Legendary Adventurers; Futuristic Saviors

Chapter 11: Wolf Princess Storms the Fort; Curse's Power and Form Revealed

Late that Night

Outside Iron Town's Borders

As she sat silently atop her wolven brother's furry back. San stared down at the island fortress of the human's Iron town. Her young face was writhed with spite and vicious hatred. 'Gun-woman… Ghost Princess… Tonight will be the night…' She thought, 'Tonight will be the night I slash my blade through your throats and end your miserable lives.' She sniffed at the air and wrinkled her nose when the foul odor of the iron works touched her nostrils.

"San," Kiba said, breaking what had been a long silence.

"Yes, Kiba? What is it?" she answered, not taking her dark eyes off Iron Town.

"This is your last chance to reconsider what you are about to do."

"I know."

Kiba's ears twitched as he looked over his shoulder and at San who was sitting on his back, "I suppose I would just be wasting my breath asking you if you've even given it a thought."

"I have Kiba," San replied coldly, "I've given it many thoughts. But no matter what direction I approach from, the simple fact still remains." Her eyes narrowed, "That Gun-woman and that Ghost Princess tried to kill Mother. I'll never forgive either one of them for that!"

"Neither shall we, San," Tsume spoke up, but for once in his rash and impulsive life, spoke up in reason, "But charging blindly in the heart of the human's dwelling won't shorten our war against the them, nor will it end Mother's pain."

"I agree with Tsume," Kiba added, "As soon as you breach those walls, every human in the area will be after you."

"But don't you realize all that could be accomplished?" San asked, "If I can kill the Gun-woman, and that Gods-forsaken Ghost Princess, then the other humans will be without a leader. Humans always need a leader, without one, all they can do is scurry about like mindless idiots," She exhaled loudly, "And I must avenge our Mother's honor as both a wolf and as a God."

"Even if it means dying in the process?"

San nodded, "If it means saving our home and our mother, I would gladly make that sacrifice."

"You know that she'll be furious with you when she finds out about this," said Tsume.

She then smirked as she looked to Tsume, "Since when did you become the cautious type, Tsume?"

"I'm only cautious for now, because you're being so damn reckless," Tsume mumbled."

San smiled at her brother, but then furrowed her eyebrows and frowned, "That may be so," she said, remembering the look on the Wolf-God's face as she had forbade all three to them to engage the humans further than they already have.

The very moment the words reached San's ears, she realized that her mother had not only suffered a shot to the neck at the hands of the Gun-Woman but a damaged pride as well. And to add to the humiliation, she was being beaten to death by a human, the Ghost Princess, the only human to ever escape the Wolf Tribe completely alive and unspoiled. She didn't know how the Ghost Princess did it; maybe it was some new weapon like the guns. The young wolf-girl shook her head. Though she had always tried to obey her mother's wishes without question, it was times like this when her own ego and her own sense of pride clouded her better judgment.

"That damned woman has been nothing but a festering sore since she arrived with her guns, or the Ghost Princess with her bandits," she snarled aloud, every word filled with venom and hatred for those two women, "Those two have destroyed forests and taken land that rightfully belong to our clan and the others. And now they've mortally wounded our Mother. I'm tired of just rolling over and letting them get away with their crimes against us."

Kiba and Tsume shared a troubled glance as they continued to listen to their human sister.

"That woman is going to die this night, Kiba, and I'm the one who's going to kill her," San said coldly. "Even if it means going against our mother's wishes."

Kiba sighed and growled. "If that is what you desire, San," the large wolf replied. "Tsume and myself will give you whatever aid we can."

San smiled and leaned closer to Kiba's head. Do you mean that? she asked.

"We've always done so in the past," said Tsume. "I don't see why we should change that now."

San's grin grew even broader. "The only aid I need, is for you to help me get over the human compound's barrier," she said. "After that, I want you to return to the cave. Both of you."

Kiba's ears twitched again. "Are sure about that San?" he replied.

Tsume reached over and brushed his furry maw against the young wolf-girl's stomach and nuzzled her affectionately, "You'll be fighting the human's off by yourself," he added, "We won't be able to help you if anything should happen."

San laughed quietly and scratched the small spot on Tsume's snout that he always enjoyed to have scratched. Upon feeling his human sister's finger nails graze the hairs on his snout, the large wolf growled with appease. "You'll be easier targets for the riflemen than I will. I don't want what happened to Mother to happen to you two as well." She then looked to the Iron Town once more, "But most of all.…" She reached over her head and pulled her red mask over her face, "When I finally face that woman and kill her, I want the satisfaction of knowing that I was able to do it by myself."

"Have it your way, San," Kiba retorted. Both he and Tsume then began to make their way down the mountain and towards Iron Town.

Back Inside Iron Town

In the Guest Hut

Never in his life had Alex felt more alone, but it was mostly in his thoughts at this point. As he lay silently on the soft futon he had been given with his head nestled in the cup of his hands, listening to the constant clanging of iron being hammered and hating it, the dark-haired youth's brain continued to stir in a sea of thoughts. Thoughts about himself, his curse, the mysterious Shisha-Gami, the beautiful wolf girl and her family of giant wolves, Toki and all the other women whom had been bought out of bondage by the benevolent Lady Eboshi, and the crazy Ghost Princess, Princess Yashahime.

Alex's brow pinched into a frown and he rolled over onto his stomach, burying his face in the pillow. Just the sound of both those woman's names disturbed him when he thought about it, and thinking about the women themselves were enough to send his mind into a muddled stupor.

The moment he had laid eyes on her, Alex knew that Eboshi was probably nothing more than a cold hearted, self-righteous, capitalist who could make George W. Bush or Richard Nixon look like an eco saint. But after listening to both the old leper and Toki's stories of how the powerful mistress had freed them and their peers from lives of misery and took them under her wing. The more he thought about it, the more harder it became to keep a solid opinion about Eboshi. There was only one thing that Alex was certain of: The woman, Lady Eboshi, was a true enigma with many faces. One minute she could be a saint, and then just as quickly she could be the devil himself.

