Race to Volturnum: Prologue
Race to Volturnum, Day One, The Crab
Race to Volturnum, Day Two, Toturi's Army
Race to Volturnum, Day Three, The Mantis
Race to Volturnum, Day Four, The Phoenix
Race to Volturnum, Day Five, The Crane
Race to Volturnum, Day Six, The Naga
Race to Volturnum, Day Seven, The Monk
Race to Volturnum, Day Eight, The Unicorn
Race to Volturnum, Day Nine, The Lion
Race to Volturnum, Day Ten, The Scorpion
Race to Volturnum, Day Eleven, The Dragon
Race to Volturnum, Day Twelve, The Ninja
Race to Volturnum, Day Thirteen, The Shadowlands
Back to Hidden Chicken Directory
Back to the Main Page
Race to Volturnum: Prologue
There was a knock at the door of Usagi Castle.
I looked around for a minute, and when it looked like nobody else was going to answer it, I got up and answered it myself. I was pretty surprised when I recognized the little hooded man at the front door.
"Kakita Shijin?" I said, surprised.
"Shhhhh!" the little poet said quickly, pressing one finger to his lips as he glanced all about. "Don't call me that!" He looked a bit desperate, like a wild animal that had gnawed off its leash but wasn't quite sure if it had escaped just yet.
"Oh, yeah, I forgot," I laughed. "Yakamo-sama."
He shook his head fearfully. "No!" he said. "Don't call me that either! That one's even worse!" He glanced around again, expecting someone to jump out of the night and drag him off at any second. I peered past him, but couldn't see a thing.
"Something wrong?" I asked.
"They're everywhere!" he said suddenly. "I can feel them, in my head!" He tapped his temples with both hands. "They're following me! I have to get away from them! You... you're like them, but you're different. A human, trapped in their world. The magic, it led me to you. You can help me. I know you can, Fuzake Garou. Shashakar. The snakes are in my head, Shashakar."
"Hm," I replied. "The rumors that the Kakita poppy fields have recovered is obviously true. Do you want to come inside and sit down or something?"
"Yeah, yeah," he said, taking a deep breath. "Er... is it cool in there?" He looked down the hall past me. "They aren't... funny or anything are they?"
"The Hare Clan?" I replied. "Nah, they're cool. I think they want to kill me, but that's nothing new. You'll be fine."
Shijin nodded and quickly pushed past me, glancing furtively about as he entered. He smelled funny, like he hadn't bathed in quite a while. He had something on his face that seemed really strange. It took me a moment or two to realize it was stubble. I guess I'd never seen that on a Crane and it threw me.
"So, how have things been, Shijin?" I asked as I shut the door. "Long time, no see."
"I told you, don't call me that!" he hissed, turning on me with a snarl. "Those people, you left me with! The Crabs all think I'm Hida Yakamo, and I don't even want to think about those snakes! They're in my head, you know. They're in there all the time."
"Oh, you mean the Akasha!" I said, nodding in sudden realization. "So the whole naga resurrection thing, worked, huh? You're really in the Akasha? What's it like?"
"What do you think it's like?" Shijin screamed, hopping up and down as he shrieked. "You're in the Akasha too, aren't you?"
"Er, no," I said. "I told them that I was, yes, but that was just so I could get away."
"Damnit," Shijin whined. "I was hoping you might understand. Being brought back from the dead is the worst thing that's happened to me in my whole life! That's why I came to find you!"
"I... don't follow," I said. "What do you want me to do about it?"
"Nothing!" Shijin said. "You're the one responsible for this! I want you to DIE!" He jumped into the air and grabbed my throat in both hands. I reared back in surprise for a moment, grabbed a helmet off a suit of ornamental armor nearby, and clobbered Shijin in the head. The little poet yelped and crumpled on the floor.
At that moment, Usagi Ozaki and Ujina Tomo rushed into the room, weapons drawn. "What's going on here?" demanded the Hare daimyo.
"I'm fine," I said.
"I didn't ask," Ozaki snapped back. "Who's that?" He pointed the sword at the limp body on the floor.
"Er..." I looked down. "Hida Yakamo," I said. "Crab Clan Champion."
"Oh," Ozaki sheathed his sword and looked down at the unconscious man in bewilderment. "Would you like tea, Yakamo-sama?"
"He's had a long trip," I said, hoisting Shijin up limply over my shoulders. "He just wants to rest."
"Great," Ozaki sighed. "More visitors. Tomo, show him to the guest rooms."
Tomo nodded happily and led me off through Kyuden Usagi. He glanced back with a big, honest grin as we walked. "So, Garou," he said. "Are you going to explain the magic elephant today?"
"The magic elephant?" I replied.
"Yeah," Tomo nodded eagerly. "The one you promised to tell us about when you first got here."
"No," I said. "Ozaki said he'd kill me after I told you about that. Ergo, I'll probably never tell you about it. Sorry."
"Oh," Tomo seemed to mull that over in his head for a moment as we arrived in the guest quarters. "Well, will you tell us tomorrow?"
"Will Ozaki still kill me after I tell you?" I asked.
"Yeah, probably," he said.
"Okay, then let's say 'maybe,'" I answered.
"Okey-day!" He scampered off excitedly.
I dropped Shijin onto a pallet and wandered off to find something to tie him up with. The last thing I needed was a half-crazed Crane-Crab-Naga trying to kill me all night. In one of the other guest rooms I found a silk nightie one of the other guests had left behind. I tried to push it out of my mind that the last person who had stayed in that room had been Ikoma Ujiaki. Some questions are better left unexplored. I tore the thing up and tied Shijin down with it. It wasn't very strong, but I figured it would be enough to hold a scrawny Crane poet. Within a few minutes, he began to awaken and looked around groggily.
"How you doing?" I asked.
"Damn you, Fuzake Garou!" he snarled. "If you're ever dead you can count on me dragging your miserable behind back to the world of the living!"
"Er... all rightie then," I said. "Listen, Shijin, I don't know what your problem is, but it isn't me. If anything, you should take this up with those stupid Nagas that brought you back to life by mistake. Really, I was just an innocent bystander. I didn't even want to be the Shashakar. I think they thought I was someone else, too."
"Well, what do I do?" he whined. "Everyone keeps expecting me to lead the Crab! They want me to take their armies into the Shadowlands and fight onis! I don't want to fight onis! I want to go back to the Crane provinces where I can dance with geisha and fold little birdies out of paper and take the stable boy home at night so we can-"
"Woah, woah, woah," I said. "I don't need to hear about that."
