Street Fighter : Demon's Requiem


#1

Howdy all,

I wrote this prologue over four years ago and have since managed to write one chapter a year every year thereafter. The writing is a little rough, the dialogue lacking (in more ways than one) and more than a tad stilted and there are probably a fair few errors along the way. The idea was to write a Street Fighter story that tied together and explained a lot of those vague back-stories that have propelled the series along. I also wanted to put to rest some of those demons the Alpha 3 script writers incompetently summoned and this was the only way I knew how. If I get any response not largely consisted of f and s words and personal attacks on my mothers integrity, Ill probably post up the rest. Hope you enjoy.


Prologue

"There is no such thing as an omen. Destiny does not send us heralds. She is too wise or too cruel for that"
Oscar Wild

The martial artist’s resolve did not falter as his opponent, screaming stridently, leapt towards him. Both his foot and leg were outstretched strongly, threatening to tear off his head had he refused to move. Ryu ducked at last allowing his opponent to land behind him, the attack missing him totally. With that, Ryu shuffled forwards, spinning to face his foe as he distanced himself. His assailant, having landed, had already spun into a backfist to which Ryu blocked firmly, yet was unprepared for the following blow. Another fist darted forward slamming convincingly into his chest, forcing him to fall backwards to catch his breath. His rival ceased the attack.

“You alright?” Ken asked with genuine concern, his wealth of fair-hair, tied back neatly into a knot by an immaculate crimson ribbon had fallen slickly past his shoulder. He moved to his dark haired, white-clad companion instinctively.

“Yeah, just a bruise.” Ryu responded in a wheeze, now squatted on the ground in a bid to catch his breath. “It was a nice move.”

“Ya should have seen it coming. If you bothered to attack me, you wouldn’t be in this mess.” Ken chortled, smiling broadly to his healing companion. Ryu failed to share in his good humour.

“I was waiting for the right moment. Don’t criticise my fighting unless you’re sure you can best me!” he replied stalwartly, his tone rich and proud. Ken smiled again, shaking his head in silence.

“Oh believe me, I can best you. I’m not the one crouched on the floor gasping for breath.” Ken beamed as he spoke, impatiently placing both hands behind his head as he waited for Ryu to ready himself.

“Is that right?” Ryu grinned. He raised his scornful gaze upwards and thrust his fist unswervingly at Ken’s unsuspecting stomach.

“Wha-!” Ken barely managed to splutter as the blow connected both brutal and swift. Within moments he had been reduced to a gasping, grimacing wreck on the floor. Ryu, convulsed with both pain and hilarity, chuckled sorely before ultimately rising to his feet.

“It was obvious I was going to do that.”

In due course Ken found his way back to an upright position, amused somewhat at his jovial friend and rival. The two stepped away from each other cautiously, dusting themselves from the earth and dirt that had found its way onto their training outfits. Ryu paused, raising his head to the heavens as icy trickles of rain began to drip from the dimming, scarlet sky. The leaves from the wilting autumn trees sped past him as a soft yet bitter wind crept in from the North. The fighter mused briefly in the cold. He had trained here for most of his life and enjoyed sparring with Ken more than anything in the world. Nevertheless he knew that a change was coming and his training here was nearing an end. He would have to leave soon, and that thought alone caused his usually gentle features to harden sorrowfully. Still, he would make best of what little time he had left. He nodded to Ken once and they both fell back into their fighting stances.

“Again!” Ken announced, and with that the sparring resumed.


Late evening shaded into night, and the two, having trained hard enough for the day, reluctantly returned to their dojo. Their sensei was nowhere to be seen; Ryu immediately assumed he had retired to bed and so they hastily made their way to the dining area.

“I’m starved!” exclaimed Ryu. “I haven’t eaten since breakfast.” Ken smiled instantly.

“Whatever! I saw you devouring those apples before our race. Man, you eat like a horse.” The two laughed quietly and sat themselves Indian-style in the middle of the room. A meal had already been prepared for them and in less than a heartbeat, feasting commenced. The two fell silent, as was usual around this time given the demands of training, although Ken was aware that something was amiss with his partner.

“You alright, Ryu? If it’s possible you seem quieter than usual.”

“I’m fine. Just thinking.” he responded.

“That’s all you ever do. Care to share?”

“Nope.” Ryu answered with a smile.

