Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Peach and the Tiger

The Power Array Saga
By Andre Alan 

The Sword and the Peach

Momotaru left the brothel through a side exit that led to a narrow alley. Leave it to the
Sun Elves to somehow make hot, forbidden monk sex seem almost clean. The capital elven city,
Aver, sparkled as he walked toward the major road. No casually discarded cans or forgotten candy wrappers like the human cities. He decided to spruce the place up with a bit of human charm and flung his smoldering cigar onto the cement paved ground.
A homeless man, with a long unkempt beard and bare feet that resembled something more akin to claws, rested against the wall of the building adjacent to the brothel. His eyes brightened at the still lit cigar and he quickly scrambled over to it, hungrily inhaling on the butt before the embers died out of the tobacco leaf.
“Got any more?” asked the disheveled individual. He had a hint of black hair that was mostly grey in long scraggily hair.
Momotaru shrugged without slowing his pace.
“You know they will catch you eventually. You better be careful or this really will be your last one.”
Momotaru spun around furrowing his brow, hand hovering over the pommel of the katana that hung at his waist. He debated whether or not to make this poor individual explain himself further, but the old man ran off giggling and coughing, still trying to pull on the dying cigar. Momotaru put the deranged individual out of his thoughts, turning the corner onto London Street, the busiest street in Aver.
It seemed like even the mighty Sun Elves could not fully eradicate the homeless epidemic, especially with hundreds of refugees pouring onto the shores of the 400,000 kilometer long island. Humans routinely referred to the Sun Elves as High Elves which had long ago stopped caring about the other races that lived on Threa’s surface. Instead, the High elves had used their magic to create gigantic floating cities. Worshipping their sun Gods, the hovering citadels controlled by the High Elves gathered solar energy and harnessed it. Unfortunately for the people that lived on the land below, they were relegated to artificial light that streaked down from the underbelly of the ebon-skinned elves’ floating town.
Momotaru slowed as he strolled past a wooden cart with robes and hats hanging from hooks and display shelves. One item stood out to Momotaru: a dark green, conical hat. The merchant noticed him and began rubbing his hands in anticipation of the sale.
“This hat was created by the master craftsman De Pono himself in B.E.D. 2003, and it’s believed by some to be imbued with special creative thinking powers. The stories tell it that he was inspired to create this hat after meeting the Enigma Twins outside Tundra Mountain. You seem like the type to have a green hat, yes?” said the merchant.
“How much?” asked Momotaru.
“I will cut you a deal, good sir. Ten credits, how’s about, yes?”
“I think I’ll keep walking.”
“Ah ha, uh wait, this hat is special, yes?”
“All the items in your shop are not worth ten credits.”
The merchant jumped from behind his cart, carrying the hat with him. “Seven credits, my friend. It is the lowest I can go on such an item of this high quality; I am practically giving away a national treasure, good sir. At least try it on and see how it fits, yes?”
A fine hat indeed, Momotaru could not argue that fact and finally consented. Besides, the money he was spending was not really his own, and his father had very deep pockets.
The old man smiled from ear to ear, all the while bowing and praising him for making such a fine purchase. The man’s accent was from the country Villus, across the Northern Mizuki Ocean and was as thick as the grease in his jet black hair and oiled beard.
From the reflection of the mirrors, Momotaru could see a group of rough young men gathered on the other side of the road.
“If I were you, I would put that hat on and hide, newcomer,” said the merchant.
“Thanks, but I think I will take my chances,” replied Momotaru. “These shirks are known to me.”
“Well, good day to you then, sir,” said the merchant. “I need to prepare my offering.”
“Nothing… never mind. I have said too much already.”
The merchant disappeared behind his cart, kneeling to rifle within the hidden compartments. Momotaru could hear the sound of coins clanking together. Part of his unique skills, obtained by working with his father’s business, was that Momotaru could determine the value of credits based on the sound of the platinum, gold and iron clinking against one another; well over one thousand credits were placed into a small bag.
