Disclaimer: I own the rights to neither Naruto nor Onimusha. If I did, would I really be writing fanfiction?

Kōtetsu no Kijo
by The 17th Immortal

Prologue

Iza Village was not a large or particularly well-known village. It was a farming community in Grass Country, located only an few kilometers from the borders to both Waterfall and Fire Countries; the river that marked Fire Country's northern and western border with its neighbors fed the irrigation that provided Iza with incredible fertility and growth. It held no military strategic value, as it sat in a wide open expanse of the country's namesake grasslands that made its long-term defensibility virtually nil, nor was it of vital importance to Grass Country's economy – despite its bountiful crops, what Iza provided to Grass overall was little more than a drop in a bucket. Its people were not noteworthy; in fact, the only time Iza ever received any attention at all, was when one of its boys ran away to become a ninja; he died, however, during his Chūnin examination, which is why Iza received the attention to begin with.

Which suited them all just fine. They were farmers, after all. Any kind of attention, especially the kind from Kusagakure, in their minds could only be a bad thing. It disrupted their orderly lives, and prevented them from doing the jobs they had done almost unchangingly for generations.

Which is why few even noticed it, when Iza Village was destroyed.


It happened around early midday. One of the farmers in the outermost rice fields could hear the sounds of many marching feet. At first, he thought it to be the daimyō's samurai army; from what little he had bothered to learn about the Kusa ninja, he knew folk like them would not be so obvious to find. Concealed from view as he was within the rice stalks, he did not learn the truth until it was too late.

His first screams were cut off by a thick gurgling, the kind that only came from having your collarbone and the entire one half of your torso carved open by a sword. That sound alone alerted the other farmers, and from there it was chaos.

It was no living army that descended on Iza Village that day. They might have resembled samurai, perhaps, at a distance – wide conical straw hats with green tunics and breeches, all of them carrying swords – but up close, it was obvious to even the most uneducated that these were not human attackers. Their skin – if it could even be called that – was rotted away, leaving behind the grinning visage that was now more skull than face, and the emaciated limbs and torso that had little flesh left yet could still wield their swords with great dexterity.

Kyonshi. Reanimated corpses, who felt no pain, no fear, no hesitation. No mercy.

The villagers never stood a chance. Farmers by trade, they had no training or experience in matters of combat, other than against the occasional wild animal. One lucky combatant managed to score a fatal blow to the head with his farming hoe, but as the monster's corpse began to dissolve into nothingness before his eyes, its bone and rotted flesh seemingly boiling away, the farmer was so surprised by this sight that he failed to see five of its fellows approaching him until their swords had been run completely through his stomach and chest. Blinding pain, and the sensation of his lungs filling up with blood, were the very last things he ever experienced.


Even before the sun had creeped past its zenith to cast the afternoon shadows, the skeleton-like army had moved on.

In its wake, nothing stirred but dust. The town lay silent, its denizens slaughtered to the last being. Women, children, animals, absolutely nothing had been spared. The hard-packed dirt of the roads now gleamed wetly with crimson-stained brown, and a great many houses now had their walls painted with sprays of bright scarlet.

The rice fields too now lay empty and devoid of human life, some even with their ankle-deep waters now diluted freely with red.

The only sounds that could be heard in Iza now was the blowing of a dry wind, and the faint buzzing of the first gatherings of flies. By evening, the harsh cawing of crows would be added to this grotesque tableau as well.


Iza Village was not a large or particularly well-known village.

This was how it died.

End Prologue —


Author's Notes: A very short chapter to start off with, I know, but it's to get the mood going.

As I already mentioned in the disclaimer, this is intended to be a crossover between Naruto and the Onimusha game series for Playstation 2. Veterans of the games will undoubtedly recognize these "undead samurai" as the typical Genma footsoldiers. I do hope I did their descriptions justice, given how often I've had to face them.

The word "kyonshi", for those who are interested, is the Japanese name for the Chinese jiang-shi, the so-called "hopping vampires". Feel free to look up the details online.

And the relationship between the Naruto world and historical Japan – which is the setting for the Onimusha games: the transition period between the Warring States era and the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate – will be explained in later chapters; all I ask for is your patience in that regard.