The Ronin

Discussion in 'Stories' started by Kaiin Retsu, Apr 1, 2011.

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  1. Kaiin Retsu

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    This is a short story that I wrote in high school for a project. The project was supposed to be no longer than 10 pages, and well, I went well over that. Due to the length of the story, which the remainder is still in my mind, I never managed to finish in time, and barely worked on it sense. I plan on finishing it, eventually, if I ever get the urge to do so, so here it is. Comments and critiques will not be on this topic, which is closed, there is a separate topic for that.
     
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  2. Kaiin Retsu

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    The forest rang with the clashes of our katanas.  Rain was coming down on our heads, effecting our footing.  A constant game of block and attack; we were even in skill.  The only thing I noticed was that he seemed more certain of his footing than I.

    Pouring even heavier, the rain was making me lose ground in our fight.  My attacks would not go right where I wanted, and every time I blocked, I slid back.  The tides had turned on me, and this fight was no longer deadlocked.  He was attacking constantly, while my defense slipped away in the mud.

    My fate was realized when a hidden dagger came out from his left sleeve.  The dagger came straight into my side.  As blood followed the blade back to his side, a stinging feeling started to spread from my wound.  It was poison.

    I dropped to my knees, and looked up at him.  He was smiling, knowing his hidden attack had made the kill.  My vision blurred as I looked up into the dark sky, raindrops falling onto my numbing face.

    The sky was the same as that day.  The day I arrived in this town.  This town, which had changed my life.  Although, something was different about the sky this time.

    “Ryo!”
     
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  3. Kaiin Retsu

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    -One Month Earlier-

    The rain poured down hard.  Ryo's face was soaked, due to his weaved hat being torn.  The conditiion of his hat did not bother him, for almost everything he carried with him, excluding his katana, belonged to a foe he cut down, or was bought with money from their dead bodies.  It was too easy to get something new.

    Ryo was a wanderer, just a ronin, or masterless samurai, with a bloody record and nowhere to go.  He knew the rain was not common in this area, and that it would only rain for a few days.  He would have to find a place to stay for the duration of the rain.  The mud sloshed around his sandals as he made his way down the road.  Where this road led, he did not care.  His footsteps were slow and heavy, so wherever the road did lead him, it would be quite a while before he arrived there.

    People had passed him by, yet no one even attempted to greet him on their way by.  It is not like it would have mattered, for Ryo never even looked up at a single person who came by.  He just continued in the same manner as always, slowly and with his head tilted down.

    He had been walking for a few hours before he came to the top of the hill outside of a town.  Once getting within view of the town, he looked up and peered over the town, trying to spot a tavern or inn where he might be able to stay in.  One of the buildings, which was on the far edge of the town, stood out from the rest.

    This building was much larger than any other around it and reminded Ryo of some of the nobles’ houses in which he had slaughtered for money.  He did not know what the name of this town was, but it must be one of the major towns in the Owari territory if there was a building like that here.  Past this building was a vast forest, which meant that was Ryo’s best bet for evading the rain if he could not find any suitable place to stay.

    Once again, he began walking slowly towards the town.  The streets seemed to be mostly vacant because of the rain, so he just walked throughout the town without any disturbances.  People often did not take well towards unknown ronin.  He came up to an intersection in the road and stopped to look up at a building.  It appeared to be a tavern in which he could stay.

    As he was looking up at the building, he heard someone coming up from behind him.  “Sir, may I ask you to stand on the side of the road?” asked the man approaching him.  Ryo looked past him at a carriage, which obviously had someone important in it.  There were guards standing around the carriage, all seeming to be on edge.  The four servants carrying the carriage were on their knees, awaiting the orders to start moving again.

    Ryo did not say anything back to the guard but decided he did not want trouble.  As soon as he started walking to the side of the street, the servants lifted the carriage and began walking.  Ryo looked back to the carriage to see who was in it, just in case they seemed worth killing for some money.  As soon as the person inside the carriage was visible, Ryo could not even come to the thought of killing that person for money.
     
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  4. Kaiin Retsu

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    ---------------------------

    It was raining outside Izumi’s carriage.  She just stared outside blankly, wishing she could be out there, enjoying the rain for once.  Her parents had never allowed her to do things that other kids did when she was growing up.  She was nobility.

    Her father and mother had both died a few years ago, yet she never gained her freedom.  There were no other people to carry on their name, so she was the only heir.  Her sessho, or guardian, did not give her the freedom she wished she could have.  He had put on extra protection for her and made sure she lived a “safe” life.  A safe life to Izumi was a boring life.

    She had noticed that there were not many people on the streets because there are usually a lot of people she had to wave to.  Waving to everyone that she passed was not her idea of having a nice trip, yet the only time she did not have to wave was when it was pouring outside.  She had been lost in thought when the carriage suddenly stopped.  She peered outside and noticed a lone samurai standing in the road.