“It’s because we’re leaving isn’t it?” Ryu couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. “Don’t be so surprised, I’ve been thinking about it too. Where we’re headed, who we’ll meet.” Ken paused. “You think there are better fighters than us out there?”

“I know there are. What’s important is that we learn from our defeats and become stronger.”

“Defeats? Who could possibly beat me? After all, I’m the best Shotokan martial artist in the world. Nobody alive has been good enough to beat me yet” he sniggered. Ryu chose not to respond to his comrade’s humour. He sat there for a moment, trying to fall into meditation.

“I’ll miss you.” Ken mused aloud. Ryu angled his neck in Ken’s direction, his eyes widened briefly in surprise.

“I’ll miss you too.” He responded finally. “But you know why I have to go?”

"Yeah, I know. A higher calling. The meaning of the fight and all that. " Ryu nodded, bade goodnight to his friend and retired to bed.

As Ryu headed to his chamber, Ken’s azure eyes thinned. He lurched to his feet, tiredly making his way outside to dimly lit porch light, the gentle glow of the lone candle that sat alone by the door illuminated his crimson gi. He cast his waning vision in the direction of the hills, already having rested himself against one of the sturdy wooden beams that held the dojo upright.

The day will come when you and I will have to fight, Ryu. The cool breeze of the thin night air sped past him, forcing him to shut his eyes. I just hope I’ll be strong enough to win.


The night passed quickly, as they often did in the secluded dojo hidden somewhere in the limitless mountains of Japan. The shimmering rays of the eastern sun had awoken the two earlier than usual, and already they had made their way outside to begin training. Ken had suggested that they train at the roof of the dojo waterfall. He had mentioned that combat could take place anywhere and the cool, shallow waters would make the battle even more interesting. What he actually meant by interesting was dangerous. Ken had a habit of looking for trouble but it didn’t perturb Ryu in the least. As they reached the clear waters, combat began immediately.

Ken darted at Ryu as soon as the martial artist had turned to begin. The first kick to come was unprecedented, but he parried immediately and returned with a fist of his own. Ken slipped back a step and allowed Ryu to complete his attack. As soon as Ryu’s fist had missed, he made a grab for his arm. Ryu was prepared. As Ken’s hand caught a hold of his arm, he stepped forward, striking an elbow deep into his chest. With that, he snapped his hand towards Ken’s neck, catching a hold, and used the momentum to hurl him over his shoulder. Ken spun over his enemy, the strength of the blow to his chest enough to have winded him for the moment. Nevertheless, the throw did not topple him and he landed on his feet with his back to Ryu. His leg shot back instinctively, catching the unwary Ryu in the abdomen. He fell back instantaneously clutching at his wound for a brief instant. Ken had already taken a step back to hold his chest and Ryu sped forward to capitalise on his mistake.

Ken was more than an excellent martial artist. He was also an accomplished actor. Ryu’s fist shot forward but Ken had already crouched. His hand passed over Ken harmlessly exposing his body completely. The malicious grin on Ken’s face was justified. Ryu had erred, and he was about to feel the sting of his arrogance. His dark eyes widened in dread as Ken rose into the air.

“Sho-Ryu-Ken!” came the cry from scarlet-garbed martial artist as he soared upwards at a blinding pace, his clenched fist held firmly above his head. The brief glimmer of heavenly light that sparked from his hand bore testament to the awesome power of the attack and Ryu, reeling in shock, stumbled backwards unsteadily as the blow narrowly missed his chin. The sheer force of the strike tossed him back regardless and he crashed into the crystal clear waters of the lake. Ken twisted as the height of his blow reached its utmost and fell back to the ground, grinning widely. He splashed in the icy water, landing perfectly upon a single knee, his head downcast and hands pressed against the rocky base of the river. Ken turned his attention to his shaken counterpart.

“KEN!” came a sudden cry from afar, and he turned to see his Master standing tall besides the riverbed, a stony look of disappointment etched upon his aging features and a glimmer of anger in his experienced eyes. “The Sho-Ryu-Ken is powerful force but must be used only when necessary else it may call upon death!”

“Forgive me Sensei, I wouldn’t have harmed him.”

“You will begin your morning run now. Ryu will join you shortly. Go!”

“But-?”

