Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ The Seneschal ❯ Japan, 1582 ( Chapter 1 )
Author's Note: This story is actually a cross-over with an original story I have posted on fictionpress. It's been kicking around my mind lately, so I wanted to sound it out and see what people thought of it. I have more of it written, but I may or may not post the rest. But it seems like it will be a little fun to hear what people have to say. Also, I played a little with some real historical figures and stuff... I wonder if anyone can guess the significance of at least one of the characters... :-)
Oh, I don't own anything having to do with Sailor Moon or it's associated properties. Just this story and Yumiko... I made her... she's mine.
Two of the warriors glared down at the girl as she continued her meal. The third warrior was a little older and wiser. His eyes bespoke of many years combat experience and his face, while benign in nature, did little to mask the hardness that dwelt beneath.
"Yumiko Takajima?" The older man asked.
The girl carefully placed her soup bowl down on the table before her and neatly arranged her chopsticks in front of the bowl before looking up.
"It would appear that you know my name, sir," Yumiko said. She was garbed in a plain white hakama. Her face was slightly oval and fair in complexion and her long brown hair was tied in a simple upright pony tail. She wore a plain white headband beneath her neatly trimmed bangs. But her eyes were her most distinguishing feature to the old warrior. Her eyes were empty and cold and they seemed to bore through whatever they looked at.
"I know who you are and why you might seek me, however," Yumiko finished. She waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. "It is irrelevant. I am in the middle of a meal, please leave me in peace so that I may finish."
One of the two younger warriors that flanked the older man rested his hand upon the hilt of his katana. His eyes gleamed.
"You would be wise to show respect to Lord Takeru, wench!"
Yumiko's cold brown eyes swiveled to the younger man.
"His rank and position mean nothing to me," she said, "I have been traveling for three days straight. I am quite hungry. To me that takes precedence over anything else. So leave me in peace. You stink of horses and sweat and I'm trying to eat."
The younger man snarled and before Takeru could stop him, drew his katana in a blurring flash of motion. His technique was excellent as his attack blended with his quick draw. What happened next startled all three warriors.
The young man blinked as he stared dumbly at his blade. Its edge was caught neatly between Yumiko's wooden chopsticks. Her left arm extended across her chest and up near her throat, catching the blade in an almost casual gesture. While this act should have been impossible for any normal human to achieve, it occurred to Takeru that he didn't quite remember Yumiko even picking her chopsticks back up from the table.
The surrounding patrons of the teahouse had fallen silent at this aggressive act. Many were quietly standing up and leaving the teahouse, pursuing their own safety from the madness that surrounded such killers.
Yumiko's eyes focused back on Takeru.
"Tell your men that if it is death that they seek, I'd be more than willing to oblige them. But not in here."
Takeru nodded. "Shinnosuke, sheath your blade."
The other man turned wide eyes to Takeru. "But father...!"
Takeru's backhand caught the younger man across the jaw and sent him stumbling to the tatami floor, his katana clattering to his side. The other young warrior quickly knelt at Shinnosuke's side.
"You shame me," Takeru said in a soft but dangerous voice, "attacking without proper provocation in a place like this. It is an honorless act."
Shinnosuke bowed his head in shame. Takeru shook his head.
"Both of you await me outside."
Shinnosuke lifted his head, his mouth open to protest but a harsh look from Takeru silenced him immediately. The two younger warriors collected Shinnosuke's katana and quickly left the teahouse. Takeru knelt down at the table opposite Yumiko. He placed his fists on his legs and bent slightly forward.
"Please forgive them, Sensei," Takeru said, "they do not understand who you really are."
Yumiko calmly resumed her meal. Takeru patiently waited for her to finish.
"It is a pleasant surprise to see you again, Takeru-dono." Yumiko said, finally putting her empty bowl down. Takeru looked up into the girl's empty brown eyes.
"It's been twenty years, Yumi-sensei," Takeru replied, "how is it that you still look so young?"
