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The Death of Yoritomo

"Give in, Yoritomo," The First Goju hissed, shadow spreading from his hands and surrounding the island warrior. "Even the storm must kneel to something, and the choice is yours. We know that Hitomi has told you that you will die at the hands of your son. We, too, have seen this. It is inevitable. He is a traitor, a Scorpion, with no reason to care about you or your clan. He only served you to further his own revenge. All you have to do is to bend your knee, and you can live forever...our power can be yours." For an instant, Aramasu saw his father's eyes close. "Give us your name..."

Then, the warror's eyes opened...and Yoritomo laughed. "You may take my soul or pride, but you will never take my name. Ten thousand men hold my name for me. A hundred thousand peasants, and the islands of the Mantis have already taken my name. If you want it, you will have to find us all.

"You cannot steal my name. I have already given it away." Snarling, the Shadow withdrew. "Kneel!" Goju slashed once, open-handed, and his touch burned away the might warrior's armor, sizzling with black flame into the flesh beneath. Yoritomo stood resolutely, though his own blood pooled at his feet. The kami struck again, tearing open Yoritomo's eyes and blinding him. Tears of blood streamed down Yoritomo's cheeks, but he did not move. The Shadow struck a third time.

Aramasu screamed, but he could not hear his own voice above Goju's laughter. He saw Yoritomo fall. Aramasu leapt toward them as the Goju vanished into shadow, falling to his knees bt the Mantis Lord's side.

Clasping the youth's hand and pressing his two great kama into Aramasu's palm, the mighty General said stoically, "You will need these. You must lead the Mantis now. I have another duty - one you must help me fulfill."

Remember this, even if the Shadow takes you. You are Yoritomo Aramasu. You will always be my son."

"Fortunes," Aramasu bent his head, unable to fulfill his father's last request. Then, with the strength of a true son of Kaimetsu-uo, Aramasu raised the kama and ended Yoritomo's life.

"I will remember..."

Goju laughed from the heavens, seeing the flames roar across Jigoku's fields. Spirits burned and withered, and with their deaths, cities and families in the Jade Empire begain to crumble into nothingness. "Give up, samurai," he shouted. "Your time has ended!"

"No, Goju," a voice from the gate called. In the archway, a tremendous man with glowing eyes stood, lifting his hands to either side of the arch. "For a thousand years, I have done my duty to the land. I have held open the arch to Jigoku, and I have guarded the spirits of this land. No more."

"It is time for the arch to fall."

Ryoshun, the tenth kami, pulled to either side of the massive stone gateway, and began to pull.

As he did, an army of glowing spirits flooded through the gateway, passing through the kami's immortal spirit and rushing toward the last fragments of the allied armies of the Jade Throne.

Others stood on the far side of Oblivion's arch, destroying the Shadow that had invaded jigoku. This army was led by Yoritomo, charging in with the lost Thunders, Doji Hoturi and Isawa Tadaka. The mighty Mantis raised his weapons and shouted, and all of the underworld shook with storms. The Shadow began to retreat.

From the arch, an army came, charging out into Volturnum's heart. Among them, Matsu Agetoki, pride of the Lion; Hida Sukune, brother of the Sun; the gentle Kakita Yoshi; brave Iuchi Daiyu; Hasame, the ronin; the Master of Water, Isawa Tomo; Bayushi Aramoro and an army of Scorpion, dead in the sands of the Far West, arose to fight for the Empire during its time of greatest need. They stormed from the underworld, prepared to fight the Shadow. And at their head, riding a charger as pale as the Sun, rode Toturi, Emperor of the Jade Throne, Master of the Chrysanthemum, Soverign of Otosan Uchi and the Seven Hills.

With him came an army of spirits, flowing as golden as the sun, to seize the Empire's final hope before it was too late.

A samurai can die a thousand deaths.

An Empire can die but once.




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