Shijin looked troubled. "What?" he said. "Tetsuo the stable boy is my grandson. I take him home after he's done working with the horses so he can see the carp pond. He likes feeding the carp. What the hell are you implying, Fuzake?"
"Er, nothing," I said. "Sorry. Go on."
"Anyway, I can't stay at the Kaiu Wall another second!" Shijin said desperately. "That big woman with the hammer scares me."
"O-Ushi?" I said with a laugh. "She's a sweetie! Well, she kicked me out of the Crab Clan but otherwise she's a nice girl. I took her to prom."
Shijin frowned. "Garou, I could care less," he said. "The short of it is that you're one of the only people in the world right now who knows, believes, and cares who I really am. Find me a way out of this. I don't want to be Hida Yakamo anymore!"
"Hmm," I said. "Well, there's always the Refuge of the Three Sisters. They might be able to help you out. There's a catch, though."
"Yes?" Shijin asked quickly.
"You'll be doomed," I answered. "That's they say, but I asked them some questions and I'm not doomed. Not yet."
"I'm already doomed!" Shijin cried with sudden joy. "Things can't be any worse! Untie me, Garou, I'm going to visit those sisters!"
I shrugged, cut the nightie that held Shijin, and let the little Crane run off through the halls of the castle. Problem solved.
"Was that such a good idea?" asked a deep voice. A dark masked figure loomed out of the shadows.
"Waagh!" I said, jumping suddenly and reaching for my scrolls.
"Hey, chill, Garou, it's just me!" the man said, pulling away his mask to reveal a bright red moustache and fierce, angular features.
"Agetoki!" I exclaimed.
"Tzurui," he corrected. "Agetoki's dead, remember?"
"Whatever," I said with relief. "It's just good to see you again, man. How'd you get in here?"
"Eh, I just beat the crap out of all the Hares that got in my way," he shrugged.
"You could have just knocked," I said. "They would have let you in."
He shook his head. "My way's quicker. Lord Toku sent me to find you, Garou," Agetoki paused for a moment, as if surprised that the words 'Lord Toku' had crossed his lips. "What the heck are you doing in Usagi Castle? You're supposed to be looking for Toturi and Sanzo."
"I got sidetracked," I replied. "I've been stuck here telling stories for over a month. It's all that's kept me alive."
"Oh, man, did you tell them the one about the White Zombie concert?" he chuckled. "The time that Sanzo paid that Crane chick to take the whole raw kielbasa and-"
"Agetoki, we don't have time for this," I cut him off. "What have you guys found out?"
"Oh, we know where Toturi is and where Sanzo is headed," Agetoki said. "Cousin Turi and Toku are already on their way there. They sent me to pick you up."
"Great," I said, rubbing my hands together. Finally, I'd be free of Usagi Castle again.
"Should we bring the elephant?" Agetoki asked.
"What elephant?" I replied.
He pointed at the elephant standing out in the hallway, watching us with sad eyes.
"Nah, he can find his own way," I said. "Sanzo, scat!"
The elephant disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
"Boy, pretty weird how we found that thing, huh Garou?" Agetoki said.
"Yeah, that was quite a story," I said. "Time to go, Agetoki."
We quickly made our way out of the ancestral home of the Hare. Agetoki's horse and a spare awaited us outside. I looked up in surprise as Agetoki climbed onto his steed.
"Agetoki, you brought Car?" I asked, looking at his horse. "Aren't you afraid somebody will recognize you? I thought you were in disguise."
He smiled happily. "I wanted it to be a surprise!"
"What?" I asked.
"I heard that Kamoko's got a new boyfriend!" he exclaimed. "I don't have to worry about her stalking me anymore!"
"Really," I said. "That's great for her. Who's the guy?"
"He was in our Fourth Hour Chem class," Agetoki said. "Moto Tsume. The kid with the really bad acne."
"He didn't have acne," I said. "He was undead."
Agetoki just shook his head. "No way," he said. "That's just gross. Why the heck is she dating an undead guy?"
I looked at him. "Why do you care who she's dating? She isn't bothering you anymore."
Agetoki sighed. "I dunno, Garou," he said. "It just bothers me. She could have done so much better. She's a nice girl."
"She stabbed you in the lung, Agetoki," I said.
"Yeah," he nodded and smiled slightly. "She sure did."
I blinked. "Hey, does this mean I can stop calling you 'Tzurui,' now? Cause it's kind of hard to pronounce."
"Yeah, sure thing," Agetoki said. "I'd drop the gig entirely, but I don't want to hurt Toku's feelings."
"Wow, Agetoki," I said. "Do you realize how much you've changed? In the old days, you'd never have cared what Toku felt or thought."
Agetoki shrugged. "So I've changed," he said. "Toku's really not such a bad guy, for a panty-waist worthless little space-occupying pathetic ronin dog. Now let's get moving."
So we rode off into the night. It took us a few days to get where we were going. I wasn't really sure where that was, but Agetoki seemed to know the way. At one point, I asked him our destination. He slowed his horse down enough that he could explain as we continued our madcap race.
"Well, you remember how Sanzo threatened to chop off Toturi's head, then ran off on his own?" he said. "Then when you got back to Otosan Uchi you found out that Toturi and Sanzo were both missing?"
"Yeah," I said. "Why wouldn't I remember that?"
"Give me a second," Agetoki said. "It's called explication. I'm just filling in the gaps you left between the last story and this one so that everyone will be able to follow along."
"Oh yeah," I said. "Right. Go on."
"Anyway, you and Toku and Turi all went your separate ways to try to track down Sanzo and Toturi. Then there was the whole deal where we found Sanzo's elephant, Sanzo, and discovered that it had incredible magic powers. Remember how that happened, Garou?"
"Yeah," I said. "Man, that was wacky. But let's not go into that. Can you skip on a bit?"
"Of course," Agetoki nodded. "That elephant story's fairly self explanatory, except for the bit with the cheese-grater, the dentist, and the herd of flying sheep. I'll never be able to get that song out of my head. Anyhow, we haven't found Sanzo, but while you were trapped in Usagi Castle Toku discovered where Toturi's been all this time."
"And where is that?" I asked. "He's not a chicken again, is he?"
"Nope," Agetoki said. "He's having an affair with Isawa Kaede. The two ran off to some villa up in the mountains somewhere. Who'd have thought the old spitfire had it in him, eh?"
