The three of us had reached the next village by nightfall. Ieyasu's men hadn't attacked there yet, but the village further down the road had been hit already. This meant that Kiyokawa, the village we were in, was assuredly the next target.
We were currently holed up in a room at the local inn. We were supposed to be getting some sleep, but Machi and Sosuke seemed to have other ideas.
"This is so annoying. Why did we have to pay for this room? If this were the world of Weekly Shounen Jump we would have been allowed to stay here for free. We are the heroes after all."
"Weekly Shounen Jump?" Sosuke asked in confusion. "What the hell are you talking about, woman?"
Machi chuckled, shrugging her shoulders. "I wouldn't expect a simpleton such as yourself to understand. It's not like you fulfill any purpose besides being the sidekick anyway."
"Sidekick?" Sosuke growled, glaring daggers at Machi. "You certainly have a big mouth, woman. You're lucky that you're Jack's girlfriend. Otherwise, I'm not quite sure what I would do."
A large grin rose up Machi's lips, as she leaned in toward Sosuke. "Was that a threat?"
"Yes." Sosuke answered succinctly.
Machi pulled back, continuing to chuckle. She tugged on her haori, pulling it so that a small amount of cleavage was exposed. "It's a shame that you won't act on that threat. I'd love to see you try, Sosuke-chan."
Sosuke snarled, as he got up and headed toward the door. "I can't take this anymore. I'm going for a walk. I'll be back."
Sosuke hastily left the room, as Machi's chuckling became full-blown laughter.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" I asked her, grimacing. "I thought Sosuke distrusting you could cause problems?"
Machi blinked at me questioningly. "It definitely could cause problems. Why do you ask that?"
I couldn't tell if she was legitimately being dense or if this was simply her playing around.
"Won't angering Sosuke like this only make him distrust you more? Shouldn't you be trying to repair the relationship between you two?"
Machi licked her lips, tugging on her haori again. An even larger amount of cleavage was now exposed. "I said that it could cause problems, but I never said that particularly bothered me. Manga aren't interesting if everything goes fine, right? I figure that antagonizing Sosuke could lead to some real fun. Don't you agree?"
I groaned at that response. It seemed that my wish attendant was busier trying to troll me than actually helping my wish be granted.
"Don't be so overdramatic," Machi criticized. "Everything is still going according to plan. I wouldn't do anything that could jeopardize your wish being granted. You're cute, but I don't want to be stuck with you for all of eternity."
"Good to know." I replied, glancing toward her exposed cleavage. "So…what's with that?"
"That?" She repeated mockingly.
She really could be an utter pain in the ass.
"You know what I mean."
"Judging by the location of your gaze and the rising bulge in your pants; I guess I do. I'm simply hot. There's no other meaning to it."
I stared at her, not believing her for a minute. It wasn't even that hot. Then a realization began to dawn on me. "Wait…was that a double entendre?!"
Machi winked seductively in response. "Every good manga has some fun with wordplay and figure of speech. I'm simply spicing up this shitty samurai story with some fan service."
"Fan service for who, exactly?"
Machi grinned deviously before jumping on top of me. I fell to the ground as my wish attendant rested on top of me. Her haori slipped over even more, getting dangerously close to exposing her breasts.
"Isn't that obvious, darling? You're the only one I'd provide such services for."
I was pretty sure my face was redder than Asuka's hair. It also felt like my dick was about to burst through my clothes. What was Machi doing? Was this all some sick game to her?
The door to our room opened, Sosuke stepping inside. He took one look at us, blushed furiously, and then ran back out.
Machi quickly got off me, sighing. "Well that should buy us some more time alone. I didn't realize how annoying having tagalongs could make this situation."
I tried to get my bearings, as sweat dripped down my forehead. That was her reason? I guess I couldn't fault her, since it did work in driving Sosuke away.
"I have a serious matter that we need to discuss." She said, giving me a stern look.
"What is it?"
"It's likely that Ieyasu's men will attack this town tomorrow. Are you truly prepared for this, Jack? In the end, I'm just your wish attendant. You need the courage to actually make your wish come true."
She was right. While all of this was a huge help in making me readjust myself, it was still up to me in the end. She could only provide me with the push. Was I really ready for this?
