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.
Five yoroi balls flared to life. Five voices rose in shouts of challenge and defiance.
"Armor of Halo, Tao Chi!"
"Armor of Torrent, Tao Shin!"
"Armor of Hard Rock, Tao Gi!"
"Armor of Strata, Tao Inochi!"
"Armor of Wildfire, Tao Jin!"
Vaguely through his transformation Ryo could see that, even though the ogres had finished their own conversions into their true forms, they still wore human expressions of confusion and surprise. Plainly the Ronins' actions had caught them off guard. Plainly they hadn't expected such fierce--or powerful--resistance.
Then it was over, and the five of them stood facing the eleven huge ogres. There was still a light flaring off to one side, but it faded in a few moments, revealing Black Blaze in his own battle armor. The great tiger prowled forward to stand broadside in front of the Ronins, his eyes never looking away from the ogres that loomed in front of them. A low growl resonated from the cat's throat, menacing and threatening, and making Ryo's armor vibrate with its intensity.
"So," Manigami hissed, "you have powers of your own. I knew you were different from the others. But it matters not," the ogre continued. "You are still no match for us. You cannot win!"
"We'll see about that," Kento snarled. "We beat the Dynasty and all its evil hordes. We can beat you!"
"That's telling him, Kento," Ryo agreed.
"You know nothing of what you face!" Manigami laughed. "Do you think your weapons can harm us? Only Onikirimaru, the Ogre-Slayer, can truly kill us!"
"Maybe you should worry more about what we can do with our weapons than the weapons themselves," Sage said quietly. "Your ignorance will be your undoing."
"And you will die ruing your ignorance! We will bathe in your blood and feast on your hearts!" Manigami pointed at them. "Kill them all!"
Despite his readiness, Ryo was almost caught off guard as the huge monsters lunged forward. He just barely jumped out of the way, and that was only because Black Blaze sprang at the ogre that would have crushed Ryo if it had landed as it planned.
Ryo quickly drew his two swords. "All right, let's get to it!" he shouted.
"Guys," Sai grunted as he fended off one ogre with his spear, "do be careful, all right? No unnecessary damage to the scenery?"
"Aw, man," Kento grumbled, swinging his naginata around him and clearing away three ogres. "How do you expect us to stop them if we can't go all out?"
"Improvise," Rowan called. He was using his bow as a staff, parrying with its shaft and thrusting with either end. "We aren't in the Netherworld anymore, Kento. We can't just go around destroying the countryside."
Privately, Ryo agreed with Kento. Still, Sai and Rowan had a point. He had led them all here near the Aquapark because it offered the best place for all-out attacks, but if they weren't careful, they might end up destroying the park itself.
"Improvise, he says," Kento muttered. "Improvise this!" He used his weapon to stun two of the three ogres closing in on him again, then caught the third one in its gut with the end of the naginata. There was a loud gasp as all the air rushed out of the ogre. Then Kento spun around, somehow dragging the ogre along with him. With a powerful swing, Kento launched the ogre high into the air. "Sai!"
Ryo, blocking with his swords, watched as Sai deftly disengaged from his opponent, then drew his spear into attack position.
"Super Wave Smasher!"
Power gathered at the tip of the spear, then burst skyward, striking the ogre just as it was starting its descent. The air around the ogre exploded in a blaze of blue light. When the light faded and they could all see again, there was no trace of the ogre.
"That's the way, guys!" Rowan cheered.
"Master!" one of the other ogres cried. "They destroyed him!"
Manigami's eyes were wide with shock. Then they narrowed into thin slits. "It seems I underestimated you, Mr. Ryo," he said in his sibilant hiss, "you and your friends. But no more. Now we will use the knowledge and skill we stole from you and others to destroy you!"
Ryo blinked as each remaining ogre suddenly drew a sword out of the air before him. The swords were black as night and seemed to swallow the light itself. And, because they were meant to fit the hands of an ogre, each sword was nearly as long as Ryo was tall.
"We may be in trouble," he murmurred. Then he raised his swords and prepared to fight again.
* * *
Up in the valley not far from where Ryo and the others had charged down, a figure looked up from his grisly work as blue light exploded over the beaches not far from the Aquapark. Frowning, he snapped his sword out, sending blood and gore flying from the blade. Then, moving quickly, he started down towards the beach, his sword at the ready.
* * *
Sage caught his opponent's sword on his own and, after quickly ducking an attack from the side, maneuver their fight into the position that he wanted. Then, he drew back and quickly pushed the two ogres away. They stumbled backwards, surprised.
White energy flared around the Sword of Halo as he swung his blade around. It burst outward at just the right moment, catching the two ogres in its blinding light, incinerating them completely. The rest of the blast continued outward, until it finally dispersed over the ocean.
Sage breathed a sigh of relief, grateful that his plan had succeeded. Out of respect for Sai's sensibilities, he'd done his best to make certain that his attack would head out to sea instead of inland or, worse yet, at the Aquapark. He only hoped he'd be able to continue.
He turned back to the fray. With the two he'd destroyed, that made three enemies down and eight to go. Ryo and the leader, Manigami, were exchanging blows at a furious rate, both fighting at such a high level of skill and expertise that neither could score any strikes against the other. A short distance beyond them, Black Blaze was circling another ogre, one of the Soul Swords of Fervor unsheathed and clasped in his great jaws. Rowan was holding his own with two ogres while Sai traded blows with one of his own. Kento was taking on three and doing a good job of holding them at bay with the great swings of his naginata.
Sage started forward to help Kento, then frowned and stared at Ryo and Manigami. Maybe it was the light, but Manigami looked larger than he had when they'd first entered into the fray.