'Jeez! That woman's just complicated,' he thought, 'Why couldn't things be so simple, like that Yashahime girl,' He turned over onto his back again and thought about the Ghost Princess, 'I mean, sure she's beautiful… but she's insane. She wants to kill the forest just to get even with the Wolf Princess. She's a masochist and a sadist all in one,' he shook his head as he corrected himself, 'No, I take it back! She's a sadist, psycho, Adolf Hitler, with a Lindsey Lohan and Lacey Chebert body mixed together.' however, he shook that one out of his head as he had thought of something that he had almost forgotten while on this journey: his home.

'I wonder what's happened while I've been away? I'm sure my family's going crazy at this point; Kari's probably having kittens for the sixth time; crying her poor eyes out seeing that her older brother's gone missing, and dad...he's probably been too busy performing plastic surgery on one of his computers to even notice that I'm missing at all.' His frown increased, 'But then again… he already knows I'm missing, and that he's probably going on one of his crazy hysterical moods…'

The teenage outlander sighed, 'Now that I think about it… do I even really want to go home?' The thought made him laugh, "Of course you wanna go home, you nimrod! I don't belong here; I'm from the 21st century," he said aloud. It's either that, or stay here in pre-historic Godzilla Country, were something's trying to kill you every five minutes, be they man, beast, god or demon."

It was at that moment when the constant sounds of clanging finally got to him, breaching his limit of tolerance. He tossed aside the futon's heavy blanket and sprung to his feet. Clad only in a set of gray boxer brief, he quickly stomped over to the window of his small guest quarters and stuck his head out. "Hey! Keep it down out there, will ya?" he shouted, "You people think twelve hours straight is long enough? Give it a friggan rest already, gee!" He then closed the shutters with a 'slam' and flopped back onto the futon.

When he looked to his right, he saw Isaac staring at him with yet another one of his patented looks. "Okay, so I have a short fuse, so sue me already." He exhaled loudly and let his head sink into the softness of his pillow.

"You might wanna work on that then," Isaac yipped out as he stood up, "That curse'll feed off it, and get stronger by the minute."

"Is there a reason you're still up," Alex asked, feeling grouchy now that his sleep was further interrupted.

Suddenly a rhythmic salvo of sharp metallic clapping reverberated through the entire Iron Town compound, causing Alex to jerk himself upward. "Now what?" he asked.

"The wolves are coming!" someone shouted, "It's the Princess Mononoke!"

Alex shared a quick look with Isaac, as the little Fox-Squirrel pointed out, "That's what I was gonna warn you about."

"Son of a… !" he said, scrambling into his freshly cleaned clothes.

Back Outside the Fortress Walls

San's hand clutched her blade like the jaws of a wolf on its prey as Kiba barreled down the mountain with ferocious haste. The silvery wolf's pointed ears twitched when the sound of the human alarm touched them. "The humans know we're coming, San," he growled.

"Which means they'll be ready for you when you breach the barrier," Tsume added.

"Good," San retorted.

"Good?" Kiba asked half amused, "And just why is that good, San?"

"Because, dear Brother," the young wolf-girl replied, "There's no honor in fighting an opponent with their head up their rear."

Kiba smirked, his long black lips lifting to expose his razor sharp fangs, "I see."

Without warning, a swarm of red-hot projectiles struck the ground, missing San and the two wolves by a few feet. "They're on the defense, San!" Tsume called out, dodging another round of projectiles, "If you're going to make your move, the time is now!"

But the young wolf-girl did not reply. Instead she raised her spear high above her head and let loose the most bone chilling cry of war she could conjure. She then pointed the spear towards the wall that surrounded Iron Town and tugged the fur of Kiba's right shoulder.

With a low-pitched growl, the large wolf broke away from his brother and began to make his decent down the steep gully that separated the mountain from Iron Town. As he drew closer to the bottom, San lifted herself onto her feet, keeping perfect balance. When he reached the gully's bottom , Kiba doubled his speed and charged up the adjoining slope. As the seconds passed, the rows of sharp spikes that ran along the barrier's perimeter drew closer.

"Now Kiba!" San shouted, bracing herself for the approaching impact.

Pivoting his weight, Kiba rotated himself so that his back was the only part of his body facing the spikes, and with a grotesque crash, collided into the first row. The impact was powerful but did not harm him in the least. It did however manage to bring him to an abrupt halt.

The sudden change in her wolven brother's speed caused San to catapult into the air like a rock. She passed over every row of the deadly spiked logs and as soon as she was close enough, drove the blade of her spear deep into one of the many logs that made up the wall. Letting her reflexes take control, the young wolf-girl pulled herself over the lodged in spear and clambered up the side of the wall until she was safely over the rim and face to face with one of the masked riflemen.

As the dumfounded man stared at her, San whipped out her dagger and with a single, blindingly fast movement sliced open the man's throat. Another guard, rushed towards her, swinging his rifle around like a club. But to no avail, as the Wolf girl's movements were that of water; smooth, graceful, and untouchable. When the man, missed, San swiped at his mid-section, causing him to back away, and fall off the wall, screaming down to his death.

Back with Alex

As he struggled to hastily tie his jacket around his waist, Alex ran through the narrow avenues that criss-crossed all through Iron Town, eyeing the pandemonium which had swept over the entire compound in less than a few minutes. Everywhere he looked he saw the townspeople scurrying in panic, while groups of riflemen ran passed with their strange looking musket-staves slung over their shoulders. "Just what the hell is going on here?" he asked, "Has everyone in this town lost their marbles or something?"

When he turned the next corner, he was immediately greeted by the slashing blade of an incredibly agile Princess Mononoke. The girl had descended upon him without warning, which took him completely by surprise.

