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Beasts of Tygrontuk
by Thomas Tuke

Despite advances in the research of ESP-related illnesses, failure to cure Usheana Mano of the mysterious coma-inducing virus was taking its toll on Ryuken’s spirit. The quest to find Jacobi and the truth on Usheana’s condition had reached another dead end. Pawaikohai was recovering well after the Bakakuma attack and Hanale Mano took time to settle his business’s affairs. On this rare quiet day to dull his self-doubt, Ryuken attempted to pacify a nagging curiousity by teleporting away to his old home in the House of Thurzo, Nishin Genma’s notorious facility where Ryuken was trained as a youth, where none other than the infamous Genma Visage experiments that transformed him took place.

Hiking up the hill on the dismal rainy day, the drizzle was clearing by the time he reached the streets of the House of Thurzo. Nishin Genma had long fled this place, with members in hiding, perishing during the Genma insurrection or arrested and put on trial by Shuromij’s authorities. Law enforcement had ransacked the area of vital properties, documents and more, and having cordoned off the pathways at the bottom of the hill, the House of Thurzo was completely abandoned. Ryuken would comment it hadn’t aged since he was last here 6 years ago before the Genma Visage ritual, but absent of life, the feeling of treading the grounds of ancient runes was all too apparent.

Cigarette in hand, neither nostalgia nor sentimental values brought up warm emotions in Ryuken, certainly not from this house of defeated values, where young children were taught to be killers and unthinkable monstrosities were later created in life-support cylinders. Yet he tried to consider reflective meditation to be a key to inner peace even for a Mutant Demigod as vandalised as him, and it was his curiousity that led him here in the first place. As he walked across the facility, memories of where he was born, where he went to train and the detailed histories of modern and historical tutors who raised important buildings across the site were all coming back to him. What was catching Ryuken’s interest most of all was the reminiscing of the House of Thurzo’s very first founding which drew him down the path to the Statue of the Unnamed Mother.

3 thousand years ago, Thurzo himself was once a great Philosopher of multiple sciences, but the invasion of the Interstellar Ogoncho Empire forced him and his close colleagues to flee his great academic home only to perish abroad. Amidst the chaos, pirates and cutthroat black market merchants took residence on the old premises, flourishing in brutal illegal activity. The Unnamed Mother was a prostitute who disobeyed commands to try and find her lost baby and was put to death in the reptile pit.

This event in the House of Thurzo caught the psychic attention of a Nishin Genma grandmaster Malekal Inkitar whose Hamurabi faction was on the path to restore order to the land after the fall of the Ogoncho Empire. Nishin Genma conquered the House of Thurzo and had the pirates put to death. Later touched by the tale of the Woman’s struggle, Malekal raised a statue to commemorate her memory. The House of Thurzo became a fortress for Nishin Genma as they helped rebuild a post-war Shuromij while inviting the descendants of Thurzo and his colleagues back to study in their former home. Between the great thinkers in the halls, much scientific advancement was made over the next few thousand years, including transforming the surrounding desert landscape into habitable towns and forests.

Yet, in Ryuken’s eyes, none of this history excused the Nishin Genma of today or the horrors they committed for the Genma Visage. He was overwhelmed by the fury at how his former masters lead him like a puppet on a string, how the late Grandmaster Cassius kept Ryuken as confused and tortured as possible so that others in Nishin Genma could take advantage of him.

Gathering his emotions, Ryuken then realised that it was not curiosity on his mind that led him back to his former home, but a faint mysterious signal that he somehow had a connection with. Whatever it could be, he thought, it seemed to grow louder the more he journeyed to the lower half of the House of Thurzo.