“GO!” Ken was brash but he knew never to cross his Master. He sighed deeply, and turned to begin his run, hanging his head in shame. Ryu approached his Sensei slowly. He had never been able to perform the Sho-Ryu-Ken and Ken’s gloating bothered him more than he would ever admit. Without it, he would never achieve his goal but its execution eluded him and Ken’s ability to perform the assault at will hurt him deeply. He paused by his Master.

“You are troubled, Ryu.” Ryu said nothing. “That attack could have killed you, are you aware of that?”

“Ken would never allow that to happen, Sensei.” Master Gouken snorted in response. Ryu could have sworn that he heard him utter the word ‘ignorance’ under his breath but he wasn’t sure and so, said nothing.

“And how goes your progress? Have you achieved the Sho-Ryu-Ken yet?” Ryu’s head shook shamefully. “Do not be concerned. Ken’s ability to perform the attack interlocks with his aggressive style of fighting. The speed of which you perform the Ha-Do-Ken is greater than your friends because your command of your ‘Chi’ is stronger and more complete.”

“But Ken can use both attacks, Master. I can do but one.”

“The essence of the Sho-Ryu-Ken is to find the clarity that exists in rage. Once you locate that balance, you will perform the Sho-Ryu-Ken.” He placed a hand sympathetically on Ryu’s shoulder.

“I’m afraid I never will”

“Nonsense. You will, given enough time.” His Master turned and made his way back to the dojo. “Now go and join your friend. He is far ahead of you.”


Ryu promptly started into a brisk run after his sandy haired companion who was now far ahead of him. Barefooted was a difficulty when darting across the mountain plains. There were hazardous falls at almost every turn, not to mention the dangers of cutting oneself on the jagged stones that littered the hilltops. Nevertheless Ryu was unmoved. Ken and he performed this run every single day and it had become more of a competition than a chore. Some days Ken would win, and say days he would. Ryu didn’t particularly care if he lost to his friend, even though the severe gloating to follow was enough to bring any grown man to tears. He would only be displeased if he had not tried his best, and to Ryu, this was often his greatest foe. Afraid to unleash lest he destroy his opponent utterly, he faced this demon in every spar with Ken. If he would lose control for even an instant, what would be the outcome? He shook it from his thoughts. He raised his head slightly; there was a gorge approaching even though he couldn’t see it yet. He took the hill corner sharply. There it was, bigger than he anticipated yet he leapt without hesitation. He landed hard on the other side, his right foot instantly breaking off into a run as he touched the earth once again. How far ahead was Ken now? He still couldn’t see him. Ryu sighed as he dwelt on the thought that Ken had already finished. He could picture it now. Ken’s derisive stare and juvenile grin facing him as he finally approached the end of the run. He continued to sprint, his own chest pounding heavier with each and every step, the cornucopia of mountain air becoming thinner and thinner. Yet he ran.

The essence of the Sho-Ryu-Ken is to find the clarity that exists in rage. Once you locate that balance, you will perform the Sho-Ryu-Ken.

What was Master Gouken talking about? The clarity of rage? It didn’t make any sense. Anger was, as he was taught, the adversary. It must be controlled, suppressed and never used. It was as simple as that. The only clarity in rage is destruction, and surely the Sho-Ryu-Ken was not used to destroy? His heart pounded faster. Perhaps destruction is what his sensei meant? He held his fist forward, still running with all his might. He allowed his anger to flood him, his hatred for losing consuming him. He grit his teeth, his brow and face tightened and he screamed as he raised his hand into the air.
“SHO-RYU-KEN!” he cried as he leapt, his dark eyes widening as he soared into the sky. Nothing. He landed back on his feet, turning another corner as he emerged into a clearing. “Dammit.” Ryu cursed in a whisper. With that, he calmed himself. Obviously this was not the essence of the attack and all hope was lost. He continued, exhaling profoundly though he was calm, as he often was. He turned harshly at the next corner, skidding slightly on his left foot. Ryu focused his eyes forward. It was Ken. He pushed himself onwards, the speed of his run rising with each and ever step. He calmed his mind again until the pain in his chest almost seemed to vanish, and in next to no time at all he was behind him.

Ken was impressed. Ryu had caught up with him despite having had to talk with Master Gouken. It must have been the Sho-Ryu-Ken, Ken mused as he tried to increase his speed. Performing the attack must have slowed me down. Have to keep going. But Ken’s chest pounded even more ruthlessly in response, and he could only continue his current pace. Ryu passed him within moments, and Ken cursed himself mentally.

