Summarized & HTML'ized by Mandisa Washington. c. 2000-01, ver. 1.0
Original material by Kazushi Hagiwara, Jump Comics, Shueisha. c. 1988
The world is at war. It is a barren and hostile environment where strength and sorcery equal power and blood flows like water. In one place, a castle is under siege. The demonic hordes of the sorceror Ozbourne are winning the fight against the castle's human inhabitants including the young cleric Tia Noto Yoko and her foster brother, Rushe Ren Ren. Also trapped in the castle are the princess, Lady Sheila, and her ministers, as well as a few valiant soldiers and innocents. Tia and Rushe struggle to reach the relative safety of the castle's inner temple, where the last survivors await the inevitable. Rushe is sorely frightened, but despite their equal years, Yoko consoles and soothes him like a tender mother.
In the temple, Yoko is urged by the desperate ministers to turn her clerical magic against the attackers. Despite the urgency of the situation, with enemy soldiers breaking down the doors, Yoko flatly refuses to cast the spell that might save them all. Even Princess Sheila tries to sway her, but Yoko silently recalls her lessons under her father and explains only that she is too shy to perform this important spell.
Suddenly, matters worsen when the mage Ozbourne enters the hall with the jewel of his army, a pair of twin giant berserkers right behind him. While the ministers turn traitor and seek Ozbourne's mercy, the giant twins wreak havoc on the temple, crashing into columns and killing people indiscriminately. In the confusion, Yoko is nearly struck by a flying stone, only to be shoved clear by Rushe.
Gentle Rushe found bravery in defense of Yoko, but Yoko is grief-stricken now that the boy is unconscious and perhaps fatally wounded. While Lady Sheila and Ozbourne the mage continue to bluster, quietly Yoko speaks the incantation that will call upon their saviour. Careful of his head injury, Yoko draws Rushe to her and kisses his lips once, softly.
Light envelopes Rushe's still body, blinding Yoko briefly, and drawing the attention of everyone in the room, even Ozbourne. Rushe's body lifts and changes, growing in size and shifting the muscles to become the body of an older, well-built man. Just as Ozbourne wonders to himself about the demonic aura suffusing the hall, the light diminishes. Standing where Rushe once lay is a strapping, shirtless, pants-less, wild-haired man with an evil gleam in his eyes and a bone-chilling laugh on his lips.
Startling the entire audience of recently warring humans and demons, the stranger launches into a tirade against the absent high priest. Apparently, he is very upset about having been imprisoned, and now that he is free, his first thought is to take revenge upon his jailor. Not being the sharpest knives in the drawer, the twin giants resume their loud, damage-causing antics, only to be blown to bits at a word by the tall, handsome stranger. Ozbourne is mildly annoyed at the loss of his fighters, but he is also visibly shaken by the spell used, which should not be known by any mage alive.
Covered in dirt and filth, Yoko musters the courage to question the powerful mage about his identity and the whereabouts of her missing, now transformed, companion Rushe Ren Ren. Oddly, the man addresses her familiarly, as Rushe used to, and thanks her for releasing him. He calmly explains that he is the reborn archmage Dark Schneider, but also her friend of 15 years, Rushe Ren Ren. While finally putting on some clothes, the revelation hits each of the major survivors. It is Ozbourne who mutters aloud that Dark Schneider is the man who led the same great army in war until his disappearance in battle 15 years ago. His disbelief in the belated reincarnation of D-S is shared by Lady Sheila and her ministers.
Recovering quickly, the ministers (who've decided to rejoin the "good" side) demand that the newcomer, whoever he claims to be, stand up to Ozbourne and defend the castle. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that he once also sought power through war, D-S tells them off and prepares to leave them to their grim fate. As for Yoko, she is free to join D-S anytime she wishes. Ignoring the pained pleas of the ministers, Yoko stiffens her resolve and begins to browbeat the mage, verbally and physically, decrying him as a selfish coward. She insists that if he truly was the Rushe she knows, he would stay and fight.
To the amazement of Sheila and the ministers, and the dismay of Ozbourne, the barrage of guilt and blows to the head has the desired effect. Dark Schneider agrees to use his prodigious skills to rid the castle of its enemies, but only on the condition that Yoko will freely come away with him when it's all over. Smiling and simpering unnaturally, Yoko agrees, and Dark Schneider gets down to business.
Still refusing to believe that Dark Schneider is alive and standing before him, Ozbourne foolishly sends his soldiers to attack the man, only to watch as they are destroyed. This spell covers the hall with yet another layer of blood and gore, but the futility of his position fails to reach the stubborn Ozbourne. Frustrated and angered by an incidental slash on his cheek, in the face of Dark Schneider's trademark maniacal laughter, Ozbourne cries death and prepares his most fearsome magical attack, a form of lightning magic. D-S sneers at the chanting mage, announcing that he can handle lightning spells, no problem. Calling D-S a "sex-crazed bastard" (Hentai yarou), Ozbourne unleashes the full force of Ballvolt and our hero takes it straight on.