"Oh crap!" Alex cried as he jumped back in time to avoid a nasty cut to his jugular, falling into a pile of cut lumber in the process. When he looked up he saw that the masked figure in white fur was standing over him. He could feel the girl's sharp eyes scrutinizing him from behind the emotionless visage of her red mask.

Then, without even thinking he grinned widely at her. "Uh… hi, angel," he said sheepishly, waving at her weakly, "Fancy meeting you here. I like the mask; gotta admit, red's definitely your color."

"I should have know that you were working with these humans," the Princess Mononoke retorted coldly towards him, her every word filled with venom stabbing right at him, "No matter what color their skin is, humans always seem cluster together," she lunged at Alex, her dagger slashing wildly at his face and chest in a wild frenzy.

"Wait a minute, you've got it all wrong!" Alex protested, evading the onslaught very easily, due to his martial arts training. "I'm here because it was convenient for me!"

"A likely story," the Wolf Princess shot, as she stabbed forward. Only instead of hitting, he was able to use his right arm in a strange move and blocked it. When she tried to swipe at him, he either would duck, jump back, or grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her forward away from him. This situation angered San to some extent as she gritted her teeth under her mask, 'Dammit! Why can't I strike him? I know I'm must stronger and faster than any human…' and then shot forward, only to have him dodge her again, '… so why is he keep dodging me so easily?'

"Look, I'm not with these people; I just arrived here today. You've got to belie…" His foot suddenly caught on something and before he could finish the sentence was once again on the ground.

The wolf-girl chuckled behind her mask and raised her dagger to make the killing blow. A small explosion suddenly erupted next to her, sending splintery chunks of wood sailing in all directions. When she looked over her shoulder she saw a group of men armed with long staves with blades on the ends heading towards her, a musket carrying riflemen leading them.

"Damn them," she hissed and looked back at Alex, pointing the tip of her dagger at his face. The blade nearly reached the bridge of his nose, as the Wolf Girl hissed, "The next time you cross my sight, human, you die!" She then scrambled up a piece of lumber that was leaning against a house and leapt on to the roof. Within seconds, the young wolf-girl was jumping from roof to roof, her strong yet slender legs moving faster than anything other humans could accomplish.

All the while, Alex could only stare in total bewilderment at the Princess Mononoke's incredible maneuverability. "How the heck can she move like that?" he asked himself, thinking about all the gold medals she would probably win if she ever entered a gymnastics competition.

"She's heading towards the iron works!" a man shouted, gesturing towards the large pyramid-shaped building.

"If we use the western alleys, and move quick enough," the riflemen suggested, "…we might be able to cut her off." He turned to the other men, "One of you, go and inform Captain Gonza about the situation, the rest of you follow me!"

"Yes sir!" they all replied and divided up as their leader had ordered.

As the riflemen's group proceeded down the dark alley, Alex jumped to his feet and caught one of the men by the arm, "Hey, wait a minute!" he said. "Just what do you plan to do, skin her?"

The man yanked his arm free of Alex's grasp, "She's our enemy, outlander," he retorted dryly. "The sooner that wolf-whore's dead, the better!"

The dark-haired youth shook his head, "She's just a girl, you bastards!" he said, his every word saturated with anger. "Okay, a crazy, wild, possibly rabid, out for blood, wanting to kill everything in sight girl, but what gives you the right to kill her?"

The man grunted, "Don't let her womanly features corrupt your judgment, young sir," he replied. "That wolf-whore's as evil and wicked as any of hell's creatures. You'd probably be better off sharing your bed with one of those rotting lepers Lady Eboshi has hidden away in that work shop of hers."

Alex stared blankly at the man for a few, short seconds. "Okay," he said calmly, balling his right fist, "Now… I'm really pissed," With that, he bunched his hand into a fist and belted the man across the face, sending him sprawling.

After rubbing the soreness out of his knuckles, the young outlander darted up the slanted pieces of lumber as the wolf-girl had done so just moments earlier and with great difficulty, pulled himself onto the roof. As he looked across the long sea of rooftops, he saw that the girl he was pursuing had already reached the iron works and was in the process of making her way to the top of its gigantic roof.

"Dammit!" he cursed under his breath, "That crazy girl's gonna get herself killed!" Exhaling loudly, the young outlander began jumping from one house to another, moving as fast as his already tired legs would allow him.

Iron Town's Square

Lady Eboshi stepped through the gates to her house and out into the pandemonium that was spreading through the streets of her Iron Town. Everyone was either shouting at one another, or waving around a weapon of some sort. 'Just like hornets,' she thought to herself, shaking her head slowly. 'Throw so much as a pebble at the nest and the entire swarm will go mad with fury.' She looked towards a group of her riflemen who were receiving orders from Gonza.

"Gonza!" she called out.

The burly Guard Captain rushed towards her and bowed, "Milady!"

"What's the current situation?"

Gonza grunted once and frowned, "The wolf-girl has managed to breach our walls, and elude our forces," he said. "She's making her way towards the iron works as we speak, Milady."

"What about the wolves?" Eboshi asked.

"The watchmen said that as soon as she was over the wall," Gonza reported, "The two beasts retreated into the hills."

The young Mistress of Iron Town looked at her loyal subordinate with an amused expression. "She's alone then?"

"It appears that way," Gonza answered quickly.

"How very brave of her," Eboshi retorted, smirking, "The girl is either very courageous or very suicidal."

"You know she means to take your life this time, Milady. You and Lady Yashahime."

"Yashahime's taking a nap at the moment. I'll save the Wolf Girl for her," the young woman laughed, "But not if these two take her life first." She turned around and gestured towards the gates to her house. From the darkness emerged two women, each armed with one of the new, match-lock styled rifles. As soon as they reached Eboshi, they stopped and stood stiffly at attention.

Eboshi glanced silently at the two women and started off towards the iron works building. "This way," she said. "Your vindication awaits you."

