The race is on to free Aiya from Nayo, dark warlord of the Gyus. Can our heroes do it?
“Kidnapped!” exclaimed Ching. “Who would do such a thing?”
“I don’t know, but we’ll find out,” replied Mark.
“No need,” said Master Dao entering the meeting room. “It was the work of Nayo, dark warlord of the Gyus. That soldier’s footprint is very obvious.”
“Can ya break it down for a brotha?” asked Mark.
“Nayo was once ruler of the Forest Region, until Ching’s father defeated him in battle and took over,” answered Master Dao. “But unlike Ching’s father, Nayo was an evil ruler who made us all suffer. I helped Ching’s father defeat Nayo and banished him to other side of the forest. The Gyus live in the Mountain Region, about fifty miles from here.”
“Guess he plans on using Aiya as bait in order to get back the throne,” Andrew said.
“Looks like this will be our training,” replied Shanta. “Are you guys ready to fight?”
“You bet, girl,” answered Mark. “Let’s go kick some Gyu butt!”
The next morning, Mark, Shanta and Andrew set out to get Aiya back. With Ching, Hibika, who were both wearing really cool warrior outfits, and a thousand soldiers occupying them, it would be easy for all of them to get in the fortress and defeat Nayo. As they rode through the dense forest on horseback, they had to watch their backs since many creatures lurked around.
Hibika and Andrew lead the way, followed by four hundred soldiers. Next were Ching and Shanta with three hundred soldiers behind of them. Finally, Mark brought up the rear with the remaining group of soldiers.
“Hey Hibika,” Andrew asked looking at her, “how much further?”
“We should reach the fortress by nightfall,” she answered still looking ahead.
Andrew could tell Hibika was angry. He was in the same boat as she was. He too wanted to save the person he loved. Andrew wasn’t sure how they would get in, but he was determined to find a way.
Somewhere in the afternoon, they reached halfway through the forest. It was amazing how none of them wanted to take a break. Getting Aiya back kept them going. They came to a downward slope, which would take them to the fortress much faster. Suddenly, a gorilla-looking creature jumped out from the trees.
“Let me handle this one,” replied Mark telling everyone to back off. “I’ve been itching for a fight.”
Quickly, Mark transformed. Mark’s speed and strength had improved dramatically. The creature was having a hard time keeping up with Mark. BAM! The creature’s face was smashed in. Soon, it became weightless. Mark appeared
above the creature and clubbed it in the head. The creature plummeted, shaking the ground.
“Stand back guys,” said Mark, who was still in mid-air, but falling fast. “I’m gonna make roast creature. KAGE BAKUHATSU!!!”
The impact of the blast created a huge hole in the ground. Everyone watched the hole grew deeper and deeper. Mark landed safely onto the ground. The hole began to fill up with smoke. The smoke cleared. The creature was nothing more than a pile of ash.
“That was easy,” replied Mark de-transforming.
“Your power has increased dramatically,” replied Shanta and slapped him on the back. “I’m proud, Cuz.”
“We better continue,” said Ching looking at the sky. “It will be nightfall soon.”
The rest of the way was on foot. They walked down the slope and continued through the dense forest, arriving at the fortress by nightfall. Ching and Andrew did a little scouting of the fortress in a high tree. From the looks of it, the place was heavily guarded. There were thousands of creature-soldiers guarding the entrance. The fortress itself was built inside a small mountain and the front entrance was bigger than the courtyard.
“How do we get in?” Andrew asked Ching.
“We need a diversion,” Ching answered, “a really big one.”
“I think Mark and I could handle that,” Andrew said smiling.
He somersaulted off the tree and landed onto the ground on his feet.
“Mark, wanna cause some serious chaos?” Andrew asked him.
“You bet, Drew,” answered Mark. “Just lead the way.”
Quickly, Mark and Andrew transformed and headed for the front entrance. They hid in a bush a few feet away. Andrew noticed there were only four guards guarding the gate. He let Mark handle this one.
“Wassup, my creatures!” exclaimed Mark, walking out of the bushes.
The creatures looked at him funny and quickly attacked Mark. Mark smiled. Something pierced their hearts. Instantly, they dropped to the ground. Mark’s
Shadow Fang killed them in one silent shot. Andrew came out of the bushes and used his Striking Claw attack to break the gate open. The alarm went off.