I nodded my head toward Machi, giving her a confident grin. "Yeah, I'm prepared. I'm the hero of this story, aren't I?"
Machi smiled big, rubbing her hands together. "You've become quite the hero. I was right to expect great things from you. I think that I chose correctly this time."
The next day arrived and surprisingly no attack had happened yet. I wondered how much longer this could last, because I knew chaos would arrive soon enough.
The three of us were eating in a family restaurant at the moment. I had to say that the ramen here was damn good. It would probably make Naruto happy.
Not that I read Naruto or anything.
"Woman," Sosuke began, crossing his arms. "When do you think Ieyasu will attack?"
Machi raised an eyebrow, staring at Sosuke. "Why are you asking me?"
"If anyone here knows it's you. That's my feeling."
Machi frowned slightly, glancing down at her half-eaten noodles. "You're too genre savvy for your own good. If I had to guess, then they should be arriving soon. Probably before we can even finish this lunch."
Sosuke nodded his head. "I understand. I won't ask you how you know this, because it's likely that I won't even understand the answer. I simply trust in your words, even if I don't trust in you."
"That's certainly a back-handed compliment." Machi pouted in response.
"It's the closest thing you'll get to a compliment from me, woman. So be happy."
I stared at Sosuke, as Machi continued to pout. This guy was certainly something else. He had read Machi like a book from the second he met her.
"Sosuke, can I ask why you're after Ieyasu? Is there a specific reason?"
Sosuke looked me in the eyes, an emotionless look on his face. "I used to be friends with Ieyasu. He was like an older brother to me."
"What a coincidence!" Machi proclaimed gleefully.
"But one day he changed," Sosuke continued, ignoring Machi. "He didn't give me any reason besides being influenced by a woman."
"A woman?" I asked.
"I don't know all the details. I've never met this woman, or even have proof that she actually exists. However, she's the one who Ieyasu credited with his sudden change. He told me that he had always desired to overthrow the Japanese government and offered me the chance to come with him. I declined."
"And since then you've been determined to stop him?" I questioned further.
"Yes, I've made it my mission to stop him. But it's seemed futile so far. Ieyasu is stronger than me, and even with you I'm wondering if we can truly prevail."
"I wouldn't worry about it," Machi assured Sosuke. "The hero of this story is helping you. You can't lose."
"The hero of this story," Sosuke repeated, as a wistful smile formed over his face. "That's the same thing Ieyasu said when he left. He said that he was the hero of this story from now on."
"Then we'll just have to show him who the real hero is!" I declared, grinning wildly.
I could only hope my words matched up with my future actions.
I glanced toward Machi, surprised to see her frowning. What was up with her?
"They're here." Machi stated grimly. "Are you prepared, Jack?"
I gripped the sword hanging on my hip, nodding toward Machi. "Yeah, let's do this. I'll show you that you made the right choice."
I expected to hear one of Machi's quick-witted comments, but received nothing. My wish attendant said nothing to assure me. Instead, she just continued to frown.
"Come on," Sosuke yelled toward me. "Let's go."
I gave one final look toward the gloomy Machi before following after Sosuke. Whatever was bothering her could wait.
I had a village to save!
Screams began to fill my ears, as I ran after Sosuke. This was just like before, but I wouldn't freeze up this time.
I would save this village, dammit!
We soon ran into a group of five bandits. Sosuke charged in, quickly breaking the neck of one of them. I swallowed my fears, charging in as well. I gripped my sword tight, slicing down three bandits in rapid succession. Sosuke jumped over me, delivering a devastating kick to the last bandit.
"That was…actually pretty easy." I commented, breathing heavily.
"Don't get cocky," Sosuke warned. "The real foe is approaching."
A man with extremely spiky blond hair walked up to us, grinning madly. He wore an open red jacket, with no shirt underneath, and slim black pants. A medium-sized yellow sword rested in his right hand.
He seriously looked like someone right out of an anime.
"You two are pretty impressive." He complimented. That psychotic grin was still plastered on his face.
"Who are you?" Sosuke growled.
"The names Jio Akko. I work for Ieyasu-sama. I can't say that he'll like hearing about this. You two have caused quite the mess."
