The Great Continent of Gale, a place where magic, dragons and kingdoms were commonplace.
It is the year 506 and in the technologically advanced northern country of Drachma, Emperor Marcuxio was assassinated by his own son Mezetio who rose to the throne and began invading the other 52 kingdoms of Gale, shattering the ceasefire accords established ten years prior. With the dreaded empire being so much more advanced than the others, one by one the kingdoms of the north were either obliterated or assimilated into the Drachma Imperium.
With more than 12 kingdoms allied to his cause and the other kingdoms too untrusting of their neighboring lords to form an alliance...the subjugation of the entire continent is all but assured to the young emperor.
The silver glow of the moon is choked out by stacks of smoke fuming from the burning rooftops of the wall city of Jol. It took only nine minutes for the city to be sacked, the high walls that stood the test of time and battle stood no chance against the empire's flying airships. What good were fixed cannons and trebuchets against anti-gravity ships that could change directions mid-air on a dime and drop cluster bombs as well as fire arched lightning from spike cannons?
Their primitive defenses were a joke.
So much so that the Emperor didn't care to stick around for the sacking. While the city burned and his armies tended to shackling the poor and pressing the nobles. He'd taken a detachment force to the hills beyond Jol.
Despite his country's many advances, Mezetio still preferred riding horseback. As he cuts through the dark woodland path, the thunderous roar of twelve hundred men boom across the hillside.
At the emerald hill's zenith, bathed in moonlight was a stone temple surrounded by massive wind chimes that sang with the night's breeze. Standing before the temple's massive entrance were 12 warrior women in hakama garbs holding ceremonial naginata. They all stood strong with one hand on their staff and the other fist on their waist.
Mezetio raises a fist and his force comes to a stop.
As the dust settles around them one of the warrior miko step forth; "You stand on sacred ground conqueror. You'll find nothing here but our diligent prayers...but should you defile this sacred place with your bloodlust then you'll face my judgment"
"And who are you?" asks Mezetio the silver haired king with golden eyes that could see beyond these puny mortal women.
The woman pounds the butt of her naginata on the ground; "I am Inano, Warrior Miko and Guardian of this Temple" As if the wind were ally it swept at her back flailing her jet black hair.
"I didn't come here for a fight"
Inano smiles; "Well you could have fooled me with the company of armed soldiers at your back. State your business then"
"I've come for the Divine Priestess that resides here, Lady Akihime. She will come with me" states the emperor as he opens his palm to her.
"Then it is a fight you seek" Inano narrows her eyes. And the other eleven maidens grip their naginata with both hands preparing their battle stances.
"There doesn't have to be. You can just surrender her to me and the rest of you bend a knee. Clearly you're all talented fighters, I can tell by looking at you. Your skills will be best served under the banner of my empire" Mezetio says nonchalantly. He'd captured thousands of people by now and this isn't any different.
"Such a pompous lord you are…as if we whom have sworn ourselves to God would dare bend a knee to a man" Inano points her naginata at him. "Be gone or condemn yourself to the wrath of God and my blade, you cur"
Mezetio sighs heavily.
He dismounts from his white steed.
The silver haired emperor raises a hand his aid, "Richessa, see to it that no one interferes"
The blonde haired woman in armor beside him, tips up her glasses. "Yes, my liege"
The Emperor was a tall man standing at nearly six and a half feet with crimson armor lined with gold and a thin veil like cape that seemed to shine and flicker as it fluttered behind him. As he passed under the entrance gates the mikos immediately surrounded him! All twelve of them pointing their naginata at him.
"Your narcissistic pride will be your undoing conqueror, you can't hope to defeat us all"
Mezetio draws his twin rune swords. "As I said...you're all skilled warriors, I'd rather not waste my men's lives on trying to take you all down...I'll do it myself"-
In the next instance, all twelve the warrior maidens leap into the air!
"Emperor above!" Richessa shouts out. But she didn't need to and she knew it.
Mezetio stood as still as a statue and as the maidens descended on him he quickly sprung into action! The first miko attempts a stab at his right shoulder but he quickly blocks that with one of his swords (Pachang!) sparks fly as he cuts off the tip of the spear then roundhouse kicks it into another descending warrior woman's neck, taking one of them out of the fight and she falls gagging on her own blood.
The others stabbed at him but his hand movements were godlike as he blocked them all (Pachang! Chang! Chang!) the remaining eleven miko and the Emperor slide away from eachother.
Inano yells out; "Vanguard formation!"
