Suikoden II - Jowy's Story
A Fanfiction by Joanna Sherlyn Dunlap
"Suikoden" and all its characters therein are trademarks of Konami Co., Ltd. © 1995-1998.
English Translation © Konami of America, Inc.
Writer-Creator: Yoshitaka Murayama (Murayama-san, arigato!)
Chapter 1 – The Lie and the Promise
Jowy Atreides was excited. Finally, he was going home. Not that he wasn't proud to be a member of the Highland army's Unicorn Youth Brigade, he was just anxious to get back home to Kyaro.
Riou's probably anxious to see Nanami, he thought looking out across the countryside. The view was beautiful high in Tenzen Pass where they were camped. It was a quiet, secluded place, and so peaceful tonight. The air was cool, the stars shone brightly, crickets chirped and he could hear the faint rush of violent water in the distance.
It must be hard on Nanami. First Old Genkaku dies, then the war with the City-State happens and both Riou and I are shipped off. She must hate being alone in that dojo. I bet she jumped for joy when she heard about the peace agreement. She probably jumped so high she broke the roof! Jowy suddenly thought of his friend, Nanami dangling from the roof, only her kicking feet visible, and he had to chuckle to himself.
"Hey, Jowy," he heard his fellow soldier, Max. Jowy politely turned to listen. "Jowy, listen to this. It was my turn on watch tonight, but the Captain said to forget it. It's the peace agreement, I guess."
"Yeah, I guess. And he's so strict too. I bet he's just lax because he's sick of the war and ready to go home like us."
"No kidding. I can't wait to see my mom again. I miss her cooking! I'm sick of this slop we keep getting."
"One more night, Max, one more night."
"Hey!" Jowy looked around for the source of the new voice. It was Alex. Jowy rolled his eyes. Alex always tried to act big. "Hey, Jowy! Max! Go to sleep or the Captain will get mad!"
"Whatever," he whispered to Max, "Good night. I'm gonna see what Riou's up to. If I don't catch you tomorrow, then see ya later," he got up and jogged in the direction of his tent.
"Yeah! You too, Jowy!" he shouted after him, "Catch ya later!"
Riou was just finishing packing away his Highland uniform when Jowy came in. He had changed into his red tunic. His favorite yellow bandana that had been Master Genkaku's was tied around his neck. Both their tent-mates Michael and Daji were already asleep. Michael was snoring again.
"Riou, you changed already? You're sure in a hurry."
"Yeah," Riou blushed at being caught. The youth soldiers weren't supposed to be out of uniform till tomorrow morning. Then Riou's embarrassment left his face when he saw Jowy who had too had changed prematurely, dressed in his blue shirt and white pants. "Well, look at you," he motioned at Jowy.
"Yeah, me too," he admitted. "I thought about going back to Kyaro and I couldn't wait to get out of that uniform," he itched at spot where his helmet always chafed. "Hey Riou, Nanami is probably waiting for you to come back, huh? Since you're her only family since Master Genkaku died and all…If not for this war…" Riou's eyes widened at the mention of Genkaku and Nanami, and Jowy decided to change the subject. "So anyway, should we go to sleep soon? Or should we go outside? It's a nice night."
"Nah," said Riou. "The sooner we go to bed, the sooner it will be tomorrow."
"You're right. I want to go back to Kyaro at first light anyway." He was so anxious to go home, he hopped into bed with his clothes on. He smiled to himself when he noticed that Riou had done the same. "Good night, Riou."
"Night, Jowy." And then, "I wish Michael would shut up. His snoring's keeping me awake." Jowy laughed at the randomness from his friend, turned around in his bed, and fell asleep.
Jowy dreamt of sparring. It was a re-occurring dream. He and Riou were in front of Master Genkaku's dojo, younger. Nanami was pacing nearby. Jowy dodged a blow from Riou's tonfa and thrusted his staff back at Riou, who ducked out of the way and came at Jowy again. He felt his cheek sting where Riou's weapon made contact. Jowy retaliated by spinning his staff expertly and slicing the air above Riou's neck --
The dream rushed away and Jowy sat bolt upright. Michael and Daji were running out of the tent, strapping on gauntlets an pulling on helmets. Jowy swiftly turned to Riou, who's face had already committed to panic.
"Surprise attack?" Jowy shouted over the deafening cacophony outside, "But what about the peace treaty with the City-State?"
Riou got up, "We'd better check it out."
Jowy grabbed his dragon-tipped staff without even glancing at his armor. Riou had his tonfa in both his hands and he nodded at Jowy. Together, they ran out of the tent and into the inferno.
The entire camp was on fire. Everyone was screaming and crying. Jowy saw Alex making sounds he never thought he could make as his tent suddenly collapsed sending sparks and embers everywhere.
"Oh God…" Riou breathed beside him.