Ryu continued to press himself onwards. There was another jump coming; he remembered it well for it was wider than any of those before. He reached the chasm and with a grunt of effort he soared across it harmlessly and landed steadily on the other side. Ken was less than a few seconds behind him but he had slowed considerably from the pressure of the run and as he approached the murky abyss he lost his footing and tumbled down into the endless darkness.

End of Prologue

(Gareth John)

Thanos_98@hotmail.com


#2

Chapter 1 - Ten; Heaven

Desperately in need of a rework.


Chapter 1 - Ten; Heaven

"Every man has his own destiny: the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him."
Henry Miller, The Wisdom of the Heart

Though surprise and despair gripped Ken’s body, throwing him into an intense state of trauma, a piercing cry nevertheless managed to escape from his throat. In that one instant a lifetime rippled through his head. Glimmers of a childhood long forgotten, a seemingly unloving father and that overrated first kiss flooded his senses momentarily. A barrage of imagery all lost as expeditiously as they appeared, leaving nothing but that single, terrified and seemingly eternal scream.

And yet, as he tumbled into the surrounding blackness a violent thud shook him from his thoughts. He had hit the bottom perhaps? No, it was far too early for that. He hung there a moment, his eyes closed in fear and disbelief, and as he raised his blue-hued gaze he caught glimpse of a smile that he couldn’t help but trust. Ryu was now leaning over the cliff above him; his arm extended and clutching to Ken’s wrist with such ease it was as if he was mocking Death himself with justified defiance. Ken smiled as he hung helplessly over the chasm. He knew that he was safe.


"Master,

Although the training of both Ryu and Ken is nearing completion, I still sense great untapped potential in both warriors. As you are aware, they are not my first although undeniably they are my greatest. Ken has been eager to learn; his command of his chi is surprisingly great for someone so aggressive. Despite his fighting style he controls his anger well. Unlike my brother he refuses to give in to his darker tendencies. It’s a commendable accomplishment by any standards, and it bewilders me for even I struggled to control my hatred in battle. You were a great teacher and an even greater friend. Had it not been for you I would no doubt have followed the same path as ‘Him’. What impresses me most about Ken is the sheer force of his ‘Sho-Ryu-Ken’. His aggressive style of fighting works in consonance with the attack. It is not uncommon for brilliant flames to engulf his arm while he performs the ‘Rising-Dragon’ threatening to not only destroy his opponents but burn them to a cinder in the process. While his offensive style obviously hinders his ability to perform the ‘Ha-Do-Ken’ with as much ease as his counterpart; this is an expected weakness for someone so aggressive, he still wields the attack surprisingly well on the battlefield. Truly remarkable.

Having praised Ken enough I find my attention once again drifting to Ryu who has failed to perform the ‘Sho-Ryu-Ken’ despite many arduous hours of practice. Though he denies it, I am fully aware that it angers him greatly and gnaws at his spirit. He is disheartened, and though his friend taunts in jest I fear that Ryu may eventually give in to despair.

As I have said before, Ryu shows great potential and I dare say even more so than Ken. His combat style is a juxtaposition of his rivals; Ryu is a great deal more defensive although this seems to force him to withhold his full potential. In sparing practices Ken appears to have the upper hand, due in part at least to Ryu’s reservations of responding. I sense that Ryu fears what he may do should he let his anger consume him. While this discipline and restraint can be perceived as an achievement, I confess I feel anxiety. If Ryu will not reveal his rage then I cannot help him to combat it and he risks losing control. I refuse to let that happen. Master, is there any advice you can offer?

Your pupil and friend,

Gouken"


Ken and Ryu chose not to continue the race even at the chance of being punished by their Master. They both cared for him greatly but that did not decrease their loathing of the gruelling tasks he would sometimes behest them. Nevertheless neither was interested in completing the race following the events that took place earlier that morning.

Ryu and Ken steadily walked at the same pace, Ryu with his head downcast as if lost in some deep contemplation. Ken simply stared at his companion, smiling thankfully.

“What?” Ryu eventually spoke, flicking his gaze in Ken’s direction too suddenly for the blonde to avert his eyes. “You’ve been looking at me like that ever since we stopped running.”

