His Immortal teacher was a Christian. Raised in the time of the Crusades, he had no love for Christians. So when he was told "there can be only one" he realized that his teacher was more of a danger to him than any other Immortal. He took his teacher's Quickening and went out into the world.
When he was still young by Immortal standards, he stayed for a time in sanctuary. The creation of two Immortals. Holy Ground and a place of Christian worship. The high ceilings and heavy stone walls conspired to make him feel safe and secure for the first time in all his life. He rested there for years, and eventually converted to the Christian faith. No one could tell him if the man - now called Jesus, a bastardization of his original name - was another Immortal, nor were they willing to guess. But the initial curiosity faded as he took to heart the morality and mercy taught by the older Immortals, who held to the faith as they felt it had initially been conceived. Over time he came to a decision. He would once again go out into the world and this time teach the mortals, turn them back to the true faith, instead of the version they followed condoning cruelty and slaughter.
He took his leave of sanctuary in the night.
The shock, when the other Immortal attacked him, nearly killed him. But before he came to St. Christopher’s he was a ruthless fighter. He dove and wove and managed to take the sword from “Brother” Kalas, who fled back to Holy Ground.
Betrayed and reminded so cruelly of the reason he killed his teacher, he embraced rage and abandoned his mission. Back to the Game, to take the heads of all other Immortals and let the mortal world go to Hell for all he cared.
A Hunt in HiroshimaIt was a mild winter in Hiroshima. The air had a faint bite but did not speak of snow. Xavier St. Cloud, his passport safely in his pocket, walked along the streets, his every sense sharp for the feel of another Immortal. He ignored the occasional shy stares Japanese directed at him. They were always curious about foreigners, and his features were unusual enough that they could not mistake him for a Chinese or a Korean. Toyotomi supposedly lived in this city, and St. Cloud wanted the old warrior's head.
A few tourists lingered in the streets, but this was not tourist season so for Hiroshima it was relatively quiet. He paced along the sidewalk of a busy street until he felt a faint dizzy plunge in his gut that marked the distant presence of another Immortal. He leaned against a street post, looking idly around. Only the people closer to him seemed to notice him with any interest, and they were not the source of the signal. He stepped on down the street and felt the buzz drop away. Puzzled, he returned to where he was before. He moved off in various directions, alarming some Japanese when he stepped out into traffic, until he finally eliminated all possibilities.
There was a stationary Immortal somewhere below the street level. St. Cloud gazed pensively for a time at the concrete under his feet. What he needed was to find his way under the city in this area. Asking a local might help but his Japanese, though perfect, was an old dialect predating the 16th Century. Before coming he did study current Japanese, however he only understood a fraction of the words spoken around here now. The grammar further confounded him.
Late afternoon found him still canvassing the area. It was not feasible to enter buildings and search for entrances to underground tunnels without a great deal of preparation beforehand. He might have to resort to that, but in the meantime the less people involved the better. He found a drainage ditch leading under the streets. Staring into the uninviting darkness he pondered if finding this underground Immortal was really worth the trouble.
A voice piped up behind him, "Oniisan, nani o sagashte iru no?"
He turned to behold a trio of young boys and a lone, tomboyish girl. By a conservative guess the children were anywhere from nine to twelve years old. A long moment passed as the children realized St. Cloud was a foreigner. St. Cloud himself found the quick research he did before coming here paid off. Older brother, what are you looking for? was the loose translation. He composed his reply. “Koroshtmo….” he hesitated, sure absolutely that what he said would be incomprehensible. “koroshitemo shina nai yarouda.” Though you kill it, it does not die. His valiant effort was rewarded by the sudden comprehension on their faces. Pitiful though his modern Japanese was, the children were bright and could adapt themselves around the phraseology of a foreigner to bring the meaning of what he said into more colloquial Japanese.
They responded in simple Japanese, speaking slowly. Still he was only able to get some of it, and had to guess much of the rest. There was a monster trapped underground. A fujimi, undead creature, it lived when it should be dead. Children tried to kill it long ago but failed. The tale was passed from older children to younger. Though these four knew how to get to the fujimi, they had never seen it.
St. Cloud was fascinated. Was this one of those rare, brain-damaged Immortals? Was it a foreign Immortal trapped when the atomic bomb fell? His ear was tuning in to their language, and ghostly familiarities to the Japanese he once knew remained. He told them he could kill the fujimi, if they would help him find it.
The children looked thoughtful. They spoke among themselves for a time, even more incomprehensible as they spoke in Hiroshima’s local dialect rather than the Tokyo-standard that his lessons covered. At last they turned to him and the spokesman invited him to come with them. They would show him the way to reach the fujimi.