"Riou! Jowy!" It was Captain Rowd rushing toward them, the face of a soldier.
"Captain Rowd, what is this?" Jowy asked.
"It's a surprise attack by the City-State! They've broken the peace agreement, those scum!" He banged his fist on an imaginary table and spat on the ground. "It looks like we're surrounded. Take the mountain path to the east and save yourselves! Hurry!" the captain shouted before running off.
Jowy looked at Riou. His face was still a picture of panic, his shoulders heaved in anger, but his feet were stable and secure. "Let's run, Riou. We can't die here. Nanami will be all alone."
Riou nodded, his face suddenly strong, and they ran east.
Tenzen Pass was in pandemonium. Their fellow soldiers were everywhere: running, pushing eachother, wailing in agony on the ground. Jowy saw Max motionless in the arms of another boy. He was shouting at him. "Hey! Open your eyes! Max! Don't die on me, goddamnit!"
Jowy fought the urge to go to him. Getting Riou and himself out alive was the priority. He kept running. Riou stayed, looking at Max.
"Riou! Come on! Nanami!"
"Right!" Riou answered, looked down at Max once more, and followed after Jowy.
Catch ya later, Max, Jowy thought, not looking back.
Another two soldiers were trying to run away. One was injured so badly he couldn't walk, and the other was trying his best to support him. "Ah! It hurts!" the injured one cried.
"Don't worry," the other said, "I'll save you. We're pals, right?"
Jowy passed them, determined. He looked over at Riou to make sure he was still with him, thankful that he and his pal were not like the other two. They kept on eastward, continuing on unaware of the fire in their legs, until they reached the woods.
Jowy stopped, bent over to breathe, and looked deep into the woods. "Wait, Riou."
"What is it, Jowy?"
"Don't you think it's strange, Riou? The only way out is through these woods. The enemy must know that too. They might be waiting in the woods to ambush us."
Riou's eyes lit up in surprised understanding.
Jowy continued. "Let's go back, Riou. Let's tell Captain Rowd."
Riou did not argue. They ran back the way they came, harder and faster than they had run away. Why were they running back to what they had just run away from? The irony was so incredible, Jowy almost laughed.
Any potential for laughter ceased when Riou and Jowy saw the two friends laying still on the ground. Hadn't they just been fighting to continue a minute ago? Had they given up hope so soon? Riou stopped and knelt by them, his eyes watering.
"Riou! Damnit! We don't have time! If you want to save the others we have to go now!"
Riou looked up sharply at Jowy like a defensive animal. Jowy had never known him to behave so alpha before. It caught him off guard. But then Riou turned back at the boys, laid a hand on each of them and got up again. It didn't take but one second for him to catch up to Jowy. It seemed like everyone who was previously clinging to life was now gone. They passed Max and the other boy again, this time neither of them were moving, and both Riou and Jowy cast a prayerful eye toward them as they ran. I'll pray for his mother when we get out of this. Hell, I'll pray for all of our mothers when we get out of this.
Then Jowy heard something that made him stop dead in his tracks.
"It's just as we planned, Prince Luca. Everyone fled east through the woods." It was the voice of Captain Rowd.
Jowy grabbed a running Riou by his bandana and pulled him down behind some charred barrels of fish. The smell was awful, but Jowy thanked the heavens they weren't barrels of oil. "Shhh! Get down Riou!" he whispered vehemently, "Do you hear that?"
Riou looked at him, eyes wide. "Captain Rowd," he agreed. They looked up, concealed by the barrels, and continued to listen.
"The ambush worked perfectly, My Prince."
The Prince laughed violently. He was a terrifying young man with glistening armor and long shaggy black hair. He had the unfortunate reputation amongst some Highlanders as Mad Prince Luca, and now Jowy could see why. The prince seemed almost euphoric with the news. His mouth was the wide, split smile of a scarecrow, and his whole body shook with the laughter. "Poor victims of the State's 'betrayal,' eh? I wish I had joined the ambush. All I've had to fight lately is that old man. I'm getting rusty." He swung his hefty sword at a barrel, red fish heads spilling out of it like someone's intestines. Jowy again thanked the heavens that they were hiding behind the other barrels of fish.
"Y…yes," Rowd hesitated, "I mean no, no. Prince Luca's swordsmanship is truly unmatched. My men would look like fools."
Luca didn't bother to turn to Rowd as he spoke. He slashed through burning thing after burning thing around him, marking every other word with a blow so strong, it would utterly devastate whatever he was hacking into. Rowd and his men flinched every time. "Yes, well, the young men served their country well enough. Now we don't need a peace treaty with those State weaklings!" Jowy froze and could feel the hair on the back of Riou's neck stand up as Luca got closer and closer to their hiding spot with every swing. They ducked down further, making themselves as invisible as possible. Luca's swing rate seemed to be increasing. "I'll prove they're no match for the power of Highland!" He howled the last word like a demented wolf, and stuck his sword straight down into the barrel of fish hiding Riou. Jowy instinctively turned his eyes - too afraid to move his head - to Riou, who was staying still, obviously frightened out of his wits. Jowy sent another silent, desperate prayer to the heavens.