“Nice going, Drew,” replied Mark sarcastically.
“Shut up and fight,” Andrew shot back, seeing a group of guards coming towards them.
“Looks like we have a little bit more on our plates,” said Mark.
The front entrance was covered with guards. Armed with spears and swords, they inched towards them.
“It’s now or never,” Andrew said, “GEKIDO!”
“KAGE!” shouted Mark.
“BAKUHATSU!!!” they shouted in unison.
Their blasts combined, racing towards the gate. BOOM! The front entrance was nothing more than a wasteland, covered with crispy creatures. Mark and Andrew both ran towards the fortress door. The others soon followed. Without hesitation, Mark and Andrew both leaped into the air and knocked the iron door down with their fists. To Mark’s surprise, there wasn’t anyone inside the main floor.
“Guess we killed all the guards,” he replied looking at Andrew.
“I don’t think so,” Andrew said. “I have a feeling this is a trap.”
As they stood around the main floor, they noticed the decorations were similar to the temple, except that every floor in the fortress was covered in marble. Since there were three floors, Andrew decided they should split up in order to cover more ground.
“Ching and Shanta will look on the main floor. Mark, check the second floor. Hibika and I will check the third floor. We’ll meet back here in two hours.”
“How long is two hours?” asked Ching looking confused.
“I’ll keep track of time, Ching,” replied Shanta showing him her watch.
“Keep an eye out for Nayo, he could be anywhere,” Andrew said.
“Men, I want you to go outside and guard the entrance,” Ching said to the soldiers.
They went their separate ways to find Aiya.
Ching and Shanta wandered down a narrow hallway with many doors. They searched every door, but found nothing inside of them. Ching turned the corner and found another hallway filled with many doors.
“This is hopeless,” he said. “How are we going to find Aiya with these many doors?”
“I don’t know, but we have to search them all,” answered Shanta, who was beginning to give up also.
Suddenly, they heard a voice from behind. They turned around to see a creature-soldier signaling his companions to hurry. Ching and Shanta ran down the
hallway. A large group of creature-soldiers burst out of one of the doors, blocking their path. They attacked Ching and Shanta. Quickly, Shanta transformed. She dashed toward the creatures with her fist ready. Ching also joined in on the fight, drawing his sword.
The battle was fierce. Ching struck several creature-soldiers with downward slashes. But as one fell, other appeared in its place. Ching stepped back and stared down at his opponents.
Time to use that attack.
He flipped his sword, pointing the hilt upward and holding it in one hand. Ching dashed forward, disappearing from their sight. Seconds later, he reached the other side. The creature-soldiers turned around. Blood splattered everywhere. They cried in pain as their bodies began to fall apart.
“Kaze no Mai,” Ching said as the last creature-soldier gurgled his last word.
Amazed at Ching’s performance, Shanta got serious. She ran on all fours towards them. She leaped into the air, somersaulting over them. A shower of energy needles came crashing down on them, piercing their armor and vitals. Shanta landed as the creature-soldiers fell.
“You’re not a bad fighter,” replied Shanta catching her breath.
“And you move like lightning,” replied Ching smiling.
Shanta blushed and frantically waved her hand up and down. “Oh, stop.”
They continued down the narrow hallway, opening every door on either side of them. It seemed hopeless until Shanta opened a door leading to the basement.
“We better tell the others about this,” she said looking at Ching.
Hibika and Andrew were having a hard time avoiding the creature-soldiers. No matter where they turned, creature-soldiers seemed to appear.
“I had enough with running away,” Hibika exclaimed drawing her sword. “It’s time to fight!”
Andrew stood there and watched as Hibika charged toward the creatures. Her moves were like water, fluent yet deadly. She began slicing and dicing them one-by-one. She did somersaults, flips, and moves Andrew has never seen before. But despite her efforts, more creature-soldiers appeared. Andrew stepped forward.
“Don’t interfere, Andrew,” Hibika said, gripping the hilt tightly.
