“My vision is fading, it’s getting hard to focus. The rest of my body won’t move, this is the end. I’m sorry, James. I tried to finish what I started, but I guess I was not’t strong enough. I’m sorry I never got to explain everything to you properly, I wanted to I really did. My only regret is dragging you into this, with no explanation. I don’t have much time left; I can feel my consciousness slipping away. I know this is selfish of me, but I leave the rest to you. Finish what I started, set things right; with my dying breath I am trusting you to finish this.....I can hear them coming now. A shame really, I can’t even lift my katana to die honorably...” The note ended there.
A tear landed on the piece of paper as James folded it up, and put it back in his pocket. He had found the note a few days ago, laying next to his dead friend, his only friend. He could still remember the two of them when they were kids. They lived on the streets as orphans, struggling everyday just to survive, both of them abandoned at a young age. “It’s not right. How can they just take her from me? It isn't’t....fair!” The sound of a katana being unsheathed echoed throughout the room. “I swear on my life that I will finish this!” He put the blade in the palm of his right hand and made a deep incision. It was a blood oath. A blood oath sealed with the blade of his dead friend.
With a now blooded hand he tore some cloth from his kimono robes, and wrapped it around his self inflicted wound. The wound would serve as a symbol in his quest, and the scar that came after would remind him of his endeavors. “Gin, I’m coming for you.” James whispered quietly, his intent to kill showing brightly in his eyes. He wiped his blood off of his friend’s katana before slowly sheathing it. “Anyone who stands in my way dies..”
*Two weeks later*
A thug, covered in blood, lay on the ground shaking in fear. His dead comrades laying around him, each one cut to a bloody pulp. “I’m telling you, man. I DON’T KNOW WHERE HE IS!” The thug cried out.
“I don’t like people who waste my time with lies!” James lashed out with his katana, slicing open the slower calf of the thug, blood spilled out onto the ground. It wasn't’t a deep cut, no James needed him alive for the moment, but it was still painful.
“AHH!” The thug screamed in pain, and clutched his new wound pathetically. Many other cuts covered his body, each one nonlethal. But all incredibly painful.
“You see this katana?” James pointed the blade at the man’s throat. “My friend named it ‘Shi’, and Shi is going to kill you if you don’t tell me what I need to know!” James pulled the katana away from the man’s neck, and then dug it deep into the man’s right shoulder. “Tell me...now!” The thug cried out once again, and tried to pull the blade out with his bare hands, James only twisted the blade in response. Blood starting to drip out from the thug’s mouth.
“West district! He’s in the..west district. Please, I’m begging you. Don’t kill me. I have a family.” The thug started to sob. “They won’t be able to survive without me.”
“A family you say?” James pulled his katana out of his shoulder.
“Yes...” The man’s face was turning pale white, blood no longer circulating properly throughout his body. “A wife a three kids.”
“Hmm.” James sighed, considering it for a moment. The man began to cough violently, choking on his own blood. “Sorry, my only family was taken from me. Why should it be different for them?!” James raised his katana above his head, the end point of the katana aiming downwards.
“I see.” The thug quietly said as he was stabbed in his exposed chest. The tip of Shi hit the man directly in the heart, ending his life quickly.
“The west district. That’s what all his friends told me; must be true..” James pulled his katana from the man’s chest, and flicked the blood off before returning it to it’s sheath.
**11 years earlier**
“Get out of here, brat!” The man kicked the kid down roughly, and pointed a knife at his throat. “I’I've already told you; no money means no food. Now beat it before I kick your ass.”
“Mister please, I haven’t eaten in three days. I’I'll eat anything, scraps even.” The kid begged. He would cry if he could, but he was too dehydrated.
“No damn it.” The store owner picked the boy up by his hair, and threw him out of the store. “Pathetic boy, get out of here.”
The boy hit the ground hard. Usually he would cry out in pain, but starvation and dehydration left his body feeling numb. His body was simply too tired to feel it. “Is this how I die?” He muttered as the world went dark, his consciousness slowly slipping away.
“Wake up! Come one wake up!” A sweet voice pleaded. The boy could feel his mouth being opened for him, soft fingers gently pulling his lips apart. He tried to open his eyes to look at his savior, but his vision was too disoriented. He could only make out the shape of a small child. “Drink.” The voice said again. The boy could feel a cold liquid running down his throat...water, it was water. Not the diluted stuff he was used to drinking from a gutter, it was the kind that one would find in a store. “That’s right, drink up.” And drink the boy did, in fact it didn't’t take him long to fill his belly with water. Even then though he was not completely revived. There was still the matter of his growling stomach. “Don’t worry, I have food for you.” The voice reassured him. This time, instead of water, a piece of bread was placed in his mouth. “Eat.”
The boy chewed the bread slowly, it tasted like heaven. It was still warm, still soft. Much better than the old crusty bread he was used to finding. Slowly the boy’s senses return, and he was able to see properly. The first thing he noticed was that he was no longer on the street in front of that man’s store, instead he was in some abandoned building. It looked like a warehouse, a run down one. There were plenty of warehouses in the city, most of them were used as stored for imported goods.
“Are you okay now?” The voice asked after a few moments.
