Note: I have nothing to do with Ronin Warriors and its characters except to be a fan who enjoys the series very much. This story is my extrapolation of the storylines as received in North America. I apologize if this story doesn't quite fit into the Japanese series.
Rowan looked up as Sage, Ryo, and White Blaze suddenly emerged from the corridor. "It's about time," he snapped as he ducked under another swinging fist.
"Sorry," Ryo said. "We had to wait for this." He held up his yoroi ball.
"Great!" Rowan said. "Then let's armor up and get this over with!" He reached for his, but White Blaze surged past him, barreling into the ogre that was lunging at Rowan. The two tumbled around the courtyard, as the ogre's hidden strength proved a match--but only just--for the tiger's mass and strength.
"Hold on," Sage said, catching Rowan's arm. "We can't do this here. We have to get them away from here."
"And how do you plan on doing that?" Rowan said skeptically.
"Ryo has a plan," the other Ronin said. "Just play along. Oh, and don't let the Sai or Kento transform either."
Rowan sighed. "You're not going to fill me in on this, are you?"
"If I had something to fill you in on, I would," Sage said. "But this is Ryo's play. First, we have to get the ogres away from here. That's Ryo's job. We come in later."
Rowan shook his head. "This better work," he said. "If they transform..."
"We'll do our best," Sage said. "Otherwise too many innocents will get involved."
Rowan sighed. "Ryo's plan better work," he said. "And it better work fast."
* * *
As Ryo had expected, Manigami had locked in on him the moment he reentered the fray. He and about four of the other ogres. With White Blaze to help out, though, and his own strength and resolve restored by the knowledge that he had his yoroi ball at hand again, Ryo was up to the task of fending of his opponents, at least long enough for Sage to fill in the others on the plan.
Or so he hoped, as he found himself being driven back by Manigami. The presumed head of the school was by far the most skilled of the ogres he was battling, and he realized suddenly that it wouldn't be too far a stretch to admit that he needed the help of the Ogre-Slayer. Or of his own Armor of Wildfire and his weapons, at the very least.
"You think you're friends can help you?" Manigami hissed at him, even as he brought his blade down in a slash that would have cut Ryo's ribcage into pieces if it had connected. But Ryo ducked aside at the last moment, bringing his own blade up and diverting the slash sideways. As luck would have it, Manigami had swung with such force that the impact with Ryo's sword snapped it out of his hand. It went tumbling through the air, finally lodging itself in the courtyard wall, just barely missing Sai and his opponent. Both turned to glare at them.
"Hey, watch it!" Sai snapped. "I'm on your side!" The ogre seemed to nod his agreement. Then they turned back to each other and continued their grappling.
Ryo turned back and faced his opponents. "Sorry, Sai," he called out. "Accident." Then he was too busy to talk as his other two opponents pressed their attack and Manigami backed away.
"It's almost time," he murmurred to himself. Ryo held his opponents off as he quickly scanned the courtyard.
Kento was grappling furiously with one of the ogres. Ryo had a feeling it was Goma, the man whom Kento had faced before at the hospital. The two had completely forgotten about weapons and instead seemed determined to tear each other apart with their bare hands. A little ways beyond them Rowan was using an old mop to deflect the swords of two opponents. Fortunately the mop had a metal handle and Rowan was skilled enough to catch the blows at a slant, thus preventing the sharp swords from slicing through the metal, but the handle was already showing signs of damage and wouldn't last much longer. As Ryo watched, Rowan wrapped the cloth strips at the end of the mop around one of his opponents, momentarily blinding him.
Sai had left off grappling with his opponent and was darting around and over the ogre, using his agility to evade the grasping hands that had somehow found a gardner's hoe. White Blaze was nearby, warily circling an ogre that was moving just as carefully. Sage had found a sword similar in size, if not shape, to his Sword of Halo and was using it to hold two more ogres at bay. And Ryo knew he faced the last three of the ten instructors and Manigami himself.
But as he turned back to his own battle, he saw Manigami yanking his sword from the wall with more than human strength; a huge chunk of the wall crumbled as the sword tore free.
"This is growing tiresome," Manigami growled. "It's time to finish this."
"Guys!" Ryo shouted. "We need help! Hold them off for as long as you can. I'm going to find the Ogre-Slayer!" He turned and, calling upon all his battle instincts, jumped up and over the wall. He landed running, and sprinted up the hill. Behind him he heard fear and confusion."
"After him!" Manigami roared. "We can't let him get to the Ogre-Slayer! Go! Forget the others, kill him!"
"Well, I have their attention," Ryo muttered. "I just hope I can stay ahead of them long enough!"
* * *
Kento blinked as the ogres suddenly turned and fled. "What's going on?" he asked. He turned to his friends. "Sai?"