I thought about that for a minute. "Um, Agetoki?" I asked. "Toturi's not married, and didn't he used to be engaged to Kaede? Who cares if the Emperor wants to spend some private time with his fiancee? Isn't that normal?"
Agetoki gave me a long, patient look as we galloped. "Remember, we're talking about Toturi," he said. "Define, 'normal.'"
"You're right," I said with a sigh. "How much further?"
"Should be right over that hill there," Agetoki said. "Behind the ninja."
I stopped my horse..
Normally, it would be hard to see a ninja, especially at the hour we were riding and in thickly forested terrain. Of course, years of stealth training and carefully cultivated agility all become somewhat negated when the ninja wears a bright white jumpsuit and stands in the middle of the road, waving at you.
Agetoki swore. "It's my cousin," he said. He quickly pulled his mempo back up to cover his face.
"Matsu Turi?" I said hopefully, but I already knew that Turi wasn't the cousin Agetoki was talking about.
"Garou!" Matsu Hiroru said cheerfully as he sauntered up to us. "How's it goin', you old cheesebasket? What's with the new mon on your hat? Crabs re-tooling their image or something?"
"I'm in the Monkey Clan now, Hiroru," I said patiently.
"The guys that don't wear any pants?" he asked.
Agetoki growled. "We do wear pants!" he roared. "Can we help it that all the good clan colors were taken? So we wear flesh-tone armor! I'll still kick your miserable ninja butt!"
"Agetoki?" Hiroru asked. "Is that you, cuz?"
"Listen, Hiroru," I said. "Just get out of the way. We're really busy right now. We're on a very important mission."
"Oh, me too!" Hiroru said. "Top secret mission! I can't tell you what it is! No way! No how! Okay, since you asked so nice, I'll tell you. The armies of the clans have to get to Volturnum, and only Toturi can organize them!"
"What's a Volturnum?" I asked, pronouncing the word with some difficulty.
"I think those are the guys that opened for White Zombie when we saw them," Agetoki nodded confidently.
Hiroru looked confused. "No, Volturnum is the city of trolls! Don't you know that? I thought you were a Crab, Garou!"
"Hey, I know what a troll is; I don't keep track of their cities!" I retorted. "So I don't know my Shadowlands geography. I figured it was a pretty pointless subject to waste my time on, since Fu Leng can just shuffle the land around anytime he wants."
"Shuffle..." Hiroru said, gazing off into the distance. "Yes, like some enormous card game. Guys, do you ever get the feeling that we're all just--"
"Hiroru, get out of our way," Agetoki said, kicking the ninja in the chest from his horse. Hiroru fell down with a yelp and we galloped past, kicking mud in his face.
"I thought Toku said that idiot was dead," Agetoki growled.
"Wishful thinking," I mumbled.
We crested the hill and arrived at the cabin. It was small and cozy, with a little plume of smoke rising from the chimney. Two horses were tied up outside, one of them was the Emperor's Otaku mare. Nothing looked amiss. I looked at Agetoki.
"Doesn't look like Toku or Turi are here yet," he said. "We must have beaten them."
"I spent a month in Usagi Castle and we beat them here?" I asked doubtfully.
"I'm just that good," Agetoki nodded. He was dead serious.
"You wait here and keep an eye on things," I said, hopping down off my horse. "If you see Sanzo, head him off. I'll go inside and explain what's going on to Toturi."
"Be careful," Agetoki said. "I have a bad feeling about this."
"Everything will be fine," I reassured him as I crept forward. I sure hoped I was right.
As I got closer, I heard some kind of singing coming from inside the house. It sounded like a man, singing in a cheerful voice. I crept even closer, and I could make the words out distinctly.
"Rock the boat, don't rock the boat, baby! Rock the boat, don't rock the boat baby! Rock the boat, don't rock the boat, baby! Rock the boat, don't rock the boat, baby!"
I paused for a moment. He was just singing those two lines, over and over and over. And over. And over. I moved forward and knocked on the door. A split second later it opened and I saw Isawa Kaede's face. She looked like she may have been pretty, once, but she sure wasn't anymore. Her hair was frazzled and there were dark bags under her eyes.
"Um... did I come at a bad time?" I asked.
"Make him... stop... singing... that.... song!" she grabbed the collar of my kimono with both hands.
"Rock the boat, don't rock the boat, baby! Rock the boat, don't rock the boat baby! Rock the boat, don't rock the boat, baby! Rock the boat, don't rock the boat, baby!"
"Er... I can't," I said. "He's the Emperor. He can do anything he wants, right!"
"Don't you start with me!" she said, shoving me away again as she stormed back into the house. "He locked himself in the bathroom over six hours ago with a bottle of zokujin rock-cleansing fluid. A couple of minutes later the singing started and it hasn't ended yet. By the way, who are you and how did you find us?"
"I'm Fuzake Garou, Kaede-sama," I replied, bowing low as I darted into the house. "I've come with bad news! A friend of mine is on his way here to kill the Emperor!"
"Oh!" she said, raising one hand to her lips with a sudden smile. "And what's the bad news again?"
I paused. "Well, he wants to kill him!"
"And?!?" she said. She laughed, just for a second or two, then composed herself.
"Rock the boat, don't rock the boat, baby! Rock the boat, don't rock the boat baby! Rock the boat, don't rock the boat, baby! Rock the boat, don't rock the boat, baby!"
"Wow, he never stops, does he?" I asked.
She sneered in the direction of the bathroom. "Well, I hope your friend gets here soon," she said. "If he doesn't, I might have to kill him myself." She looked hopeful for a moment. "I don't suppose you could kill him, could you? I could cover it up. I'm the Oracle of the Void, you know. Everyone would believe me."
"What?" I said.
"Oh, it's true!" she said quickly. "You wouldn't believe the sort of stuff people buy when it comes from me! I mean, only the other day this crazy white ninja and some old drunkie ronin - not Toturi but another old drunkie ronin - stumbled in here looking for something. I told them to go look for Volpurban."
"Volturnum," I corrected.
"Whatever," she replied, waving her hand negligently. "I just made up a word. Sure enough, they went off looking for it. They're probably dead now. Lucky bastards."
Kaede's expression hardened. "I'm serious. Go in there and kill him. I mean it. I really do. It was funny at first, but he doesn't even know the words. It's getting old real fast. He needs to be put down. No mercy."
"You could just leave, you know," I offered.
"But then he'll win," she said, her voice slightly hysterical. She giggled a bit, then wiped the drool off her chin.