With cautious eagerness, Ryuken followed the siren call to the ruined, rubble-layered Garootlan section of the House containing the palaeontology libraries and the aquatic research labs connected to the defunct Hydro Plants. There, he could see that the signal was coming from a barricaded museum adorned with dinosaur imagery. It was strangely untouched by the authorities doing the sweeps of every building in the huge facility as if they just walked right by it. But Ryuken’s powers could see this closed-off door was an illusion of which only he could unveil. As Ryuken drew closer to the door, the signal was now like the vague beckon of a young child, and the link he had with it was something he had to understand when this day was over.

He harnessed his powers, placed two hands on the door, and a bright flash engulfed him as a lost section of the House of Thurzo was revealed.

A dynamic premonition was the first thing to assault Ryuken’s mind on his quest. Before his eyes flashed the origin myth of the Shurokiu people, how the great Hydra god Nishin herself gave birth to the universe and spat out the vessels of Ut and Oh. The Ut vessel was navigated by Hybrid life forms who held the seeds of life and organic matter. The Oh vessel was commanded by constructs wielding the power of the many elements of air, fluid, force and energy. The two vessels collided into each other and crashed landed on the floating world of Shuromij, then a barren rock. Upon exiting the ships and facing off, it was the youths of each party that greeted each other and ensured peace between them. Then, releasing their energies, Ut and Oh became one and gave life to the world of Shuromij, from the many plants and animals to the weather and ocean, and so much more. Having performed Nishin’s bidding, the Ut Oh families expired and merged into the soil beneath, the spirits living on in the world of their creation. But before they joined their families, the two youths performed one last task. They pooled their last ounces of power into the formation of the legendary Sword of Utoh. Command over organic, spiritual energies as well as the elements was channelled into this blade of godly strength. Myths foretold that one day if the world was ever thrown into chaos and disarray, this legendary weapon would bring back light and order and restore peace to the Shuromij people, led by the chosen hero worthy enough to wield it.

The vision ceased and Ryuken found himself in one of Nishin Genma’s hidden museums, adapted from the tunnels built by the smugglers thousands of years earlier. The Demigod’s cynicism was quick to creep back onto his judgement as he assessed the premonition and why Nishin Genma would really have an interest in the sword of Utoh. Nevertheless, Ryuken was most impressed by the archaeological findings of the ancient Tutoon province, drawing attention to the era’s trademark mythological hero. The Sword of Utoh was believed to have been wielded by Tygrontuk. His saga began in the Towering Lair of the Dragon Jaruuz. In the ancient kingdom of Tutoon millennia before the invasion of the Ogoncho Empire, King Burud and Lord Sabrevault raged war across the land, hungry for total control over the whole Kingdom. Serving the Dragon Jaruuz who descended from the Orion constellation to bear evil gifts to his followers, the two Heralds performed their master’s will and commanded an army of blackened steel barbarians, dark magicians and a bestiary of fiendish monsters. After a troubled history with these invasive forces, the hero Tygrontuk in the employ of the wild desert King Deeshy one day uncovered the legendary Sword of Utoh that unveiled itself from simple rags from an unwary merchant. Armed with the weapon to turn the tide of battle and restore peace to his land, Tygrontuk and his allies took up the opportunity to explore a hidden passage into Kind Burud’s domain, where they could infiltrate the tower of Jaruuz and slay the dragon benefactor in its own lair. After a long drawn out quest of many tricks and traps up the tower and hard-fought battle, the Sword of Utoh was fatally plunged into Jaruuz’s bosom and dissipating much of its vast magical power, its reign of terror was over. Lord Sabrevault had been slain and King Burud later captured and imprisoned for his crimes. Tygrontuk and his allies were heroes to the people. After so many years, the deaths of his village, the old Tutoon king and his own parents had been avenged.

