Enemy quickly closing in, Ayame puts her arms up and tries to fend off any attacks her way. The woman reaches low to the ground and rises, doing an uppercut motion with her nails wide out. Feeling a small breeze pass by her chin, Ayame manages to back flip out of the way, but the woman rapidly follows her, keeping the distance between them close.
Catching Ayame right after she lands from her flip, the woman lifts one leg, her knee reaching up to her chest and kicks straight out, her entire foot kicking square in Ayame’s stomach; the amount of pressure in the kick launches Ayame across the room. The wind knocked out of her and her body instantly gone weak, Ayame lets out a painful cry as she falls to the ground; she gasps for air, trying to grab onto something, but nothing is in reach.
Gently bringing her foot back down, the woman looks at Ayame in pain. The smile on the woman’s face washes away and now went back to its neutral expression, “I’m disappointed. I was expecting a lot more from an Azuma.”
The woman looks around and picks up one of Ayame’s kodachi, mesmerized by how well kept and sharp the blade’s edge is, “I can just imagine how many lives this has taken. All of the blood spilled because you’re an assassin. It’s wonderful, isn’t it?”
With a flick of the wrist, the woman throws the kodachi at Ayame, cutting her across the side of her face, blood slowly trickles down. She then turns her back and begins to look over Kiku’s body; she’s still motionless.
Beginning to catch her breath, Ayame coughs and manages to get onto one knee. Her vision a bit hazy, she sees the woman standing at the window with Kiku’s body thrown over her shoulder.
“Get… back… here.”
The woman slowly walks out of the window, onto the roof shingles. She turns her head just a bit so Ayame can see part of her face, “Fear waits for nobody. You and I shall meet again.”
The woman begins chuckling, which turns into an evil, maniacal laugh, “Kidnapping Gohda’s daughter is my declaration of war! My army will destroy everything in its path! Scorched earth, towns devoid of life, and fear as our guide, the Akechi empire will reign! And you had the honor of witnessing the power of its lord!”
Her laugh loud and cynical, Akechi leaps from the shingles, taking Kiku with her. Leaving her kodachi behind, Ayame runs to where Akechi was on the shingles, but no matter where she looks, she can’t see her anywhere; only her fading laughter can be heard. Trying to find Akechi’s location, Ayame leaps from the shingles and lands on the roof of a house and dashes towards the edge of the town.
As she approaches the wall, she sees Rikimaru jumping up to the wall, “Rikimaru!”
Hearing his name called out, Rikimaru picks up on where it’s coming and notices Ayame jumping to the wall, landing next to him, “Ayame? What happened?”
Looking towards the forest, Ayame scans for anybody moving in the thick brush, “Did you see them?!”
“Who are you talking about?”
“Akechi! She took Princess Kiku!”