With that four ladies attack from the front with a jousting piercer while three more back them out covering up the gaps in their offensive. Mezetio spins both of his blades upside down into a reverse grip as his body begins to glow with a golden aura.
"Golden Dragon's Flash!"
The emperor rips his swords upward releasing a massive golden wave at the mikos charging at him! Their eyes widen and before they could change directions or even stop the golden wave engulfs them incinerating them to their bones!
"Eyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" They shriek until the light snuffs them out leaving four more miko left alive.
Mezetio spins both of his blades into proper holding position; "Do you surrender now?" he asks. Inano's confident expression fading like a candle in the wind.
"Die!" One of the miko approach from behind with a swing at his neck! (Swoosh) he ducks it then slashes off the woman's arms at the elbows! Blood splurts from her stumpy arms as she screams in pain and Mezetio finishes her off with a powerful kick which sends her rolling downhill.
"Get lady Akihime out of here!" Inano orders the last two miko as she charges at Mezetio next. "You won't lay hands upon her fiend!" she twirls her staff overhead and brings it down on the emperor whom blocks the hammer strike. (SHANG!)
She struggles to hold him down but the Emperor's too strong. He quickly pushes her back!
Inano just barely holds onto her footing as she attempts a horizontal strike. (Pang!)
He blocks then attempts a chop with his left sword which Inano then blocks in turn! (Shunk!)
She then jabs him in the chest with the butt her staff (Pow!)
She then presses the attack spinning her naginata again! (Swoosh!) Mezetio bends his knees then in the blink of an eye he phases out and appears too close for her to strike! And in the next blink..(Kasha!)...one of his swords pierce her straight through the chest!
"Gafu!" she begins to puke up blood. "Protect…."
Before she could finish Mezetio kicks her off of his sword and while she was in mid air he slashes her in half at the torso causing blood to rain over his body staining his silver head red. Inano falls in two pieces on either side of him.
With that Mezetio darts into the temple and inside there were the other two remaining miko and another older woman in a hakama whom held onto a crystal ball. The two miko warriors readied themselves as the bloody Mezetio approaches.
"Stay your blades...you're no match for him" the old woman Akihime spoke.
It was something the two maidens already knew but to Akihime's word, they lowered their naginata.
"Wise choice" The emperor says but he refused to sheath his swords.
"I know why you've come here, Emperor of Blood and Gold"
Mezetio simply narrows his eyes.
"Ever since you've heard the prophecy of your death. You've been attacking temple after temple seeking an altered future to your inevitable end" says Akihime with a smile. She waves her wrinkled hands over the crystal ball and it shows the visage of a man with his back turned. "The ungrateful child who believes he is a god will meet his end by a swordsman with three eyes as red as blood"
Mezetio grinds his teeth; "His name...what is his name?"
Akihime shakes her head; "I do not know….but rest assured he exists"
"You lie old woman"
One of the maidens lash out; "Lady Akihime does not lie!"
"Even now I feel him," Akihime explains, placing a palm on her chest.
Mezetio points one of his swords at her. "Good. Then that means you'll be able to lead me to him!"
With that the two miko spring into action thrusting toward Mezetio; "Out of my way insects" He slashes both of their naginata to pieces! Then one attempts to behead them both but one of the miko leaps in front of the other causing her head to roll but the other receives a deep gash in her neck and she falls to the side with the corpse of the other landing on top of her.
With the threats removed Mezetio finally sheaths both of his swords. "Now you're coming with me woman"
"You are not the man your father was….he understood the importance of peace…"
Mezetio runs his palm through his messy bangs to straighten his locks; "My father was a weakling who didn't deserve the position that was handed to him. Drachma's advancement is a testament to the heights that humanity can achieve. Knowing this, he did nothing and allowed the foolish primitive lords to live uncivilized among us. To allow their own people to be subjected to starvation and disease. That pathetic fragile peace sculpted by the hands of weak men can never truly sustain the hatred of the common folk." Suddenly storming in through the open doorway is Richessa and twenty men with shock rifles.
Akihime smirks; "And what are you? The people's champion now?"
Mezetio runs his palm through his hair slicking back his long bangs to reveal his perfectly sculpted and shapely jaw; "Nay….I am not so foolish as to convince myself of being the people's champion or a hero. What I am….is change. I am Gale's necessary step forward"
Richessa smiles proudly as she looks on lovingly at her Emperor's back. "Take her, away" she snaps her fingers and her men march forth ripping the priestess from her place at the shrine and drags her out of the temple before setting the entire shrine ablaze with torches.