Yoko screams, "Rushe!", as the once-dashing man is turned into a charred, molten lump of rock. Rejoicing in his victory, Ozbourne launches into a childish performance, shouting, "How d'ya like me now?!" All the while, he bashes wildly with a mace at the boulder that used to be the undefeatable wizard Dark Schneider. Abruptly, even as Yoko starts to mourn her friend, the rock shatters, exposing the handsome visage of D-S. Ozbourne cowers on the floor as D-S turns on his most serious expression yet, stating calmly that Ozbourne's desperate blows have marred his perfectly "cute" (kawaii) face, an unforgivable insult. [An arrow and a sidebar draw the reader's attention to the tiny, shallow cut just above the cheekbone. It's barely a paper-cut.]
Naked once more, D-S roars for the death of Ozbourne and begins his own incantation. Finally it dawns on Ozbourne that he is outdone, outmatched, and simply outclassed, so he pleads desperately for his life, to no avail. Dark Schneider releases his master spell, Venom, even as Ozbourne is on his knees, crying out to his god.
With the loss of their leader and his magic, the fierce enemy army was easily routed by the remaining castle defenders, according to Yoko's recollection. The great mage did his job well, although what stood highest in her mind was that he still showed no regard for his blatant nakedness. [Show's over folks, nothing to see here...] The castle and its residents are safe and happy, and now Yoko and her new companion stand before the king and his daughter, the rescued Lady Sheila to receive their thanks. Even though she still distrusts him, Yoko silently acknowledges the charisma and noble air of the strong, beautiful wizard, so unlike the boy she grew up with.
As they leave the castle together, alone for the first time, Yoko listens to Dark Schneider describe his plans for the future. Having gained dominance over the body he shares with Rushe Ren Ren, he wants to pick up where he left off. Gathering his armies, he will once again conquer the kingdoms of the world, but only after capturing Yoko's father, the high priest. For his one-time jailor he has thought of some very peculiar and painful tortures, while the rest of the world, evil or innocent, can look forward to only horrifying death and despair.
Yoko gasps at these grotesque revelations, calling the bizarre megalomanic a demon. Therefore, she cannot understand her own strange feelings of excitement and anticipation as D-S grabs her and leans in close. Protesting his rough handling and sudden change of mood, she charges that he must have used a "charm spell" on her. He says only that he can't remember anymore and brings her still closer to his smoldering face. She parries once more, although half-heartedly, by asking him, as Rushe, if he loves her. He scoffs at such a notion and chides her for her purity and innocence. Stunned, Yoko offers no resistance as Dark Schneider kisses her tenderly.
Much to his horror, the unearthly light suffuses D-S and his body warps once again. Yoko is startled but pleased to see a very confused Rushe standing before her [draped unflatteringly in D-S's favorite mantle]. Realizing that the magic of a virgin's kiss is very powerful indeed, Yoko reassures Rushe that all is well at the castle as they head down the road to home. As they pass out of sight, Yoko once again asks if Rushe loves her, and with his bubbly reply, "Yes-ss!", she decides that she's quite happy with the return of this familiar spirit.
End Prologue -- Return to Contents
On a distant plateau, the generals who lead this war listen to reports of battles near and far. The handsome young sorceror Kall-Su anticipates the imminent fall of the once-powerful Judas Kingdom. His partner, Ninja Master Gara, reminisces about the time, 15 years ago, when they fought together under Dark Schneider. A soldier interrupts the nostalgia with a report of the death of Ozbourne the sorceror. Both Kall-Su and Gara find the news difficult to accept given the well-known magical strength of Ozbourne. Their hackles are raised even more when the strangely knowledgeable soldier tells them that Ozbourne was eradicated by someone using the Venom spell. Gara is simply shocked, but Kall-Su insists that the Venom spell was used exclusively by Dark Schneider, dead and gone these 15 years.
Meanwhile, young Tia Noto Yoko is experiencing a shock of her own as she finds that her dreams are haunted by Rushe's alter ego. Clad in only his thick, flowing hair, Dark Schneider's unearthly advances are irresistable to Yoko, even as he points out the cause of his pleasure, the severed head of High Priest Geo, Yoko's father and D-S's jailor. Without the restraint of his enemy, D-S's demonic hordes run amuck, turning Yoko's erotic dream into a nightmare. Waking up of a sudden, Yoko finds no sorceror in her bed, only the curled-up body of Rushe Ren Ren, snoring gently and hogging the covers, as usual. At first, she tries to blame Rushe for her restlessness, but it is impossible to hold a grudge against the boy, especially when he sleeps so cutely. Yoko returns to sleep, unaware of the looming threat making its way through the Metallicarnan forest.
