Summary and Preview
This story is loosely based on some of the history surrounding Japan before it was one nation. Back then, small warring nations fought for territory, food, religion, and unified rule of the whole country. During this time, Chinese culture was having a great effect on how various nations were setting up their ruling classes. Added into that mix were Chinese religions, martial arts, intrigue and politics. RAIKA starts out with a war being brewed between the small nations of Yamatai and Kuna.
Queen Himiko, who created the country Yamatai and keeps it together through her mixture of politics and religion, is on her deathbed. By her side, attempting to offer her succor in a manner rather unassuring to the reader, is Chosei, the Imperial military consultant from Gi (China). Himiko's heir apparent is Iyo, one of her virgin priestesses. Iyo is off by herself in the forest relaxing when Raika, Otaji, and Utsuki stumble upon her. Before they are able to show themselves, Kiji-no-hiko, Queen's Himiko's protector, comes upon Iyo. Raika and friends are forced to intervene when Kiji-no-hiko attempts to rape Iyo to force her to join with him in ruling Yamatai when she succeeds Himiko. In the ensuing battle, Otaji loses his arm and Raika manages to scar Kiji-no-hiko on his face. When Iyo flees the scene during the battle she leaves her nagatama bead necklace which Kiji-no-hiko broke.
The scene shifts to Kumaki mountain, where Raika and his fellow orphans have been raised and trained by Master Roshi. While Roshi is treating Otaji's injury, he realizes that the people of Yamatai must be trained in shinsenjutsu. This alarms him because he thought he was the only one from Gi in the area (much less the only one who knew shinsenjutsu in the area).
Raika is still thinking about Iyo while twirling her necklace. He decides to return it to her and heads off, against the orders that he had to stay on the mountain. This is Raika - as rash and as powerful as lightning. Raika arrives at what serves as Yamatai's palace in time to see Himiko berate Iyo viciously for losing her necklace. Raika "drops in" and returns the necklace and leaves just as Kiji-no-hiko arrives. Kiji-no-hiko and the rest of Himiko's guard chase after Raika. Escape seems possible, until Himiko uses her power; even so, Raika is only stunned and not killed. He is angry enough, as he falls, to shatter the wood near Himiko's head by his will alone. Kiji-no-hiko attempts to kill Raika again; however, Iyo leaps in the way of the thrown dart and takes it instead of Raika. At this time, Master Roshi shows up to collect Raika, putting everyone else to sleep. As Roshi and his kids leave with Raika in tow they have a brief encounter with Chosei. Chosei is left wondering who this old man is who knows shinsenjutsu.
Although the beginning seems humble enough for such action/adventure stories, things rapidly build up. Raika is forced to adapt himself to far greater skill levels as he confronts opponents. He also has to come to terms with the choices he has made by following Iyo. Iyo is to become a queen, a leader for the people, a focus for their religion. It is in her spirit and soul. Raika struck out supporting her and now has to make sure that his actions are the right ones. All of his companions are forced into a constellation trying to figure what is firm ground and what is not. Even Kiji-no-hiko has to change his role when confronted with what his nation and his world have become.