Across the street, a small group of teenage thugs sat astride giant cats. The Felidae Gang. The large felines, larger than the average horse, had two large fangs protruding from their mouths. The members of the gang each tattooed a paw print on the right side of their faces. The lower ranking members of the group rode upon the more common orange-and-black-striped felidae. Their leader rode a rare white furred tiger with black stripes. The man wore a white bandana tied around his forehead; dark eyes looked out over a jutting nose that could act as a spear.
The leader dismounted from his felidae, patted the large cat on its head and gave it a kiss on its wet nose. The animal yawned widely, and stretched, arching its back deeply as its paws extended forward. The beast sat down on its haunches and proceeded to clean itself.
The leader walked over to the merchant without saying a word, merely extending his hand. The merchant tossed the man the bag full of credits.
“What are you looking at,” asked the leader, addressing Momotaru.
“Teenage scum that should give this man back his hard-earned money.” Momotaru viewed the boy through slanted eyes.
“Mind your own damn business,” said the leader. Two of the gang members walked over to stand between Momotaru and their boss. The boss leaned over the cart to grab the merchant by his collar, and then whispered something he couldn’t hear.
“Move along here,” said one of the low ranking members.
Momotaru shifted his weight slightly as his hand rested on the katana at his waist.
“This doesn’t concern you,” said the gang member as he crossed arms the size of tree trunks across a broad chest.
“I’m sure the elves would be concerned,” said Momotaru.
“You must be new here. Elves don’t give a crap about us humans. Long as we stay out of their way. Now stay out of our way before we take a concerning to your wellbeing, if you catch my drift.”
“What?” shouted the merchant, trying to break free from the grasp of the gang leader. “You can’t do that.”
“Watch me,” said the leader with a nod to his comrades.
They hopped on their tigers and strolled down the street.
The merchant was mumbling to himself, bewilderment and fear in his eyes, which kept flicking back and forth from the hat on Momotaru’s head, to the sword at his waist and then back down to the items in his cart as he shook his head.
“I will get the money back for you,” said Momotaru, who could not help but feel responsible. Besides, what was the point of having a weapon and all his years training as a monk if you were not going to use it?
As Momotaru walked away he could have sworn the merchant said something that sounded like, “No, you will end up in a hearse,” or maybe it was, “No, you will just make things worse.” Either way, his mind was made up and he was on the move. Momotaru yelled after the gang strolling away on their tiger mounts.
“Hey kid,” said Momotaru.
The leader spared a glance over his shoulder, yet kept moving forward, forcing Momotaru to run after them. Once he caught up, Momotaru yanked the youth off the back of his tiger mount, pinning him to the ground with a foot on his throat. Momotaru unsheathed his adamantite black metal sword. With the tip of the katana drawing a small point of blood on the gang leader’s cheek, he said, “Give that man back the money you stole.”
“You have just made the biggest mistake of your life,” said the gang leader through clenched teeth.
The other members dismounted, and began unsheathing the varied assortment of daggers and knives strapped to their waists.
“One more step and he dies,” said Momotaru, as his blade hovered millimeters from the man’s eye.
“Don’t move,” said the leader. “Oz, give him the damn credits.”
“But Jobs…”
“But nothing. Give it over, damnit!” shouted the gang leader, Jobs.
Oz, who wore an eye patch tossed the brown, well-used bag full of coins.
Catching it with his free hand, Momotaru secured it to the open satchel on his belt. He slowly began moving away, leaving the steel pressed to Jobs cheek for as long as possible. Then he was running at full speed, Momotaru tossed the merchant the bag. He glanced over his shoulder and the Felidae gang was riding their tigers hard after him. The brothel’s stable was full of parked horses. He ran into the stable delivering a devastating body blow to the stable boy that left him curled into a ball, groaning. Momotaru leapt onto the back of a glistening brown horse. They wheeled around and charged down the street. He could hear the tigers roaring only meters behind him, with their masters shouting about what they would do once they caught him.

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