"Were you still not able to find anything on the swordsman with three red eyes?" Richessa asks.
He doesn't respond and simply walks past her.
Two Weeks Later…
Kel chews on a lock of sugar cane while trying to remember the lessons from his late father about fishing. Fishing is a long game of patience and near perfect timing. 'Place my whole being into the rod. Be still and recognize every sensation…'
The rod tingles! And with that the one eyed swordsman yanks at the rod and the line snaps almost instantly!
"OH FUCK!" he curses looking at the end of a line that held not even a hook. He gazes off at the deep blue lake as the fine of great tuna speeds off on the surface. "Dammit...he was big too"
Kel fon Grantz was a rather unimpressive looking man at first sight, he has three ugly scars running horizontally down the right side of his face. His left eye was covered by an eyepatch and crimson bandanna that covered most of his forehead with a turft of unimpressive messy black hair. He wore a pair of light blue hakama pants, no shirt and a rusty old arm guard that covered the entirety of his left arm. He didn't even have any shoes, opting to go barefoot. The only thing about him that seemed out of the ordinary was the red ogre tattoo that was carved into his back.
"Shit...what am I gonna eat now?" He asks for his rumbling stomach. "Sucks...ahh...well maybe I'll have more luck hunting"
He reaches down to his side and picks up his sword, a katana with a black sheath and a crimson hilt with a golden tsuba. He throws the sling over his shoulder and turns around on the moldy old docks to find a group of men standing at the shores.
"Eh? What's goin' on?" Kel asks himself aloud.
As he steps closer he notices that the people standing on the rocky shores are holding weapons, nothing special, some hand axes, broad swords and bludgeons. Their armor was scrapped patchwork armor. It looked cheaper than the crap he wore.
"Can I help you?" He asks.
"Yes, in fact you can" Stepping forth through the crowd of smiling bandits was a rather large man with a large beard and a giant broad axe in one hand and a massive gourd in the other, which he takes the time to drink from first before continuing; "(slurp) (slurp) (slurp)...by givin' us yer fuckin' head"
"Hm? Come again? Hey hey hey pal….c'mon I don't wanna fight I don't even know you people" Kel says raising a palm to them.
The big bearded juggernaut belches; "Well look it's not like I take much pride in cuttin' down a weaklin' but the Empire's payin' top coin for the heads of red eyed bastards nowadays...it's all business I'm sure you understand"
With that the juggernaut's crew begins laughing and snickering about.
"I...still don't get it" Kel raises a brow.
Without warning the crew of bandits rip past the big guy rushing at Kel head on. With that the one eyed swordsman sighs before snorting air from his nose, he closes his one remaining eye!
The bandits close in around him one of them in particular with a spear thrusting it at his neck.
And just before the blade could cut into his neck, he opens his eye; (ZAN!)
A concussive pressure wave explodes from his body and it tosses all twenty three bandits aside. Some of them went flying into trees, others hit head first on the rocky shores and the rest went skipping on the water like stones.
The bearded juggernaut's eyes widened as he was taking another gulp from his gourd; "(slurp) (slurp)...Ahaaa...I know that power…Swordsman's Spirit...seems like you ain't no amatuer"
Kel stretches his neck out before reaching to his back and grabbing the hilt of his blade; "Neither are you I gather...How's about you tell me who you are old man?"
"Tch...disrespectful little shit. You set foot in these glades and not know the name of the Black Bear Westleigh?" he throws his gourd aside and the massive thing slams onto the ground with a great thud that shook the ground. Leaving Kel only to wonder how heavy that damn thing really was.
"Well I was just passing through, not really lookin' to set up shop here. Say what were you saying about the Empire paying top coin for guys with red eyes?"
Westleigh the Black Bear hurls his great axe at Kel! (SWOOSH!)
Kel side steps it then phases out and appears above Westleigh! "Eat it!" Kel shouts before drawing his sword in a downward arch slash! (Kashan!) Westleigh blocks the slash with a massive chain wrapped around his right arm then he slams his fist into Kel's side! (Pow!) the hit released a concussive wave launching Kel off toward a grove of trees.
The one eyed swordsman flips in mid air and lands on one of the trees with his feet! "Hah?" he senses something and looks up to see Westleigh's great axe flying at him again. (Washa!) It moved too quickly to dodge, using his sword to block it the powerful blade pressed him through the tree he was standing on and squashed him through another tree before he veered it in another direction.
