Chapter X (a prologue of sorts), we first come upon
young elf who loves to invent all sorts of crazy contraptions
which put wrinkles into his old grandmother's brow.
Turo dreams of leaving the village, but his grandmother
refuses to let him leave. While bemoaning life's complete
and utter lack of fairness, Turo learns that there are
humans in the village, which is an incredibly rare event.
Turo heads over to gawk at the visitors, and stumbles
across an elven child playing with a firecane, one of
Turo's more "explosive" inventions (think
of it as a cross between dynamite and a firecracker
... um ... only it doesn't blow things up nor does it
sparkle ...). The noise attracts
human travelers. Sao remarks upon the ingenuity of Turo's
invention, adding that he didn't expect to see such
talent in such a backwater elven village. One thing
leads to another, and Sao gives Turo the chance that
he's been waiting for by inviting Turo to leave behind
the mundane normalcy of his village life to travel with
the trio of humans. Turo eagerly grabs the opportunity
to leave, but first he has to convince
to Turo's surprise, when he approaches his grandmother,
Pokata agrees to let him leave, and even gives him
that she never even allowed him to lay his hands on
before. Too excited to think upon these strange turn
of events, Turo leaves with Sao and the others. As soon
as Turo and the humans leave, Pokata tells an invisible
watcher to come out of hiding. Behind her, a figure
who thanks her for her cooperation.
Pokata vents her frustration on the newcomer, deriding
him for his weaknesses. Ashamed and upset, he tells
her not to worry, that he will watch over Turo for her.
Pokata replies: "That is all you ever do. You never
do anything but watch."
few days later, Turo, a little bored and anxious for
some adventure, waits impatiently in the middle of a
forest with the trio of humans. Someone has been following
them, and Sao has decided to finally put a stop to it.
He instructs Turo to place his firecanes in the middle
of the clearing, a plan to which Turo agrees reluctantly,
after Sao promises that he isn't trying to hurt the
stranger. Too late, Turo figures out Sao was lying through
his teeth, and the stranger is momentarily stunned when
Turo's firecanes explode beneath his feet. When the
smoke clears, it reveals a blind, red-haired elf. Despite
Turo's isolation, even he is not ignorant of the stranger's
identity, and to his shock, Turo realizes that the stranger
is none other than the
Sao and the Kurenai Mashin confront
each other, and Turo learns that the Kurenai Mashin
has been sent to kill Sao and the others, who are in
fact members of a rival guild, the Kobura Guild. As
Turo absorbs the danger of his situation, Kaiyen shoves
him into the midst of the swordfight between the Kurenai
Mashin and Sao. Turo's unexpected appearance throws
the Kurenai Mashin off balance, and Sao quickly stabs
the Shouten assassin. For a moment, Sao revels in the
fact that everything is going according to plan, but
the Kurenai Mashin unexpectedly regains the upperhand.
The Kurenai Mashin defeats Sao with a single stroke,
then easily dispatches Kaiyen and Shaina ... without
taking a single life.
now alone with the assassin, suddenly realizes that
the elf before him is actually a familiar face. With
shock, he recognizes that the Kurenai Mashin is Mokurei,
a childhood friend of his who had left the village long
ago. Dismayed by Turo's recognition, the Kurenai Mashin
turns to leave, but before he can disappear, Turo leaves
him the Amulet of Elders, which, Turo insists, rightfully
belongs to Mokurei.
of them notice that watching them from the trees is
in elven territory, Pokata is anxiously awaiting the
return of her grandson. By her side stands
who half-heartedly berates her for failing to tell him
of Turo's plight. Suddenly, Turo arrives, abashedly
greeting his grandmother and the Prince. Before either
of them can say a word, Turo tells Hyouden about seeing
Mokurei, which renders the Prince speechless.
speaking with Turo, Hyouden rushes to Yokuzama
castle and bursts into his father's audience chamber,
ignoring the protests of
one of the King's most loyal guards. Hyouden's entrance
silences his brother, Takura , who is in the
middle of speaking to their father,
Hyouden relates Turo's news
to the King, who shows no surprise at the announcement.