“Looking at you like what?” He retorted, knowing full well what Ryu was talking about. “Is this a gay thing?” Ryu couldn’t help but crack a smile. Ken always did have a way of making him laugh; his jokes were always so inappropriate.

“You noticed that sensei’s been a little weird recently?”

“Weird? How do you mean?” Ken answered distantly, his attention no longer on the conversation.

“Weird in the way that he seems like he’s got something on his mind.” The Japanese martial artist couldn’t hide the traces of concern that crept noticeably into his voice as he spoke. “It’s as if”

“Probably nothing.” Ken interrupted, now sounding even more distant as the two finally reached the stairs of their dojo. Perturbed, Ryu wondered momentarily if Ken had picked up on the anxiety that possessed his voice. “The master always was in a world of his own.” They climbed the steps at a leisurely pace, slower perhaps than they normally would have out of fear of their punishment, if one were given.

Ryu released a troubled sigh as they neared the pinnacle of the ancient staircase, if it could be called such. Devastated and jagged after centuries of use, the antique set of steps eventually led to the training dojo. Neither of the fighters knew how old the building was, nor did they particularly care. Ryu was still worried about Gouken and Ken wasn’t helping to settle his mind. Naturally the American born martial artist had heard Ryu exhaling and had put it down to nerves.

“Don’t be so worried.” he smiled confidently. “I doubt he’ll even noticed how long we were gone, it’s not as if there’s a clock nearby. Let me do the talking and everything will be fine.” Ken paused briefly. “Just don’t stand there and look guilty like you usually do!”

“Like I usually…?” He didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence. At the roof of the staircase, sat with his arms folded within his lap was Master Gouken. The rays of the morning sun stopped inches before his feet, as if in retreat; the shadows that surrounded him seemed impenetrable. And yet through the darkness, Ryu could have sworn he saw his Master’s eye gleam.

“You are late” he stated calmly, his voice betraying nothing about his state of mind. Ken fumbled around guiltily, cracking a false laugh that shattered within seconds as Gouken rose from his seat. “You know what happens when you disrupt my schedule.” Before his sensei could say another word, Ken shuffled forwards.

“It’s not as if we’re hugely late. We just lost track of the time because we were” Ken fell silent as he struggled to form a sentence. “because we were sparing! Thought we’d make use of the spare time we had considering we finished the race so quickly.” Ryu slapped his head. This was definitely not good.

“Twenty-four hours without sleep.” Gouken nodded. Ken felt glad that the punishment was lacking and for a moment he could feel a smile forming on his lips. He quickly made every effort to hide it. “And an additional forty-eight for lying to me.” Their faces shattered.

“Wha-?!” Ryu slapped a hand around Ken’s mouth before he had the chance to say anything else. He bowed, and forced Ken to bow with him before turning back down the staircase to leave. He pushed Ken ahead who promptly began cursing. With that, he crooked his head back to his Master who was becoming more difficult to see the further he descended. Through the shadows enveloped his Sensei completely, he could have sworn, however briefly, that he saw his Master smile.


The crowd discharged a heavy roar as the championship bout seemingly neared its end. Both opponents trembled with fatigue from the strenuous battle, though it was already becoming clear who the victor would be. The smaller of the two men rested himself on his aching knee, his forehead bleeding profusely to the concrete floor, turning ashen stone deep red. He wheezed painfully as he tried in vain to draw breath. His multicoloured robes, now soaked with a weighty fusion of water from the downpour and his own blood made the arduous task of standing even more difficult. Though the throbbing pain in his chest and skull was intense, his pride was greater and he once again found courage to stand.

Sagat towered an impressive height of 7’4 with a physique great enough to rival the strongest of men. Tied around his hands and wrists were once heavenly-white bandages, now soaked up with warped combination of sweat and blood from the gruelling battle. His bald head made him appear even more fierce than already he was; his malevolent stare enough to turn the bravest of men into a quivering wreck. He had made a name for himself by being the most brutal fighter in the tournament and his home country of Thailand already considered him as a national hero.

“It’s over Hibiki.” Sagat growled, towering over the man referred to. “Concede now and you will leave this contest with your ribs intact.” Hibiki made no comment save to fall back into his fighting stance. “There is no dishonour in yielding to a greater fighter, Hibiki. Your reign as champion has ended.”

