The old man stumbled along the sidewalk. He was dressed in grey shall, and blended perfectly into the Tokyo smog. His soft shoes swished almost silently on the concrete while his walking staff met the ground with a distinct click. The sun was rising to noon and a group of school children played a game of hide-and-seek in a nearby playground. The old man sat calmly on a wooden bench, painted a deep green, the greenest thing in sight. He reached into the weathered pocked of his linen pants and withdrew a handful of breadcrumbs, and began to scatter them amongst a flock of pigeons cooing and fluttering on the blacktop.
A child ran by, inadvertently frightening the group of birds. The old man sighed and dropped the rest of crumbs onto the ground. Realizing what he had done, the child apologized, stuttering in a thick American accent, ``Su- sumimasenga.''
The old man chuckled warmly, ``Your Japanese needs work.''
``Your English is very good - you don't even have an accent!'' The child sat down on the pavement looking up at the gentleman.
``Languages are easy when you're my age.''
``Yeah...'' the boy traced his fingers in a patch of dirt littering the asphalt.
``Tell me, do you know the legend of the Mortal Kombat Tournament?'' There was a clear cheer in the elderly man's voice.
``Well, I'll tell it to you then. It's a very old tale - most of your friends here probably don't even know it. And then you can teach it to them!'' The man smiled.
The boy nodded earnestly and grinned broadly, and the old man readied himself for a long tale...
``Long ago, when the universe was new, everything existed together and intermingled in a primordial cloud of energy. Out of nothing, and yet out of everything formed the One Being - the essence from which everything else is drawn.
``But, this Being saw fit to split itself and, with that, all of reality. And from the One Being came hundreds of realms; dimensions teetering onto one another all separated by a thin, magical veil. And with these realms formed thousands of gods; commanding the elements and every law of creature and nature.
``The realms were initially created in perfect balance. There is the realm of sheer happiness and awe: the Heavens. And countering it is the realm of utter despair and hopelessness: the Netherrealm. There is a dimension of pure entropy and chaos: Shogai. And opposite that, the realm of perfect order and law: Seido. There is a terrifying world of war and destruction: Outworld. And countering that there was a realm of peace and harmony: Edenia. And along with all those worlds were hundreds of realms of potential: dimensions that, like Earth, had within them the ability to become like the Heavens, the Netherrealm, Shogai, Seido, Outworld, or Edenia.
``However, the ruler of the sphere of Outworld, the terrible Emperor Shao Kahn grew bored of just his realm. He soon discovered the means to break down the barriers between other dimension; and proceeded to do so.
``With armies of soldiers and sorcerers at his command, Shao Kahn overtook dozens of worlds. Worlds like Ba'Renma, a place inhabited by men with the bodies of horses. Dimensions like Va230;ternus, filled with winged people stuck in the shadows. Realms like Zaterra, inhabited by scaly, green, clawed creatures that could fade into invisibility. Worlds you could never imagine.
``When he entered another world, all Shao Kahn needed to do was gain possession of a single item: a little bauble called a ``kamidogu.'' Within this trinket was the right - the mystical right - to control the realm and shape it to one's whim. He collected hundreds of these kamidogu and merged them all with that of Outworld, and, in the process, increased Outworld's volume to a size that makes Earth look like a grain of sand.
``But, inevitably, the Emperor made a mistake: he entered the realm of Edenia. A war flared within that world for close to a century; Edenia's armies lead by the their queen, Sindel. Now, despite her title as the Queen of Peace, Sindel was a very accomplished general and warrior, and had developed quite a rivalry with Shao Kahn as the war echoed forth. However, even her greatest soldiers fell, and Shao Kahn moved to claim Edenia as his own. But Queen Sindel and her king, Jerrod, were very smart and had their most skilled magicians enchant Edenia's kamidogu to ensure that it could only be controlled by Edenian royalty, and hid it away where the Emperor would never find it. Enraged, the Emperor killed King Jerrod.
``Fearing less for her own life, and more for that of her people - who had already been decimated - and especially for the life of her daughter, Sindel made a deal with Shao Kahn. She promised her hand in marriage to Shao Kahn - a marriage that would make him Edenian royalty - in exchange for a promise that her daughter's life would be spared. Shao Kahn agreed and the two were soon married.
``The night after their wedding, though, Sindel through herself from her castle's highest tower, before Shao Kahn could learn the location of the kamidogu. They say she never hit the dirt, because her body was never found. Shao Kahn, however, was a man true to his word, and never harmed Edenia's princess, Kitana.
``However, the gods took notice when Shao Kahn merged Edenia into his ever-growing Outworld. And when the Realm of Peace was no more, engulfed by the Realm of War, the Elder Gods declared that if any realm wished to invade another at any point in the future that first a tournament must be won. Every generation the greatest fighters from both worlds - the invading world, and the world to be invaded - would meet at place between both realms and battle in a series of one-on-one fights. If one realm won the tournament ten generations in a row, it could enter and invade the other. The tournament was called ``Mortal Kombat.''
``Over the years Shao Kahn's greatest fighters took over still more realms, even when abiding by the rules of the tournament. And soon, every single realm of potential had lost to the terrible Emperor...save for one: Earth.
``One of the prizes that the champion of the tournament would get was life. The Elder Gods would grant him or her immortality until the next tournament. And thanks to this and an amazing warrior - the Great Kung Lao, a Shaolin Monk from China - Earth was able to remain safe for centuries. However, it was not too long ago that the Great Kung Lao died - lost in battle.
``And, since that tragic loss, Earth has been defeated in Mortal Kombat nine times...'' The old man let out a sigh. ``So always remember, young boy: live life to the fullest, because any day could be the day that Earth loses in Mortal Kombat.''
The boy stood up nodding, and trying not to laugh at the old man's obviously insane rant. He bowed humbly, ``Domo arigato...Sayonara.'' And he ran off.The old man frowned, knowing how crazy his story seemed. He stood up, grabbing his walking staff, and heading back toward the sidewalk. As the sun struck his eyes, he reached over his shoulder and pulled a tan, stitched, coolie hat that hung on his back up and onto his head, and continued his way down the Tokyo street.
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