But the Mad Prince didn't notice the two boys. He laughed the Laugh of the Insane and practically danced back over to a terrified Captain Rowd.
"I agree sir." Rowd finally got the courage to say, "With you in command, Prince Luca, Highland can finally earn the glory it deserves!"
Luca stopped his dance as if stunned, and walked slowly over to Rowd, eyes crazed. Jowy saw a pool of wetness appear on the ground at Rowd's feet where there wasn't one before. Rowd's body trembled with each step the prince took. Then he bent down, twisted, and stuck his face so close to Rowd's their noses almost touched.
Then the prince laughed. Again. Right in Rowd's face.
Rowd nearly fell in relief and began to laugh himself a tired, frightened laugh. He looked over at his men pleading, and they all joined in the feigned laughter too.
Jowy knew that in this moment the prince and Rowd were loud and distracted, but the moment wouldn't last long. "What the hell?" he whispered at Riou.
Riou spared no moment. "Let's get out of here, Jowy."
"You're right, Riou. But if we go east, we'll be killed. That leaves the cliff to the north. Maybe we'll be able to escape if we climb up the cliff. Run north, Riou!" Jowy fought the stupid, juvenile urge to steal the prince's sword before running fast as an elf to the north. He didn't look back.
As the boys ran the winding uphill road of the once peaceful and beautiful Tenzen Pass, Jowy's mind was a blur of questions and confusion. What the hell was Rowd doing? The Liar! He had trusted him as his captain! They all trusted him! And the prince! What was the prince doing attacking his own country? His company! For god's sake, they there they Youth Brigade! They were boys - children! And now everyone was dead! He looked over at Riou, running like a champion, not once showing a hint of complaint. Everyone but me and Riou, he thought. They can't get us. They will never get us. Though Jowy felt his perfectly established world crumble around him, he knew this fact would always stand firm.
They stopped at the cliff, doubled over heaving and gasping. "Are…you…ok, Riou?"
Huffing, Riou looked up at Jowy and smiled weakly. Jowy smiled back, satisfied that his friend was okay. Then he caught enough breath to stand and case his surroundings. The cliff before them was a steep drop to a deep, fast-rushing river. The waterfall of Tenzen Pass pounded down the opposite cliffside in warning, making white water where it joined the river below. That wasn't good.
Jowy looked up at the cliff above him. It was too high, too steep, too smooth, and it was too dark out to risk climbing it. Besides, the cliffside going up was perfectly visible from the firepit that was once the camp. If Luca and his men stopped laughing long enough to notice them…well, they couldn't climb fast enough without rope and tools to make it to the top before meeting an arrow from one of Highland's Finest.
Highland's Finest. He scoffed at the thought.
Either way, they couldn't go up. He looked back down at the river below…
"That's it. Okay, Riou. We have no choice. We have to jump for it."
Riou stood and took a second to look around. He sighed and met Jowy's eyes, determined. "I guess there's no other way."
"Okay." Jowy took the biggest breath of his life and sighed out all of his fear. He knew very well what could come. He walked over to a large monolith at the base of the rising cliff. He raised his staff, with dragons crafted out of metal at each tip. The dragons looked up at him, waiting for their command. With one swift downward move, he made a diagonal mark in the monolith. Then he turned around slowly, and looked back at Riou. "If we make it…but…somehow get separated, let's return to this spot. That way we'll be reunited. Promise me, Riou." His request was half a command, half a solemn pleading void of all emotion. He would allow himself to break down later, but right now, he had no room for emotion.
Riou took his Twin-Fang Tonfar and walked to the monolith with the nobility of a king. He raised one tonfar and looked pointedly at Jowy. It was the second time Riou's looks had caught Jowy off guard that night. Without breaking his gaze, he sliced through the rock, like soft cheese, leaving a mark crossing over Jowy's in a grand "X."
Riou put down his tonfar and was himself again. Jowy gathered himself back up from Riou's pointed gaze and became himself again too. "Let's go, Riou."
And together, the two childhood friends walked to the cliff as men, looked again at eachother, for neither knew when they would see eachother next, gripped their hands together, nodded in unison, and jumped into the white water of the Tenzen River below.
Damn, I really felt Luca breathing as I wrote this chapter. He has always been a menacing bastard, and now I'm seeing how fun it's going to be to write him. I hope you all enjoyed Chapter 1 (completed 9/8/08) Stay tuned for Chapter 2 coming soon!