release!"

With Genbu on his right and Roku on his left, Takehiko plants them on the ground and writes kanji letters in the air along their blades. "Rising Art - !Jimenkirema!"

As the PoisonLeaf brigade runs towards him, Takehiko fed them with his own little taste of the earth. As he pulled the swords out of the ground, his sword art quakes the ground in half and devastates the area with giant jugged earth. Though his opponents evaded the attack and were merely disoriented for seconds, the Thousand Blades used that time to obliterate his enemies with ordinary sword combos. By the time he was done, half the PoisonLeaf's advance force was down for the count.

"Hey, thanks a lot for not leaving me any, you showoff!" Ren complained sarcastically. "I can't believe you took down that Chunin officer first! First rule of obligatory battle scenes: you NEVER take the mini-boss first! You gotta go through his minions first!"

"Sorry about that, but I have no idea what you're talking about," Takehiko scratched. But before they were able to continue, a sudden flock of hundreds of crows suddenly appeared and covered the battlefield.

"Oh crap," Ren shuddered. "I guess the big boss is here."

"…Big boss?" Takehiko asked as he watched the very ground he stepped on be covered with the darkness of black feathers and the air be filled with the noise of many flapping wings.

The PoisonLeaf Genin backed off desperately as the ominous signs of death flocked the scene. They were terrified, and they knew who was coming. Soon, the tiny green forest clearing they stood on was deathly black with a murder of crows.

The red-eyed birds stood aside to reveal their master – a long black haired woman with a single raven on her shoulder. The insignia on her right breast is that of a bloody black bird with piercing red eyes, and from her signature entrance, it was easy to tell who she was – and what she was famous for.

"Jonin-level from the BloodAviary Clan," Ren said with a drop of sweat, "my rival: Bloody Raven of the Crow... otherwise known as the Army-of-Killers."

To be continued…

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NEXT CHAPTER: Takehiko and Ren separate targets and our hero samurai goes for the cannon fodder. Even with his skill, ninjas are no simple pushovers. Does Takehiko have what it takes to prove to his opponents just how his fearsome legend came to be?

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CHAPTER'S SKILLS AND ARSENAL

1. Thousand Blades - the hero, Takehiko Minoru's trick: hundreds of swords tucked underneath his oversized jacket. How they fit is beyond comprehension. Or logic.

2. SoulWires - Ren's main weapon. Specialty of Ren's Hollow Clan, they are thin steel wires that can allow soul-energy and chakra to pass through them easily. Mastery of this weapon takes years of practice.

3. SoulLightning Jutsu - under Kusarigamajutsu (chain and sickle technique) of the 18 Disciplines of Ninjutsu, SoulLightning is a jutsu that causes one's chakra to travel to another person. Each person's chakra is unique, and therefore something called a Chakra Rejection (random ninja medical term) occurs, and basically the person hit gets a heart attack. It's like passing blood, really.

4. GroundForge Steel Jutsu - long-named technique for a simple jutsu under the Kenjutsu (sword fighting) category used by the Chunin guy who got his ass whooped. Using chakra to forge earth into an object, a simple piece of wood can be turned into a deadly steel-tempered weapon.

5. Genbu and Roku - Genbu and Roku are two of Takehiko's thousand swords. Genbu the "Earth Shell" sword and Roku the "Rock-steel" blade. Genbu is one of a set of four, and has a wide broad blade with a partially blunt edge. Roku is a sword made from unpurified rock ore that makes it more like a hammer than a samurai katana.

6. Jimenkirema - under Rising Art of Takehiko's sword-style, Ikusen Katachi (or Thousand Forms), "Ground Rift" is a sword-rending move that causes a swordsman's bladesoul energy to be tapped into the ground and release an enormous amount of earth. Perfect for diggin treasure. Is not recommended for gardening.

COMMON TERMS

1. Samurai - if you don't know what this is, then I can't help you there.

2. Ninja - same here.

3. Ninjutsu - the art of stealth and tactics used by ninjas. Unfortunately, this is FICTION, and therefore ninjutsu means "techniques that whoop ass quite obviously"

4. Katas - more commonly known as "handsigns." Ninjas (in FICTION) use these to summon fire from their mouths. Seriously. On a side note, these handsigns are used to control the chakra inside the body to be used as Ninjutsu.

5. Genin and Chunin - Genin are the foot soldiers of ninja clans, while the Chunin are executive officers. The higher ranking ones are called Jonin or "high ninja" and the Kashira or "leader." The leader of the ninja clan is usually a Jonin himself.

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Author's Note: Sorry if the first chapter of the second arc too much information to read on. I hope it was okay, since it was kinda hard knowing what terms people already actually know without explanations. Still, I hope you liked it. Please read and review!