The next morning is rather mundane. Yoko says her prayers as part of her clerical training to serve the Goddess like her father, High Priest Geo Noto Soko. Rushe needs a little prodding to wash and dress, like most little boys, but the day gets off to a good start. Over a slightly messy breakfast, Yoko muses about how Rushe was adopted as a baby by her father 15 years ago. Orphaned by the war, he was raised alongside Yoko as a true sibling. Facing the outside world at last, Yoko and Rushe join the other castle residents in staring at a large black cloud [it's huge, like a whole storm front] that is hovering in the direction of Judas Kingdom. Meeting her father in the courtyard, Yoko asks him about the obviously out-of-place black cloud, to which her replies that he is going to the capital to advise the king on that very topic. Yoko sternly insists on going as well, and although she slaps upside Rushe (upside the head) for piping up in his stead, Geo gives them both permission to join him.
The journey to the capital is somber, travelling via horse-carriage through the forest. Geo keeps to himself his worries about the true nature of the situation. He wonders silently if the evil that threatens Metallicarna will require the release of the evil being lurking within his foster son. Like Yoko, Geo seems reluctant to torment the boy further, but steels himself against the unpleasant possibility.
Just as the trio is arriving at the king's castle, a scout-soldier is delivering a report to the king of Metallicarna on the state of battle in Judas Kingdom. It seems that Judas has fallen to a magically-supported army, and Metallicarna is clearly their next target. The king is disheartened by the woeful fate of his brother-king, but the ministers and generals are quick to advise the safe retreat of the royals before the enemy arrives. One general speculates that the black cloud, which can be seen at great distance, may also be a thing of created of demon-magic. It is at this point that Geo, Yoko and Rushe enter the hall. Geo jumps into the conversation and declares that the cloud is indeed no natural creation but is a work of magic.
Geo and Yoko are formally recognized by king and court, and Yoko is singled out by the king as the one who saved the kingdom from peril in the recent past (the Prologue) along with a mysterious sorceror. Geo introduces the boy with them as Rushe Ren Ren and Princess Sheila brings the king, ministers and generals up to speed, explaining the Rushe-sorceror connection. Lady Sheila was apparently quite taken with the heroic [and oft-naked] sorceror, but Yoko is embarassed to have to present Rushe in his place.
Geo cuts through the recitation and presents his own theory as to the true nature of the war. He says that a greater danger than the demonic army faces them, which captures everyone's attention. He describes an evil force building up using the Magical Monster-ful Army as a means of obtaining the necessary power and components. The unnatural black cloud is a by-product of this gathering of evil magic. Furthermore, the ultimate use of all this power will be the resurrection and restoration of the fearsome demon-god Anthra-Sax!
Just as shock and disbelief ripples through the hall at this preposterous suggestion, screams pierce the doors of the Royal Hall. The vicious beast that came from the forest is actually a 5-headed, fire-breathing, giant hydra-dragon and it's reached the castle! Travelling in its wake of destruction is one of Kall-Su's minions, Kevi-Dabi, an even stronger evil mage than Ozbourne. He shouts a challenge to the unknown sorceror who defeated Ozbourne, calling the man out. The citizens are frightened, the soldiers are gibbering in terror, and even the ministers are paralyzed by the sounds of approaching doom.
In the Royal Hall, Yoko and Geo keep their cool, even as Rushe nestles in Yoko's arms for comfort and protection from the chaos around them. Geo muses aloud that the mage entering the city can only be stoped by one with even stronger magical power, as opposed to the clerical magic that he and Yoko wield. An eerie hush falls over the crowded room as the assembly looks to Yoko. Yoko in turn looks determined. One brave man voices the name on everyone's lips, but even though Geo himself joins in their pleas, Yoko firmly refuses to participate in the desperate plan. Geo explains the history of the imprisonment of Dark Schneider, including the key to releasing th seal on that prison, the kiss of a pure-hearted girl. Silently he laments the need to impose such dangerous responsibility on any young girl, especially his own daughter.
While Yoko fights her desperate battle for purity and Rushe, the mage and his monster continue their rampage. Kevi-Dabi shouts more taunts at the crowd, insisting that the country's protector-mage come out and face him in combat. Finally Yoko gives in, after much hesitation and after blowing off some steam at Rushe. Since he was unconscious the last time, she tries to make the task easier by instructing him to close his eyes and be still while she works her magic.
A single kiss...and voila! Dark Schneider is free once more. A blood-curdling laugh is all he needs to wake up from his nap, and he and Yoko exchange looks full of confused emotion. In the background, the entire court clamors for their attention, demanding that Dark Schneider stop the slaughter outside immediately. D-S's belligerent response to the boisterous orders is to flip the ministers the finger and say "Hell no!" With terrifying death looming just outside and a self-centered, vengeful mage inside, will the people of Metallicarna be saved?
End Chapter 1 -- Return to Contents
Ignoring the barbarous sorceror Kevi-Dabi storming the city outside the royal hall, Dark Schneider is refusing to fight on behalf of Metallicarna. Yoko is worried for their safety, although she suspected that such a thing might come to pass. The ministers are in a panic, offering D-S whatever he desires in exchange for protection. But what D-S wants most is to be supreme ruler of the world!