Back with Alex

With a heavy sighed and a quick spit to get the foul taste out of his mouth, Alex dug his feet into his current roof and sprung forward with enough force to dislodge a few wooden shingles. Heaving painful breath after painful breath, the youth raced across roof and with one burst of physical power, lunged off the edge and flew across the gap that separated him from the iron works, his hands stretching forward. His entire upper torso caught solid wood as he slammed into the neighboring roof.

"Shit!" he cringed, his hands and chin digging into the shingles like meat-hooks, while his kicked and squirmed in the air, trying to find something to latch onto, "Forget being a male nurse or a doctor/surgeon. Maybe I should start my one business," he muttered, clutching a wooden beam that ran along the roof and pulled himself over the rim, "Call it selfless martyr for hire!"

Suddenly an all to familiar voice called out from the crowed. "Can you hear me, Princess Mononoke?" it said.

Alex moved across the enormous roof and saw Lady Eboshi stepping out into a large clearing, flanked by a pair of rifle armed women, "What the… ? What's she doing?"

"If it's me and Yashahime you wish to kill, then come out and do so!" She smiled evilly, "I know it's something you've wanted to do for a long time, now, hasn't it? Something you've longed for, desired, even lusted. All for the sake of avenging the deaths of the forest creature's we've killed over the years. The time has come for us to finish this, wouldn't you agree?

Alex frowned at this, knowing full well that Eboshi was up to something, 'This smells big time! he thought. Just what the hell are you trying to pull, Eboshi?'

"However, Eboshi continued. Before you try your blade against mine, I would like to introduce you to two women who also seek revenge! She looked over her shoulder and glanced at the two women standing behind her. Revenge for family that have been slain by you and your wolves.

"Come out and face me you murdering wolf-whore!" the shorter, thin woman shouted, "My husband is dead because of you!"

"And so is my son!" the other, roundish woman added.

A thick shroud of silence passed over the crowds of townspeople as the dark shape of a human figured rose from the peak of the iron works. The Princess Mononoke had finally shown herself, letting her presence be known by all.

For a long time Alex watched her as she looked down at the human's below. He watched the way her exotic yet frightening mask hid her face, the way the black and red ears, carved from pieces of wood to imitate those of a wolf's jutted from her hood, the way her cloak of white fur and clothing whipped through the air like the robes of death.

As he looked at her, standing all exotic and mysterious as he was, he had thought ponder into his head at this time. Were all those terrible stories about her true? Was she in fact the wicked princess of the forest that killed without pity or remorse? The longer Alex let her image fill his vision, the more the answer seemed to elude him.

"So as you can see, Princess of Ghouls and Beasts," Eboshi continued, "These two women have as much reason to hate you as you to hate all of us." She took a few steps forward and stopped when she was at the center of the clearing, "Why don't you come down here, and face us like a true princess should? Then we shall see who's desire for revenge is stronger."

At that very moment, dozens upon dozens of armed riflemen were snaking their way through the narrow alleyways and taking up position along the surrounding roofs and watch towers. All the while Alex was watching them, going completely unnoticed from his small hiding place on the ironwork's roof. "It's a trap!" he said silently, the startling realization coming to him almost immediately, "The whole thing's a trap!"

"Wait, Princess! Don't listen to her! She's just trying to trick you!" the young outlander shouted, running a short distance up the sloping roof. His voice echoed all through the air, "It's a trap!" The wolf-girl just ignored him. "Don't you get it? They're gonna kill you!" There was still no response. Unable to control his growing anger, Alex tightened his fists and shouted, "You crazy girl, please listen to me! If you go down there you're gonna die! Don't throw your life away for the sake of some stupid feud!"

"You're wasting your time, Alexander!" Eboshi called out, gaining his attention, "She knows very well that no matter what the outcome of this assault may be, her life ends tonight within these walls!" The young woman smirked, "Her fate has been sealed, Alexander. It's pointless to prolong the inevitable!"

Alex reeled on her, "Says you, Eboshi!" he snapped viciously, "You may think that destroying this forest is going to bring prosperity to your Iron Town, but it won't! If anything, this war's just going to bring ruin and destruction! Just like it nearly did to the village I saved from the God Demon that your rifles created!"

"Here she comes!" a riflemen shouted, raising his musket.

When Alex turned around and looked up, he saw that the Princess Mononoke was already rushing down the roof, her dagger raised to make its next kill. He looked back at the riflemen who were preparing to fire, then back at the Wolf Girl.

"Crap!" he said under his breath and began running across the roof, hoping to intercept her before she reached the edge. That hope was slowly beginning to fade when he saw that she was already halfway down the roof. Being physically exhausted didn't help matters either.

A sharp pain suddenly shot through his wrist, causing him to cry out in anguish and clutch his right wrist. The pain was ringing and buzzing through his brain and wouldn't stop.

"FIRE!" shouted the rifle man before the sounds of gunfire filled the air.

Hearing this, Alex pushed aside the pain in his head and wrist, and threw himself at the Princess Mononoke. "Look out!" he yelled, grabbing her by the waist and pushing her out of range. As they both tumbled over each other, the section of roof that Alex had pushed the wolf-girl away from was violently torn apart by an onslaught of red-hot iron projectiles.

The two humans continued to role down the roof, unable to stop as they nearly reached the edge. The now enraged Princess Mononoke kicking and struggling to free herself from a very confused Alex's hold. "Let go of me you stupid human!" she growled, "Just what do you think you're doing?"

"Trying to save your life!" Alex shot back, cringing as the kicks to his shins and knees intensified, "Ow! That hurt's dammit!" He kept a strong grip on the hand which held the dagger. The least he could do was keep her from stabbing him.

When they finally reached the edge of the roof, the wolf-girl was the first one to go over. However, before she was able to fall that much of a distance, Alex grabbed hold of a piece of wood sticking out of the roof and tightened his grasp on her wrist, "Just hang on!" he shouted, gritting his teeth and wincing at the growing pain in his arms and shoulders, "I won't let you go! I swear!"

