Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!

"Or should I say...Swordmaker?"

Ashura's image in the lake froze.

Merlin had faced many things in his long life and career. Couldn't even begin to explain them all.

But after all this time, the only thing that ever really struck terror in him...

Is, Was, and will forever be Lily.

The Lady in the Lake just stood there, silently digesting what she'd just seen and heard. And the more she thought about it, the lower the room temperature dropped as her anger grew. And grew. Merlin managed to not run and hide when she finally spoke.

"Ye knew from the beginin'?" Merlin nodded. She snorted in disgust. "Figures why ye were so confident in your friends."

"I had to be sure Lily." Merlin tried to explain himself, earning a frosty glare for his effort. "Even I was fooled at first."

The room temperature dropped dangerously after that remark. Then she made an attempt to reign in her temper as she sighed, The room warming somewhat.

"That was a dangerous risk, Merlin." She finally said. Merlin didn't miss the hurt hidden there, felt guilty. She was angrier at his lack of trust in her, even if it wasn't that, than the situation. There was a narrow margin, but that was the case nonetheless. "This no longer concerns just the humans anymore. According to what we just heard, we're just as deep in this as they are. You know Avalonian protocol demands I handle this here and now...So ye better have a damn good reason why not."

"Because you don't fully understand the situation, Lily."

The ice returned in her eyes. "Then enlighten me."

The lake shifted at Merlin's command, to when Kenshin kissed Karou. "Ashura was wrong about the Triseoul. It's the Swordmaker's trump card. If the situation calls for it, he can separate himself three ways, taking three temporary hosts until he can resemble himself later. Kenshin transferred his stronger persona, the Rurouni, to Karou when he kissed her. Shinta was given to Tomoe while he kept the Battousai to deceive Ashura. Karou should now be a match for Ashura."

Merlin stroked his beard in thought. "I first thought that the Swordmaker was merely fighting for his wife's freedom. For the hope that some day they be free to live in peace. But after hearing Ashura's confession I started thinking...Why would a human and dragon, of all people and things, possess a power unlike anything we've seen? It's related to magic but at the same time totally different. Where did it come from? Don't you find it a bit odd that these two found each other?"

"It's almost...like they were made for each other..."

Merlin nodded. "I hate to agree with King's Pride, but something is fishy about this. I can only conclude that the Swordmaker and Bane, like Ashura said, are innocent pawns. Pawns of something that may threaten us all. This is asking a lot, Lily, I know...but we may never get to the bottom of this unless we let them loose and keep an eye on them ourselves..."

It was an eternity before Lily answered.

"Alright. Ye suspicions are valid, and I'd be a fool to ignore this. But be warned Merlin." Her eyes were flinty. "If ye friends fail to stop Ashura...I will. And I'll level Asuka, just to make sure this never happens again."

Merlin visibly relaxed. "Thank you, Lily. Thank you."

"And Merlin?"

Lily actually smiled.

"Gambling has always been your one vice..."

Merlin almost facefaulted, but caught himself. He chuckled.

"Aye, Lily. Aye."

Premium Spirit Productions Presents...

A Rurouni Kenshin/Ninja Scroll Crossover

Darkness before Dawn.

By Sentora

Rurouni Kenshin and all it's characters belong to Nobuhiro Watsuki, The great guys at Sony and Jump magazine, I'm just borrowing them for this crazy fic. The new ones, however, belong to me...So ask nicely if you want to use them, Kay? ^_^

Chapter 7: No turning back.

The skies over Asuka had gotten even nastier; as if protesting the chaos it witnessed below. The sea churned and lighting speared randomly about the ship. It roared back in challenge.

Within, the storm was just as fierce...

Tomoe and Karou stood before Ashura side by side, defiantly staring her down despite the insanity in her eyes. Her aura was raging all around them, threatening to steal breath and soul from their bodies and reduce them to frozen husks.

"I'll take Kenshin to a safe place and help the others!" Tomoe yelled over the noise. "She's all yours!"

At Karou's nod, they vanished.

Ashura barely reacted to this, all her attention on Karou. She crossed her arms and locked those horrible eyes with Karou's mismatched ones, as if trying to break her spirit as she chuckled.

"How cute. Prince Charming charging forth on his mighty nag..." Karou's eyes narrowed at the barb, "...To save his princess. Hate to break it to you, Romeo, but your girlfriend likes it here. She forgot how much fun it was to be a bad girl..."

She didn't finish...Her body dissolving into blood as the Sakaba sliced into her and returned to Karou's hand. "Does thou taketh me for a fool?" The Swordmaker's voice blended with Karou's with disturbing effect.

"I can't help it! It's so easy!" Ashura's disembodied laugh seemed to come from everywhere. With an eruption of blood she reformed to casually stand behind Karou. "Admit it, Swordmaker, You've failed. Condemned yourselves to a prison of flesh...with madness or death as your only escape." She leaned against Karou and crossed her arms. "Defeating me won't change that."

"Thou may be correct. But I will not let thee use mine wife as thy pawn." Then she smirked as she glanced at Ashura. "Besides...I would not deny Lady Karou the pleasure of kicking thy ass."

Ashura chuckled and shrugged. "Have it your way..."

Both walked away from the other without a glance, almost in mockery of a duel.

Ashura willed her sword into existence...and as she drew that monstrous weapon and let the saya slither around her, the true depth of her power revealed itself. Compared to the pure destructive force that surged around her now, corrupting or decaying everything around her, her previous display of power was like a candle against the sun. Her fangs lengthened, her reptilian eyes deepened until they lost what humanity remained within, a primal growl bubbling upward from her throat like a stench. Her aura intensified...the blood she stood on now frothing, the marble pulsing in perfect rhythm and the darkness thrashing and swarming round as if alive...

As if to balance Ashura's violence, Karou's summoning was more peaceful...but no less powerful. It was barely noticeable at first. A lonely wind drifting through the room...then its brothers and sisters slowly joined it, cleansing the evil that surrounded her. Her wounds healed without a trace, even repairing her torn clothing. Then with a battle cry, the power exploded into the maelstrom that was Kamiya Arashi Enbu...challenging the chaos that Ashura had unleashed...threatening to tear the room apart. Her aura, now a towering flame, slowly took a familiar shape...A spectral Kenshin that wasn't Kenshin at the same time that shadowed her every move...

Silence dominated as they just stood there.

Then in the time it took to breathe they turned and launched at each other.

The roof exploded outward as their sword kissed with a thunderclap.

Glass shattered for miles....

##

continue