“You cannot defeat me. We both know that I am stronger, no matter the outcome.” He wheezed once again. “Only death shall cost me my title.”

“How dull.” Responded the giant. “But I am prepared to honour such a foolish request. The choice has been made.”

Despite being prepared for the attack, Hibki was weakened. The kick that snapped for his head was both sturdy and prompt; little else could be expected from a master of Muay Thai. Go Hibiki raised his arm to soften the impact of the blow though it still shook him violently. Switching legs, Sagat brought another thrust to his knee, bringing the martial artist to the ground with a heavy thud. The wet sound of snapping bone echoed throughout the crowd as heads, both drunken and sober, instinctively turned away. Still this did not stay his hand and Sagat’s fist connected determinedly with the head of the partially toppled Hibiki. Blood once again sprayed across the canvas, splattering across Sagat’s brawny chest. Hibiki crashed to the ground.

“Accept your weakness. Never return here.” The crowd’s uproar died down as various rumours and whispers quickly spread throughout the masses. Murmurs of “He’s not breathing” could be heard through the rabble. Sagat was quick to respond. Stretching down his enormous limbs, he made a grab for the head of his fallen attacker. With that he raised him into the air above his head, allowing the bloodied and broken Go Hibiki to hang there lifelessly. It was more of a play to the crowd than an actual attack. Sagat took dark pleasure in humiliating his foes in battle, especially when they were as well respected as the man who now hung conquered in his fist.

“Now who is stronger?” Sagat cracked a smile as he gazed upon his beaten foe. He was champion at long last; undisputed, victorious and the greatest. What did it matter if he had taken the life of his opponent to achieve the goal? History would remember him for his accomplishment and his name would be spoken with both fear and wonder. Glory at long last, and yet he feltempty? Was this not the path of the true warrior that he followed for most of his life?

He paused for a moment as he starred at Hibiki. “What glory were you protecting?” he whispered under his breath. “Is there a secret you were hiding or were you simply blinded by your own arrogance?” With those words the man held in Sagat’s iron grasp stirred. The movement took less than a heartbeat to complete, Hibiki’s fist, firmly clenched sped towards the giant before him connecting painfully with his left eye.

The sound of the connection can barely be described for few words can convey the cacophony of crushing bone and flesh. Though the noise itself was horrifying enough to force even the bravest man to shudder, it is the scream that followed that froze the crowd, converting them into motionless statues.

That scream is a sound few men have actually heard, and those who have would live to forget, denying the truth that they heard within the inhuman howl. For hidden in that cry was the decision to kill. Absolute and unconfined, there would be no remorse.

Sagat stumbled backwards a step, a bandaged hand held tightly to his gushing eye. Go Hibiki struggled to return to his feet, though his snapped leg caved beneath his weight and he fell to his hands once more. With his head lowered, Hibiki did not see what the crowd saw as Sagat removed his hand. Now there was but one eye where two once were, the socket of the second poured crimson liquid to the floor, a mixture of water and blood that trickled down his face and neck. His remaining eye widened, locked balefully on his enemy. Both anger and pain was evident in his fatal gaze.

Within a moment he was by Hibiki and the first knee connected with his nose. Sagat wasted no further time grabbing the fallen by the head once again and lifting him to his feet. With that he struck a knee to his chest, shattering ribs with brutal precision. A speck of blood coughed from Hibiki’s throat, though Sagat was merciless. Another knee slammed into his chest, followed by another, and another and another. The crowd fell into deathly silence as the champion of Muay Thai destroyed his opponent utterly.

At last he released him and Hibiki fell to the ground with a lifeless thud that tore through the crowd immediately. Sagat placed a hand to his lost eye, cursing wordlessly under his breath as he gradually began to calm. The crowds dissipated shortly after and the bitter rainfall worsened. Sagat remained, completely alone, to grieve over his mistake.

Nevertheless, there was a new champion of the streets.


“Well, I’m leaving.” Ryu said, collecting his belongings from the floor.

“Time sure flew by, I’m heading out myself in a couple of days.” Ken added, his voice so euphoric it seemed as though he was genuinely happy to see him go. In truth this was not the case, but Ken masked his feelings well.

“Take care, hot shot.” Ryu joked. The two warriors connected their fists, both smiling outwardly but inside they could already feel the bitter sting of parting company.