The ministers are shocked speechless and Yoko goes, "D'oh!" Immediately though, Dark Schneider's attention is drawn to his old nemesis, High Priest Geo. A few choice insults are thrown at the old priest, but he stands ready. The soldiers are still fighting the giant hydra in the city when D-S casts a large fire spell, Guns 'N Roh. Yoko's screams ring out in the resulting chaos, but D-S pays little attention. He explains that this battle is his revenge against the cleric who broke his military advance and sealed him away 15 years ago, Geo Noto Soto, Yoko's father.
Geo remains silent and calm amidst the frightened shrieks of the ministers and Yoko's despairing cries. Yoko would end the fight between the only two people she loves, but this outcome was determined 15 years ago. Dark Schneider taunts Geo with a few cracks about his advanced age and makes a few more threats before continuing his powerful magical attack. The local build-up of evil magic attracts the attention of Kevi-Dabi, rampaging outside. The conquering sorceror wonders about the source of the strong demonic spirit (Japanese: demon-ki) he's sensing.
Finally, Yoko puts her foot down and demands aggressively that Dark Schneider stop bickering with her father. D-S halts his attack to soothe Yoko's nerves, assuring her of his protection and goodwill. He still believes that she will leave her home and her people behind to live at his side. (see Chapter 1) She retorts that her earlier promise is null and void now and forever, since he's refusing to help her country. D-S responds cheerfully, announcing that his debt to her is nullified in turn. He declares that her father's blood will be a potent sacrifice in the name of world conquest.
Yoko dows not accept his proposal. Her anger rises even further, causing her to strike out at D-S repeatedly. Her vicious punches and insults drive the once-mighty sorceror down to the mat. Geo and the other priests and nobles stand mute witness as the great Dark Schneider, bane of all decent folk, is bullied by a mere slip of a girl. The damage to his pride is too great, so D-S perks up and rises to full awesome glory. Surrounded by an aura of power, he regains face by making a formal declaration of his enmity towards the high priest. He will not permit the holy man to continue living. Backing his words with action, D-S resumes his spell-casting, calling upon the forces of darkness to produce his patented thunder magic.
Aghast, Yoko and the nobles can only watch as Dark Schneider and Geo Noto Soto face off. The high priest calls up his clerical spell of protection, Story-Par (?), while D-S hurls his Ball-Volt. The crackling fire envelops Geo, and Yoko nearly loses hope. But the magic dissipates and reveals an unharmed Geo, surrounded by a shield (Japanese: kekkai, also commonly found in CLAMP'S X). He makes his own speech about how the beneficent goddess watches out for her own, even in the face of evil magic. He tells D-S that all of his spells of darkness are useless in the face of such a divine power.
Arrogant and contemptuous, Dark Schneider does not care a whit for Geo's use of prayer to foil his long sought after vengeance. Geo's knowledge of such countering tactics puts a damper on D-S's war plans and puts our hero in a foul mood. Even as the priests hail Geo's obvious victory, Yoko has the 'Star Wars special' thought, "I've got a bad feeling about this." True to form, D-S refuses to give in and slices open his own wrist while shouting defiance. Using his blood, he draws a pentagram and runes there on the floor of the royal hall and announces his intentions to the terrified onlookers (and the readers, naturally).
Just as he had done in the great war 15 years ago, he will now raise a golem to do his bidding and destroy his enemies, including Geo of Metallicarna. The nobles, the soldiers, even Geo and Yoko, are all powerless to stop Dark Schneider's chant of summoning. Demonic energy swirls around the hall as D-S focuses his chi (aka. ki, meaning mind, soul, will) on awakening the monster. Finally, with a word of power, Mota-Rushi, the evil pact is consummated. The soldiers are easily crushed by the humongous stone warrior as Dark Schneider, laughing maniacally, sends his creature out to crush the rest of the castle. With Yoko's influence all used up and Geo's prayers inadequate to the task, how can the people be saved? And who will stop the sadistic Kevi-Dabi and his fire-breathing, 5-headed hydra?!
End Chapter 2 -- Return to Contents
Shaking the foundations of the castle, Dark Schneider's golem warrior strikes absolute terror into the hearts of Metallicarna's leaders. D-S challenges his nemesis Geo to use his kekkai against this monstrosity and gives a hearty laugh. Meanwhile, the hydra and its master, the sorceror Kevi-Dabi, continue to hurl fire and invective at the innocent citizens of the capital. The royal soldiers and priests are helpless in the face of this chaos, leaving only Geo and Yoko to straighten things out.
Paralyzed with fear, Yoko tries to come up with a way to stop the rampaging demon while considering the great changes wrought in the man who in some way is also her childhood friend, Rushe Ren Ren. Geo and D-S both perk up, just as Kevi-Dabi and his pet hydra come crashing through the stone walls of the hall. On behalf of his superior, Kall-Su, the sorceror brazenly challenges the unknown person who defeated and killed his comrade-in-arms, Ozbourne. (see Prologue) That person is currently engaged in checking the cuts on his face caused by the shattering of the walls, and pays no heed to the blustering fool on the hydra.