The chain wrapped around Westleigh's arm was also attached to the chain and he watched as the axe was yanked back into the brute's hand, the chain and the axe moved as if it had a mind of it's own.
"Ah...shit...the hell kinda fighting style is that?" Kel asks as he pushes himself to his feet.
"The kind you can't handle!" Westleigh throws his axe again but this time he yanks on the chain and begins spinning it above his head like a propeller, clipping all of the trees around them and kicking up a powerful gust of wind.
Kel wipes the blood from his lip before grinning; "Well let's see about that then huh?" he resheaths his katana then bends his knees and spins in the opposite direction of Westleigh's whirlwind chain swinging axe.
The two separate winds kicked up by both warriors began to touch and tinge creating air pockets that would collide and explode with one another.
"Whirlwind Guillotine!" Westleigh shouts.
"Iaido: Spiral Slash!" Kel shouts at the same time!
Kel slams his foot down and draws his blade!
At the same time Westleight grips his chain and swings with both hands!
The blade of Kel's katana and Westleigh's war axe collide causing an explosion of centrifugal force throwing both men backward and uprooting every stump and tree within a mile of the collusion!
When the dust cleared Kel found himself lying on his face and he couldn't feel his arm. The smokescreen finally sweeps away he notices his right arm is completely busted, the coloration was a deep red from internal bleeding and his bone has popped out of his flesh under his elbow. The moment he noticed the pointed bone jutting out of his arm, the excruciating pain settled in.
"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck…." he pounds his forehead into the ground before standing up.
Despite how fucked his arm was, despite him not being able to feel his fingers, he still gripped his katana ferociously. Looking across the battlefield, Westleigh was already standing and yanking a huge chunk of wood from his leather armor. The chain was broken and his axe was nowhere to be seen.
"Your dominant hand's spent, you won't be able to swing that blade with the power you had before" Westleigh says as a film of blood leaks from his bloody lips. His face was seemingly straining, veins popping from his forehead.
Kel leers at him, then sighs.
"That may be true but it seems I won't need it" with that he pulls his katana out of his clutched cold hand with his other and sheaths it on his back. "You're losing too much blood from your wounds"
There was another stake of wood stabbed underneath his left arm and that stump was leaking more blood. Perhaps an artery was punctured.
"You lookin' down on me boy?"
"No, infact I'm a little pissed that our fight had to end this anticlimactically. Seems like I still need training…"
Suddenly a gust of wind brushes at Kel's back and he spins around quickly only to get decked in the face. (Pow!)
Kel's head whips back as blood spews from his nose. "Heh!" the swordsman catches himself and immediately dodges a left hook from Westleigh. He thrusts with a right jab and Kel leaps onto the bandit leader's gargantuan fist like a stepping stone and slams his knee into Westleigh's face with a (Crash!)
A few teeth fly and he hits the ground with a large thud.
"Now stay down...if you get up again I'll end your life for real"
"Tch...it doesn't matter we're all dead anyway"
Westleigh leans up with another grunt; "The Drachma Imperium"
Kel didn't know much about the land of Gale, but wandering these lands he did pick up a thing or two; "The Imperium...that army from the north burning all of the villages right?"
"I wasn't always a bandit...me and my boys were once royal guards of the Kingdom of Dunwoll. I thought I was strong...but Drachma made a right bitch of me when they attacked our kingdom. Killed our lord and slaughtered our people. Me and my boys, cast aside our honor...and lived as shameful swine taking from others….as if it would fill the hole that that damn empire burned in us" Westleigh wiped the blood from his lip. "When the Emperor of Drachma sent out a bounty for a swordsman with the reward being amnesty and coin. My boys and I went on the hunt…"
Kel narrows his eyes; "And you thought I was this swordsman? Why?"
"The description for the swordsman was a man with three red eyes" Westleigh leers up at Kel.
"Heh...what are you blind old man? I've only got one eye"
"In your head….but the other two are on your back"
Immediately Kel thought of the red ogre tattoo on his back, a tattoo that took eight long hours to carve into his back by his eccentric master, whom had a love for the art. "I don't know...I thought it was a metaphor or something...besides it's not like I was far off the mark. You're clearly a skilled swordsman what with your ability to use the Swordsman's Spirit"
Kel turns and starts to walk off; "I guess I need to start wearing a shirt...I don't have time to battle an entire army. After all there's only one head I wanna see roll….take care of yourself old man, I'm gonna want a rematch later"
"Tch…" Westleigh smirks.