Tygrontuk’s life story didn’t stop there. He met many more perils along with new friends and foes in further adventures, including Jaruuz’s Return and the Musical Nightmare, the Obesema Horde, the Barbaric hands of the Valkyrien Legions, the Wisdom of the Other Side and the Forbidden Catacombs at the root of the Valkyrien Mount Terror. In the 7th final instalment, however, the Wrath of Orion spelt the end of Tygrontuk himself. In a downward spiral of betrayal and demise of close allies, Tygrontuk faced off against the formidable warrior-wizard Orion, who pursued a bloodline vendetta against the veteran hero and aimed to plunge the Kingdom of Tutoon into darkness once more. In the final battle, Tygrontuk sacrificed himself and the sword of Utoh to save his people, colliding with Orion’s ultimate attack and completely vaporising the two of them in a cataclysmic explosion. Tygrontuk was no more. His legend was left to memory and his descendants lost in the murky waters of time. Whether concrete evidence would one day unearth the existence of such a man was yet to be seen.

Ryuken wasn’t getting his hopes up. Even through the scrys of top psychics, much of the history books suggested the myth of Tygrontuk was just metaphorical hype to give glamour to the civil war in ancient Tutoon between the legions of the real Sabrevault and the much-favoured albeit pompous King Deeshy. So far, there was no proof that many characters from Tygrontuk to King Burud ever existed. Adding further doubt on whether the hero was real was how Shurokiu media had blown it far out of proportion, reducing the legend to cheap entertainment for the young masses. But as Ryuken uncovered more intricately detailed accounts preserved in cabinets along with armour and the skeletal fossils of the fabled adversaries of the legend, Tygrontuk’s existence was increasingly damning. Most damning of all was scientific leftovers and photographic documents that implied Nishin Genma had once again been playing God. They genetically recreated several of these otherworldly monsters of Jaruuz’s bestiary from their ancient remains before incinerating them, all for a bigger plan in mind.

Suddenly, the same voice not unlike a child that drew Ryuken all the way to the secret halls beneath the House of Thurzo spoke to him once more. With the full clarity of words, the voice was somehow familiar to the Demigod and warned him of the incoming dangers moving through the many passageways of the labyrinth. At first, the voice was delighted to meet the suspicious Demigod while confirming Tygrontuk’s existence and making mention of a lost story to the legend unknown to the history books. Luring Ryuken through the tunnels to a large chamber, the Voice briefly summarised the tale of the Beasts of Tygrontuk. Even after the great dragon’s defeat, Jaruuz’s minions had infiltrated much of ancient Tutoon’s society from political ministries to the humble farms, all armed with daggers of revenge ready to be plunged into the hero’s back. In anxious desperation, Tygrontuk turned to reclaimed magic from the spoils of Jaruuz’s loot, and conjuring the spells, he summoned forth physical manifestations of his inner animals representing his struggles. They took the forms of a large hunting dog, a lioness, a rock python, a bullfrog and a bipedal monitor lizard, all armed with extra quills, arm spikes and mutative organic weaponry. Tygrontuk intended to tame these wild creatures and use them as allies in his quest against further invasions of Tutoon. But alarmed by the docile, sentient nature of the beasts, Tygrontuk felt the guilt of playing the creator needlessly and realised the greatest enemy he needed to defeat was himself. Consoled from his inner rage, he allowed his new friends to live out their lives in the hidden depths of the forests, free from harm up until the day they passed away.

Recently in the present, Nishin Genma’s archaeologists uncovered the Beasts remains along with the priceless artefacts that they had been guarding. Ever curious to push scientific and historical boundaries they genetically resurrected the Beasts of Tygrontuk, lobotomising them to bring out the full potential of their power and ferocity. With the former benevolence polluted, these raging animals had now broken free of containment and were racing through the labyrinth underneath the House of Thurzo, ravenous to escape and head down the hill to feast upon the populace. As the gates shut behind Ryuken, the Voice didn’t enjoy leading the Demigod into a trap, having every ounce of confidence that he would win this battle. But Ryuken was both furious and suspicious of what the real plan behind all this was, and how curious this would happen just after the Genma Visage and Nishin Genma’s downfall.
The 5 Beasts of Tygrontuk were soon upon Ryuken.