“Next time muscle-man!” Ken turned to let his partner go. Ryu would say his farewells to Gouken and then be on his way. There was no point staying for that, Ken mused. They had already said all that was needed.

“I’ll see ya, when fate brings us together again.”

Vanishing into the woodland to train, Ken could feel his eyes swell uncontrollably and his throat desiccate.


Ryu kneeled outside the door of his training dojo, his eyes downcast in respect to his Master who sat no less than a five feet away. His sensei rose from the shadows that surrounded him, though he permanently remained out of Ryu’s sight.

“You are going then?” the old man asked.

“Yes. Even though I have still failed to achieve the level you so hoped for me to attain, I feel that remaining here will only hinder me further.” His Master paused a moment.

“You worry about your friend?” A silence filled the air as his sensei spoke, and for a passing moment Ryu felt his eyes widen with disbelief at the perception of the elderly man before him. He felt no need to lie; this man had been a father to him and Ken almost a brother. Leaving was a difficulty, but necessary. “Your silence speaks volumes, Ryu. I fear that your decision to leave cannot be altered. If so, I give you my blessing and hopes for the future.” He hesitated briefly before stepping down to meet his pupil. Ryu rose to his feet, an indebted smile growing across his face. “You have been a good student, I hope you find a way to overcome your demons.”

“Thank you, sensei.” He responded calmly and seemingly ignorant of the words of his master.

“Will you return someday?”

“Of course, when I have discovered where my own path is supposed to lead.” His tutor smiled briefly and allowed his expression to soften.

“Take care then, Ryu. I know that your friend will miss you greatly, even if he detests in showing it. I hope we will cross paths again soon.” Collecting his threadbare shoulder bag, Ryu prepared to depart. “And Ryu, a time will come when you will face an enemy where honour cannot be sated and victory will be unfeasible. There can be only one outcome in such a battle.”

Ryu said nothing and did even less, though the puzzlement he experienced was made evident by his arc in his brow. A slight nod ensued and with no further words shared the white-clad martial artist turned on his home of ten years, his faded chestnut sack tossed back slackly over his shoulder, and he slowly faded from view.


“Are you going?”

“Yes. I hate to go now, but I must leave.”

“Your training here has been but a step in your preparation. A time will come in your life when you face an opponent and to defeat him you must go beyond victory.”

“Beyond what?! Sensei, I don’t understand what you mean. Please, explain it to me.” A silence followed. “Sensei?”

“I can give you nothing more Ken Masters. You have been a good student, and I want you to know that I am proud of you. The path that lies ahead is treacherous. Choose the path of your destiny. It will not be easy to find.” Despite the ambiguity of these words, Ken knew his Master would say little else. With a heavy heart and less than a farewell, Ken was gone.


Ryu strangely seemed more content under the veil of night than he did during the blissful daytime. He trudged aimlessly across the hillsides, stopping occasionally at the small, concealed towns that burred themselves beneath the thick mountain fog. He rarely stayed very long; he only stopped at all to collect the necessary provisions of food and water before pressing on his journey. The trek from one village to the next was usually several days and the weather constantly seemed to work against him. But Ryu had long been training as a warrior and was not discouraged by the elements, no matter their severity.

A week had passed since his initial departure and Ryu had already made good use of the time available. With the rise of the sun he would train alone and under the cover of darkness he would make rest for the night, usually by a tree or rock. As the days and nights passed quickly on his travels, Ryu often found himself helplessly transfixed on the skies above him. The cerulean firmament gave way to scarlet clouds shortly before any vestiges of colour was drained into darkness. Rainfall was infrequent but in the worst of storms he would seek protection in forests and caves.

His thoughts were rarely interrupted; he mostly dwelt on the life he had now left behind. Without Ken he felt strangely empty, almost as if a part of himself had been lost. Every time he dwelt on the fact, the pain seemed more and more pungent He paused by a lakeside, his vision drawn to the liquid pool that shimmered before him like starlight. Ken had always been better than him in battle, Ryu mused. He had been a disappointment to his Master and an unworthy opponent for his best friend and greatest rival. Was this journey doomed to failure? He cursed himself mentally.

