The Trials Of The King Chapter 1
April 14, 1,017 A.D.
"You sure this is the brightest idea ever conceived Zeik?" One man out of many asked from their hiding place in the bushes on the outskirts of the forest.
"No. I have to admit that, Kaneta. But we've got starving people back home, and I know the mayor wants to give us the money for supplies. It's just that the Guardian regulations won't let him."
"So you think breaking in won't attract attention to us?" Kaneta grumbled.
"No, but they sure won't be expecting this." Zeik countered. "One of these days, I'll have to really do something about Guardia."
"Sure." Kaneta yawned. "We'd all love to. When is anyone ever going to?"
"Quiet! Now look up there." A third man next to them pointed toward an upstairs window.
"What is it, Omi-san?" Zeik crawled forward.
"Everyone has retired for the night, and there is a window ajar. We won't have to "break" in at all."
"You have the climbing equipment Mariko?" Zeik asked the darkness. The small woman behind him nodded. "One grappling hook. That window. Let's hope there are no special agents inside." With the ease of someone who had done it many times before, Mariko quietly and quickly secured the grappling hook. "You stay out here to cover our escape route."
"Still don't trust me in battle, huh Zeik?" She pretended to pout.
"No, I just don't want to risk you." He kissed her on the cheek. Then, he, Kaneta, Omi, and three other men raced up the rope. It was obviously an activity they were all used to. Kaneta was on point, with Omi functioning as the rear guard. Zeik was surrounded by a living shield of the other three men. He almost always protested the special treatment, but the others refused to risk the last surviving Matuyama.
"Zeik." Kaneta whispered softly. "The safe should be two rooms ahead, on the left. Extreme caution is required."
"How stupid do I look?" Zeik whispered back.
"I don't think you want me to answer that." Kaneta grinned. They all moved silently into the room. Fortunately, only one sleeping child occupied the inside. Omi quickly detected the safe behind a painting, and began tampering with the lock. It seemed to be fairly stubborn.
"I need some light here." Omi whispered at his quietest.
"Not much." Kaneta struck a match, then lit a small candle that one of the others procured from somewhere.
"Huh...?" The sleeping child began to stir.
"Handle it Kaneta." Zeik whispered urgently. Kaneta walked over to the bedside, then quickly unsheathed his katana. "Holy-! No, that's not what I meant!' Zeik stopped him in an almost normal tone of voice. Kaneta sighed and put the sword away. Zeik hurried over to the bedside himself.
"What's going on?" The kid asked sleepily.
"You're just having a weird dream." Zeik reassured her. "Keep on sleeping."
"Okay." The kid rolled over, and was out like a light. Zeik glared at Kaneta.
"Damn it!" Omi cursed under his breath. "What is all this crud? Rust? 'Nother candle." Kaneta quickly produced one. "Well, that explains a lot." Omi sighed. "It's not a combination lock. Why is there so much rust? Lousy Porrian weather." He grumbled.
"In that case, leave it to me." Zeik drew his own katana, and aimed at the lock.
"What? No, you're going to wake everyone..." Zeik charged forward, stabbing his sword into the lock. It barely clicked as it snapped open and fell into Omi's waiting hand. "..Up. Well, you're good." Kaneta broke into a grin.
"As if you didn't know." Zeik smiled back, then over at Omi. "Hurry, my good man. This is taking too long."
"Almost there..." Omi shoved a few more bank notes into his pack, then quietly closed the safe, and replaced the lock as best he could. He gingerly picked up the painting and placed it back in front of the safe as Kaneta snuffed out the candles.
Suddenly, voices came from outside. "Hold it right there!" They all tensed, and remained motionless, waiting for lights and special agents to flood the house. But only a dim glow invaded the window.
"That's coming from outside..." Zeik was the first to observe. Then they dimly heard sounds of fighting. "Crud... Mariko!" Then, heedless of the danger from inside the house, he bolted back toward the window as fast as he could go. He slid down the grappling hook, Kaneta right behind him, with most of the others not too far back, as the household began to stir. The last man unhooked the rope on his way down.
Zeik unsheathed his katana and charged through the underbrush as the sounds of fighting intensified. 'Why did she go so far away?!' He demanded of himself. Soon, screams erupted, but by the time he arrived on the scene, all was quiet. He stood still for a moment, not believing his eyes. Six special agents lay sprawled on the ground, the torches they had carried burning out on the wet ground. They were all clearly dead, while Mariko, breathing with effort, lay in the middle of them. "Mariko!!" He ran up and knelt by her side. "Why didn't you wait for us?!"
"They were almost at... ..the house. I l-led them away from... ..it, and they caught up... I had to give you time... ..time to get away."
"I can't believe you beat six special agents at once! I'm very proud of you."
"Thank you..." She smiled through the pain. "I hope I have... ..brought us much honor. Now, Matuyama Tuvai, take this." Zeik gasped at both the sound of his real name and what she held up.
"It's the Murasama! Why did you bring it here?"
"I always bring it... ..in case you ever need it. You must accept it Tuvai. You must become the force to lead our people. You must... ..do what Goroda would not... ..all those years ago." Then, her eyes began to close. Zeik noticed a disturbing amount of blood flowing out from her side. "I loved you Zeik, Tuvai*... ..I hope to meet you again someday..."
"Whoah! Stop speaking in the past tense here!" He shook her gently. "C'mon, you're going to be all right." Only then did he noticed that she was no longer breathing. "NOOOO!!"
Omi walked forward and put a hand on his shoulder. "Karma, Matuyama-sama. There was nothing we could do."
Tears began to stream down Zeik's face. "There was plenty we could do! If you hadn't taken so long with the lock...!"
Omi began to get mad too. "How do you ever expect to defeat the northern devils if you cannot even think like us?!" Kaneta put a hand on Omi's shoulder and guided him away.
"He needs some time alone. Now, he can think like us, but he can also think like the northern devils. That is exactly why we will triumph."
Suddenly, Zeik stood up, and held the Murasama above his head. "For Matuyama, my people, and especially for you, Mariko-sama!! I will destroy Guardia!!!" The others remained silent for a second, then broke out in cheers.
"Mariko-san, it was your karma to die gloriously and live forever. It is mine to be Shogun." - Lord Yoshi Toranaga
*Nanaki: That one's for you, my fellow Wild ARMs fans. Yes, his name is Matuyama "Zeik" Tuvai!
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