Rise of the Oni King Part 1
Diolnaga was born of tragedy, as all great Oni are, with the promise of greatness ingrained in his mind, the future Oni King sets out to take control of his people.
Our story begins, as many stories do, a long time ago in a distant land, with the birth of our hero. He is born, as all of his people are, during a great storm that tears the land asunder. Lightning cracks and thunder rocks the earth in a plains-land where a tribe of red-skinned, brown-haired beings reside. These creatures are known as Onis, and legend has it that whenever an Oni mother goes into labor her great pain causes even the heavens to protest, so was the case when Diolnaga was born.
Diolnaga, despite all odds, was not born to any great benefit or happiness, and instead was born only to grief and pain. In the moments before his birth, the heavens laid waste to all that was the Oni tribe. Some twenty warriors and their wives were taken by the great force of the storm, leaving only the infant and his wounded mother. In the days that followed, as Mara, mother of the last of her tribe, nursed her babe and her wounds, Diolnaga's ears were filled with promises of grandeur and glory. His mother assured him that in great times of grief and passing, as he was born into, only the strongest would survive, and he was the only creature in their tribe to emerge unscarred, yes, indeed to even survive. Her dying breaths were spent comforting the infant and imparting what wisdom she could, to the East, she assured, there was a tribe of Oni that would have him.
Diolnaga, young as he was, and unexposed to his culture, was not fully aware of his mother's intent, but he was aware of her promises. Innately the Oni understood what they needed, they understood power, and what it took to survive. Onis took naturally to the hunt, and combat was bred into them during conception. It was with this in-born knowledge that Diolnaga set East, his body already nearing maturity after only months, not as an orphan of his tribe, but as a conqueror.
THE EPIC OF THE ONI KING DIOLNAGA
When Diolnaga left his tribe, he salvaged what he could: loose-fitting wolf-hide armor, two great swords called zanbakuto, and his mother's head, so that he would not be alone.
The armor consisted of a harness fitted across his chest, with wolf-head pauldrons on either shoulder; greaves and faulds crafted from wolf pelts and reinforced with bone; gloves that reached from the middle of his forearms to the clawed tips of his hands; and a hood made from the skull of a wolf which hung loosely around his neck. His swords were a hybrid of iron and steel, each weighing as much as a man and reaching six feet from the handle; they hung across his back in a cross. His mother's head he cradled in his left arm, or kept securely affixed to his hip.
Confident in his ability, the future Oni King gathered what remained of the tribe's most recent kill, and set off across the vast expanse of the plains, chasing the sun to the East. (I should note that here the Sun sets in the East and rises in the West, contrary to our own world, where it rises in the East.) In the plains, the days were hot and the nights were cold, but Diolnaga was undeterred. As it became more necessary to stay warm than to move forward, the young Oni cradled his mother's head and warmed himself by short-lived fires until his consciousness passed, and on the morn he would move again.
By the third day of his venture, Diolnaga had run short of food, and had not eaten for a day, Onis are not known for their small appetites. Fortune, as it does with most heroes, shone upon Diolnaga that morning, as he spotted a herd of Probusci lurking atop a nearby hill. These animals were much like elephants, except for their larger bodies that were coated in a thick fur, their significantly shorter but more dangerous tusks, and their...teeth.
(I only say that fortune shone upon Diolnaga because I understand the ferocity of the Onis, and I know how this story ends, but in reality happening upon a herd of Probusci is far from optimal. You see, they are carnivorous pack hunters, ironic as that is, who hunt large packs of smaller mammals, or sometimes even larger predators. Don't worry though, Diolnaga isn't threatened by such beasts.)
In his maddening hunger, Diolnaga thought little of the dangers of a pack of Probusci, not that he knew a lot of them to begin with, but instead the youthful Oni drew one of his swords with his right arm, as he set his mother down by the fireside with his left. The nomad slowly paced away from his camp and drew back his arm, taking aim at one of the Probuscus. In moments the massive sword had been flung over-handed at the herd of gigantic animals and found its mark in one of their throats. The great behemoth let out a mighty bellow before it plummeted to the ground, causing the two other Probusci in the herd to turn and face its assailant.