    “M’lady, there is a ronin further up the road.  I will make sure he does not intend to harm you,” informed Daisuke, one of Izumi’s guards.

    “You do not need to be suspicious of everyone wielding a katana.”  Izumi felt that the guards went too far out of their way to help her, even when it was not needed.

    “No, I do not have to be, but I must protect you, Lady Izumi.”  He bowed and started off towards the ronin in the road.  Izumi could not hear what Daisuke said to the ronin, but what ever it was, the ronin obliged.  Izumi watched it all through the small window in the front of the carriage.

    She noticed the ronin turning around to face the carriage, so she quickly sat back into her seat the way she was supposed to.  The carriage had started moving again, but she did not even notice.  She was more focused on the samurai they were about to pass.  Once she was about where the samurai was standing, she smiled.  Nobles should always smile at people that they passed, but Izumi never knew why.

    As soon as he came into her view, she looked right at his face.  He was soaked.  His hair was plastered to the sides of his face, and water dripped down from his chin.  A poor ronin, that was all he was, yet her guards had pushed him around, or at least that was how Izumi saw it.

    Her eyes had met his, and that one moment seemed to last for a while, even though it was but a few seconds.  His stare was intimidating in a way, but she had seen it in a different way.  Izumi kept looking back towards him after they had passed the poor ronin.

    “We should go back and ask him if he needs shelter, or a job even.”  Izumi was not sure if the guards would even consider this, but she said it so every one of them could hear her.  The only sound that came back was the rain.

    After a few seconds, Daisuke responded, “M’lady, we can not be housing someone who may be dangerous.  I have seen his type before, the type to kill for the money.  You are the last heir to your family, we can not put your life at risk for some dirty ronin.”

    Izumi’s face soured, “It is also your duty to do as I wish, did you forget?”

    “Please, Lady Izumi, just let us take you back to the estate, we do not need to bother with someone like him.”  Izumi’s response was her actions; she turned away from him and completely ignored his comments.  “M’lady, please rethink this.  There is no need to help him.”

    “There is no need for you to bring me back to the estate either!”  Even though Katashi, her sessho, would not allow her to have her way, she knew how to get her way with Daisuke.

    After a few minutes of Daisuke being troubled by Izumi’s comments, he finally decided to go back.  “Turn about, we shall head back by Lady Izumi’s orders!”  The peasants set down the carriage, turned around, and then picked the carriage up, now heading in the opposite direction.

    “Thank you, Daisuke.”

    “If I get in trouble for this stunt, I expect to have you take some of the blame.”

    “It is okay, Katashi might get angry, but he is always like that.”  Daisuke had joined the guards when Izumi was young, and had been around her as she grew up.  She often treated him like an uncle, yet he did not like it when it she treated him so.  She was of noble blood, and he was not, and that should stay the way it was, or at least that was the way Daisuke saw it.

    They had traveled quite a bit away from where the ronin had been standing.  No one talked on the way back; they just walked (with the exception of Izumi, of course) and listened to the rain.  Once they got near the last turn where the ronin had been, Izumi put a smile on her face.  Not because it was the nobility code, but because she was able to do something she wanted, for once, to be normal.  As soon as the carriage turned the corner, her smile faded into a gasp.
     
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  5. Kaiin Retsu

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    The face of the woman inside the carriage was of pure beauty.  Ryo could not put the thought through his mind to kill her for money, at any cost.  This had shocked Ryo; he never cared what his target looked like.  He quickly shrugged the thought away, for he had not been ordered to kill her, and she was already on her way.  Ryo noted that the carriage was headed in the general direction of that large building from before.

    After the carriage had left his view, Ryo finally made his way to the tavern.  Looking up at the building, with the rain still coming onto his face, he opened the door, and slowly stepped inside.  He looked around at the nearly empty room.  There were only six men in here, all conversing with the owner, who stood behind the bar.  Upon closer inspection, the men were the ones talking, and the owner seemed more as if he wanted to please them.

    “Ah, hold on one minute, please.  It seems I have another customer.”  The owner walked over to Ryo, who had made his way to the bar.  “What can I get you today, sir?”

    Ryo’s voice came out very low, and his eyes were shut, “Sake.”  He lifted his hat off his head and set it down on the seat next to him.

    “If you do not mind, sir, can you pay now?  There are many people who would take the sake and run.  These are desperate times we live in.  It will be 50 Mon please.”  With his eyes still shut, Ryo reached into his wet kimono and took out a handful of Mon. Not caring how much was in his hand, he gave the money to the owner.  “Ah, this will get you a full bottle, is that okay?”

    Ryo just nodded.  The owner went to fetch Ryo his order.  The other customers moved over towards Ryo, showing off the katanas Ryo did not see when he came in.  Of course, Ryo still had his eyes shut, so was still oblivious to them.