"These encounters of ours are really becoming irritating, human!" the young wolf-girl said from behind her mask as she dangled high above the ground like a piece of drying meat.

"At this point in my life, the feeling's becoming mutual, Princess," Alex retorted curtly, "Just what are you trying to do, get yourself killed or something?"

"Your concern touches me, human. But unlike you, I'm not afraid to die!"

"How admirable," Alex grunted, "But it's not about fear, for me…"

Just then another round of projectiles were fired at them. A few struck the several feet away from the young wolf-girl's torso, the rest near Nathan's legs and head. One however, managed to to catch a section of Nathan's shoulder, ripping the leather of his jacket and skimming the surface. The dark-haired youth cried out in pain, the suddenness of the injury causing his hand to open and release the wrist he was holding on to.

The Princess Mononoke fell nearly thirty feet before she landed on the hard ground. Though she had not been damaged by the impact, she was left somewhat dazed. With a pained groan, she pushed herself onto her feet. When she looked up from the ground she saw Lady Eboshi standing many yards away, the two rifle armed women at her sides.

"Fire!" the Iron town mistress shouted.

Two blasts erupted from the muzzle of each woman's rifle, sending two iron bullets screaming towards the wolf-girl. One missed, but the other struck the center of her mask, shattering it and sent her flying backwards. When she hit the ground once more, her head was slammed against it, knocking her out-cold.

"No!" Alex exclaimed, thinking that the shot may have killed her.

"She's down," Gonza bellowed, unsheathing his long sword, "Take the wolf-whore's head while we still have that chance!" He pointed the blade at the ironworks building and started running. "For the glory of Lady Eboshi!"

"For the glory of lady Eboshi!" twenty other men repeated, following close behind Gonza with their staves clutched in both hands.

"No!" Alex shouted as loud as he could, forgetting his injury, "DON'T YOU DARE COME NEAR HER!"

A torrent of vicious power suddenly surged from his body, ripping through the air, faster than the speed of sound itself. He shot both of his hands into the roof, and without even wasting time, pulled out two of the roof's support beams. And then turned his attention back to Gonza and the men; he then hurled the two beams at them, like spears, piercing the ground. Of course, he didn't kill them, but they had pierced the ground near Gonza's feet, causing the mob to stop in fear.

When he felt his destructive yet powerful strength beginning to subside, Alex leapt off the edge of the roof and fell to the ground many feet below. Despite the distance he had dropped, he landed with the ample grace of a cat and without even batting an eye. The marks all over his body were now throbbing and burning like never before, and he could feel the demon within himself fighting to take control once again. But no matter how strong it was, Nathan wasn't going to surrender himself to its dominion again.

He ran over to the unconscious girl and crouched next to her. Once again he found himself entranced by the mysterious beauty of her face. But now was not the time to be ogling; he shook his head as he attempted to wake the girl up, or at least hope to see if she lived. "Hey," he said, shaking her gently, "Come on, wake up," He looked over his shoulder and saw that Gonza and his twenty lackeys were on the move again. "Come on, you crazy idiot, wake up!" he yelled slapping her cheek. To his relief, the young wolf-girl began to open her eyes.

It took a few seconds for San's mind to function normally once again. When the blurriness of her vision finally cleared, she looked up and found herself once again face to face with the strange looking human with the fair-colored skin. Letting pure compulsive reflex take control of her body, the young wolf-girl flashed her arm outward and back-handed the human so roughly across his face that it sent him flying several feet back. She then picked up her dagger and darted towards the approaching humans.

The one with the shaved head and beard, the man she had often heard the gun-woman refer to 'Gonza' lunged towards her with his long sword drawn back. Moving with inhumanly fast accuracy, San leapt over the slashing blade, dodging it by mere inches and performed a graceful mid-air somersault. As she descended the young wolf-girl drove one foot into Gonza's face, then kicked him with her other. The force of kick sent San flying over the heads of the other men who were frozen with bewilderment.

As soon as she landed on the other side of the group, the young wolf-girl's dark eyes immediately locked on the single reason she had come to this disgusting town in the first place. The vile gun-woman, known only as Lady Eboshi.

Blaring a savage cry of war, she clutched her dagger tightly and rushed through the wide Iron town street, lost in a state of raw ferocity, "You're mine, Gun-Woman!" she screamed and brought her dagger back, ready to thrust it deep into Eboshi's heart.

However, just as San made her attack, the seemingly unfazed mistress of Iron Town threw aside her cloak, revealing the sword she had been holding the entire time. There was a flash of bright sparks as the two blades struck. San Jumped back, seeing that her initial attack had failed and moved in for another strike. Her movements were as precise and deadly as any seasoned warrior, and her skill with the blade was matched only by her ferocious nature. She was perhaps one of the world's most lethal fighters, for not only did she posses the speed and sharp whit of a human, but also the strategic cunning of a wolf.

But unlike most of the other human's San has encountered over the years, there was one thing that she was not, and that was stupid. Though the young wolf-girl held tremendous confidence in her abilities as both a wolf and a fighter, she knew exactly when to recognize an opponent equal to herself. And though it disgusted her to admit it, Eboshi was just as deadly and just as cunning as she was.

"I thought you came here to take my life," Eboshi bated, slashing her sword. The wolf-girl dodged the attack and whirled around to retaliate. Eboshi just swatted the dagger aside. "Why do you hold back?"

Hurling herself towards her opponent, San thrashed her dagger in a berserker onslaught of attacks. She moved like a gyrating cyclone, her fur cloak and hair whipping around, synchronized with her every movement. When she saw the sword advancing on her she back flipped away from the older woman.

As the two combatants circled each other hundreds of townspeople began crowding around them, forming a living ring of shouted, screaming, and wild cheering for Eboshi to kill the Wolf Girl.