The Prince is shocked as he realizes that Turo was merely
part of the King's plans, and is furious that his father
would risk Turo's life. The King dismisses Hyouden's
disapproval, reminding his son of the destiny to which
Mokurei belongs. His words forestall further argument:
Mokurei will become strong enough to be of use to us.
When that time comes, Hyouden, you will bring him back.
He cannot run forever."
One opens with the Kurenai Mashin holding the Amulet
of Elders in his hands. He says to himself that the
Amulet doesn't belong to him and that it never did.
For a moment, he thinks of the past, remembering the
day that his mother let him hold the Amulet in his hands.
It was the same day that she was killed in the war that
marred his childhood. Unwilling to think further on
the painful memories of his childhood, the Kurenai Mashin
ends his reflection of the past and returns to the Assassin
Guild headquarters, where he ends up arguing with
Kurenai Mashin is digusted by the fact that Sao and
his followers were so easy to defeat. He realizes that
he has nothing more to learn from the Shouten, and announces
that he is leaving the Guild. Ryu, unwilling to allow
anyone someone with intimate knowledge of the Guild
to leave without a fight, orders his men to kill the
Kurenai Mashin. Unfortunately, they fail. Miserably.
Kurenai Mashin leaves, and hours later he rests near
a quiet stream, inexplicably out of breath. While taking
a drink from the stream, the Kurenai Mashin is surprised
beginning of Chapter Two brings us back to Sao, who
is being tortured by a fellow Kobura member for failing
to achieve an honorable defeat (ie. death) at the hands
of the Kurenai Mashin. Before killing Sao, the Kobura
assassin mocks Sao for selflessly sacrificing himself
to save Shaina and Kaiyen.
miles away from where Sao lies dying, Shaina and Kaiyen
are desperately trying to hide from their fellow Kobura.
While taking a much needed break from running for their
lives, they receive an unexpected visit from
we learn, was the one who told Sao, Shaina and Kaiyen
that Turo was the "key to defeating the Kurenai
Mashin". Of course, Shaina and Kaiyen are none
too happy that Loki's plan failed, but before they can
exact their own bloody kind of revenge, Loki disappears
in a brilliant flash of light. In a tree far from where
Shaina and Kaiyen stand, both utterly discombobulated,
Loki reappears ... only this time, he appears in his
true form ... as Takura. Ghost, meanwhile, transforms
into Kiri. Takura announces that he's all "magicked
out" ... and so the two of them then proceed to
have a nice conversation about the need to rid the world
of the evil squirrel population. Well, they ARE stuck
in the tree. So really, they've got nothing better to
back at camp KM, the elven girl's attack on the Kurenai
Mashin is interrupted by a gaggle of Kobura (yesh, they're
like geese). While the elven girl is fighting most of
the gang, KM is stuck fighting
(inside joke :P)
whom he almost loses. He narrowly avoids death by decapitation
with the help of the elven girl. Defeated, Yochiro and
her henchmen leave, nursing their wounds and their pride.
The elven girl turns to the Kurenai Mashin with a satisfied
grin, only to find him collapsed on the ground.
Mashin realizes that he was poisoned by Sao's blade.
Normally, the Shouten are given an antidote to the poison
with which the Kobura coat all their weapons, but having
guessed that the Kurenai Mashin would abandon them,
Ryu had given the elf a false antidote. After a moment's
hesitation, the elven girl decides to use magic to aid
the fallen assassin. While casting the spell, she silently
implores the Elven Goddess Shakri to allow her to heal
the Kurenai Mashin because he can't die, not when she's
finally found him.
spell comes to an end, the elven girl breathes a sigh
of relief. It seems she has managed to fight something
called "Thamona's Taint" long enough to heal
the Kurenai Mashin. Still, she wants to ensure that
the spell was fully successful, but though she is determined
to stay awake to watch over him, exhaustion gets the
better of her, and she falls fast asleep.
awakens, the Kurenai Mashin is gone ... along with the
Kobura goods that she had stashed away after the fight.