While the ministers blubber in terror at the mention of the arch-mage Kall-Su, Dark Schneider confronts Kevi-Dabi on the matter of his cut face. D-S is outraged that such a lowlife, good-for-nothing, wanna-be tough guy would dare to draw the blood of a character as beautiful as himself. Kevi-Dabi is taken aback by the flurry of insults, but comes to attention at D-S's promise of his imminent death.
The monsters grapple each other and wreak even more havoc while the sorcerors engage in a no-holds-barred, magician's street brawl. Dark Schneider dominates his opponent easily, breaking the heftier man's jaw with a single punch. Casting his signature spell, Venom, D-S reduces the filthy bully to a pile of gore. D-S holds up his outclassed enemy's head in triumph just as his golem rips the fierce hydra in half.
Yoko is happy with the defeat of the invaders, but pissed off about the rampant destruction, death, and chaos. Above the golem's roar, she shouts, "enough!" Flinging herself into Dark Schneider's arms, she pleads for him to end his tirade. His tender looks and kind touch are rebuffed by Yoko, who hysterically insists that he is not her Rushe. She claims that the Rushe she knows would never do such things, and desperately pleads for the return of that Rushe, her Rushe.
With uncharacteristic tenderness, Dark Schneider patiently explains that he is Yoko's Rushe. Rushe Ren Ren and Dark Schneider are two halves of the same soul, sharing the same body. If one dies, so does the other. If someone is loved by Rushe, then that person is loved by D-S as well. Hurt and confused, Yoko lies a little and says that she doesn't believe it, although her eyes tell another tale.
Wishing only to comfort his companion, D-S whispers his acceptance and kisses Yoko, giving up his freedom once again. The unearthly light flashes, and little Rushe Ren Ren stands draped in D-S's mage-robes in the middle of the royal hall. Without its master's magic to sustain it, the mighty golem crashes to the floor in a pile of rubble. Uncaring, Tia Noto Yoko rushes to embrace her friend while her father thoughtfully looks on.
End Chapter 3 -- Return to Contents
Relieved at the happy conclusion of the attack by Kall-Su's flunkie sorceror, Kevi-Dabi, Yoko clutches her small friend Rushe to her chest and smothers him with kisses and consolation. The king makes a reappearance from wherever he was hiding and demands to know what has happened to his decimated capital and the brash sorceror, Dark Schneider.
Meanwhile, far above the Metallicarnan capital city, Ninja Master Gara and his soldiers consider the outcome of their dead comrade's failed attack. Gara doesn't seem too upset over the loss of the uncouth sorceror, but he is intrigued by the strangely familiar demon-ki that he sensed during the battle. The lingering aura of the Venom spell lends truth to the rumor that his old friend and commander-in-chief, Dark Schneider, has returned!
Gara has a flashback to the good old days, when he led an army of ninja in Dark Schneider's great war. With D-S's luck and skill, the Four Generals of Havoc (Japanese: Shitennou, lit. "four heavenly kings") laid waste to every nation and very nearly conquered the world. Fifteen years ago, the group of them were more like family members than allies, and no one could stand against their combined will. Gara himself was undefeatable in combat, because he bore the legendary mystic blade, Murasame.
Returning to the present day, in the Great Temple, Geo is trying to explain to the assembled ministers that the death of the attacking sorceror had no impact on the evil storm raging above them. The storm is a reflection of the dark rituals being performed by the arch-mage Kall-Su. The dreaded mage is seeking to resurrect an ancient evil whose defeat and capture was the cause of the apocalyptic suffering so many millennia ago. That evil being, Anthra-Sax, was not killed, but only sealed away magically where he could do no harm. The four spiritual seals of his prison are reflected physically in the royal houses of the four kingdoms of their world.
The current war is actually an attempt by Kall-Su to spill the royal blood containing the seals on Anthra-Sax's prison. One of the kingdoms, Judas, has already fallen, leaving only 3 regal bloodlines, including that of Metallicarna. As usual, the priests panic at hearing this depressing news. Yoko asks, "What sort of man is this Kall-Su who threatens to destroy everything?" Her father reluctantly tells her that Kall-Su was the friend and most favored student of the dreaded arch-mage, Dark Schneider. Yoko is appalled at the close connection between their enemy and the man she is just coming to know.
Far away in the occupied palace of Judas kingdom, the youthful-seeming Kall-Su is agitated. Seeking his partner Abigail, he finds the evil cleric in the vast underground temple beneath the castle. They remark on the continued success of their efforts, and Abigail complements Kall-Su's effective command of the demonic horde. Abigail is full of confidence that the revival of Anthra-Sax is easily within their grasp. Kall-Su is somewhat less exuberant, but also trusts that his armies will have no trouble taking their next target, Metallicarna.