"Uh, I think maybe you two have been secluded up in the mountains too long," I said thoughtfully. "Maybe you should just sit down and rest for a minute. I'll go talk to the Emperor and then we'll all take a nice walk."
"A walk would be good," she said, throwing herself onto a pallet on the floor. "See if you can do anything. Five minutes in there with him and you'll just want to kill him too."
I had to admit, the singing was getting annoying. The door to the bathroom did, indeed, seem locked. Luckily, Rokugan is a place where paper walls are very popular. I kicked in the door and walked into the bathroom. Toturi was lounging on the floor, a bottle in his hand. It tipped a bit and spilled some green fluid that hit the floor with a hiss.
"Rock the boat, don't rock the boat, baby! Rock the boat, don't rock the boat baby! Rock the boat, don't rock the Imperial Clock Keeper it's you!" he finished excitedly, leaping to his feet and hugging me fiercely.
"Oh, thank the Fortunes he finally stopped," I heard Kaede mumble from the other room.
"Toturi-sama, I've come to warn you!" I began.
"Warm me?" Toturi asked, blinking at me through alcohol-induced stupidity. "I'm not that sort of guy, Garou. I don't want you to warm me. Maybe you could go check with Kakita Yoshi-san and-"
"Yoshi is dead, Toturi-sama," I replied.
"Exactly," Toturi said. "So I bet he's probably not very warm." He nodded wisely.
There was a certain logic in that.
"No, Toturi-sama," I pressed on. "Not 'warm,' 'warn!' Someone is trying to kill you!"
"Oh," Toturi said. "Is it the little guy with the bloodsword?"
"Exactly!" I answered. "Wait a minute. What little guy with the bloodsword?"
"The one behind you."
I looked behind me.
"Hi, Garou!" Sanzo said happily. He stood in the bathroom door, clutching a gleaming red wakizashi in both hands.
"Kaede-sama, why didn't you stop him?" I cried out.
Hysterical laughter answered from the other room.
"Well, it's been a long trip," Sanzo said. "Might as well get to business. Excuse me a sec, Garou." He rose the katana high above his head.
"No, wait!" I said, lunging out between Sanzo and the Emperor. The sword flashed down and I winced, ready to feel the pain of the blow. Instead, Sanzo went flying to the floor, bloodsword spinning out of his hands as Agetoki tackled him from behind. The sword flew through the open window with a crash, disappearing into the thick brush of the mountainside.
"Man!" I said, looking around with relief. I felt like such a heavy burden had been removed from my shoulders. "That was close, huh, guys?"
Agetoki didn't answer. He was busy pounding on Sanzo and cursing. Toturi was just peering curiously at something on the floor. Kaede stood in the doorway, also looking at the floor in quiet horror. I followed their gaze to see what it was.
It was a head.
"Wow," I said. "Agetoki, did you punch Sanzo's head off?"
I felt a sudden hand on my shoulder. I turned around to see who it was.
"Hey, Garou!" the young bushi said. I recognized him, though I hadn't seen him since War in the Heavens.
"Hasame?" I said. "I thought you were dead!"
"I am," he said, grinning.
Then I noticed the bloody straw hat on the floor nearby. There was a little mon on the hat. A little monkey mon. It wasn't Sanzo's head.
"Oh, crap," I said.
"Come on, Garou," Hasame said. "Let's go."
"Wait a second," I said. "Are you saying...?"
Hasame nodded. "You read the warning at the Refuge of the Three Sisters. Doomed. D-O-O-M-E-D. Take out the OOM, toss an A after that E, and that's what you are, my friend."
"I didn't expect it so soon," I said, looking down at my body. "I sure didn't expect it from Sanzo!"
"Yeah, life's screwy, huh?" Hasame laughed. "Death is worse. Come on, bro. Jigoku awaits."
Race to Volturnum: Day One, the Crab
Sure is great to be back in action, lemme tell ya. I almost thought everybody forgot about me. Last time anybody gave me a call was back on the Day of Thunder and, let me tell you, things didn't go all that well for me. It was an honest mistake. I surveyed the situation and did what I thought was best. Junzo and the corrupted Emperor expected the Crab navy to attack from the east, right? Well, I was gonna show them. I told the fleet to circle around the city and attack from the west. Well, silly me, I didn't know that there is no ocean on the west side of Otosan Uchi. Nope. I hear that some of my men are still out there somewhere, circling.
Oh, well, no matter. It seems that the Empire is in trouble again and the call has gone out for true quality samurai to lend a hand in its salvation! So here I am, the dreaded Yasuki Kojiro, Crab Clan Sailor, ready to fight for my ancestors and Rokugan.
I just wish they had given me a boat. I'm just sort of standing here in the Shadowlands with a spear, waiting for the oni to show up. I'm not alone, luckily. A lot of my Crab brothers are here. There's Hida Matyu and Kaiu Utsu and his big brother Kenyu and over there somewhere is good old Zungaboobi (I may have spelled that wrong) the new Hiruma daimyo. Yessir, all of us were chosen special for this mission. I was at the meeting between O-Ushi-sama and the Lion general, Motso. I don't think they knew I was there but it was my turn to sweep out Yasamura's stables (an honor!) and I just sort of overheard.
"Okay, Crab," Motso said. "You guys go into the Shadowlands first."
"Why?" O-Ushi replied, a hint of challenge in her voice.
"Because I say so," Motso replied. "Now, scoot."
"You can't talk to me that way," she snarled. "I'm the sister of the Crab daimyo!"
"Hrm," Motso replied. "Save me from the fearsome Crab army. If you guys don't want to go first, you can always talk it over with the 200,000 Lions I brought with me. If you want to go back, you'll have to go back through them. Now are we going to Volturnum or not?"
What an honor! I'm so happy to be chosen to lead the first band of Crab into the Shadowlands! Clearly even the Lion are in awe of our bravery. I overheard a name that they use to refer to us, a name suggesting that even the great thunderous weapons of the gaijins from the Battle of White Stag would be a mere meal for us!
What was that word again? Cannon-fodder? Yes, that was it. We of the Crab wear that badge with pride!
We are the Cannon-fodder, Shadow! Fear us!
How come no one else seems as excited as I am?
Oh, well. Over the wall we go!
Race to Volturnum: Day Two, Toturi's Army
The Shadow has taken Toturi, and Fuzake Garou has been slain by the hand of the one I considered my ally, Sanzo. Matsu Turi is badly shaken and Agetoki is, as usual, driven to uselessness by rage. All in all, I'm not sure what we will do without Garou. He was the center. He was the heart of the operation. He will be missed.