The elven girl quickly catches up to the Kurenai Mashin,
who reluctantly shares a meal with her with the stolen
elven girl introduces herself as Itaka, the discussion
soon turns to the matter of the bitter rivalry between
their two Clans. To Itaka's surprise, the Kurenai Mashin
reveals his distaste for war and the meaningless hatred
that accompanies it. Impulsively, she tells the Kurenai
Mashin of her journey to find Anubell's Tear, an ancient
Sougen artifact that possesses legendary power -- so
legendary, in fact, it is considered merely a fairy
tale. But for Itaka, it is the last hope for her people.
The Sougen, she exolains, are dying of Thamona's Taint,
a strange sickness that has made it virtually impossible
for the Sougen to use their magic. Their magic, centered
around healing, is used for everything from warding
off sickness to replenishing crops. Without it, the
Sougen are dying.
peaks the Kurenai Mashin's interest ... but for reasons
that are less than altruistic. He immediately asks her
if Anubell's Tear could return his sight. Itaka hesistates,
replying that it could if he once could see. The Kurenai
Mashin replies that he was told that he could see once.
Itaka brightens, concluding that they both now have
reasons to search for the Tear.
The chapter begins with Takura enjoying
his favorite pasttime - chasing squirrels. He is interrupted
Daitsu, despite being younger than
Takura, views his brother's lack of maturity with absolute
disdain. Fortunately for both brothers, Daitsu is frequently
absent from the villages, as he spends most of his time
alone in the surrounding forest with Mishi, undergoing
vigorous training. Daitsu quickly leaves Takura and
visits his father, who has news for his youngest son.
Tia'lleyn announces to Daitsu that according to Takura,
Mokurei has "come into his powers" and thus
will soon be ready to take on his destiny. Daitsu reacts
angrily to the news, stating that Mokurei was a coward
who doesn't deserve to protect the villages. Daitsu
insists that as the Third son of the Royal line, he
should be protector of the villages. Tia'lleyn brushes
off his son's fury, telling Daitsu that the position
will be his if he manages to defeat Mokurei when the
blind elf returns home.
Daitsu storms out, only to be met
by his older brother Hyouden. Hyouden, empathetic of
Daitsu's plight, invites his brother to joust with him.
Daitsu agrees, and they relocate to an empty clearing,
where they have at each other with powerful blasts of
magic. Takura, having finished his squirrel chasing,
watches his brothers from a distant tree. Kiri observes
that Takura must wish he was with them. Takura denies
this, but then adds that he'd "like to claim victory
over those two. Just once".
Meanwhile, KM and Itaka arrive at
Alumina, the nearest village, looking for supplies and
a night's rest. No longer a member of the Shouten, KM
doesn't quite know how to behave in the village. When
he was part of the Shouten, people would simply give
him things for free to avoid any possible unpleasantness.
Since they are both without money, KM and Itaka enter
the nearest pawnshop, where KM tries to sell his mother's
amulet, the Amulet of Elders, to
When the pawnbroker tries to rip
him off, KM practically shoves his sword down the man's
throat, only to be stopped by Itaka. Ushering KM out
of the store, Itaka sells the pawnbroker her staff.
Though the staff bears a tremendous amount of sentimental
value, Itaka knowingly sells it for half of its value
in order to prevent any further altercations between
the pawnbroker and KM.