Taking steps to prevent their country's demise, the priests of Metallicarna order Tia Noto Yoko to transform young Rushe into their savior, Dark Schneider. Showing a fierce protective streak, Yoko refuses on the grounds that Rushe might be hurt in the battle. The priests argue the merits of the plan with Yoko, but she stands firm. Since the army isn't on their doorstep in this case, they let the matter drop.
Back in their room, Rushe tries to cheer up an obviously bummed-out Yoko. He tries chatting and tickling and kind, playful words. For a while, Yoko forgets her displeasure towards the priests' council and the danger looming ahead and simply enjoys being Rushe's friend. Later that night though, she wonders just which Rushe she truly wants for a friend. As Rushe snores away and Yoko is wrapped in her own troubled thoughts, Ninja Master Gara subverts the minimal temple defenses and approaches Yoko's room. What nefarious scheme does Gara have planned for the High Priest's daughter? Will Yoko release the dark side of Rushe? Can Kall-Su and Abigail be stopped in their quest for ultimate power?
End Chapter 4 -- Return to Contents
All over the castle housing Metallicarna's great temple, people are preparing for the coming battle on the morrow. Soldiers drill constantly in readiness and anxious citizens wonder about the next day. Atop the balcony, Tia Noto Yoko restlessly watches the sky, questioning her own heart. The ruthless forces of Kall-Su's army will try to take the castle and seize Princess Sheila for the magical seal contained in her blood. It is likely that many of the people in the castle, perhaps even Yoko herself, will die in battle.
However, tragedy might be averted, if only Yoko sacrifices her feelings and her friend by performing the rite to release the arch-mage, Dark Schneider. D-S is commanding and arrogant, and inspires intense, confusing feelings in Yoko's heart, but he also has the magical strength necessary to stop the assault on Yoko's home. If Yoko sets aside her doubt and misgiving, many lives might be saved. Duty, honor, and obligation weigh heavily on Yoko's mind this night.
Back in her bed, Yoko continues to angst over her decision. She compares the gentle Rushe she's grown up with and come to think of fondly, like a brother, to the mysterious, alluring Dark Schneider who offends and intrigues her. Although D-S insists that the two are really one, Yoko has a hard time reconciling the apparently opposite personalities in her mind and heart.
Just outside the castle, guards on watch discuss the possibilities for tomorrow morning's battle. As they consider which of the demonic horrors they might face, Ninja Master Gara walks right up to them. The fight is quick, and the guards are quickly and quietly killed by Gara and his small clutch of ninja warriors. Proceeding to Yoko's room, Gara startles the girl with his presence but takes the time to introduce himself. Not waiting to hear the tale of a strange man in her room, Yoko goes on the offensive, demonstrating her excellent martial arts skills. Gara is literally knocked on his ass, but his training and his bulk keep him from receiving any serious damage. Turning the tables on Yoko, he seizes the struggling girl and continues to give his introduction as Gara of the Four Generals of Havoc.
Held prisoner in her own room, pinned against a wall by her bound wrists, Yoko is not in a good negotiating position. Yet she stonewalls Gara as he questions her about his long-lost commander and friend, Dark Schneider. Based on the reports of a strange new mage in Metallicarna, Ninja Master Gara has come to the mostly correct conclusion that as the High Priest's daughter, Tia Noto Yoko has information about D-S. A dedicated soldier, Yoko has no intention of revealing the bizarre truth of Dark Schneider's current state, especially considering the possible damage to Rushe, who is still sleeping peacefully.
Gara decides to try another tactic to put Yoko off-balance. Lifting the hem of her nightgown ever so slowly, he tries to sneak a peek at her undies. Striking out and struggling, Yoko makes a big fuss and manages to kick Gara in the jaw. The commotion brings Rushe out of his coma-like sleep, but Yoko sends him back to bed with gentle reassurances. As soon as Rushe's down, Gara resumes his perverse torture, only to cause more screaming from Yoko.
Somehow, all the noise brings absolutely no help from outside, but it does produce a dramatic change in Rushe. Blasting Gara into the wall, Rushe rises from bed to decry the manhandling of his woman. With a voice wholly unsuited to the small body, he declares death upon Gara for touching one of his possessions. Gara recognizes the voice and the attitude as belonging to the one he seeks, Dark Schneider. Yoko cannot believe that D-S is truly coming out, but D-S explains to both of them that the seals on his spiritual prison are weakened. When Rushe is weak or sleeping, D-S's will and personality can seep out and touch reality.
Finally, shouts in the hallway herald the approach of the cavalry, led by Yoko's father Geo. With hardly time to blink, Yoko is snatched up by Gara and Gara's pet wyvern comes crashing through the outer wall. Geo and the other castle dwellers arrive just in time to see Gara and Yoko preparing to fly off. Gara shouts to High Priest Geo over his shoulder that he'll be waiting for Dark Schneider to come for the girl. Thunder drowns out Yoko's screams as Gara's wyvern flies into the night. Rushe just rubs his eyes and blinks. Without Yoko's sweet kiss, how can D-S emerge to save the day? Can Yoko preserve her fragile virginity? Is Ninja Master Gara just a pervert overcompensating for certain anatomical inadequacies or is he capable of actually kicking ass?
