High Noon In The East

The grueling work of being the son of a rancher raised him to be a strong man, the rough wind of sand and heat from the wild west forging him into a hard man, because it was a hard life out there. He became a rancher, and lost his way to became an outlaw. The temptation of easy money, thrilling adventure, and scores of prostitutes overcame him until he it all. The former rancher, turned outlaw then became an inmate. The sheriff catching him red-handed knew him from long ago, his skills, grit, and talents would surely be wasted rotting in a cage. Thus he struck a deal with him, and the outlaw earned a second chance and became a deputy. Feeling nothing for the people at first, his character returned upon seeing the struggling ranchers he had been long ago struggle more with thieves and vagrants. It was clear that even in a heartless land of sand, rock, and vultures ready to pick at your eyes the second you close them, there is law and justice to be done. Thus he he became a just man, and won the trust of the people and became a sheriff himself.

So many titles he took, but if there was one thing he had, even as a child was, a gun. Call him what you will, but there is one title that truly fit him best.

He was ‘The Gunslinger’ Ryan.

And he was going to lose that too…

His past haunted him to no end, former outlaws he sided with thirsty for his blood were out to get him for his traitorous ways, and they would have too. he was a man constantly on the run, unable to stay in his town for fear of retaliation from the gangs attacking the citizens defending him. Some might call him a hero, a coward, or just plain dumb, and reckless, but upon a preemptive strike on their turf he led them on a goose chase across the land. He fled until his horse was too exhausted to go any further, and he fled on foot from there. He was a man drained of energy, food, and most importantly bullets, But lady luck was on his side…or perhaps just fucking with him.

His only escape was to board a ship, and travel east…far east as far east as he can go across a seemingly endless ocean traveling from continent to continent.

Each new land he brought with him knowledge, experience, practice for his craft and to survive on lands he never thought possible to last. Unfortunately his travels came to halt when he pushed his luck too far, and wound up stuck where his presence was either unwanted or ignored…it actually reminded him a lot like his home in the west.

Now with barely any currency to feed himself, and the land almost entirely bare of good hunting meals, he would have to resort to using his craft despite the language barrier. Still though he’s been through worst, after all, at least this environment felt tame, and alive compared to the dry heat of the desert.

This land he was on, it was called many things just like him, but one name stuck out from all the rest.

Zipangu.

The name alone told him he was as far away from the west as possible.

The people spoke in a foreign language he could not understand, didn’t concern him much, he wasn’t a talker anyways. Also it wasn’t the first time he was a visitor in a place he didn’t belong, or understood.

He sat in a wooden bench awaiting his employer he impressed with a simple display of his skills with his gun. From what he gathered, he was looking for people to ride with him as he was making a deliver of some kind; apparently he didn’t feel safe with the three brutes swinging around swords, and wanted a fourth pair of hands. They paid quite a bit too considering his employer had already purchased new robes, and jewelry to decorate himself with the money he was given in advance.

Ryan was dressed in his usual attire, a dark brown thick leather duster that reached down his black leather boots, the brown dust of all the lands he traveled settled almost permanently up to his knees. Inside his duster were his usual tan brown leather pants, black wool button shirt, and his gold sheriff’s badge which was begging for a good polishing. Of course, being pinned to his shirt he still kept it well hidden under his coat, no reason to be showing off and drawing attention…granted his attire in general didn’t help things. He had a rugged look to him, a thick stubble of a beard, sharp lime green eyes, and sandy brown hair under a large cowboy’s brown leather hat.

He heard the shouts of his employer urging him to move with him, apparently done shipping whatever the hell he was carrying.

The Gunslinger grunted his annoyance, but moved anyways, after all; he was only doing this ‘for a few dollars more’ he told himself. He was never a fan of being told what to do, especially by those who did not earn his respect, but cash is cash and he needed it.

He was ordered through shouts and hand gestures to stay several meters away from the concealed horse driven cart, wasn’t told why but it wasn’t like he would understand if he did. He could hear the swordsmen chatting away, but he ignored them, and kept his eyes on the road. He may not know what they’re saying, but even he knew a mocking tone when he heard it.

The small town composing on a mere handful of buildings and small stalls selling goods, and snacks were out of view as the Gunslinger felt the cool wind of a forest naturally shaded from the sun. The specks of light peppering the floor beneath them was the only way of telling the time as one glance up showed the foliage too thick to properly view the position of the sun.