Just then, Sai repeated Kento's trick of throwing an ogre into the air, and Rowan caught his two opponents with his bow and sent them stumbling back.
"Super Wave Smasher!"
"Arrow Shock Wave!"
The attacks struck their targets and the ogres vanished, wholly and completely.
Sage noted the outcome, but his eyes were locked on the fight between Ryo and Manigami. His eyes widened. Maybe Ryo didn't notice it, so intent on the fight was he, but Sage saw it plainly. Manigami was growing. At first it wasn't obvious, but with each moment he grew taller and broader, and so did his swords.
Ryo stumbled back. "What?" Sage heard him say.
Just then, Kento, caught his three opponents with his naginata and sent them flying towards the shore. He drew weapon back in and prepared to strike.
"No, Kento!" Sage shouted, running towards his friend. "Stop!"
"Iron Rock Crusher!"
Sage stumbled to a halt as Kento's devastating attack tore the three ogres apart.
"Did you say something?" Rowan asked, hurrying over.
Sage shook his head. "It's too late."
"What's too late?" Sai asked, coming up.
Sage pointed at Manigami. "Look."
* * *
Sai blinked in shock as Manigami swelled further. Now he towered above Ryo, and his sword was easily twice as long as Ryo was tall.
"Fools!" Manigami laughed. "Kill my followers and you strengthen me!" He glared down at Ryo. "You should have killed me first, human. Now you will die knowing that the death of your friends was entirely your fault."
Sai rushed forward. "We're not dead yet! Super Wave Smasher!"
For the third time that night his weapon flared with power. Then the attack burst forth. It streamed towards Manigami with blinding intensity. At the last moment, however, the ogre held up his hand and deflected the attack entirely.
"Black Blaze!" Ryo suddenly shouted.
Sai watched in horror as his own attack plunged straight towards the black tiger and his opponent. The tiger jumped away in time. The ogre caught the full force of the attack and vanished.
"Oh, no," Sai whispered.
Manigami laughed as he grew even larger.
* * *
Ryo watched in disbelief as his friends launched their own attacks against the giant ogre, only to have each one turned aside. Unwilling to give up, he prepared for his own assault.
"Flare Up Now!"
Ferocious, fiery energy blazed forth. The conflagration completely engulfed Manigami. For a brief moment Ryo believed that he had succeeded in defeating their giant foe. Then the flames burst apart, revealing a ogre entirely unscathed from the heat.
"It can't be," Ryo whispered.
"Fool!" Manigami roared. He swung one of his huge arms around and struck Ryo across the face. Ryo flew backwards. Dimly through the pain he sensed his friends gathering around him.
"Are you okay?" Sai asked.
Ryo shook his head, trying to get the ringing out of his ears. He licked his lips, tasting blood on them. "Now what do we do?" he asked.
"Scatter!" Kento shouted.
The Ronins leapt away, Sai and Rowan carrying Ryo with them. A huge sword crashed down into the sand right where they'd been gathered.
"Now how do we stop him?" Sai asked.
"There's only one way," Rowan said softly. "And at this rate, there's no way of knowing if it will actually work or not."
"The Armor of Inferno and the Soul Swords of Fervor," Ryo said quietly.
"It's our only hope," Sai agreed.
They jumped apart as Manigami's sword plunged at them again.
"Then it's now or never," Ryo shouted. Using the momentum of his jump, he backflipped until he was a good distance from the giant ogre. "Armor of Inferno, Tao Jin!"
He felt it as he always did: the rush of power and the joy of unity as his friends sacrificed their own strength and power to aid him. The Armor of the Wildfire flared once before it vanished, adding its own power to that of the other armors. The components of the Armor of the Inferno materialized around him, surging with heat and power before joining with him and the rest of the components. He felt the different jin that he and his friends represented resonating as one throughout the armor: wisdom, trust, justice, life, and virtue. And, to his surprise, dimly but no less present, he felt the force of the other four armors joining their own, and the jin of their wearers fusing with them: loyalty, serenity, piety, and obedience. All nine armors were now united as one, and it took only one last thing to complete them.
Black Blaze roared as he bounded forward. Ryo took the first Soul Sword of Fervor from the tiger's mouth, then drew its mate from the mount on Black Blaze's armor. He turned and faced Manigami, a sword in each hand, and both ready to strike or parry.
The giant ogre sneered and brought his black blade crashing down. Ryo parried, but the force of the blow sent him stumbling back. The ogre laughed.
"You can change your outfits all you want," Manigami said, "but it doesn't matter. You are no match for me!" He brought his sword down again.
This time Ryo brought his swords up in an attack of his own. The force of the impact sent him to his knees, but Manigami stumbled backwards, and his sword flew from his hands.
"Do it now!" Sage shouted.
"Rage of Inferno!"
The Soul Swords blazed to life, sending shafts of ferocious, piercing white light lashing through the air towards the giant ogre. Manigami held up his hands, and for a moment, it seemed as though he was going to be able resist the onslaught. Then his hands dissolved, shredded by the combined might of the Armor of Inferno and the Soul Swords of Fervor. The ogre gave a short wail of rage before the awesome power of the attack destroyed first his face, then his head, then his entire body.
Ryo let the power of his attack fade and died. He stared at the spot where the ogre had been standing. Nothing remained.
He let out a hugh sigh of relief. He concentrated, releasing the other armors and shedding his own. He suddenly felt immensely tired. He would have fallen, but Sage and Kento caught him.
"Let's get you home," Sage said softly. "You've had a long day."
Ryo could only nod.