“This… is it? They cannot be serious.”
The King was incredulous as he peered out through the slot in his golden helm at the ‘army’ advancing towards his fortress-city. When reports had reached his ears that an unstoppable host of Japanese warriors had crossed the seas and started decimating the nations of Europe one by one, he had scoffed at the threat. After all; there were at least a dozen armed countries between him and that army. When word arrived however that the enemy had reached the shores opposite his own, he had sent riders to every castle within his empire, demanding upon pain of death that they empty their homes of every able bodied man and have him brought to the capital city to shore up its defense.
The fortress-city itself was truly a spectacle; built over many generations down from a might castle that stood atop the mountain, its walls stretched so far that a man could walk for an entire day around the sides and still not arrive back where he started before night-fall. In all their history of glorious warfare, not even the outer walls had been so much as breached by an enemy. It would take a force ten-thousand strong at least to overwhelm his defenses.
So when he stood atop the balcony of his inner sanctum and saw the barely visible shapes of a mere ten men advancing on them, he was almost stunned with disbelief. Snatching a spy-glass from his advisor, he peered down at the brazen warriors from across the sea. They were ten strong in full samurai regalia; five men and five women, each standing at least a hundred yards apart as they marched fearlessly towards the capital.
The King scoffed.
“Is this it?! This must be some trick,” he turned to a messenger and pointed out towards the pitiful force, “you; send out someone to negotiate and find out what their game is. And you,” he turned to his chief of scouts, “check the surrounding hills and mountains; they must be hiding an army somewhere.”
Within the hour, both men had returned with news the King had not expected. By the accounts of his messenger, the leader of the Samurai had demanded nothing less than the total surrender of the King and all his forces. He had demanded that the entire treasury be emptied and brought to them, all the soldiers to lay down their arms, and for the King to personally kneel before him in submission.
If that weren’t enough, his scouts returned with absolute certainty that there weren’t any hordes of Samurai lying in wait to attempt a flanking ambush against the city; these ten were all that opposed them.
The King couldn’t help it; he laughed.
Striding to the edge of his balcony, he drew in his breath and bellowed down into the valley below, his voice carried down across the city to the ‘army’ waiting outside.
“I GIVE YOU THIS ONE WARNING; IF YOU TAKE ONE STEP CLOSER TO MY CITY, I WILL SHOW NO MERCY. TURN AROUND AND LEAVE IF YOU WISH TO LIVE ANOTHER DAY, OTHERWISE…” He threw his arms open wide and laughed, “COME AND GET ME!”
As one, the Samurai reached to their belts, each retrieving a battle-mask and slipping it on over their faces. It was then that the King understood how his foes had managed to make it this far without opposition. For as the masks attached to their flesh, a transformation occurred which left the King trembling with dread.
The ground trembled beneath the city as the line of warriors grew rapidly; armour, weapons and all. They scaled upwards, growing larger and larger with each passing second until, mere moments later the heads of the armoured titans were in line with the mountain-top citadel. No longer standing hundreds of feet apart, the row of Samurai were shoulder to shoulder, thousands of times larger than any of the King’s men.
Their size alone would have been sufficiently intimidating, but the masks were what truly struck dread into the King’s heart. Each empty eye socket glowed with an intense, flickering red, and their fang-filled mouths belched steady streams of smoke, as though the power of Hellfire fuelled their veins.
The King took a step back.
The leader of the Samurai took a step forwards, his armoured sandal crushing a hole in the outer wall of the fortress-city, two dozen men annihilated in a single, bloody instant. Screams erupted from all around them.
“A-attack.” The King said weakly. “Attack. ATTACK. ATTTAAACCCKK!”
To describe the ensuing minutes as a battle would be wildly incorrect; it was a slaughter. Not that the defenders didn’t try their hardest to fight back; millions of arrows were volleyed into the impenetrable armour of the attacking titans, ballistae and trebuchets hurled their payloads at the attackers moment after moment, but it achieved absolutely nothing. The King and his men had stamped out ant-hills that had offered more resistance than they could against the Hellish samurai.
The ruler’s eyes sat frozen in a wide expression of disbelief the entire world seemingly shook beneath him. Each time one of the invaders brought down their foot, another section of the fortress-city vanished in a cloud of blood and debris, hollering cries snuffed out in an instant with all the grace and dignity of a cockroach under a boot.
“S-sire?” One of his bodyguards asked in desperation. Without realizing it, the King had taken several steps backwards towards his keep. He couldn’t even muster words to reply. What could he say? What could he do? His entire castle, strong enough to survive centuries of warfare, was little more than a doll house of pebbles. His heart hammered in his chest as the shadow of the Samurai leader fell over his home. Silhouetted against the sun, the armoured colossus was a physical manifestation of nightmarish power, eyes glowing in the pits of his mask as they stared down at the insignificant creature before them.
One massive hand gripped the hilt of the blade at its hip.