In addition, I am very uncertain how any of this will fit into the Plan.
Damn, and it was all so perfect. Even the Scorpion could not predict, even the kolat could not imagine that which I have put into motion. Iuchiban? A weak-minded fool. Fu Leng? An impatient dullard. None of them can hope to compare with what I have begun with the Plan. All the bowing, all the scraping, the feigning of imbecility will one day pay off. I had hoped that day would be soon, but it seems otherwise now.
The time was nigh for me to take my place among the gods. But now the one who could have provided me with the magic that I require has been cast beyond my grasp, even before I could tell him of the grand quest we would undertake. Now I may have to wait centuries before another like him comes along, before the time is ripe.
Oh, well. It wouldn't be the first time.
I guess in the meantime, I'll go charging off again and play the part of the hero, beating up ninjas and smashing oni. Maybe I'll let them appear to wound me or something. I'll look like a hero. The people like heroes. Yes, they do. They were impressed by the whole deal with the clock. This could work.
At any rate, the death of the shugenja is a definite setback. I'll have to marshal my forces as best I can. Perhaps a deal can be struck with these ninja? No, that is plain foolishness. They would contaminate the purity that is the Plan. Better to cut my losses and see what I can pull out of this one. As much as I dread to admit it, the Plan will have to be changed.
For one thing, I shall have to contact my associates in the Naga. They should slumber until all is ready. No one will be the wiser; such things are expected from the Naga. I may also have to check in with my cultists, have them stop the ritual before it is too late. Without the Fuzake, we will not be able to finish the spell properly. The cost of stopping things now will doubtless send ripples throughout reality, but better to end things now. Perhaps, at best, a few family names will be retroactively changed by the magical backlash. But who would notice a thing like that? The Plan is secure.
The worst part is continuing to pretend to be a fool. Bah. If I have to let one of those mortals pummel me one more time...
Well, in the end, for the Plan, it will be well worth it.
He that the mortals name Toku, Lord of the Monkey Clan
Race to Volturnum: Day Three, the Mantis
Help me! Help me! There's onis everywhere! Agch! They're biting me! OWWWWW!
Oh man oh man oh man oh man oh man oh man oh man oh man oh man oh man....
Maybe if I set them on fire! Yeah! Maybe that will stop them! Fire stops onis right?
Whooop! Sorry Denkyu! No, I can put it out! Hey, hold still! Hey, stupid, hold still!
Waaaaaaaghhh! Here comes more!
the journal is crumpled here, as if balled into a sweaty fist while someone ran about crazily
I'm so scared right now. I'm so scared. drip of some sort of fluid on journal
I'm getting the heck out of here. I'll check back with you guys later. Hope the whole Volturnum thing works out for y'all. Seeya!
Oh, crap they're behind us too!
-Yoritomo Kamoto, as an addendum to his earlier writings
Race to Volturnum: Day Four, The Phoenix
At last we have met with the troops of the foul oni Akuma and those he commands. The battle was terrible; the Crab and Lion troops were hit hardest. The Crab nearly vanished beneath the onslaught and I saw the Lion struggling to hold their lines. Even the noble Lion! It is a sad day that Rokugan must face such powerful foes. I know this because I saw everything from my safe vantage point on a hill, many, many miles away from the fighting.
I was... er... scouting. Somebody had to make sure we weren't attacked from behind, right? I mean, the Lions didn't even think of that. Some tacticians they are, huh? Well, I thought of it and I, nice guy that I am, didn't even throw the idea in their faces. I just took my troops and headed off for the rear to make sure everybody was nice and protected.
My lieutenant Gensui, turns to me with a look of concern. "General?" he says to me, his face pale. " Should we not join in the fighting?"
"We are doing our duty already!" I retort. "Would you leave our shugenja undefended?"
"But we're standing behind the shugenja," he replies.
"Of course!" I say. "The elemental masters are not cowards! Would you place them in the rear, where the Crane and Crab can mock their weakness?"
He has nothing to say to that. Smart guy. He blinks as droplets of blood splatter his face. Wow. When those oni have some range when it comes to a squashed Ikoma. I sure am glad I'm up here and not-- ahem-- I regret that my duties once again call me away from the thick of the fray.
"General!" Gensu calls out suddenly. He points to the hill. Seemingly from nowhere, a horde of goblins attacks us from our unprotected flank. They tear into the ranks of the shugenja. Good; that ought to take them a few minutes. "General!" Gensu calls out again. "Should we not meet them in combat?"
"Sure thing," I reply. "You do that. I'm just gonna stay here and pray for a second. Get in touch with my ancestors and that whole deal."
Gensu gives me a doubtful look, then he is off. Such an impulsive young man. Someday he shall learn that true bravery comes not from knowing when to fight, but when to let someone else fight. This I know.
As for me, I begin my prayer. Obviously the kami in that large boulder over there must be strong, so I endeavor to hide under it as I begin my prayers. Thus, there will be more chance of a Fortune hearing them. Simple logic. You see?
And with luck, the goblins won't find me there, either...
Race to Volturnum, Day Five: The Crane
Our soldiers stagger back from battle broken and spent. Our shugenja gasp for breath, and it is feared that some of them may have drunk in the power of this broken land too deeply. I have seen the eyes of many a young warrior dim forever in this terrible place, never to fix upon the rising sun of Rokugan once more. I have seen many a brave samurai rent asunder, body and soul. But none of these tragedies are as dark as the one I shall now utter.
No one noticed my new kimono. Yes the silky blue one with the fringe. That one. And I thought it was so daring. I thought for sure that someone would make a comment. But no. Not even Tamako. I feel terrible. I'm the Crane Clan hero, dad-burn it, I should get some respect.
I know that people are in pain and we have to fight the Shadowlands and win back our ancestors and everything so maybe people's minds are momentarily distracted from thoughts of fashion. But really, is that any excuse? I'm breaking new ground here! I'm at the cutting edge of fashion!
I'm a fashion pirate, if you will.
Ooo, I like that. I'll have to remember it.
Anywho, if nothing else this journey sure proves one thing. Those Crabs were right! Life past the wall is more terrible than you could ever imagine! If I get any more ichor on my hakama, why I may just split. I suspect those goblins I killed I killed earlier today were bleeding at me on purpose. The mind of the Shadowlands works in perverse ways, and I think the darkness knows that even club soda just doesn't get those sorts of stains out.