He wouldn’t let anyone else hear of this, but if there was one joy he took upon leaving his hometown was the natural abundance of life from the green forests. Granted so far nothing beats the view of the mighty canyons, and exotic rock formations, and caves on his travels through the sun-baked lands of his home. Still he did appreciate the beauty of nature in it’s many other forms, and perhaps the forest was so far his favorite. A similar sensation of surviving in nature with a setting completely opposite of his own home field, he can recall many people he had lost along the way who would be thrilled to go drinking and camping with him on such alien, green terrain.

As the cart traveled deeper into the woods the Gunslinger felt uneasy…it was a feeling he was reminded of when he was an outlaw, the feeling that what he was doing was wrong. After all this time of simply ignoring this instinct, and deeming it useless; he finally found it’s sudden recurrence to be…helpful? At least enough for him to take his eyes off the road for a second to glance at the cart they are escorting.

The forest shifted, and wild bamboo were acting almost like walls on each side of the narrowing road which forced him to move closer. Upon doing so he heard something from inside the cart. It was faint, but he was certain he heard noises; soft murmurings, and perhaps even sobbing?

His employer shouted at him to possibly back away from the cart. The angry little man practically forcing the gunslinger away from it to the point that his right arm would be hitting every bamboo along the trail. The swordsmen snickering among themselves, all moving closer to the cart without being reprimanded.

They moved once more, the distance away from the cart only made Ryan more curious about it’s contents.

Suddenly a sharp noise to his other side snapped him out of his focus on the cart and he paused.

The swordsmen were quick to point out the gunslinger’s disobedience and his employer was quick to approach him, yelling once more in his tongue. Ryan however had more pressing issues to concentrate on.

If only his so called ‘boss’ would just shut up so he can focus. Thus in cases like this, action spoke louder than words.

He draws his gun to show his idiot employer that action was going to happen soon, the swordsmen draw out their blades, but rather than staring at the forest, they lock their eyes on him.

“(Idiots, all of them! Can’t they hear it!?)” Ryan swore in his thoughts.

The noise everywhere was making it difficult for Ryan to concentrate, it’s a good thing they can’t do a thing to his eyes.

He spotted a glint through the thicket, and dove to the ground narrowly dodging a kunai that flew and pierced a tree behind him.

Finally the swordsmen realized what’s going on, but by then it was too late, the kunai was merely a diversion as the Gunslinger saw a flash of purple streaking across the men. They fell one by one, the Gunslinger quickly stood up, and swung his revolver to blocked an oncoming attack, and halting the streaking blur to reveal the beauty causing this mess.

“What in the hell…” the Gunslinger murmured his first words upon entering this new country.

She had long, black hair that streaked and flowed like the wind, her matching black eyes were as sharp and experienced as Ryan’s, they glared at him with determination to win, to carry out her task, something he can relate all too well. The rest of her face covered by her thick purple scarf.

The Gunslinger only had a glance downward as he always preferred to look his enemies in the eyes while squaring off. However; the temptation to look lower was strong, her body was a perfect embodiment of charm and sex appeal, barely covered by her open and revealing dark purple kimono. Her blade dripping with a strange, soft purple liquid that stained his revolver. She smelled of something sweet, almost intoxicating, his nose was sending him all kinds of mixed signals. They stared each other down for a moment before the quickly jumped back from one another.

Ryan quickly tried to aim, but even with his fast reflexes the woman was already gone from his sights, hiding behind the bamboo forest.

“(Girl’s quick on her feet…can’t waste the bullets either…just need one good shot)” Ryan thought to himself.

A flash to his left alerted him, another diversion!?

He dove regardless, but hearing the brief swishing of a thin needle brushing the back of his neck meant that this girl was now aiming at him. He glanced at the bamboo the needle struck, and saw the imprint turn purple.

“(Never seen a needle do that to a tree)” Ryan thought.

He had to draw her out, but how? She was clearly using stealth to hide, and what was stranger was the lack of noise. However she did it, she had somehow muted herself.

His eyes spotted the blur, but all he could do was deflect the streaking beauty’s blade with his gun as it rushed back into the foliage.

“Come on out you snake in the grass! Fight with some backbone already!” The Gunslinger was getting annoyed, of course she probably didn’t understand him.

Just one shot, one brief millisecond was all he needed.

“It’s time for a duel” the Gunslinger murmured.

He placed his revolver back in it’s holster, but kept his grip on it all the same and stared the forest down. The sprinkles of light on the ground were turning orange, night was approaching, and he was running out of time.