After an adrenaline-filled battle with much dodging, ducking and the parrying of blows, Ryuken felled each and every beast with single strikes to their heads and neck joints. Slumping to the ground, the fight was over, yet Ryuken was quickly startled when he realised that he could not absorb their soul energy like he would in most fights. The life force that expired from their bodies were dissipating deeper into the labyrinth, almost as if they belonged to something else, and Ryuken was curious if this battle was deliberately staged as part of a bigger plan. The Voice gave its congratulations on Ryuken’s victory, but now the Demigod was demanding to know the Voice’s identity. Still, it remained silent on his request but promised to reveal all as soon as Ryuken looked into one last sanctum on the research into Tygronuk. There he would find the real plan at work.

In that inner sanctum, from ancient handwritten letters that could only be read with a Scry, Ryuken discovered the truth on Nishin Genma’s involvement in this history, for it was all a cover-up. Tygrontuk was real, and his close historical figures could have achieved much more in their lifetimes, but early Nishin Genma scholars within that period saw no benefit to allowing a rival nation’s accomplishments to overshadow theirs. Worse, their interest in the legend had little to do with the hero himself or even the pale replica sword he wielded. Their main interest was in one of his earliest foes. King Burud was a monarch for the dragon Jaruuz who lost it all when his army was exhausted and palace besieged. He spent the rest of his life in slavery in the manure pits by King Deeshy’s orders. But in the end, it didn’t matter, for most of all Burud was zealous scholar for Nishin Genma, making a pilgrimage to foreign shores to catalogue information that his descendants would one day find useful many millennia later. Although only a lackey for the dragon Jaruuz, ironically Burud used him as he did many others to gain and hide important research into conjuring of magic and monsters to aid Nishin Genma’s age-old quest for the ultimate weapon. No one, not even Lord Sabrevault could predict how twisted and devoted he was to his true cause or understand the hidden sphere of influential infiltration he had on the nation’s populace. Even from behind bars, Burud exercised unbelievable control over the Tutoon nation and it was thanks to him that it never became a considerable economic power for some time.

Towards the very end of his life, Burud accumulated his research into a final dastardly package. Taking in living sacrifices, using the combined power of Jaruuz and Tygrontuk’s many foes he gave birth to the warrior-wizard Orion. It was of no consequence that Burud himself perished in the onslaught, above all else it was goal to eliminate Tygrontuk. Later through the ages, Nishin Genma would uncover Burud's hidden work and continue where he left off. Ryuken rumbled with further fury. It was horrible enough that people perished even after the Hero had saved the day, but was Nishin Genma’s descendants that sick that they wished to recreate such a legacy?

The truth was even more unsettling as the Voice opened up one more doorway leading to an abandoned laboratory in the heart of this monumental labyrinth. There, upon seeing two large eggs in a giant incubation pod, the horrific truth was beginning to unravel. In order to give vitality and complete the Jaruuz-Orion manifestation, Nishin Genma combined Burud's research with their knowledge in cloning and the research into the Gilgamesh formula, that grants a subject super strength at the cost of the well-being of their offspring. Suddenly, the eggs cracked and breaking out of the shell and the incubation pod, the two blackened monstrosities launched into the air and landed just before the Demigod. It was a rare sight to see Ryuken freeze in horror. He now knew why he felt a connection to this place and how the Voice was able to link with him. The Voice was the shared conscience of these two creatures, and wielding the combined power of Jaruuz, Orion and the Gilgamesh formula, they were also clones of Ryuken himself.

When his father Lishen was subject to the Gilgamesh formula and after it yielded poor results on his son Ryuken, Nishin Genma’s experts didn’t give up on their research. While Ryuken pursued his own training in the psychic arts, genetic samples were taken off him before and after the murder of his parents on Earth where he first transformed into a Drago visage. The clones that were then created from the samples and welded to the old research from King Burud himself represented the innocence and experience of Ryuken’s youth, yet both clones had a capacity for great evil. This facility was abandoned after the Genma Visage insurrection and this project never saw its final completion. When Ryuken himself ascended into a Demigod, the psychic link he had with his own cells in these clones awakened the dormant conscience of the Voice. Now with a life of its own, the Voice was horrified to see that power beyond the defunct power grids was slowly being absorbed into its own machinery to empower the clones escape. Now that they had broken free from their chambers, these bloodthirsty berserkers would run amok across Shuromij and it was up to Ryuken to stop them.