"I age slowly."
Takeru sighed. It had been more than three weeks since the three of them had left Kyoto on this mission. Three weeks of little more than rumors and speculation as to the location of their quarry. Takeru, however, knew better than the two younger men that traveled with him. If the target of their search truly wished to remain hidden, there would have been no hints at all. But after three weeks, to be sitting in front of this beautiful young woman who really wasn't that young... it meant in Takeru's mind that she clearly wished to be found.
Takeru nodded. "At any rate, you said you had an idea as to why I'd be seeking you."
Yumiko arched one delicate eyebrow.
"You've been working for the Oda clan, Takeru-dono," she said, "you are likely here to recruit me or kill me. Let me save you the time. I will not join you."
Takeru clenched his eyes tight before wearily rubbing the bridge of his nose.
"Why not Sensei?" he asked, "There are few people who have not heard of the Crescent Rose. Your influence would be a great asset. Don't you understand that Nobunaga-dono is trying to unite Japan?"
"Nobunaga, with all his noble posturing about uniting Japan, is nothing more than a bloodthirsty murderer." Yumiko stood up and fixed her empty gaze upon Takeru. "You were there at Nagashima. You saw what he did."
Takeru looked away.
"They were dissidents," he muttered "They preached against the way of bushido."
"I see. Better that they all burn together. Just like the monks at Enryaku-ji." Yumiko shook her head. "A country united in fear is not really united, Takeru-dono. And a man who would kill innocent civilians is no leader. He is a tyrant."
She bent to retrieve a pair of katanas that resembled little more than wooden walking sticks with their plain black fittings. As she tucked them into her sash she turned to look at Takeru again.
"Leave him, Takeru. Take your family and stop serving the Oda. Nobunaga is nothing more than a violent animal undeserving of your loyalty. Don't waste your life for him." Yumiko turned to go.
"You know I can't do that, Yumi-sensei."
Yumiko stopped moving and closed her eyes.
"No, I suppose you can't," she replied.
"Honor demands that I either bring you back to Kyoto as an ally or return with your head to assure my lord that you will not fight against him."
"I serve no one here, Takeru."
Takeru turned in his place to glare at Yumiko's back.
"Why don't you ever take a side, Sensei??" he growled, "Will you always go through life as a ronin?? Where's your home? Your stability?? Your HONOR??"
Yumiko said nothing for a moment.
"I already have someone to serve. To honor and protect." she turned one cold brown eye upon Takeru. "She just hasn't been born yet."
Yumiko turned away again and placed a hand on the doorpost leading outside.
"I intend on leaving Japan soon, Takeru," she said, "My business is nearly done here, at least for now. It may be a long time before I come back. I'd rather us part as friends, but if you draw your blade against me..." Yumiko clenched her hand into a fist. "Please don't make me kill you."
The door slid shut behind her as Yumiko left. Takeru sat at the low table for a moment. His heart was heavy with sadness, but his path was clear.
I hope that one day you can forgive me, Sensei.
Takeru stood up and followed Yumiko outside, drawing his katana from its ornate wooden sheath.
Yumiko had stopped at the other side of the small square. Her shoulders seemed to slump slightly. Surrounding the square, the villagers looked on with a mixture of excitement and fear written upon their faces. Takeru's two sons made to draw their own blades.
"Stop," Takeru commanded them, "This is not your fight."
"Father..!" Shinnosuke began. Takeru silenced him with a glare.
"Your job is to tell Lord Nobunaga what happened here. Whatever the outcome of this duel. Do not forget what you are about to see! Understand?"
The two younger men nodded glumly and backed off.