He hurled himself to the floor a moment before it would have been too late. The King felt the force of a typhoon whip past above him, a deafening ringing echoing in his ears as he clutched the back of his head. All around him, things had gone momentarily still. He rolled onto his back, blood trickling from his mouth under the sheer pressure of what he’d just avoided. A groan of horror shuddered forth as he saw the remaining members of his council standing on the balcony… or rather, what was left of them. Several pairs of legs stood frozen in place, severed at the waist and still facing outwards. Almost as one, they lost all tension and slumped to the floor with a wet ‘thud’, the monstrous Samurai warrior slipping the blade back into its sheath as quickly as he’d removed it.
The second it clicked into place, the whole castle above the King shuddered. Dust rose from the walls as the towering assailant reached forward contemptuously and flicked the structure with his finger. Everything above the King came away like it weighed nothing at all, a perfectly smooth separation disconnecting top from bottom. He could still feel the impact as it tumbled down the mountain behind the keep, crumbling and coming apart as it rolled, decimating much of the city in the process. But it barely registered in the King’s mind; all he could see was the ten titans laying ruin to everything he owned, stamping and crushing with impunity as generations of memory, culture and effort were obliterated in seconds.
He crawled backwards clumsily, shuffling on his elbows and heels as the Godlike figure reached down towards him with fingers like oaken tree trunks…
Elsewhere, the massacre continued just as reliably as it had begun. One of the Samurai women, having never even drawn her blade, was simply walking slowly around the circumference of the fortress-city. Deliberately placing each foot directly before the other each time, she had entirely lost count of how many towers had fallen beneath her, how many hundreds of screaming insects had been reduced to paste and twisted metal. They always tried to be diplomatic; they always gave the arrogant cretins the chance to show some semblance of intelligence and respect. But it never happened… at least, not at first. They never gave them the respect they deserved of their own free will, but they always got it in the end.
By her heel, a horde of tiny figures with pitchforks and torches made a rush for her sandal. Ordinarily she didn’t bother herself with stamping out peasants… but if they wanted to get involved, who was she to deny them? With the tiniest shift of her sole, she brought the back of her foot over the mob, dropping it in a heartbeat with a barely perceptible ‘crunch’. Further ahead, another volley of splinter arrows rebounded off her ankles, revealing the location of the archers. With a sweep of her leg she shattered the foundation of their tower, launching the structure into the air along with several of the archers.
Ignoring the flailing little critters that would soon plummet to their deaths, the colossus instead snatched the tower out of the air with an armoured fist, closing her fingers tight around it and squeezing hard. The structure gave little resistance, as did the helpless bugs inside; in the space of a few seconds the only things left falling from the warrior’s fingers were clumps of dust and blood.
“Feeble.” She thought quietly as she continued to obliterate the outer wall.
Back at the main thrust, the butchering was almost over. The side of the mountain was caked with the splattered remains of countless thousands of troops, the rubble of their mightiest defenses laid low with all the effort of snapping a twig. The ten Samurai scanned the ground through fiery eyes, smoke rising from their mouths as they searched for survivors amidst the ruination in their wake. Every now and then, a contemptuous stomp would herald the death of yet another pocket of resistance… but in the end, there remained only one living defender.
The King’s face was ashen, his entire body trembling as he lay sprawled in the armoured palm of the Samurai lord. One by one, the ten warriors approached their leader, forming a semicircle around him and watching with horrifying quiet as he gazed down at his prisoner. It was too much for the King; he had devolved into a mumbling, dribbling, weeping figure whose eyes darted back and forth from one nightmare mask to another.
From the depths of the Samurai lord’s smoking maw, a voice rumbled like the splitting of the Earth.
Scrambling onto his hands and knees, the King bowed shamelessly, his crown tumbling off his head as he pressed his lips to the cold iron beneath him. He kissed it over and over, babbling incoherently as the Samurai looked at each-other.
Tilting his palm to the side, the lord watched as the terrified figure tumbled down towards the ground far below, cloak fluttering around him like a wisp of blue. The King hit the floor of his throne room with a distant ‘splat’, a spray of crimson erupting around him on impact. The Samurai lord watched with mild amusement as he noticed there were still signs of life in the thing, struggling to roll around as it twitched weakly.
“I don’t want that on my foot.” He rumbled, turning his attention from the defeated insect. “Mitsuru,” he addressed one of his warriors, “clean it up.”
The Samurai stepped forwards, its impossible bulk towering over the King as he blinked up at it through bleary, blood-shot eyes. He saw the blurred outline of a foot being lifted over him… and with a muffled boom, everything went dark. Mitsuru would have liked to think that the King felt his body rupturing in that final moment, felt his insides becoming his outsides as he was squashed like a tiny beetle… but in reality, they knew that it would have been over before the pain could truly begin.
None of their foes ever lasted long enough to give real entertainment. But that was the reality of their quest… another day, another country, and another nest of men of exterminate.