A sudden realization came over San as she kept her eyes fixed on her opponent. After carefully observing and studying the woman's movements and attacks, she knew instantly that she had greatly underestimated Eboshi. The woman moved like water, fast, fluent and completely unpredictable, making it impossible to decipher the pattern of her attacks, assuming she even had a pattern at all.

Then with absolutely no signal, no motion given to indicate the attack, the two women rushed at each other once again, their weapons poised for the kill. Eboshi suddenly stopped, slashed her blade upward and knocked San's dagger right out of her hand.

It had happened so quickly that San was thrown off balance. For a brief moment she caught a glimpse of Eboshi's sinister smile. Her dark eyes sudden widened and before she could even move a finger, felt the sharp sting of cold metal slicing through her side. She cried out in agony as she staggered to the ground, pressing her hands against the freshly opened wound that was leaking with blood. Through half blurry eyes she looked up and saw Eboshi looming over. There was a small assassins knife in her hand.

The gun-woman smirked arrogantly before slamming her sandaled foot into the young wolf-girl's stomach knocking every breath of air from her lungs.

San was thrown back several feet, scraping along the ground every inch of the way. Before she could even cough, the dozens of wild humans that had been watching the bout were suddenly upon her.

"No stop!" Alex thrashed and struggled madly under the weight of the two men who were holding him down to the ground. "Leave her alone, or I'll kill you!" The Princess Mononoke was now buried under what looked like half the population of Iron Town. Fists, feet, and wooden staves flailed as the enraged mob began to brutally beat and bludgeon every inch of her body. Even through all the laughter and shouting, Alex could just barley make out the girl's blood curdling screams.

'Oh God, they're beating her to death! he though, feeling the tears of rage and helplessness filling his eyes. And I can't do a goddamn thing to stop them!' He shook his head and continued to struggle, "Please just stop!" He screamed again.

"You're killing her, you heartless bastards!" As more tears streamed from his eyes, the young outlander felt the muscles in his body begin to throb and burn once again. "Stop…" he said, just above a whisper, closing his eyes tightly, trying to fight the incredible rippling from his wrist chain, spreading all over his body. "I'm warning you…" His body started to convulse and spasm, shaking him all over like an earthquake. The wrist chain's gem started to glow rapidly, until it started to glow bright and brighter. When the he could no longer hold the back the expanding pain, his eyes shot open and he thrust his face outward, "STOP!" His voice became alive with raw destructive power and at that moment, the barrier holding back his rage was shattered.

Suddenly, his whole right arm was encompassed in the black ooze film, and followed it was the gold band's metal encompassing it. After it had finally hardened, the armor was complete, showing that Alex's right arm was encased in a skin tight golden yellow armor. His shoulder was in a spherical shoulder guard. His bicep was covered in a golden yellow armor as well, but the line detailing his muscle was showing to be the black ooze. His forearm was three times bigger than ever, with two tusk blades stuck out from where the elbow was. His right hand was also armored in detail, almost looking cybernetic' the inside and the palm were both covered in the black ooze film armor, and the gem had fused into the right wrist, changing from red to a glowing topaz color. Connecting his shoulder to the chest, a horn shot up that was only one foot up. The right half of his chest was covered in the black ooze film; it was skin tight that it showed his muscles underneath, making it seem that he had no shirt on. It went from his neck as well, and also had armor on him that covered half of his right chest and back, making it look like he had a skin-tight vest on, and around his neck was a golden neck guard of sorts. The same glyph marks appeared under his eyes, and his right eye again, showed it had gone black, and the pupil gone golden yellow… like Nago's.

But this time, the curse had furthered, as of now. His whole upper body was covered in the black ooze film. And as before, the film was skin tight that it showed his muscles underneath, making it seem that he had no shirt on whatsoever. His left shoulder was armored in golden yellow armor shaped like a jacket shoulder, and on his forearm was a golden yellow armored armguard, as well as a left armored glove, similar to his right one, except it had five fingers and lacked the topaz gem. But it also had a horn connecting to his shoulder to the chest, and also, strangely, his hair had turned sandy orange, and had grown in the back a little reaching down to his neck.

It was clear, that the curse had gotten stronger, but only showed half of it now, due to Alex's anger boiling inside of him.

With his newfound strength grown even farther, Alex was able to lift himself up, despite the two men holding him down. And unlike himself, he snarled like a beast; he then lifted his foot up, and slammed into the ground with immense strength. And like an immense wave of devastating force, his power rolled through the street, uplifting the ground and smashing the sides of the houses. The power snaked its way towards and across the square striking the dense crowd of frenzying humans like a bolt of lightning.

As if a bomb had been set off, every man and woman was violently thrown into the air and away from the still form of the wolf-girl they were beating. Strangely enough, she was the only one the power had left untouched.

Nearly a thousand astonished eyes turned towards where the attack had originated and found Alex, halfway transformed, standing in front of the iron-works building, the two men who had been holding him down thrown both ways into the walls of the buildings in between the pathway he was in. The youth's eyes were now pitch black, white and pupil, and the irises were both golden yellow; his face now was completely devoid of emotion, except for a look of calm anger at now.

He took a step forward...then another.

As the seconds passed, memories of his first incident passed through his mind. Memories of having absolutely no control over his body; and memories of the helplessness he had felt against the entity that resided deep within the curse that plagued his body.

But this was different. There was still tremendous pain, but there was no helplessness. And most of all... he also possessed control… and the most terrifying part for the future teenage boy, was that now… now that it was halfway out… he was starting to enjoy it. His mind willed the movement, but something else placed those movements into his body, carrying out that will. It was just like moving in a dream, as though each muscle and bone was tethered to an invisible string.

Alex moved towards the square, ignoring the townspeople that were staring at him. As his place slowly increased, a strange, sandy orange aura began to extend from behind his right shoulder. The aura churned and twisted in the air as though it were alive, branching out into almost like a scarf or a cape of some kind.