I heard a rumor that one of the Daidoji was found dead at the front, his fingernails all systematically broken in a most disheveled manner. And his hair was mussed! (At least that's what the Phoenix who found his head later on reported.) He was positively unkempt. Truly, this is hell. I pray that we survive with our souls, our honor, and our keen sense of style intact.
Kakita Kaiten Crane Clan Hero (and Fashion Pirate!)
Race to Volturnum, Day Six: The Naga
By the Bright Eye and the Pale, the minons of the Foul seem to go on forever. The huuu-mans fight valiantly. It seems at last they have accepted us as equals and--
I don't want to write about this. I don't care about the huuu-mans. I want to write about that oni I killed today.
Shut up, Balash, I'm setting mood!
Who cares about the mood, Malekish? They don't want to hear about mood! They want to hear about fighting and killing and bassssshing! Let me write this!
No, I'm writing this!
I'm writing it! Back off! Get out of my head! Where the heck are you, anyway?
It doesssssn't matter! Just tell them about the oni I killed! Tell them how I ssssshowed up all those Crab ssssamurai! All the flie honiessssss out there need to know what a ssssstud I am!
You're sterile, Balash. Now leave me alone.
That'sssssss a filthy rumor! Who told you that?!?
We're all sterile, moron. We're dying, remember?
Hey, I'm not sterile.
Shut up, Daini. I'm not even talking to you; I'm talking to Balash. Where the heck are you anyway?
Er, about ten miles over to your left. Mara and I are... scouting... Yeah. Scouting. We might be awhile. By the way, Mara says I'm definitely not sterile. She's really sure.
Sssspare me the detailsssss. I think I may be sssssick.
Man, having a group consciousness sucks. Especially when you have to share mental real estate with Daini and Balash. Every day I have to put up with you people it makes me not want to wake up in the morning. I'm going to go take a nice, long nap to get rid of this headache. Don't nobody bug me for the next thousand years or so.
Race to Volturnum, Day Seven: The Monk
So here's a funny story.
A Crab, a Crane, and a Dragon all walk into a healing tent. Now, it's been a long day out in the Shadowlands, and the monk and his assistant have had a rough time of it. They've been pushed around by just about everybody, they've been making them clean up after the horses and clean the armor and now that the fighting's all done, they expect the monks to heal their wounds, too. Now the monks are good men, so they're not going to refuse to heal the wounds of the samurai, but they decide to have a little fun with them first.
The Crane walks up and shows him the gash on his arm. The monk nods grimly and binds the wound. "Looks like it's infected," the monk says. "You'll probably get the Taint, Doji-sama."
"The Taint?" the Crane shrieks in a rather feminine voice. "Me?"
"Yes," the monk replies. "You know that there is only one way to get rid of this disease."
"What's that?" the Crane asks.
"You must wear your hakama on the head, like a hood, with the legs flopping down on either side of your face, and must reply to any question that anyone asks with the words 'I'm a good little bunny.' You must also hop everywhere. Do you understand?" the monk asked.
"Yes," the Crane replied. "But for how long?"
"I'll let you know," the monk said. "Next!"
The Crane walked out of the tent, shoulders slouched. The monk's assistant could barely control his giggling as the Dragon stepped forward, a burly ise zumi with a great wound upon his chest. The monk quickly composed himself and padded the wound with a healing poultice, then frowned. "Looks like you have the Taint," the monk said.
"The Taint?!?" the Dragon winced, rubbing his bald head. "It doesn't look Tainted!"
"Believe me, I know the signs," the monk nodded sagely. "So many have been lost, already. There's only one thing you can do now."
"What?" the Dragon asked. "For the sake of my immortal soul, please tell me?" "You must walk about on your hands for the next seven days," the monk said. "You must eat nothing but monkey butts sauteed in coconut oil, and you must change your name to Minnie."
"Hitomi Minnie?!?" the Dragon's jaw dropped open. "I'd be the laughingstock of Togashi Mountain!"
"Well, if you'd rather go to hell--" "No, no, I'll do it," the Dragon grumbled something under his breath about monkeys as he turned to leave the room.
"Bye, Minnie," the monk said, fighting a smile.
After the Dragon left, the monk excused himself to laugh quietly in the back of the tent. He returned in time to see his assistant tending the wounds of the Crab.
"Looks like the Taint!" the assistant said, a big smile on his face as he surveyed the cut on the Crab's foot.
"The Taint?" the Crab said doubtfully, an angry scowl spreading across his features. "I have the Taint?!?"
"Yes, sir!" the monk's young assistant replied.
"What do I do to get rid of it?" the Crab asked, hand tightening on his tetsubo.
The assistant opened his mouth to reply, but the monk quickly jumped in front of him, holding forth a cup of water. "Just drink this!" he said. "And everything will be fine!"
The Crab narrowed his eyes at the monk, then quickly took the cup and threw it back. "That's it?" he snarled, swallowing. "I'm all better now?"
"All better," the monk said. "Thank you, come again." And the Crab left.
"What was that all about?" the assistant asked as the Crab departed. "I thought we were going to have some fun. You just gave him some tea and let him go."
The monk nodded. "Yes, yes," he said. "But there's a very small difference between having fun at a Crab's expense and getting yourself killed."
"Did Shinsei say that, Master Hsi Tsu?" the assistant said.
"No, I did," the monk answered. "Shinsei was smart enough not to play jokes on Crabs. Now go out back and sweep up."
Race to Volturnum, Day Eight: The Unicorn
So, like, I'm a Unicorn and stuff.
Am I done yet?
Man, I feel like a tool. Here I am, riding forth in the Race to Volturnum and all that, and I have no idea what to write about. I heard that all the other clans have all this clever stuff to say and someone is even thinking about collecting a writing from each clan together for the histories, but I can't think of anything to write about.
"Just write something distinctively Unicorn," Shinjo says to me. Then she flashes that horsey smile of hers, hits me with the oat-breath, and rides off to bash onis.
Easy for her to say. What the heck does that mean? What's 'distinctively Unicorn?' Let's look at what the other clans have. The Lion went and took the whole "give me honor or give me death" stereotype and rammed it into the ground. The Crane took the culture, poetry, and everything that smells like flowers. The Crabs have their long, thankless, "we have a right to be grumpy" vigil. The Phoenix have their magic. The Scorpion have their secrets. The Dragons? Well, nobody knows exactly what they have, but they sure do seem to have it and I guess that's the point. And the Mantis are just cool. Wish I was a Mantis, sometimes.