The clones, or brothers rather, of Innocence and Experience were enraged and vented their fury on Ryuken, beating him throughout the labyrinth, forcing him to fall back and dodge a barrage of their energy blasts; magic from the Jaruuz legend. They howled away in their assault. Blocking and taking many blows, this was one of Ryukens hardest fought battles in his recent memory. Although the combined force of Jaruuz, Orion and Gilgamesh was insufficient to cause much harm to a Genma Visage Demigod, the brothers were still Ryuken’s flesh and blood, the only ones in existence, and feeling extra defiled once more, he took no pleasure in ending the life of creatures that were bred only to die. But the Voice insisted this was the only way. The Voice had no control over these things and didn’t wish to be doomed to a life of watching with eyes wide open to the atrocities they committed and butchery of innocents. Yet, the Voice understood Ryuken’s inner turmoil perfectly, along with his frustration not just with Nishin Genma but life’s ongoing war between order and chaos. In the end, the Voice goaded the man with the premise that while the past can be misshapen and the future is never certain, present courage and the harnessed control of destiny is never a gift of instant gratification. They are seeds that have to grown, and only he could nurture it.

Denouncing the quick temptations that law and anarchy promised, Ryuken agreed that there was only one way for his brothers to live on, and that is within the spirit in his own heart. Uttering a saddened sigh, Ryuken finally delivered a fatal blow squarely in the middle of their chests, akin to his own first “death” by the claws of the Chovmods.
Falling into Ryuken’s arms as he kneeled down, the brothers began to devolve back into their children forms. Tears streamed from Ryuken’s eyes as the children looked just like him as a boy. Even in their death throes, the Voice speaking through the lips of the boys was content that Ryuken was strong enough to carry out this daunting task. Finally granting peace, as their life force was absorbed into his, they spoke their final words before passing. “Live well.” Ryuken mourned for the next few hours in the rubble of the decimated labyrinth. The legend of Tygrontuk and Nishin Genma’s wicked manipulation of the tale was finally over.

In the dead of night, Ryuken constructed a funeral pyre for his two late brothers and ceremoniously cremated them under the glow of the full moon. It was the Shurokiu’s if not Nishin Genma’s tradition to lay the dead to rest this way, so that from the ashes, the moon goddess would reach out and hold the hands of the departed to take them on the great journey through the cosmos. For the most part, Ryuken left the House of Thurzo a little wiser than he was when he entered. He recalled the old saying about the Hydra God Nishin; that there was two heads of the same dragon inside every person, one of altruism and one of malice. Throughout life they would gnash away at each other, locked in constant combat for supremacy, and the head that would eventually win the battle was the one that was most fed. Nishin Genma Elites taunted Ryuken that it didn’t matter which one was well fed as they would both kill each other regardless, and in a soul death, the body would be a ripe picking to be used for a future arms dealer.
In Ryuken's hindsight, his experience in the lost section of the House of Thurzo made the Demigod consider that it really takes the full wisdom of a third party to pacify the dragon heads by feeding them the fruits of clarity, of which for a time at least, they would no longer see the conflict between them as the only viable option.

When the funeral fire had burned its course, with dawn on the horizon, Ryuken was still unsure where life would take him as he headed home. He hoped that he would at least see Usheana alive again one day, but in temporary closure, he would meditate in that rare mental serenity for a psychic, where order and chaos don’t matter.

Genma Visage and its related works are Copyright © to Thomas Tuke. All rights reserved.