End Chapter 5 -- Return to Contents
Ninja Master Gara escapes just ahead of Geo on the back of his wyvern, shrieking challenge into the night. Yoko continues to struggle even in flight, but eventually asks their destination. Her captor points out a cliff-fronted fortress, his Ninja Stronghold.
Off in the royal hall, the advisors of Metallicarna listen while Geo reports this latest tragedy to their king. Analyzing the impact of Yoko's abduction exposes several problems facing the hapless country. At first, it seems as though the enemy has discovered the vulnerable secret of Dark Schneider's existence. Seizing Yoko, the key to the seal, would seem to be a superb ploy on the eve of battle. Geo negates that argument by pointing out the fact that Rushe, the spirit-bearer, has been left behind. Even as the nobles sigh with relief, one among them realizes that they are still lost without someone to free the spirit within Rushe's body.
Fortunately, a voice from the back pipes up, offering to substitute for Yoko. Princess Sheila apparently trained in some of the clerical prayers before the current crisis, including the rites of summoning. When Geo delicately asks if she's up to the task, Sheila shyly responds that she fits the bill, meaning that she's a virgin. Naturally, the notion that his royal daughter would consort in any way with the uncouth, lowborn ruffian Dark Schneider puts a burr up the king's butt. He blows his top, ordering Sheila not to proceed. To her credit, Sheila protests bravely, saying that others, especially Yoko, have borne the burden of defending her country while she stands idly by. With this small sacrifice, she would like to atone for her lack of participation.
Geo and the ministers are greatly moved by the princess' patriotic speech. With her strong spirit before them, and the dark magic cloud looming high above them, they are moved to subordination. Ignoring the king's protests, Geo has the ministers carry his royal highness out of the hall altogether. Later, preparations for the ritual are complete, and everyone is left with their own thoughts and worries. One of the ministers contemplates whether or not D-S will truly help them in their battle against Kall-Su, especially without Yoko to persuade him. His partner brushes aside such a depressing possibility with an assurance that Yoko has no unique sway over the arch-mage.
With Rushe huddled against her, Sheila harbors small doubts of her clerical abilities and the appropriateness of her actions. The lecherous nature of Dark Schneider is not unknown to her, and her father's fears for her maidenhood are not wholly unfounded. Watching over the proceedings, Geo's thoughts are paternal rather than religious. These frequent, desperate calls upon D-S may cause irreperable damage to young Rushe's soul. With each summoning comes the possibility that the stronger personality may completely subsume the weaker. As Rushe's adoptive father, Geo must consider his son's future as well as his country's. The world needs Dark Schneider as its saviour, but who will save little Rushe Ren Ren?
Finally, the chant is complete, and with a kiss and a magical light, Rushe is transformed into Dark Schneider. The beautiful princess greets the naked mage politely, but he is nonplussed. Reacting as though he'd been awakened from a good nap, D-S notices the new, unfamiliar summoner and immediately suspects Geo. Showing none of a father's worry, the high priest cuts to the heart of the matter of D-S's former comrade, Ninja Master Gara. "I know," Dark Schneider responds, with deadly calm.
Geo pleads with his former enemy to go after his daughter. The ministers chime in, pointing out D-S's former pledges of favor and obligation to Yoko. To the surprise of everyone in the room, D-S turns away and flat-out refuses to do a rescue. He counters the ministers by reminding them that Yoko was none too pleased with his affections and seemed to not want him around. Sheila naively asks if Dark Schneider still loves Tia Noto Yoko, but the typically headstrong man is suddenly unsure of himself on this issue. The ministers try to goad him into doing the right thing, which irks D-S even further. He boasts that women are plentiful and interchangeable, with one much like another for someone such as him. Whether its Yoko or Sheila, its all the same to Dark Schneider.
So saying, the naked, well-muscled mage grabs the princess and clutches her to his body. Fulfilling the naive virgin role appropriately, Sheila is suffused with blushes and loud heartbeats. The ministers are freaking out behind her when Sheila pushes away and confronts the man she's summoned. She insists that Yoko is surely in danger, but D-S makes the smart ass remark that he's not the man for the job. Such a callous attitude shatters Sheila's illusions of romance, and she slaps him, hard, across his precious face. Suffice it to say that D-S is not amused by such spirit in a woman.
Across the country, another spirited woman is being interrogated by a very impassioned Ninja Master. Yoko desperately resists, weaponless and alone, while Gara tries to extort the secret of the seal from the high priest's daughter. All this human conflict, and still the night wears on, promising full-scale war with the dawn.