What do the Unicorn have? We get horsies.
Sure, they're good horsies. The best horsies. Really, truly, excellent horsies, as far as horsies go. But that's all we get? What kind of identity is that? I mean, really. What other clan in Rokugan can end up with their identity wandering off into the forest if it isn't tied to a post? What other clan has to carry around shovels so their identity doesn't leave a mess in front of the Emperor? What other clan has an ability that smells as bad as ours? Well, okay, maybe the Scorpion smell funny but I think that's just the opium.
I'm sorry. I know most Unicorns get used to the smell of horses, but I just can't. I don't know what's wrong with me, but horses are just big, stupid, foul, smelly beasts to me. I'm sure there's some level in Jigoku reserved for Unicorns that think the way I do, but I really don't care. I hate the big brown bu--(edited for content by Ide Tadaji)--es.
So what's the plus of being a Unicorn? We're fast, we always show up when we're needed, and the other clans never really let us do anything when we get there so we usually don't have really heavy losses. All in all, I can't seem to shake the feeling that the entire Empire just thinks of us as a bunch of purple postal workers.
And what was up with that whole Kolat thing? I wish I'd known about that. I really, really do. I mean, we were the gangsters among gangsters for a thousand years and nobody told me? We were out-sneakying the Scorpion for ten centuries and I missed it?!? Damn! Gangsters are SO much cooler than horsies. Then the minute I do find out about it, Shinjo has to chose that precise moment to ride back into town and ruin everything.
"We have to remember who the Unicorn really are," she tells us. Great. Dandy. And who the heck are we, anyway? Oh, yeah, we're the guys that ride the horsies.
And purple! What kind of choice for a clan color is that? How the heck are you supposed to camoflauge yourself in purple armor? Do you know how hard it is to get indigo dye when you're out in the middle of nowhere? Especially when you need it for an entire mounted unit? Even the horses wear purple! It's insane! Okay, that's a minor point, but it still peeves me. Look at the Crab. Gunmetal blue, brick red, black, and grey. Those are clan colors.
Hey, maybe I'm onto something here. Maybe I could make a new identity for the Unicorn out of this. We could be the guys who complain all the time... yeah... that could work.
Wait. No. Durn it. The Dragons would be furious if we stole that from them.
Oh, well. Back to the Race.
Shinjo Shono Disgruntled Postal Worker
Race to Volturnum, Day Nine: The Lion
Today was a strange day.
I was fighting at the front, beside my noble sisters in the Lion's Pride. The battle was grim and savage. We all knew that there was little chance that any of us would survive to return to Rokugan, so we fought with every ounce of our strength. True, no one might remember our sacrifice but that was no reason to give the effort anything less. I struck out savagely with a katana in both hands, in the style of the Dragon, felling three goblins with each swoop. No quarter. No surrender. My sisters fought with equal strength, though even a Lion's courage could not last us forever.
At last, I was taken in the side by a club the size of a tree's trunk. I fell to the ground and was quickly pinned by the largest, most terrible oni I had ever seen. It was not as ugly as most, but it was somehow more terrifying for its humanity. It appeared to be a large, rather mannish female with huge tusks and great horns. It's eyes were red, but somehow familiar, reminding me of that sniveling goat, Kitsu Okura. It narrowed its eyes in anger as it seized my studded dog collar in one hand and pulled me face to face with it. I expected to die, but that did not happen. Instead, it said the strangest thing.
"WHERE DID YOU GET THAT BUTTON?" it said.
I glanced down, and noticed that it was talking about the "I love Fuzake Garou" button I keep pinned to the strap of my chainmail brassiere.
"I made it," I responded defiantly.
The oni thought for a moment, eyes fixed on the button. "WHERE, LIKE, CAN I GET ONE OF THOSE?" it asked.
"Everyone in the Lion's Pride wears them," I spat back. "One day, Garou will return to his proper place among us."
"HE WILL?" the oni said quickly. It's eyes widened in excitement.
"Of course," I said. "He is a Lion, after all."
"ROCK!" the oni said. "I'M ON YOUR SIDE, NOW." It quickly released me and ran off into the Shadowlands army, cleaving four ogres in twain with a single blow of its katana. I noticed that it stole my pin, too. That b-(edited for content by Ide Tadaji)-h.
I learned later that the strange oni now believes it is a member of the Lion Clan, and has destroyed over ninety goblins, oni, and other assorted spawn of evil in the name of the Lion and Fuzake Garou. As far as I know, no one has made any effort to explain to her that you don't gain fealty in the Lion by just deciding that you'd like to do so. Perhaps I can make Motso explain it to her when this is all over. Maybe he can get my pin back, too. I liked that pin.
As I said, Today was a strange day.
Race to Volturnum, Day Ten: The Scorpion
(If you've never read Ree's original Race to Volturnum story, at least check out the original Day 10 - http://www.wizards.com/l5r/rtvpromo/welcome.asp?Day=10 - This will make a lot more sense if you do. -Rich)
A thousand samurai defeated four times that many ogres today. No, not a thousand samurai--a thousand Scorpion. I will tell you how it was done.
Behind the bushes, in the front yard of the Shadowlands army, we waited. We had sent Tangen out with a pair of brown bags and a shovel. When he finally came, I checked the prize he bore myself. Indeed, the bag was full of dog-poo. And it was stinky. Tangen brought two bags. We would need both.
"Do you plan to throw poo at them, Scorpion?" the Lion laughed, but still we prepared.
"A useless effort. The beasts of the Shadowlands will never fall for that old trick. You would have to knock on the front door, and after they had stomped out the fire they would just clean off their feet and go back in the house. Save your strength, Scorpion, and do not waste your dog-poo." The fact that the Lion believed we should not "waste" dog-poo worried me somewhat. Oh, well. We knew what we were doing.
At last, we were ready. Hisa poured the lighter fluid on the bag, and handed Tangen the matches. Slowly, he snuck up to the front porch and set his burden down. With that, he set the bag on fire, knocked on the door, and ran off giggling.
Howling, four thousand ogres charged onto the front porch, stamping out the flames with their mighty boots. Their eyes widened as they realized what had happened, and they cast about for the perpetrators.
We discovered how to hide during the Clan Wars, Lion. Did you think we had forgotten what we had been forced to learn? At that moment, the trick reached its critical point, as Hisa knocked on the back door.
We stood in the bushes as the ogres ran for the back door. Thinking that they could catch us, the beasts had no choice but to run back through the house, tracking dog-poo all over their fresh, clean carpet. When they emerged on the back porch, Hisa was already gone.