As he shut his eyes in disgust, Ryu could feel that irresistible hatred clog up inside him. It burned beneath his skin, clawing at him from the inside to release it, if only for an instant. He clung on to it for a moment, experiencing the splendour of feeling such rage, allowing it to consume him completely. Drug-like in its grasp, he imagined clashing with Ken once again, striking at him without uncertainty and apprehension. The power he could have if he would only let go. But he would not. Shuddering, he tried to shake the thoughts from his head. Ken was his best friend and had been for all his lifetime. Why should he feel the need to hurt him?

As his thoughts became incoherent and corrupt, the bitter howl of the wind shook him from thoughts. A chill of air swept by, followed almost immediately by a blinding flash. He rose his head to the heavens and watched as the skies crackled overhead. Thunder exploded above and a malignant silence filled the air. The pause of nothingness gave way to rainfall; at first barely noticeably until the skies themselves seemed to tear apart and infinite droplets of water fell around him.

He shut his eyes. There was something wrong very wrong here. He calmed himself completely, shut out the piercing cold and the deafening thunder that loomed threateningly overhead. His mind stirred but for what reason, he simply did not know. Briskly he turned and headed back towards the dojo.


By the time of his arrival, the storm had worsened. It had plagued him the entire journey, which was in no way brief, and as he finally grounded to a halt he collapsed without warning. His clothes tugged at his body, his feet were blistered and soar and even breathing seemed to be impossible. The air felt thin and in short supply while his heart pounded inside him as if about to burst.

With both hands pressed against the earth, he pulled his head upright to see the dojo enveloped in darkness. Although late at night, his Master would always keep a candle alight on the porch. On further inspection, Ryu discovered the wooden entrance had shattered completely. One door, half hinged, hung on dangerously, baring testimony to the struggle that had obviously taken place here.

With dread flooding his senses, Ryu probed further, venturing inside. The interior told an even more brutal story. Snapped beams lay broken across the floor among other debris of wood and glass. Ryu starred around absently, as though the whole surroundings were nothing more than a vivid dream. He had trained in this dojo for years and now he could barely recognise it. And then his foot pressed on something cold. At first he thought it was just rainwater that had seeped in through the roof but as he stepped back inquisitively he saw the blood beneath his feet. It formed a haunting trail across the floor, each splatter of gore separated by a few feet.

“Master?!”

He followed the trail back outside, the distance between bloodstains decreasing as he followed until the unholy path led him to the waterfall where he and Ken had done battle. With the help of the sun, this place was a beauty to behold. In the darkness and the storm, its appearance was more of a nightmare. The once clear waters were now midnight black, illuminated erratically by forked bolts of lighting that could barely be heard through the torrential rain.

He lost sight of the blood in the water and he raised his head once more to the drop before the rapids. Rage and horror consumed him immediately. Suspended over the waterfall was the presumably dead body of his master. Held unmercifully by his aged, colourless hair, droplets of gore trickled from his forehead before vanishing over the plunge beneath his paralysed feet. The image hit Ryu promptly. This man was his mentor; his teacher and friend. On many levels, he was his father.

Ryu’s eyes immediately burned for vengeance and snapped at the man who held his instructor remorselessly over the crevice. Clad entirely in black, the devil’s face could not be seen. Sprouting from his head and tied back in a tail was his fiery red hair, ostensibly burning to the roar of the tempest. His dark flesh boiled with unholy blood as he flexed his tremendous muscles that appeared to burst from beneath his torn, black outfit. His stance was strong and firm, and although Ryu could not hear what he was saying from this distance, his voice was so deep and base that it shook the martial artist as he waded through the water towards his enemy.

All was for naught. By the time Ryu had made it half way across the icy black waters, the devil pulled back a colossal arm and with an almighty roar hurled Gouken into the abyss below.

“MASTER! NO!” But the roar of the storm was so great it drown Ryu’s cry of disbelief. He didn’t even hear his Master land; he could barely even hear himself. This intruder before him; this monster had murdered his Sensei, taken away everything he had ever known in less than a heartbeat, and performed the deed without a shed of remorse. Ryu would have his vengeance. The demon turned in his direction. Soulless eyes of blood red stared into him, through him, and immediately he knew there was something deeply unholy about this heartless warrior. Hidden within that gaze was a cold truth; the promise of cold execution. The dark-clad fighter flexed his muscles and took a step towards Ryu.

Ryu would have his vengeance, or at the very least he would have his chance to claim it.

End of Chapter 1


#3

Just the prologue attached.