There was no surprise in their faces, surprise was beyond such simple beasts, only rage was ingrained in them, as they turned and charged the massive Oni before them. Diolnaga's father had been a great hunter, as the creatures charged him he knew what to do before he even recognized the necessities. They were upon him in seconds, Probusci are surprisingly fast, and the Oni slid between the tusks of the smaller beast and swiftly jabbed his sword up into its throat. The monstrous paceoderm fell to the ground several meters beyond as its charge came to a crashing halt.
Finally, the last of the Probuscus turned and faced Diolnaga, he crouched into a ready position and waited for the impending charge. The Probuscus stampeded toward the prepared Oni warrior and as it reached him he released a primal roar and latched onto the beast's tusks, wresting its head to the ground before the gnashing teeth tore into the earth. This one was not so easily stopped, the beast roared back and tossed the future Oni King into the air with a mighty jerk of its head.
Diolnaga grunted as he fell flat on his face. Rising from the sand he peered around, seeking the other two Probusci, but they were too far away for him to reach before the remainder was upon him. As he rolled over to prepare to face down the beast again he found it upon him, digging its tusks into the earth as it made to crush him between its teeth. The Probuscus was stopped, its tusks caught in the earth before it could reach its prey. Diolnaga smirked and leapt on to the creature's face, tearing at its eyes with his clawed fingers before it could escape. The shock of Diolnaga's attack flung the beast into wild convulsions, which concluded with it finally collapsing to its side, dead.
Diolnaga had no words for the Earth or the beasts, but as he sat by the fire with his reclaimed swords, he had words for his mother, "Foul creatures mother, pack hunters and behemoths."
He tore a piece of meat from the haunch on the ground and chewed loudly, "I know, I must get moving, but they were such trouble, I would hate to waste them."
He paused, then replied to no one, "Fine, only the last one posed any trouble, still, a kill is a kill and I do not wish to waste it."
Another pause as he chewed, he scrunched up his face in discomposure, "No, I don't know how I'll transport it all!"
The nomad ate in silence for a moment, his conversation with mother halted. He chewed quietly as he stared at the three corpses he had dragged together near the fire. Eventually he stood and set to work.
Diolnaga's third day, following the slaughter of the Probusci, was filled with crafting and ingenuity that was quite unique, particularly for an Oni. Far from what he desired, Diolnaga had no beasts or servants to assist him, but he accomplished what he felt he needed. A sled was built, the length and width of two Probuscus thigh-lengths, with the bones of calves mounted upright to contain what he salvaged from the Probusci. The behemoths' tusks were mounted to the thighs and used as runners, while the ribs served to reinforce the hide body of the sled.
Inside he placed the remaining bones, meat, and what little skin was left of the Probusci, along with his swords. From there, he set off, towing the sled with straps looped through his battle harness, his mother's head at his waist. Occasionally he would mutter that he didn't care how difficult it was, the kills were accomplishments and he would not lose that. He carried on in this way for three days, until finally he reached the Oni camp of which his mother had spoken.
It did not take long, upon his arrival at the camp, for Diolnaga to find their chief, or more specifically, the chief's feet. Diolnaga grunted as the four guards who intercepted him coming into the camp tossed him to the ground in the village's central bone hut.
"Who dis?" The chief questioned as he rose from his cross-legged seat.
Diolnaga stood, at least as much as he could with the spears of the other Onis at his shoulders, "I am Diolnaga, future king of Onis, I come here seeking help."
The chief spat, "I, Zebu, only king of Plain-land Oni."
"You claim to be king of all Oni on land?" Diolnaga questioned, misunderstanding Zebu's statement, though no Oni would deny a greater title than they deserved.
"Yes, Zebu king of all Oni," Zebu announced.
"Then I challenge you, Zebu, for right of rulership."
Zebu stared at the stranger for a moment, no one had been foolish enough to challenge him in the past. Zebu was the strongest in his tribe, that was how chiefs were selected after all. This Oni had nothing and came there seeking his help. Needless to say, Zebu was confident that Diolnaga posed no threat.
"Fine, youngling, Zebu accept Diolnaga's challenge."