As much as he wanted to fight, he let her handle it. Hibika reached into her pouch and pulled out a small bottle of water. She poured some on the blade and threw the rest on the ground. Confused, Andrew watched Hibia take her stance. She pointed her blade downward, into the puddle of water and held the hilt with two hands. The creature-soldier grew restless of waiting and quickly attacked. Hibika swung. Instantly, a massive wave of water surrounded them. Hibika dashed forward, disappearing from Andrew’s sight. She appeared in mid-air, with droplets
of water flying off of her. The glistening of the blade and her hair made Andrew blush. The watery wave disappeared and all the creature-soldiers fell to the ground with very deep wounds. Blood soaked through the rug and stained the walls.
“Ame no Mai,” Hibika said landing onto the ground.
Andrew almost felt sorry for the creatures. They didn’t know, as well as him, Hibika was a trained swordsman.
“We have to continue the search,” said Hibika sliding her sword into the hilt, which was on her back.
Andrew nodded and quickly followed her down the hallway.
“Why do I have to be by myself?” Mark asked himself as he wandered through the third floor. “I wish one of the servant-girls knew how to fight.”
Just then, one of the doors began to open. Quickly, Mark hid in another room with the door slightly open. He couldn’t make out what the person was saying, but he knew the person was coming in his direction. The person walked passed Mark.
For a guy who fought Ching’s father, he looked young. Judging by the amount of gray hair on his head, he was in his mid-forties and his body was muscular. He
looked like he could kill an entire army with his bare hands. He wore red pants with black boots, black wristbands, and a red cape with matching mask.
Mark realized it was Nayo. He decided to follow him, since Nayo knew where Aiya was kept.
As Ching and Shanta were coming out of the hallway, Ching stopped.
“What’s wrong?” asked Shanta stopping also.
“Someone is coming,” he answered. “I can hear footsteps.”
“We better hide,” she replied grabbing Ching’s arm and leading him to an open door.
Ching watched through the small crack in the door where Nayo was headed. Once it was clear, Ching opened the door. To their surprise, Mark came down the hallway also.
“What are you doing here?” whispered Shanta.
“I’m following Nayo,” Mark answered.
“We already know where Aiya is,” said Ching. “Nayo has put her in his dungeon.”
“Let’s go get him,” replied Mark running past Ching.
Shanta grabbed the back of his shirt and pulled him down. “We’re waiting for Hibika and Drew.”
“Fine,” replied Mark folding his arms.
A few minutes later, Hibika and Andrew came downstairs and joined the others. Mark told Hibika and Andrew where Nayo was keeping Aiya. Andrew, of course, decided to go to the dungeon and rescue Aiya.
They all ran down the hallway. However, something was off. Different sections of the hallway began to close. Despite their efforts, they were trapped like rats. Two large walls made of solid rock surrounded them.
“What do we do?” Hibika asked Andrew.
“We bust through,” he answered.
“How?” asked Ching looking at Shanta, “That wall is made of solid rock.”
“Piece of cake,” replied Shanta and then transformed. “I’ll break it.”
They all stood back and watched as Shanta’s Enerugī Bakuhatsu attack demolished the rock into a pile of pebbles. Ching was amazed by Shanta’s strength. They continued down the hallway until they reached the door that lead to the dungeon. They walked down the narrow staircase. The light became brighter and brighter. Their hearts raced with every step. Soon, they were going to fight Nayo and rescue Aiya. They arrived to the basement and were amazed by the structure.
Dungeons were supposed to be gross and scary, but Nayo’s was neat, beautiful, and huge. The whole room was covered in black marble with small torches
surrounding the room. In the back of the dungeon was a small altar, where he kept his prisoners and sacrificed them. There were only two tapestries in the room, located on the sides of the room.
“What kind of dungeon is this?” asked Mark. “This looks like every other room in this place. For an evil guy, he doesn’t know what scary and gross are. My grandma can make a better dungeon than this.”
“Ah, I see that Aiya’s friends have arrived,” replied Nayo facing the altar.
“Come get an ass beating,” replied Mark.
Nayo turned around. “You must be Mark. Princess Aiya seems to talk about you a lot. I challenge you to a fight to the death. The winner will get Aiya. Do you accept?”
“Let’s do this,” answered Mark cracking his knuckles.
“Are you crazy? You can’t fight this guy,” Andrew said.
“I have to, in order to save Aiya. One thing I learned from our last training is to never back down, even if the odds are against you. Aiya may get on my nerves, but that doesn’t mean I have to let her get taken by this guy. She’s still someone I want to protect.”