Sai shook his head. "No idea."
"THAT'S HIS PLAN?"
Kento whirled and looked to where Sage and Rowan were standing.
"You're telling me his entire plan was to run and have them follow him?" Rowan demanded.
"And you let him do it?"
"And where does he plan to lead him?" Kento asked, hurrying over.
"Assuming he makes it," Rowan muttered acidly.
"I don't know," Sage said, shaking his head. "Somewhere on the other side of this hill, that's all he'd tell me."
Kento walked over. "But what's on the other side of--"
"He wouldn't!" Sai cried. He turned and ran for the hole in the wall the ogres had left when they'd departed so suddenly.
"What?" Kento asked. "Where are you going?"
Kento blinked. "What?"
Sage clouted him on the shoulder as he ran past. "Get it in gear, Kento," he said, as Rowan darted past them both. "Ryo's going to need us soon."
Kento stumbled into a run as White Blaze raced past him. He quickly caught up with Rowan. "What does he mean? Where are we headed?"
"The Aquapark where Sai works," Rowan explained. "If we're not careful we could destroy it entirely, but the ocean is right there, and we're moving through uninhabited forest for the most part. It'll be safer to get there and use our weapons instead of heading for the harbor. Fewer people will be involved."
"What was that Ryo yelled about the Ogre-Slayer?" Kento asked. "I don't get it."
"It's why the ogres were hiding in the school," Rowan said. "You weren't in the car when we discussed it, but we think they were trying to come up with some surprises for the Ogre-Slayer when he showed up. And I think--and Sage says that Ryo thinks so, too--the Ogre-Slayer isn't far from here."
"So the ogres are desperate," Kento said grimly. "And that's why they're determined to kill Ryo before he can find this Ogre-Slayer."
"And that's why we have to hurry," Rowan said. "If Ryo can get to the Aquapark ahead of the ogres, everything will be fine. But if they catch up and we aren't there to support him, he'll be dead meat."
"Well, what are you waiting for?" Kento said, picking up speed. "Let's move it!"
* * *
Ryo thought he was making good time.
He'd made it up and over the crest of the hill, and it was all downhill from then on. The trees all around him were something of a hindrance, but not nearly as much as it was for his pursuers. He could hear the ogres barreling through the trees, but he hadn't heard trees actually falling in the woods either. That meant the ogres were still in human form and were choosing to dodge around the trees instead of through them. That also meant that while he could race haphazardly among the trees counting on his reflexes to preserve him from a bad tumble, they had to be slightly more cautious as they competed with not only the trees and himself, but with each other as well. From the grunts and snarls he heard behind him, Ryo was certain that the ogres were crashing into each other as they moved around tree trunks right into their neighbors.
The woods around him were national forest: protected, and thus one of the reasons there were no railways or roads cutting through them, the terrain being the other. On the one hand, Ryo was glad the woods were there and nature preserved; on the other hand, he couldn't help but wish he was running down a smooth, straight road instead of over tree roots and under branches.
Ryo called out with his mind, and felt the reassuring presence of his four friends nearby. According to Sage and Rowan, they weren't all that far behind the ogres. Grinning with relief that the other Ronins were close, Ryo concentrated on staying ahead of the ogres.
Finally he reached the highway that meant he wasn't far from the Aquapark. He bounded over it in three quick leaps. He heard tires squeal behind him as drivers belatedly braked. Then he was racing down towards the Aquapark.
As fast as he was, it was already dark by the time he reached the park. Sai could make it to the Aquapark in about an hour and a half by train. On foot as he was, and moving through heavily wooded steep terrain, it had taken him almost an hour longer to get to the park. No ordinary person could have done it. He, thankfully, was not quite ordinary.
The Aquapark seemed to be deserted, but Ryo was reluctant to actually lead the ogres down there. Then, looking to the side, he saw wide, open, barren terrain. He immediately swerved in that direction.
He called out with his mind to tell the other Ronin Warriors his plan.
* * *
Sai breathed a little easier as they changed direction, now that he knew the Aquapark wasn't in immediate danger. They would still be a little too close for his own comfort, but at least they weren't right on top of the park.
"Hurry, guys!" he shouted, urging his friends on.
They moved quickly, jumping over the heads of the ogres to land at Ryo's side, just as their leader spun around to confront the ogres.
"Kill them all!" the lead ogre said. At once they began to change. Their human forms seemed to melt...or maybe remolded itself was more accurate. Human torsoes began to surge and expand, while arms and legs became longer and more muscular. In a matter of moments they were facing ten angry ogres, and their leader towered over them by at least a head.
"It's time, guys!" Ryo called out. "Ronin Warriors, to arms!"
"It's about time," Rowan said, his voice cold and hard.
Sai couldn't agree more.