In the dim light of early evening he followed them over a fence, then down a steep incline toward the river’s edge. They led him to a stone culvert, draining the city’s waste into the river. They told him he could find the fujimi if he went through the culvert. However the way was very difficult. Then they took their leave of him because it was late and their mothers had dinner waiting.
St. Cloud memorized the local landmarks and went shopping for gloves, rubber boots, a slicker and a few powerful torches. He had no intention of going into that culvert in his expensive clothes and blind.
The culvert had only about a meter and a half of head-room. St. Cloud bent low in the tunnel, moving ahead and trying to feel through the distractions of water dripping and general discomfort for the first hints of the Immortal somewhere ahead. The further he penetrated the more rubble and trash he had to climb over. Eventually he had to move obstructive barriers. These slowed him down as it was necessary also to make certain he would not cut off his own escape. The rubble was piled so high in places that only a child could get through without great effort. St. Cloud understood why the tale was passed from child to child. Eventually children would get too big to crawl through here and would begin to dismiss the Immortal as a flight of childish fancy. Still there was a fairly clear path for a small child to follow. He considered the evidence and decided at least one came here often, and recently.
Eventually St. Cloud wearied of the work and took a break to eat and rest. He found it easier to sneak into the culvert in the darkness, and therefore he was three days into his task before he stumbled upon the young boy who went through regularly. St. Cloud returned from a very early breakfast and came face to face with the little boy. The boy was not as startled as St. Cloud was. The evidence of the Immortal’s activities was obvious. In fact, St. Cloud realized the boy had timed his comings and goings to coincide with when he himself was out.
The Immortal snatched the bag the child was carrying and opened it. He instantly regretted it. The bag was being used as a chamber pot, much easier to carry in and out than a real one. St. Cloud appraised the child, guessing him to be younger than the children who had led him here. Like him the boy wore a slicker, boots and gloves. He looked like any Japanese child, all oval face and bright dark eyes.
St. Cloud held the bag out. “Fujimi no?” he asked. Is this the Immortal’s?
The child nodded solemnly.
When he realized no verbal response was forthcoming, Xavier St. Cloud explained that he came to kill the fujimi. This the child understood. His expression showed clear doubt. “Dekimasu.” I can, St. Cloud insisted.
As the child considered St. Cloud, so too did the Immortal consider - not the child - but what his activities meant. If this child was removing waste then too he was probably feeding the Immortal. Curiosity was eating away at him, he had to see just how this Immortal was trapped. Why, in the early years after the war, had no children reported its existence to someone who could get it out? Of course because it was a fujimi they were not worried about him killing it. But still, why was it here?
He ignored the boy and attacked the rubble with renewed vigor. A few hours later he was rewarded by coming into range of the Immortal’s signal. It was a normal buzz, as far as he could tell. Shortly, though, he began to feel queasy. Then blackness descended upon him and his ears blocked up. He felt himself fall to his knees in the shallow water, and that was obliterated as he clutched his stomach and then his head when the blackness was broken by red pain.
Small hands touched his cheeks, a forehead pressed against his. The intensity was broken by this distraction and he found he was grasping the little boy’s shoulders tightly. The sensations which overwhelmed him faded into the background, leaving him feeling as though his teeth were scratching on something painfully cold. “Nani… nanda..ima no wa!?” What now, was the direct translation. But what it meant to a Japanese was what happened to me?
“Fujimi,” the boy replied.
St. Cloud’s numb lips shaped the word. Focused on his immediate surroundings he was able to ignore the signal, but it still remained around him, sending sudden sharp pains shooting through his bones. He snarled wordlessly and returned to tearing through the rubble.
It took about twenty minutes more to get through into the chamber and there Xavier St. Cloud was once again driven to his knees. This time, though, it was from a shock so great it called to a part of himself that had not been used in centuries. Unbidden his hand moved across his chest, right then left, then down and up. Words sprang to his lips, prayers long unused. The details of the chamber would come to mind later, but for now all that he saw was the fujimi.
The chamber was bisected by rusted metal grating. The grating was bisected by a human body. Its sex was impossible to tell. Featureless, lumpy flesh broken by the occasional opening. One in the head that must be the mouth. Its faint, raspy breathing was the only sound to break the silence. The flesh was ghastly white except for the lumps, which tended to be red and black. “Cancer,” St. Cloud whispered in recognition.
A small hand touched his shoulder, distracting him from the horrible sight. He found himself gazing into the serious eyes of the little boy. They seemed to say, “you told me you could kill it, can you?”
He lurched to his feet to get a closer look. Every step was a strain as he wanted badly to flee this room and forget the sight before him. But this was an Immortal, and the instinct to take its head and Quickening was both strong and accentuated by an urge to put it out of its misery.
