The River Sanzu
Chapter 6
a Ronin Warriors / Dark is Rising fusion
by Liondragon
1378 wc ~ G ~ ?+?

When realities collide.

Deliver the raven boy’s charm
Lest Seeker comes to harm
Despite his disguise
The fate of silver eyes.

They were all looking at Will. So many minds lingered on him, expectant. He had overcome much in the Dark’s rising, and alone borne the memories of those battles. Yet at that moment he found he was not immune to dread. Of course it would be so easy to undertake the adventure and then pull a blanket of forgetfulness over their minds. But John Rowlands’ words had stayed with him, and in their time grown on him.

It is a required risk, said the Old One within him, sharp-eyed and unsleeping. But Will Stanton, the young man, the traveler, the teacher, knew also that memories were the stuff of life. The war was finished. It was not his place to trim a candlewick, no matter that it would burn all the brighter.

It was Bran, though, who allowed the silence to lengthen, uncomfortable as the others became. He was curious, yes, and a little hurt. However it was clear to Will that foremost on his mind was the necessity of Will’s honesty. The tawny eyes which had so shocked and entranced him from the first seemed to say: I know it is hard. But you must do it.

"What I tell you now must stay in this room, and indeed, in your hearts. You must lock it up tightly. It is not only my nature; it is the pattern of mankind and this world of ours." His voice, Will thought, stayed the same, yet Seiji had to shut his eyes briefly. "It is a power that I am, not what I have. I am the last of the Old Ones of the Light, who were dedicated to fighting the powers of the Dark. Much of what is hidden from mortal men is known to us. My task in the last battle was the Sign Seeker— what the poem calls me. That battle is long behind us."

Hesitantly, Will turned to Bran. The others were obviously used to the supernatural, but Bran, his heritage forgotten and in many ways taken from him... Will feared it would be too much. They were grown now, with less of a child’s resilience.

After a silence: "Always knew you were a dewin," Bran said lightly. His brows knit, as though the word tasted strange in his mouth.

Will sighed deeply. "The raven boy was you." Bran’s jaw tightened, then he nodded. Perhaps it was the presence of others, but he did not press the matter.

"And silver eyes?" Shin said gently.

"That is a personal thing," Bran answered. "Will has shared enough, I think. Suffice to say it is an omen of death, and a dire one at that." Will’s heart lifted at his words, for that verse was where the knife truly twisted. He didn’t have to explain.

"So this something can kill you?" Ryo asked.

Will shook his head. "An Old One cannot die. Imprisoned, exiled, warped... but the Dark is a memory. Only it could do such a thing. The world and all its magics belong to humankind now."

Seiji snorted. "There is always evil in the world." Shin touched his shoulder.

"Such is the birthright of men to choose what they bring into the world." Indeed the Old Ones’ long war had been to preserve that freedom.

A maternal look stole over Nasuti. "It has always been a question of heart. This has always been a human battle, despite the great power of the armors."

Shin said, "Our armors are very old, but we must keep our hearts strong and true. They were created for war, and there isn’t any now. Without our human virtues, we would lose control. I guess it was easier when we were kids."

"Ah. Easier to believe," said Bran.

"So what other magics are there, according to the Old Ones? And what is the charm?"

"The charm I have with me," Bran said. "I’ll keep it safe." No one argued with that.

Will brushed his hair back in a quick, nervous gesture. "There is Old Magic, of the earth, and Wild Magic of living things. These are governed by the High Magic of the universe. The fate of the world is the fate of man, and so the Dark and the Light strove to influence that course." He drummed his fingers. "What I don’t understand is how I can’t sense you. You walk in the Light, yet these armors are invisible to me. My attacker is the same. I’m not sure how it fits."

"It is a strange system," Seiji said. "Shuu, is there any such division in Chinese?"

Shuu shook his head. "Dragons...? No, not like that. It could still be the same magic. But then, why does our enemy hide like a coward? If this Circle was all over the world, they should have known of it."

"We only know what is needed," Will said.

Touma was chewing his pen. The blue-haired boy was sitting still for once. "So Wild Magic is the power of animals and plants. The force of life. And Old Magic is the power of the earth and sea and sky?"


"Then, by your system, our armors are Old Magic," Touma said.

Will blinked at him for a moment. "But that’s..." It would explain why the armors could hide themselves from him, but for five mortal humans to carry them? These young men had to be living, breathing talismans.

"Welcome to the East," Touma said cheerfully.

Bran laughed suddenly. "‘There are more things in heaven and earth,’ eh Will? You look gobsmacked. This thing won’t be playing by anyone’s rules, I think."

"Agreed," said Ryo heavily.

"What about Kayura? You said she was taken out of time. How far back?" Will pressed.

"Probably before the last of the civil wars. Mid-sixteenth century," said Nasuti.

"The warlords as well," added Touma.

Bran whistled. "Almost five hundred years? That’s a rough ride."

"If she’s anything like Kaosu-sama, she’ll live a few hundred years and then some."

Will nearly toppled from his chair. "A few hundred years?"


He was unconsciously clutching Bran’s sleeve. "Might she be an Old One as well?"

Nasuti stared at Will thoughtfully. "It’s not a perfect fit into our legends. Kayura-sama was taken at a very young age. Even then, given her clan’s heritage, Arago considered her a match for him... when she was finally broken from his enchantment." She looked away, suddenly sad.

Will barely noticed, pre-occupied as he was. "She might have been taken by the Dark before she could come into her own. That almost happened to me."

Bran glanced at him sharply through the dark lenses. "You didn’t know her, before?"

"All of our Circle left the world of men, except for myself." Will felt Bran’s in-taken breath beside him. "But the youjakai isn’t in the world of men, so I couldn’t possibly." His skin was prickled with excitement. Even if they couldn’t reach her, if it were true... Light might be concealed from Light. It was possible, if not probable that she was one of his own kind.

"I got it!" Touma jumped up. "The final line. Green forests. Aomori."

"Tohoku?" said Nasuti. "Northernmost Honshu." She glanced at Seiji.

"You sure, Touma?" said Shin.

"It can’t be anything else." Touma grinned, fidgeting with his pen. His eyes swept around the table till his gaze fastened on Bran. "What are you thinking, Bran-san?" he said abruptly.

Bran raised a brow. "That it’s odd Will doesn’t know the name of this thing, and it’s not often I see him flummoxed by a difficult task. Odd of the lady to warn us, when she’s out of touch with this world. Odd... unless she knew of it. If it came from her side, from this spirit world of yours." He took his shades off, and in his pale eyes was a lively gleam that was achingly familiar to Will. "Having gotten a look at this thing, it seems to me that it’s trying to find a way in."

"We need to know why," said Nasuti. "We have more questions than answers..."

"Aomori is a big prefecture," said Ryo.

"It will probably find us," said Touma darkly.

Will shook his head as something tickled his senses. He would ask Bran if he’d noticed, later. "And we might be missing a member of our party. Maybe they’re there."

"It could be a trap," Seiji said wryly.

"What are we waiting for!" Shuu whooped. "If we hurry, we can catch the bullet train."

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