End Chapter 6 -- Return to Contents
Standing among the hills surrounding Gara's Ninja Stronghold, Princess Sheila and her men are instructed to stay behind with their horses. Dark Schneider announces his intention to go on alone, confronting his former ally without assistance. Although he fights on behalf of Metallicarna, D-S reminisces about the great battles he and Gara once fought on the very rocks that they stand upon now. The leader of the escort, Sir Bon Jovina, takes offense at this glorification of the great war of the past, pointing out that Dark Schneider threatened the freedom of all people.
Both men argue passionately, and D-S becomes somewhat pissed off that anyone would challenge his perception of events that he participated in. Before the matter can be decided, Sheila puts an end to the bickering, and the party approaches the fortress on foot. Many of the rock formations around them are in fact the remains of once-great skyscrapers, but no one comments on this.
Inside the fortress, Gara has bound Yoko once more and has her suspended by her wrists in a deep open pit. Goading her with knowing remarks, he casually negates her unspoken belief that Dark Schneider will come to save her. Gara wonders aloud if the young girl thinks of herself as the mage's girlfriend. Blushing furiously, Yoko protests this notion loudly, but even so, doubt creeps across her face. Continuing his amusement, Gara taunts Yoko by mentioning a woman who was very special to D-S, during the great war of 15 years ago. Losing much of her stubborn resolve, Yoko's youth and inexperience push her right into Gara's emotional trap.
Outside, Dark Schneider, Princess Sheila, and their escort of knights are picking their way over the boulders and rubble towards the looming fortress. Tensions are high, and the knights bicker with D-S, only to be quelled by a sore, grumbling Sheila. In a blink, black-clad warriors spring from the fallen buildings to ambush the squabbling party. The princess defends herself admirably, while the knights scramble for survival. Dark Schneider leaps into action by raising a magic missile, Anthem, and sending it into the pack of attacking ninja.
One of the ninja recovers enough to speak up, asking why D-S is fighting alongside his enemies. With a devious grin, Dark Schneider crushes the man's face with his boot and tells him to shut up. Sir Bon Jovina also comments on the odd attack, pointing out that the magic missile used was non-lethal, unlike most of D-S's spell repertoire. The knight demands to know whether the mage has in fact brought them to this ninja's den for some personal motive. Ignoring the less-powerful man's allegations, D-S casually addresses Sheila and orders her to remove her cumbersome armor and broadsword. Free of her military trappings, Sheila's steely resolve shines through to her escorts, in spite of the flimsy shift she wears.
Back in the castle, Yoko is adrift on a sea of teenage emotion as Gara taunts her with details of Dark Schneider's former love life. Gara implies that D-S was a very active pursuer of women. Naively, Yoko supposes that the mage had 10 girlfriends, more or less. Gara can barely stand upon hearing this, and shouts through his guffaws that the mage has been alive for nearly 400 years. To Yoko's increasing horror, Gara puts the number of women at around two to three hundred.
Continuing with his education of Yoko, Gara goes on to mention that although there were many women in Dark Schneider's bed, only one shared some part of his life. That woman was special to him before he disappeared 15 years ago. More than just his lover, she was like family to him, and even today, carries on D-S's cause as one of the Four Generals of the restored demon army. Timidly, Yoko asks the bear-like man if this mysterious woman was Dark Schneider's true love. With rare honesty, Gara admits that he doesn't know.
Affected perhaps by the serious mood, Gara decides to end the history lesson and proceed with the torture. With a jaunty and flippant salute, he turns to leave, but Yoko yells her resentment of his casual treatment of her. (Specifically, Gara consistently calls her "ojo-chan", which roughly translates to "little lady" or "little princess". Such an irreverent term of affection from the roughneck kidnapper tends to rub Yoko the wrong way.) Casually brushing aside her protests, Gara simply states that he has other matters to attend. When he returns, he's confident that she will be more amenable to answering his questions. With his last words, thick syrupy slime begins oozing from the stone walls of the pit.
Yoko edges as far away from the foul liquid as her chains will allow, while Gara explains the purpose of the slime treatment. Apparently, the stuff is a kind of amoeba-like animal, capable of eating the clothing of a person, but leaving the flesh intact. Once the slime finishes with her, Yoko's girlish figure will be on display to the world (even more than it already is...). Screaming for help, Yoko cannot seem to escape the hungry fingers of slime. Spreading over her body, the disgusting goo leaves her with mere shreds of her former nightgown, and continues its humiliating work. With her spirit nearly defeated, Yoko wishes for her saviour, Dark Schneider to arrive.
Too far off yet to hear Yoko's cries, the would-be rescue party has come to the foot of the castle. Sheila makes the poor decision to attempt a frontal assault on the apparently unguarded castle gates, but the lead knight tries to talk her out of such a noble, but flawed plan. Laughing, D-S urges them on in their mad plan and strides towards the gate, ignoring the shouts and drawn swords of his armored companions. Even as Sheila starts to doubt her choice, Dark Schneider acts. Using the spell Damudo, he blasts the gate of the ninja stronghold into a cloud of fire and ashes.
End Volume 1 -- Return to Contents