Sosuke pounded his fists together, glaring maliciously at Jio. "Don't worry about that. You'll be reporting back to him with two broken legs. Or would you prefer two broken arms? It's your choice."
It seemed impossible, but Jio's grin became even more psychotic. He hunched over, clutching the right side of his face. "I didn't know you were such a joker, Sosuke Urakawa. You really think that you can take me on? Arrogance of that level usually means a short life."
"Let me ask you one question before I kill you. Do you know the woman that changed Ieyasu?"
Jio began laughing insanely, pointing his sword straight at Sosuke. "Of course I know her. Mistress Yeon is the one who guided Ieyasu-sama on the path he is now. Well…I guess guided isn't the correct word. It's more like she allowed him to walk this path."
I raised an eyebrow at that statement. This guy was clearly nuts, but that still sounded incredibly odd.
"Hey, what do you mean by that?" I asked him.
"Question time is over, children. I'm going to give you two a choice. Come with me and have Ieyasu-sama decide your fate or have me kill you right here. Which one do you guys choose?"
"I choose the option where you die." Sosuke answered coldly.
Damn. I wanted to get the cool answer.
"What he said." I uttered in the coolest voice I could muster.
"You know what I hate most of all in this world? Brats who can't answer a simple fucking question!"
Jio was in front of us almost instantly. He was moving at a speed that I could barely follow. Sosuke somehow managed to evade the initial strike from Jio, but the next attack pierced him.
Sosuke screamed out in agony. His own blood was dripping to the ground. Jio's sword was lodged directly through his chest.
"You could train for a thousand years and still not be able to defeat me." Jio boasted, ripping his sword from Sosuke's chest.
I gathered all my courage, running furiously at Jio. Jio simply smirked, swiftly kicking me in the sternum. I screamed out, flying backward. I landed on the ground in a heap, helplessly staring up at Jio.
Jio turned back toward Sosuke, curiously looking at his opponent. "I'm impressed that you can still stand."
Sosuke was struggling to stay upright, but still managed to spit at Jio. "I swore that I would stop Ieyasu. I'm not losing to some lackey like you."
The saliva landed on Jio's right cheek, and slowly traveled down his face. Jio did nothing, instead waiting until the saliva hit the ground. He cackled madly the second it finally did.
"Sorry to inform you of this, but I'm nothing compared to Ieyasu-sama. You can't even harm me and yet you want to take him on? Keep dreaming. You're just trash. So why don't I send you where trash belongs?"
Sosuke was about to reply, but Jio struck first. In one swift motion, Jio had slashed Sosuke viciously across the chest.
Sosuke's blood squirted out like water from a leaky faucet. His blood drenched Jio, making the swordsman look like a true demon. I could only stare on in horror at the sight. There was nothing I could do to help him.
I should have known better than to delude myself with false hopes. Machi, for all her ability, couldn't do the impossible.
There was no way I could ever become a hero.
Jio glanced toward me, smirking through his blood-covered face. "What's wrong? Did you delude yourself, like Sosuke, into thinking you were something greater? You kids today sure have an active imagination."
I began to back up in fear, desperately trying to get away from Jio. I didn't want to die here! Not in this foreign world.
I didn't want to die like this!
"Did you think you were a hero, kid?" Jio asked, pointing his sword at me. "That's an impossibility for a coward like you. Well, in truth, it's impossible for all of us. In this world there are no such thing as heroes. The concept itself is such a joke. The root of every good deed is a selfish desire."
What Jio was saying didn't matter. I had to escape. I had to run from here and get back to Machi. She could fix this!
I scrambled to my feet, running away as fast as my legs could carry me. I just had to escape. I just had to get as far from here as possible.
I could do it!
"How about I teach you the saddest truth of this cruel world, kid? You think that you can escape, right? Unfortunately for you…the weak don't get to choose their time of death. That's for those stronger than them to decide."
His words didn't matter. There was no way he could catch up to me. I was in the clear for sure!
I heard the rapidly approaching footsteps behind me, but chose to ignore them. It couldn't be him. Right?
"It's up to people like me to decide when the weak die. And right now I'm feeling the scent of death in the air."