After leaving the store with KM in
tow, Itaka heads towards the nearest cheap inn that
she can find. There she leaves KM and finds
who helps her decipher the ancient
Meawhile, KM gets into trouble at
the bar (typical!) with:
He also manages to take out
Itaka, completely oblivious to the
chaos KM is causing, leaves the cartographer's place
and heads back towards the inn. As she does so, she
catches sight of
who take great pains to try and escape
Itaka's notice. When Itaka finally catches up to them,
she is appalled by their outfits and the trio have a
heated exchange about Itaka's useless search for Anubell's
Tear. They are interrupted by
To Itaka's shock, she learns that
Velle and Nydeira are the Lady's servants, which explains
their gaudy outfits. Velle and Nydeira are the village's
best Hunters, and Itaka realizes that with them gone,
things must be desperate indeed at home. Before Itaka
can demand why Velle and Nydeira have abandoned their
home to work for a spoiled human, they turn their back
on her and follow the Lady to her carriage. Itaka attempts
to follow, but is blocked by Tyr.
A conveniently uttered scream from
the direction of the inn forces Itaka to abandon her
chase and return to the inn at which she left KM. When
she arrives, she finds the place in shambles, and its
occupants sprawled unconscious on the floor. At this
point annoyed and exhausted, Itaka retreats to their
room on the second floor, only to find the pawnbroker
who were waiting for KM in order
to steal his amulet. Unfortunately, they get more than
the bargained for, and Itaka beats them all in a humiliating
defeat. The cartographer then arrives on the scene,
and Itaka and KM learn that he is in fact the mayor
of this impoverished town. He had been blackmailed by
the pawnbroker and had lost his position as mayor, which
forced him to take up his hobby of cartography in order
to provide for his orphaned granddaughter. With Thollos
nicely dispatched and humiliated, the mayor decides
give KM and Itaka a monetary reward. As an afterthought,
KM asks for the return of Itaka's staff, having noticed
it missing. Much to KM's dismay, Itaka responds to the
small gesture with exaggerated thanks (she glomps him
For the past two weeks, Itaka and
KM have been entering the towns that dot the path towards
the next piece of the map, doing good deeds and thus
earning enough money to keep them going. The latest
village they come across is home to a farming community
whose homes have been invaded by a travelling group
of mercenaries. The men, having left for the fields
in the morning, are trapped on the farside of the nearby
bridge that leads towards their village. Itaka and KM's
offer of help is accepted by
When Itaka and KM cross the bridge,
they are attacked by
who defeats KM with ease while Itaka
watches on helplessly. Convinced that the woman is one
of the bandits, Itaka is shocked to learn that the woman
is in fact KM's old sensei. It quickly becomes obvious,
however, that KM left her tutelage on bad terms. Before
Itaka can learn anything more about their relationship,
they are interrupted by
KM, fueled by anger at having been
defeated by his former teacher, decides to prove his
skills to Kai and vent his fury by brutally dispatching
Kaisa's followers. For a second time, Itaka is left
on the sidelines to watch in helpless horror. In an
opportune moment, Kaisa snatches one of the villagers
who crept out of hiding to watch the fighting. Tamarin
Kai, seeing the boy in danger, lashes out with a speed
and pent up violence that echoes KM's earlier outburst.
Only through great self-control does she stop herself
from slaughtering Kaisa. We learn that Tamarin was the
original Kurenai Mashin, and that Kaisa had been searching
for her in order to kill her and claim her place as
the most skilled killer in the land. Much to Mekken's
consternation, Tamarin orders Kaisa to leave and to
Later, Itaka talks with Tamarin and
reconsiders her decision to travel with KM. Never having
seen him actually kill someone before, she never imagined
he was capable of such hate and brutality. Tamarin convinces
her that with Itaka's help, KM will change.
While the two women talk, KM and
Mekken ambush Kaisa and KM kills the mercenary. Mekken
rationalizes his part in the murder by claiming that
Kaisa would have eventually returned, putting the village
in grave danger.
When KM returns to the village, it
is time for him and Itaka to leave. As they leave, Tamarin
asks that Itaka remember that she has the best chance
to change KM's ways. Turning to wave to Tamarin, Itaka
yells back "Consider it a promise!", while
KM looks on suspiciously.