With that, the Oni guardsmen withdrew their spears, allowing Diolnaga to stand at his full height. Though he was larger than Zebu, the other seemed unimpressed. Zebu beckoned Diolnaga outside and once they were in the center of the camp, Zebu began:
"Zebu accept a challenge for kingship!" He announced, turning to face his people who were gathered around, "This, Diolnaga, say he will defeat Zebu as true king of Onis," the crowd laughed heartily at this idea, "Zebu say we fight in honored combat, one weapon each, last Oni alive wins."
Diolnaga nodded, "Zebu let Diolnaga retrieve his sword?"
Zebu only nodded before the other Oni parted in Diolnaga's path. He disappeared over a small hill, and did not return for two minutes, when he finally came over the hill tugging his sled of Probusi remains behind him. The gathered Oni gaped at Diolnaga's strength and the slew of corpses he had added to the sled over the past three days. Zebu attempted to appear unamused, though in fact a fear crept into his mind. Diolnaga took up one of his zanbakuto from the sled before returning to the ring of Oni.
Zebu turned to one of his guards and grunted, the guard handed him a similar sword, though slightly smaller and ordained with shining stones, "I ready."
With that, and no further ceremony, they set upon each other. The first move was by Diolnaga, who charged fool-hardily into Zebu, bringing his sword down for a swift finish. Zebu brought the breadth of his sword up to absorb the blow, before kneeing Diolnaga in the stomach. Taken by surprise the future Oni King groaned as he found a second blow swift approaching, in the form of Zebu's clawed foot. The blow brought Diolnaga off his feet, and soon he found Zebu in the air with him, preparing to deal out another blow with his foot. The chief was too slow, and Diolnaga latched onto the incoming leg.
As they both plummeted to the ground Diolnaga rolled away, grabbing his sword at the last second. Zebu came at the nomadic Oni now, swinging his sword wildly at his target's throat. Diolnaga easily ducked under the attack and used the broad side of his sword to sweep Zebu off his feet, before coming down with an over-handed swing to sever his assailant's head. Zebu avoided the attack, but found his shoulder cut wide. The Oni did not acknowledge his wound, as was their custom, and instead charged head first into his opponent, attempting to land another knee strike to Diolnaga.
This time, Diolnaga caught the incoming blow, foreseeing the strike before it reached him, "You are too slow," Diolnaga grunted as he swung Zebu to the ground in a single motion, and brought his claws to bare on his foe's face. Zebu howled as Diolnaga lacerated him, leaving deep gashes oozing blood into the sand. Like an animal, Diolnaga struck at his foe's throat, easily piercing the rough flesh of the Oni chief and nearly severing his head in one motion. "You are too weak."
Bathed in the blood of his rival, his deep red skin tinted in the glimmering crimson liquid, Diolnaga rose from the corpse and turned. He was not hailed victorious, he was hardly acknowledged, most of the Onis had fled the camp once they saw the fight turn sour for Zebu. All that remained were his four guards, fearfully clutching their spears.
"I am victorious, and so am now the king of all Oni!" Diolnaga announced to the stragglers.
They shivered in place, and one guard braved approaching the Oni bathed in red, "Please, lord, spare us."
Diolnaga quirked his eyebrow at this, "I do not know what Zebu's practices were, but no Oni shall come to harm under my rule," Diolnaga chuckled as he stepped toward the hut, "Well, except those who would rebel against me."
The four guards glanced around at each other, then followed Diolnaga into the hut, "How we can help?"
"Speak properly for starters," Diolnaga grunted as he fell into his chair, "The others will not return then, they fear for their lives," Diolnaga sighed, "What kind of king has no subjects?"
(I'm sure, as only an onlooker of an onlooker, you would question why Diolnaga would make such a curious request, seeing as moments before he spoke as Zebu did. I cannot be entirely certain myself, though I suspect he either chose to imitate Zebu to avoid misunderstandings, or he was mocking the clearly inferior ruler. As none of his tribe survived the storm that heralded his birth, I cannot be certain if all of his tribe spoke properly, or if it was merely Diolnaga and his mother. However, we can rest assured that Diolnaga would not be satisfied as the "King of Four Onis." )