Yumiko turned to face Takeru, one of her katanas in her hand. It was a blade of superior craftsmanship. The sunlight glimmered off its polished length. Near the hilt there was an image of a rose sillouhetted over a crescent shaped moon carved into the steel. Takeru smiled grimly. The Crescent Rose had been legendary when Takeru was a child. Called both demon and hero, she was a woman that few had ever seen but skilled beyond compare. She was also the one who taught Takeru the art of swordsmanship. He traveled with her for four years as she hunted demons and villains alike. A beautiful woman that haunted his dreams even till now. Takeru knew that he was about to die.
"Crescent Rose, by order of my lord, Nobunaga Oda, I hearby challenge you."
Yumiko's cold brown eyes bore into Takeru's. For a brief instance, something akin to sadness flashed through them.
The two samurai slowly circled each other. Takeru paused for a moment, his katana grasped in his hands. Then with an explosion of speed he struck.
The stroke was perfect, well executed, and had taken down many an enemy in Takeru's long career. Takeru watched Yumiko blur her body to the side, deftly avoiding his cut with her unnatural speed. He felt like a spectator in his body... and he knew that he just lost this duel.
I hope you are watching closely, Shinnosuke, Mitsuhide, my sons. My final lesson to you: how a true warrior dies.
The first cut tore open Takeru's stomach and the second took his head from his shoulders, sending it hurtling through the air. His body collapsed forward, skidding slightly in the dirt from his initial momentum.
Silence followed. Few had dared move after witnessing this brief but brutal fight. Shinnosuke and Mitsuhide approached Takeru's body, falling to their knees at his side. Yumiko flicked the blood from her blade before wiping it clean and resheathing it.
"You two are his sons, right?"
The two other men looked up into Yumiko's face.
"Yes," Mitsuhide replied, "he was our father."
"Your father was a courageous man. A strong and proud warrior. A true samurai," Yumiko said, "be sure that he is properly honored."
She turned away and began walking. She originally had a destination, but now she couldn't remember what it was. She just knew that it had to be far away from the mighty warrior that lay fallen in the muddy dirt behind her. In her mind a young boy with a dirty face was grinning a great gaptoothed smile at her. It was a young boy that Yumiko once cared about. Like a child she once had.
Yumiko clenched and unclenched her fists as she walked.
"Damn you, Takeru Akechi. Damn you," she muttered. She glared up into the sky. "And damn you Selene. Damn you for making me live instead of letting me die defending you."
Yumiko lowered her head as she walked. It was a commonplace thing for her, cursing her long-dead queen's name. It helped keep the pain of loneliness from overwhelming her heart.
A loud roaring like that of a mighty African Lion, except multiplied tenfold, sounded from down the empty stretch of road. A large humanoid creature stood there, glaring back at Yumiko with blood red eyes that glowed. Its muscle mass gave it broad shoulders like great mountains standing together. It looked like it might have been human once, but now all that was left was the torn clothing of an unfortunate peasant that hung from its blue furred body. It flexed its saber like talons and leered at her.
"SO THE SENESCHAL HERSELF HAS FINALLY COME!"
Ah, that's where I was going.
Yumiko drew her two blades as she walked.
My last piece of business here in Japan.
The demon began to approach.
"YOU'VE SLAIN ALL THE OTHERS ON THIS PATHETIC LITTLE ISLAND, BUT I AM THE STRONGEST. YOU WILL NOT SLAY ME. I HAVE GATHERED THE ENERGY OF HUNDREDS!"
"I'm sure Beryl will be very proud of you when you meet again in hell."
With a wordless roar, the demon charged. Yumiko sped up to meet its attack.
I'm doing what you wanted, Selene. Yumiko thought as she moved, I'm still here waiting their rebirth. The Moon Kingdom will one day rise again.
Yumiko calmly sheathed her twin blades and began to walk away as the youma slowly dissolved into dust. Its face was frozen in a richtus of surprise.
She clutched her arms around herself as she walked, as if to hold in the little warmth she had left.
It hurts, Selene. How many more millenia must I wait? How long before there is another Queen Serenity?
Yumiko sighed. There was still so much work to do. So many more youma still loose in the world.