At that moment, we acted. A thousand Scorpion charged into the house, ran to the back door, and locked the Shadowlands Army outside. By the time they circled around to the front of the house, we locked that door, too.
They had no choice but to stand outside till their mom came home. By that time we had already snuck out a back window and ran away.
When the noble houses gathered to see our victory, both Crane and Lion bowed, for we had called a pizza place and ordered like fifty pizzas for their house.
I guess you had to be there.
Race to Volturnum, Day Eleven: The Dragon
The Moon smiles down on us now and so long as she rises up above us we shall know that we have Our Lady's favor. So long as the night sky knows light we shall know that everything we have done has, in the end, been for the right, for Our Lady. So long as we remember Our Lady, all shall remember that we were right and they were wrong.
So, like, she's gone now, right?
Seriously? She's really gone?
Look around. She could be hiding somewhere. This could be a really nasty trick. I wouldn't it past her. That chick changes her personality more often than I change my underwear.
Um, just in case she's still here, I didn't say that. You did.
Okay, you made sure? She's really gone? Oh, MAN that's a relief. First things first. Go find Reju and all those other losers she rounded up from the other clans and send them back home. Toss them off the mountain if you have too. I'm serious. I mean, really. We have enough useless mouths to feed and don't look at me that way Togashi Yama, yes I'm talking about you. No, I don't think my priorities are out of whack and I don't think we should wait until we're out of the Shadowlands. I've waited a long time for this. The sooner the better. And everybody stop that "Our Lady" crap. It's creepy.
And where's that Kokujin guy? He was pretty cool, actually. Only one in the whole clan with a good head on his shoulders. Got out while the getting was good. Somebody drop him a line and tell him he can come on back if he likes. He can have Yama's room. Shut up, Yama.
Oh, you can all just stop looking at me like that. Seriously. What, you're judging me now cause I get along with Kokujin? Man, can you blame me? I'd rather be a villain than some kind of weird hippie moon cultist any day of the week. Oh, don't start acting all indignant on me. I mean, really. Look at us. We're hippie moon cultists. We all have the same damned haircut for Pete's sake.
Except, of course, for me. I kept my hair. Why? Cause it's stylin'. And cause I always have a backup plan. Someday I knew we'd get fed up with Little Miss Obsidian and show her the back door. I certainly didn't expect the back door would say "Divine Ascension" over it, but hey, I'm not complaining. Gone is gone. Now we've got a nice humongously powerful demi-god who never asks us to do anything in charge. Just like the old days. (Proceeds to put toupee on head)
And really, that's all I ask.
An nice, humongously powerful demi-god who never asks me to do anything in charge.
And Kokujin. I kind of liked him. But if he's unavailable, hey no big thing. I still think we came out of this ahead.
Yama, shut up. I'm serious. Don't make me come over there.
Race to Volturnum: Day Twelve, the Ninja
The time of our victory is nigh!
Yup! We're right about to bust open the doorway to Oblivion's Gate! From there, we'll begin to corrupt and defile Rokugan's ancestral spirits! Those who have guided and shaped your lives! Those who have given you what you fight for, the examples of everything that you are!
Well... er... actually that's Adorai's idea. To tell the truth, when I heard it, I was a little like "Eh?"
I mean, it sounds like a good idea at first, but think about it. If we can't even beat the current population of Rokugan, how in Jigoku are we supposed to overcome a combined force of every single Rokugani who has ever lived?!? I mean, at the very least we'll be outnumbered, and when you add in the fact that they're already dead and all that, well I guess you could just say we've got a tough row to hoe.
But Adorai says he's got it all under control. He's the boss, so I'm following his lead for now. I figure he must know what he's talking about, or he wouldn't be the boss, right?
In the meantime, keep your minds sharp and your little novelty throwing stars sharper.
That is all.
Ninja Cookie Chef
Race to Volturnum: Day Thirteen, the Shadowlands
My name is Togashi Kokujin, and I am a Taintaholic. Am I trying to rid myself of my little problem? Hell, no. I'm happy the way I am. Just bear with me for a moment, and I'll try to make you understand why I turned my back on humanity.
Look at yourselves! Just look at yourselves!
I know you're mostly humans out there, so I'll go slow so you can follow.
The Lion. Okay, give me a second to do my best Kitsu Okura impression. "I'm not a maho-tsukai. I can quit any time I want." They'll be back. Trust me.
The Unicorn. Keep in mind, folks, when the stable is on fire, the horse is the only animal on the farm that RUNS INTO THE STABLE.
The Mantis. They're a Great Clan now? Really? How did they get that gig, did Yoritomo guess the guy's weight at the circus? What's next, are they gonna give Toku his own clan, too?
The Crab. The greatest defenders of Rokugan. Well, they must be pretty tough, to get their butts kicked on such a regular basis but still be so arrogant all the time. Heh.
The Crane. Well, gosh they sure are pretty, but who gave them those big knives? Someone should take those away before they cut themselves.
The Naga. Big snake people with no pants. Now I know fear. Please.
The Brotherhood. I'm supposed to be afraid of a bunch of priests? Yeah, right. Take a walk, baldies. My kung fu is the best.
The Phoenix. I don't know about you, but I sure am afraid of a bunch of people that wear a picture of a fried chicken on their shirts. Please, have mercy, fellas.
The Scorpion. I'm not too worried about these guys. Sure, they're sneaky, but I'm pretty sure any day now they'll sneeze in the wrong direction or something and get themselves exiled again.
Toturi's Army. These guys are still around? I thought Toturi was, like, dead and stuff. These guys are like one of those old heavy metal bands that fired their lead singer but keep making albums. Strictly bargain bin. Do us all a favor; break up and get real jobs.
The Ninja. Sure, they're our allies, but think about it. If you could trick a bunch of doofuses in black pajamas to stand out in front of you while you geared up to wipe out the rest of the losers, wouldn't you? Plus, you gotta admit, those pajamas are just darned cute.
And my good friends, the Dragon. I gave you your chance to be cool. I don't care if you have chased me across the Shadowlands to beg my forgiveness. Nope. Too late now. I've got cooler friends. Bug off.
And you wonder why I am the way I am. So now I work for the Shadowlands. Why? Because at least we're honest. You think you can stop us?
You're welcome to try.
(That's why I'm a bad guy. You get to say cool stuff like that. Sometimes, they even put it on a t-shirt.)
All artwork above created by Rich Wulf