Gonza pushed himself through the crowd of stupefied townspeople and stepped in front of the dark-haired youth. "Traitor!" he growled, raising his sword, "I was right about you all along! You're a spy for the wolves. The guard-captain slashed.

With speed faster than the human eye could follow, Alex caught the blade with his right armored hand, and held it tightly. He then continued to walk forward, but as he did, he bent the blade Gonza held, while Gonza grit his teeth, "Get back! Halt!"

"Get out of my way," he said blankly before tossing the man trough the wall of a nearby house.

When he finally reached the young wolf-girl's motionless body, Alex knelt beside her once again. Her face was marked with several cuts and bruises as were her arms and legs, and he had noticed the bleeding wound on her right side. His hand went to her neck; the touch was gentle, seeing as how his strength, as well as the demonic entity inside him was somehow being controlled.

There was a pulse, which meant she was alive. And amazingly, after his half-transformation, the devoid coldness of his face softened and he gently lifted her from the ground and held her protectively. Alex just wanted to laugh, to cry out with joy and embrace the girl. But try as he did, there was nothing there; in this half-formed state, his every shred of emotion had been literally ripped from his heart and soul by the growing power of the curse, leaving nothing but hollow shells.

"It's a very touching scene," Eboshi said, moving closer to Alex, "The beautiful Princess Mononoke, being held lovingly in the arms of the mysterious outlander who possesses the power of the demons." She stopped and snickered, "It would bring a tear to my eyes if my eyes still had tears to shed."

Alex lifted his gaze from the unconscious girl in his arms and fixed it on Eboshi's sneering face. His golden yellow, glowing eyes were empty and cold. "I won't let you kill her," he said, "You… or that Ghost Princess, Yashahime."

"I'm sure she'll will make a lovely bride for you," the Iron Town Mistress replied. "However, I'm afraid that the people of this town may not share that sentiment." She took another step forward, "That wolf-girl and her wolves have killed many of my workers, forcing those who are still alive to live in constant fear. The fifty foot wall that surrounds this town is proof, wouldn't you agree, Alex?"

The young outlander shook his head slowly. And I wonder how that wall came to be, or why the Wolf Princess had to take so many lives," Alex just sighed as he stood up, his face still hidden, "Why couldn't you just have left the Forest alone… or at least tried to build a better Iron Town. One that lived in harmony with the Gods and the Spirits of the Forest?" His eyes narrowed becoming more alive, "All you seem to care about is the iron and the profits it makes. Greed has burned a hole in not only your heart, but everyone's in this town. You'll never have enough; you don't care what you have to do, or the lives you destroy in the process, including killing the Forest Spirit, Shisha Gami!" He looked down at the silent Princess Mononoke and brushed a strand of hair out of her face, "This barley alive girl is proof, wouldn't you agree Eboshi?"

Eboshi's self composed expression slowly shifted into a look of disgusted shock, and her entire body quavered. "The moment I laid eyes on you, Alexander," she began. "I saw a piece of myself that I had long forgotten looking back at me," She then allowed a sad smile to spread across her face for only a second as she replied, "We're the same you and I. We're both monsters, cursed with sins that can never be atoned for."

"I'm nothing like you Eboshi," Alex retorted, "The only difference between us is that my demon's capable of being shown physically."

"Perhaps. But when I look at you now, holding the girl who lives only to slay me, I realize that unlike this town and its people, I will never be able to make you mine." The young woman took another step forward and raised her sword. "Forgive me, Alexander, but I'm getting bored of your curse now," she then drew out her other blade as she stated, "Let me just cut the damn thing off!" with that said, she thrusted the blade forward, only to have him dodge it.

And before she could retaliate, he slammed his fist hard into her gut. The force of impact caused the wind to get blown out of her, and she slumped into Alex's arm, completely unconscious.

"Milady!" several women cried out as they rushed towards their fallen mistress, like a group of mothers coming to the aid of an injured infant. A few others stood around her protectively, clutching their staves tightly.

Alex ignored the women's hateful glares and slowly rose to his feet, as he now scooped up the Princess Mononoke, and held her in his arms. The scene almost looked like a part in a story; where the dashing armored prince held the princess tightly but gently in his arms, laying down his life to protect hers, "I'm leaving now," he called out, "and I'm taking the wolf-girl with me."

"Oh, no you're not!" a woman suddenly jumped out from the crowd of astonished townspeople and stood in Alex's path. A match-lock rifle was resting on her shoulder, its muzzle aimed at the youth's heart, "No one treats my Lady Eboshi like that and just walks away!" her arms were shaking as was her entire body, "I won't let an outlander like you humiliate her, I won't let you! "

The dark-haired youth stopped and stared at the woman; he didn't even bat an eyelid at this scene. Alex just stood there, staring at the woman, until he started walking again, drawing closer to her, "S-Stop!" she cried, tears welling in her eyes, "Stop or I'll shoot!" but he didn't stop, I mean it. Outlander! Don't come any closer! She closed her eyes and press her fingers against the rifle's trigger mechanism.

When she open her eyes again, Alex had walked right past her. She immediately turned around to aim right at him. But she just froze, the gun shaking in her hands as she tried to shoot him. But that changed as soon as one of the woman, who was concerned for her friend, spoke up, "Kiko, what are you doing?"

However, the woman named Kiko had become startled by that, causing her to accidentally pull the trigger. The rifle fired right at Alex, almost about to hit where his heart was. But in the blink of an eye, Alex turned around, and caught the iron ball… with his left hand.

This sight both frightened and amazed the people, even the woman who had shot the bullet. She fell to her knees, at both from being startled by her shot, and from seeing the outlander catch the bullet with his hands, and not have it blown off.