The thick woods were still and silent just as he was, as if time had stopped, waiting for either party to attack the other.

The streak appeared to his right, and as quick as the bullets he shoots he drew his weapon, aimed, and the forest erupted into a loud roar from his gunshot.

It was a direct hit, the assassin was forced back from the impact and crashed behind several thick bushes. Ryan didn’t need to check, he knew he shot her right in the heart.

He paused looking back at the area her body had landed, and tipped his hat in respect, almost instinctively. He then swore silently to himself at the cost of his precious ammunition…

“(Thirteen left)” He reminded himself.

He looked back at his employer poking his head out from behind the horse’s ass and began shouting profusely in his language. Whether it was thanks or otherwise the Gunslinger could not tell, but with that distraction out of the way, there was something else he had almost forgotten about.

There is no way such a skilled attacker would assault four armed men if there wasn’t something precious worth stealing from. Paid or not the Gunslinger’s life was almost taken, and he felt he had every right to know the truth.

He neared the crate once more, realizing there really wasn’t all that much covering it, just four tall wooden planks with wooden bars he can barely make out through the tarp. He gripped the tarp, his employer shouting louder but he continued to ignore him, pulling the tarp free from it’s rope knots.

His eye widen in shock for the first time in quite a long while.

The cart held a small group of monster kin women. In the West where even weeds can barely survive he has heard stories of beautiful, and sometimes dangerous women called mamono; who resembled monsters, but as far as their history and culture was concern he had no clue about either. all he knew was that they existed, and these in particular didn’t look too happy, nor threatening. While he did spot them every once in a while in these lands, they were well received, seeing them like this felt off somehow.

“This is one hell of a day…” Ryan murmured.

He could make out 4 girls of various ages, two young twin Nekomata children holding each other for dear life. A Shirohebi of sorts in pure red, white, and torn clothing with assortment of bruises on her which showed she put up a fight. Beside her was an Inari, not nearly as bruised but she could look better.

Odd he would find something like this, but even in a foreign land he knew a rustler when he saw one.

His employer continued to shout at him and drew closer, but Ryan was not having none of it, and drew his gun aiming at his head.

“You try to play me for a fool fella?” The Gunslinger asked

His employer finally backed off sounding fairly nervous and stammering profusely.

“Ah think I know what’s going on ‘partner’, and I ain’t liking it one bit…hand it over” Ryan said.

He motioned his gun, turning it slightly towards the key dangling on his employer’s belt.

His employer cried out, and shouted some more before handing over a small sack of coins before running away.

“Th-that’s not what I-damn it he scurried off…” the Gunslinger sighed.

The cage was made of wood, but it was too thick to cut with what he had, and the lock was still there. He fought a deep sigh as he realized he had to count down once more.

“(Twelve left)” He counted in his thoughts.

“…Hang on, I’ll get ya out, stand back” Ryan warned.

Once more the language barrier rears it’s ugly head and the girls stare at him scared, and confused.
He drew out his gun and that got their attention, and they moved away from him as far as they could.

“(…Good enough I guess)” Ryan sighed in his thoughts.

He shot at the lock and it was quickly destroyed. He opened the cage door wide, and backed away.

“…Go on, git!” The Gunslinger motioned them to move.

He of course holstered his gun to show them he means no harm.

Slowly the mamono began to catch on and left their cage, once all of them were out, he motioned them to keep going. One of them spoke out a soft and unsure tone, but once more he had no idea what she was saying.

The Gunslinger simply shrugged and retreated back the way he came, the four girls unsure of what else to do, and not wanting to stay anywhere near the cart decided to follow him while keeping their distance.

Back near the wagon, the would be assassin’s body lay still, a hole still evident on her chest before blowing up in a cloud of smoke. The assassin appearing beside the smoke and staring at the man that both impeded her mission, and accomplished it. He was a strange man, that much was clear but she could not deny his skills were impeccable, she would have never imagined anyone rivaling her speed. This alone was enough to set her sights to find out more about him.

But she had to move fast, no telling how quickly those girls will fawn over him once their fears are gone. She vanished into the thicket and gave chase.

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4 thoughts on “High Noon In The East”

  1. Man it’s been awhile since I last read this story. Last I recall it was like two chapters. Still a nice refresher though and I’ve always wanted to see how the rest of it played out. The cowboy and the kunoichi, an unusual but fabulous combination.

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