“Y-yes..” The boy replied, finally turning his attention to her; the voice belonged to a girl after all. She was small, like him, maybe a little taller. But just as skinny. She had long brown hair, beautiful long brown hair. Just from looking he could tell that she had a soft face, it suited her kind nature. And finally he locked on to her eyes...Blue, dark blue. In them he could see sorrow, and only sorrow. However, behind all of the sorry, past all of the sadness, he could see the happiness. The small light at the end of the tunnel shining. “So this is what it’s like to see an angel after you die?” He mused.
“Silly boy, you’re not dead.” She giggled, her face blushing at being called an angel.
The boy’s face turned a dark red, embarrassed. “Uh...how did I get here?” He asked after a minute.
“I’m stronger than I look.” She sat down in front of him, and pulled out a small piece of bread for herself. “I found you outside of a food joint, you were nearly dead. So I brought you here.” She smiled.
“Thank you. I have nothing to give you though.” His eyes fell to the ground, ashamed.
“Don’t worry about it. I didn't’t do it for payment, I know what it’s like to hungry.” The girl finished her food. “Where are your parents?”
“They’re..they were killed. Two years ago.” He answered, barely able to choke up the answer.
“Oh. Sorry.” The girl stayed quiet for a moment, then her face brightened up for a moment. “Then we should to stick together! Two orphans are better than one!” She held out her hand, “I’m Saya, ten years old. Nice to meet you.”
“I’m James, nine years old.” James shook her soft hand, for a girl she had tight grip. From the start he could tell that he liked her. “Yes, let’s work together!” The two of them smiled to each other. It was the start of a great friendship. One that would last many years.
**Current day. West District**
A trail of blood followed James, he was clutching his katana hilt so tightly that the wound on his hand was bleeding. “Gin!” He yelled. “You piece of trash, come out here! You will pay for mistakes.”
“He’s here!” A thug warned as he, and two of his buddies, ran out of building. All of them drawing their katana. “Don’t let him enter the building!”
“Useless, you are all.” James gripped the hilt on his katana, but did not draw ; he was full of openings. “Come at me, all at once, one by one, it doesn't’t matter. You all die anyway.”
“You son of a...charge!” The three thugs charged James. They attacked in unison, perfect timing; none of them bothering to wait for him to draw his katana. Blood was everywhere flooding the area around them.
“Pathetic.” There was a soft click as he sheathed his katana.
“I never saw him draw.” One thug said as he fell to the ground joining his dead comrades.
James entered the building they came from. It was a small shop, it used to be a shop anyway. Now it was nothing more than a building used by the Ronin, the local gang. “Gin...” In the back there was a man, an elderly man, sitting on the floor. A cup of tea in his hands.
“So you’you've come. Care for a drink?” The man had a scared face, proof that he had seen countless battles. His hair was long and grey, unkempt in his late age. Gin was old, older than most men in Rukgonga. “Or shall we get down to business?” His eyes flickered with bloodlust, glowing a dark red.
“Business!” James drew his katana quickly, and charged his target.
“Good.” Gin threw his glass of tea at James, but the young man dodged it easily, not distracted in the slightest. The old man got to his feet, with surprising speed, and drew his katana. Their blades clashed loudly, creating sparks as they fought. Normally a sword fight is decided within the first two hits, but they were past their tenth hits.
“You killed Saya, you bastard!” James dodged then countered, swinging his katana at Gin’s exposed neck.
“It’s funny isn't’t it?.” Gin brought up his katana quickly, and locked blades with younger swordsman. “You’re turning into exactly what you set out to destroy. How many have you killed to get to me?”
“Shut up!” Blood trickled down from his right hand, the wound on his palm was still bleeding. “You took her from me! My only family!” James kicked Gin in the stomach. It was a cheap shot, but it gave him an opening. Gin lost his composure for a second, the breath getting knocked out from him, the kick was unexpected. “HA!” James didn't’t let the opportunity go to waste. He started at Gin’s shoulder, and didn't’t stop cutting until he was at the waste.
“Agh!” Gin coughed violently, blood spurting from his mouth, as he fell to his knees. Blood was coming pouring out a dangerous rate. “How..does it..feel, huh? To...be the same..as me?” He laughed. Even in death the old man was mocking him.
“I feel nothing but regret. Regret that I didn't’t protect her from you.” James leveled his katana at Gin’s neck, and then pulled it back some. “Die. Die like the dog you are!”
“If only you could see yourself.” Gin chuckled. James brought down his katana, swinging it with all the force he had. He sliced cleanly through his neck, then sheathed his katana. The head hit the floor with a dull thud.
James looked at the wound in his hand, it was no longer bleeding. His oath had been kept, he had avenged Saya. “It’s over..I did it. Yet...why do I feel this way?” He flicked the blood off the katana and sheathed it. “Why do I burn with hatred? There is no one left to kill. WHY?!”
In the years that followed James became known as the Demon of Rukgonga. He searched endlessly for it. ‘It’ being the cause of his hatred. The hatred that was directed at no one, he had no one to hate. He knew that he should be satisfied, and yet he searched anyway. He was searching for someone, something, to hate. Killing any who got in his way.