It was just then, Alex's expression finally softened as he looked to her and the people, "I know that you've suffered greatly during this war of yours," he said, "And I can understand why you hold such strong loyalty towards your Lady," He locked eyes with the trembling woman, his voice taking on a more forceful tone, "But until I find a way to lift this curse of mine, I'll protect myself anyway I can...as will the curse itself…" and then he turned around, as he spoke up once again, "So please, for the love of God... don't fire that rifle again," and with those words, he walked away.

Gonza was finally getting up from the hole that he was flung into. As he groaned and regained his footing, he looked to see the outlander, walking past him. Seeing the boy nearly made Gonza cringe in his loin underwear, but that wasn't the time. He ran over to where he saw his Mistress unconscious. He stopped as he asked the guards that were present, "Is she alright?"

"Yessir, she's only stunned."

Gonza snarled as he ordered out, "Someone bring me my rifle!" he then ordered, "Riflemen to the gate now; on the double!" as soon as the men rushed with the riflemen, Gonza snarled, "They're not getting out of here alive!"

Near the Iron Works building, one of the women peered out and spotted someone approaching from the shadows. "Toki! Come here," she called out, and soon after, Toki and two of the women carrying spears rushed to the entrance.

The women saw the figure approaching from the shadows. And then walking into the light, Toki could see it was the outlander, Alex, and in his arms was the Wolf Princess, unconscious and the first time that anyone saw her, peacefully asleep.

"What happened, Alex?" Toki asked, but soon spotted the bizarre armor, as well as the eye and hair change. He just simply walked past them, without even saying a word.

The Front Gate

Minutes passed before he was finally at the compound's entry gate where a group of musket armed riflemen were waiting for him. And nearly half the town was there as well, including Shizu and the rest of the men and women. From the looks of everyone's faces, they were either confused, amazed, or too terrified of the boy's half-transformation. The fires crackled and lit up the place as the boy carrying the Wolf Princess made his way towards the gate. The youth stopped just a few steps in front of them and let his black and yellow demonic eyes rest on the five masked faces staring back at him.

"Open the gate," he ordered.

"I'm sorry, young sir," one of the riflemen replied, "But the gate has been ordered sealed. Only Captain Gonza or Lady Eboshi herself can retract that order."

"Turn back please," one of them pleaded, not wanting to start a fight with this boy. Nobody wanted to fight a young man who could command such power, power that could start earthquakes with his feet, who could bend swords with just his hand, and who could catch one of their iron bullets with his own hands.

Another riflemen approached the dark-haired youth, "We're all very grateful to you for bringing our comrade back to us. If you give us the wolf-girl and stand down I'm sure that they'll spare your life. Please young sir, don't make us kill you!"

"I walked through this gate on my own two feet," Alex replied. "… and I'll walk out the very same way." He narrowed his eyes and grit his teeth. focusing them on the large gate before him. He gently put the Princess Mononoke down beside him, and stood up as he put his right hand on the door.

"Don't be foolish, lad," Shizu shouted, "It takes ten men to open this gate."

But Alex didn't care as he began to push at the door. He gritted his teeth and narrowed his eyes as he pushed with the strength that he had at the moment. But it wasn't enough for him as he dug deep into himself, commanding the curse inside him to give him more power than it had given him already. As he continued to push forward, blood began to trickle from the young outlander's mouth and nose and his breathing became fatigued. His entire head was swimming in pain, but that didn't matter to him at this point… all that mattered was getting the Wolf Princess out of there and treating her as soon as possible.

"Stop it!" the riflemen shouted, clutching Alex's shoulder, "You're going to kill yourself, you lunatic!

Alex just ignored the man's pleads and continued to push his power to its limit until it was as sharp as a freshly cut diamond. And then with a final agonized low growl, the gate slowly began to lift off the ground, rumbling and creaking every inch of the way until it was high enough to allow him access. As this was done, the villagers were all in shock at this. Even as Gonza and the riflemen that were with him trailed to stop him from leaving, the villagers still stood in amazement.

As they were amazed, they didn't notice the dark and large shape that ran on the rooftop.

When he finally forced the gate open, and used one of the logs that were left on the ground to hold it up, the youth stood silently, swooning sleepily and seemingly only half aware of reality. But nevertheless, he knelt down and gently scooped up the Wolf Princess; his gentle hold on the girl in his arms remained unchanged. A loud roaring noise suddenly brought him to a more stable state of consciousness.

Isaac, now in his ubber large form, leaped out from the rooftops and landed right in between Alex and Gonza. In his teeth, was Alex's supply sack as all he did was roar aloud through his teeth.

Gonza gulped as he shouted, "The Wolves are attacking!" he reached into his pouch but found that he didn't have a flint with him to fire his rifle, "Where… ?" he looked to his men and ordered, "Flint!"

Wasting not even a second, the giant fox-squirrel quickly made his way towards the now open gate and stood at Alex's side. He noticed Alex's hafl-armor state as he asked, "Did I miss anything?"

With all his power and control, Nathan forced his mouth into a slight smile as he looked down at his Fox-Squirrel friend, "Not much, I'm afraid," he then said with strained difficulty, "Le's get outta here,"

These words were said with strain and difficulty, for the words had not originated from his half-demon possessed mind, but from what little remained of his heart. He reached out and stepped forwards out the gate, along with Isaac, and as they were out in the open night, he grabbed the pillar that held the gate open.

When he and Isaac were a few steps beyond the Iron Town barrier he stopped for a moment. "If anyone follows us… " He tilted his head over his shoulder and let the watching men and women gaze into his lifeless eyes glowed yellow, "… I will kill them." But then he let out a sad smile as he said to them all, "However… you have my thanks for putting up with me and Isaac," He then released his invisible hold on the gate, letting it close with a rumbling slam that echoed through the valley.

The villagers all stood there, both in shock and amazement at the lad's power and curse. Then, the only one who spoke out, was Shizu as he calmly stated, "Good luck, stranger."

Next Chapter: Words of Hate and Acts of Love; An Unlikely Friendship