What little he cared to remember about the dropping of an atomic bomb on this city gave him an idea of what had happened. He remembered tales of shadows burned into the walls, the bodies which cast them turned to powder. He guessed that the force of the blast had thrown this Immortal against and partly through the metal grating. It was not possible that the body had been in this condition before, a baby born this way in Japan was inevitably a victim of infanticide. The Immortal’s regeneration had been completely disrupted by the same bomb which left deformed babies and individuals who seemed untouched by the bomb to die of cancers years later. The body regenerated around the metal grating.
St. Cloud reached up to touch the throat, and learned why no one had been able to kill it. Most of the throat was on the other side of the grating, and there was no way to get through. However, the grating had been here, rusting and - he winced as he noticed the tang of blood in the air and dampness around where the grating went into the body - rotting for twenty-five years.
He spun on his heel and gathered his sword from the package he kept it in. Seeing the boy some remnant of his conscience made him point to the entrance. “Ikinasai,” you have to go. The child backed out and vanished into the darkness beyond.
The Immortal walked close to the mangled body and extended a hand to touch its forehead, whispering the Last Rites softly in Latin. Then he stepped back, raised his sword and positioned himself for a blow that would have the greatest impact he could give it. And he struck, feeling in that moment of clarity the brief touch of flesh, then the hard resistance of metal abruptly broken, more flesh and the end of his arc. He opened his eyes, surprised that he had closed them. Its neck was torn through, head now jerked at an angle, puss and gray matter leaking out where the metal had torn the head. Then he felt the build-up of the impending Quickening.
Never had a Quickening felt like this. In the past it was as though the dead Immortal sought vengeance, tearing at his body and burying fangs into his soul. This Quickening leaped into him with a thrill akin to flying. Though lightning tore through the room and struck his body it swirled within him with the most curious feeling of victory. It finally settled, leaving the room in darkness and Xavier St. Cloud feeling euphoric. Minutes passed and he finally opened his eyes, again surprised that he had closed them. Beside him lay a lighted torch but no sign of the boy who must have left it for him. In the wreckage of the room was the remains of a portable space heater with which children had kept the trapped Immortal from freezing to death. Electric lamps had kept the room lit, though St. Cloud was sure the other Immortal had never known they were trying to break its darkness. He picked up the torch and his sword and made his way out of the chamber.
This hunt was over. Now it was time to hunt Toyotomi.
Closing Report on Hideo Nakajima
Watchers: Reiko and Matsuo Yasuda
Apprentice: Junichi Yasuda, age 8
On January 12th, 1970, at 4:15 am, Xavier St. Cloud took the Quickening of Hideo Nakajima. Our son reports that before doing so St. Cloud prayed in the Christian manner for the soul of our countryman.
Though we do not know for certain that this tormented Immortal was truly Hideo Nakajima, our evidence lies in the reports of his Watcher whose last entry dated August 1st, 1945, placed him in Hiroshima.
Now that he is dead, we, the Yasuda family, must confess that we have been maintaining him. We knew, from the journals of other Watchers, that an Immortal can die from cold or sickness, or even starvation. He will then regenerate and die from the same conditions as long as they continue to exist. Our grandparents, then we ourselves with the assistance of children gave him what comfort we could.
Little Boy generated an enormous amount of energy in terms of air pressure and heat. In addition, it generated a significant amount of radiation (Gamma ray and neutrons) that subsequently caused devastating human injuries. When the heat wave reached ground level it burnt all before it including people. The strong wind generated by the bomb destroyed most of the houses and buildings within a 1.5 miles radius. When the wind reached the mountains, it was reflected and again hit the people in the city center. Many people died within the first few months and many more in subsequent years because of radiation exposure. Some people had genetic problems which sometimes resulted in having malformed babies or being unable to have children.
It is believed that more than 140,000 people died by the end of the year. They were citizens including students, soldiers and Koreans who worked in factories within the city. The total number of people who have died due to the bomb is estimated to be 200,000.
From the A-Bomb Hiroshima Memorial. (for further information, click here)Shin's tricycle Shin-ichi was a three year old boy who loved his tricycle. When the bomb was dropped, he was playing with his best friend, Kimiko. They died. They were buried in the garden of Shin-ichi's house together. In July 1985, 40 years later, their parents decided to move them to a proper grave.
From the story of "Shin's Tricycle" Early in the morning, I began to dig open the grave with Kimi's mother, who had come to help. After digging for a while a rusty pipe began to show. "Oh! It's the tricycle!" Before I realized it I had started to sob. To tell you the truth, I'd forgotten all about the tricycle.
"Look! There's something white," someone cried. I felt like ice. Carefully we uncovered the bones using chopsticks and brushes. There were a number of tiny bones.
"Shin-ichi, Shin-ichi." "Kimiko." Everyone's eyes were glued to the little white hands of the two children. They were still holding hands....
from Shin's Tricycle by Tatsuharu Kodama (Translation by Kazuko Hokumen-Jones and Jacky Copson).