Andrew gave him a small smile. “Fight well, man.”
He signaled the others to get out of the dungeon and to stay near the staircase. Nayo took off his cape. He cracked his knuckles and his neck. Mark transformed and waited for Nayo to attack.
“Let’s see how fast you are,” replied Nayo and dashed towards Mark.
Nayo began his assault, throwing punches. Mark dodged every blow and countered with his own. Their hands were moving so fast, it looked like a bunch of blurs were between them. BAM! Nayo felt a blow to his stomach. He returned the favor with a punch to Mark’s face. Both fighters stepped backwards and charged toward each other once more. Their bodies were moving fast. None of the others could keep up with Mark and Nayo’s movements. SMACK! Mark kicked Nayo in the cheek. Nayo flew backwards. He regained his balance, flipping a few times across the floor. He wiped the blood from his mouth and charged towards Mark. The battle was fierce. Both fighters were fast and strong. It was like their powers were even. None of the others knew who was going to win. SLAM! Mark crashed into the altar wall, leaving a huge hole in it. He slowly got up. Nayo appeared in front of him and began punching him in the stomach. Mark cried in pain with
every blow. He grabbed both fists and kneed Nayo in the chin. With the palm of his hand, Mark pushed Nayo to the other side of the dungeon.
“You…fight well,” replied Nayo as he got up.
“I’ve got sweet skills,” replied Mark grinning.
“Now it’s time to show you my true strength.”
Nayo extended both arms with his hands face up and fired a huge blast at Mark. Mark dodged and watched as part of the altar wall was destroyed. Nayo laughed evilly and continued to fire more. Mark dodged, flipping everywhere. Suddenly, two blasts appeared above him. BAM! A cloud of smoke began to fill the room. The smoke cleared. There was no sign of Mark. Nayo laughed evilly as he turned to face the others. Suddenly, his body froze. He looked down and saw worm-like shadows wrapped around his legs.
“But…how?” Nayo asked with wide eyes.
“An illusion,” answered Mark, rising from behind the damaged altar. “You destroyed my shadow clone while I quickly found a place to take cover. You may be strong, but you’re so stupid.”
More worm-like shadows wrapped themselves around Nayo. They raised him in mid-air, facing him towards Mark. Mark raised both arms into the air with his hands crisscrossed.
“Now, kiss your ass good-bye!” he shouted, “KAGE BAKUHATSU!!!”
Mark’s blast hit Nayo head on. He cried in pain as the blast began to burn his body.
“This is for Aiya!” shouted Mark as he added more power to the blast.
The others watched Mark blast Nayo into the ceiling and onto the main floor.
“Who…da man…” replied Mark and fell onto his hands and knees.
Shanta and Andrew helped up Mark and walked up the stairs. They got to the main floor and saw Nayo still standing. Most of his body was charred and blood oozed from his abdomen.
“Where’s Aiya?” asked Mark trying to stand up on his own.
Nayo chuckled. “I never thought I would lose to a child. Mark, you have indeed won this fight. Aiya is in a special prison cell, located on the third floor. Here, take this key.”
He chucked the key with his remaining strength. They watched Nayo collapse to the ground, a pool of blood surrounding him. Mark picked up the slightly charred key and hurried towards the third floor. The others followed. They searched every door.
“She’s in there,” Shanta answered pointing to a door with a tapestry next to it.
Mark unlocked the door and found Aiya on a bed, staring at the wall. She turned her head and looked at everyone with dazed eyes. She wasn’t sure if it was a
dream. Tears of joy ran down her cheeks as she ran towards Ching. Everyone gave a sigh of relief. Aiya noticed Mark behind everyone and quickly looked away.
“Aiya, you should be proud of Mark,” said Ching, realizing her hesitation. “He saved your life by defeating Nayo.”
Aiya covered her surprised look. “Why would he do that for me? He doesn’t even love me.”
“I did it because I care about you,” Mark answered, stepping forward. “You’re still someone I want to protect, even if you’re annoying. I guess this is what it feels like to take care of a sibling.”
Tears rolled down Aiya’s cheeks. She ran up to him and squeezed him tightly. Mark hated to be squeezed by her, but let her hug him to her heart’s content.
“C’mon, let’s go home,” said Mark, looking at Aiya with a smile.