    “So, another ronin who wandered into our territory.  Ha, what are you doing around here?”  The man who talked seemed to be the center of this grouping.  Ryo opened his eyes and just looked at him. The man was obviously drunk at the moment.  “Oh, the strong and silent type, eh?”  He gave a smirk to the others.  “My name is Hideki, and I am a powerful man around these parts.  If you don’t want to get yourself into trouble, I suggest you don't ignore the Yakuza!  Of course, I may overlook you ignoring me, if you become one of my men!”

    The owner had stopped getting Ryo's sake and now just stood there, in terror.  He did not want his store being torn apart.  “I would never work for someone like you.”  Ryo stood up and faced Hideki.

    “Oh, a challenge, eh?”  Hideki had put his hand on his sword, pushing the katana, still in its sheath, forwards a little.

    “If you wish to fight me, let us go outside.”  Ryo had refrained from putting his hands on his katana’s hilt.

    “Ha!  Like it matters where we are!”  Hideki pulled out his katana, and almost dropped to the floor.  He was drunk, so no matter how skilled he was Ryo could take him down.  The first attack came without warning, a fencing style (The katana inside the sheath to begin with) cut sideways, and Ryo did not unsheathe his katana.  Ryo just side stepped and pushed Hideki towards the doorway, then followed it up with a kick to his back.

    With this attack, Hideki went flying out the doors, followed by the 5 other Yakuza members and Ryo.  Everyone now had their katanas in their hands.  Hideki got to his feet slowly, because the rain was still pouring down.   One of the Yakuza screamed out, “You are going to die here, Ronin!”  His words reached Ryo just before his attack.  A vertical slash from above.  Ryo put up his katana in defense, sending the Yakuza member off balance from the shock.  A quick slash, vertically from the right shoulder down to his left side, dropped the Yakuza member.

    With no hesitation, the next Yakuza member came in to attack, hoping to catch Ryo off guard.  Before even getting to go through with his attack, there was a flash of steel, and the Yakuza member’s head came rolling off his neck.  Blood splattered across the road but was quickly cleansed by the rain.  The remaining four Yakuza, including Hideki, stayed back and thought out their attacks.

    “Come on men, we can take him, all three of you, attack at the same time!”  As Hideki came out with these orders, a carriage came rolling around the corner, the same carriage Ryo had seen earlier, with the young lady inside.  Slightly distracted by seeing the carriage, Ryo had almost been hit by the next attack from another Yakuza member.  Barely dodging this attack, he could not counter but instead had to block the next attack from another Yakuza member.  Another attack came from the third Yakuza member, which Ryo dodged with ease.

    The only thing Ryo had not noticed was that Hideki had swung around to the other side of the battle zone and right to where Ryo had dodged.  Hideki's katana pierced through Ryo's right shoulder, disabling his right arm.  Ryo's katana dropped to the ground as Hideki pulled his sword out from Ryo's flesh, causing blood to splatter everywhere.

    With the rain still coming down heavily, Ryo's knees hit the ground hard, and were followed by the rest of his body.  Blood leaked out of his open wound.  His vision began to blur as he heard people running.  Someone had screamed something, but Ryo did not hear what was said.  He passed out in a puddle of mud and blood.

    Time had passed, but Ryo was not aware of how much time had truly gone by.  He awoke in a bed.  Still a little dazed from his wounds, he tilted his head to the side.  He saw a woman faced the other direction.  She turned around, but it was not the young lady from inside the carriage.

    “Oh, you are awake!  I must go tell Lady Izumi, pardon me.”  She stood up, bowed, and quickly went off.  Once he began to realize what was going on, he figured it was not his wound that made him drowsy but was more likely the effects of medicine.  Ryo had been rescued and nurtured back to life.  Putting his right hand down, Ryo pushed to try to get to his feet.

    “Oh!  You must not do that!”  A younger voice came from behind Ryo.  The young lady came running up to him and helped put him back in his rested position.  “Your arm has not completely healed yet, do not strain yourself.”

    “Who...  Who are you?”  Ryo looked at her face, and realized that this was the young lady from inside the carriage.

    “My name is Izumi.  I had my guards rescue you from the Yakuza thugs you had been fighting.  Can you tell me your name?”

    Ryo just turned his head in the other direction.  There was no need to talk to this noble lady when he would leave as soon as he could.

    “I will just wait for your name then.”  He was not facing her, but she seemed to a bit less excited as when she walked in.  Time passed, and both of them stayed how they were.  Ryo was unsure why she had wanted to help him, but he did not want her help.  He also could not escape when she was in the room with him.

    “Ryo.”

    Her voice was quiet, “Oh, well nice to meet you Ryo.”  Izumi laid her head down onto the bed Ryo rested on and fell asleep.  Ryo looked at her, sleeping next to his arm.  He figured this would be his chance to escape.  Even though his arm still hurt, he got up to his feet and stepped away from the bed.
     
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  6. Kaiin Retsu

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    Izumi took in the whole scene at once.  Two men, dead on the ground, and five men standing with katanas in their hands.  She watched in horror as the Yakuza, or at least that is what they looked like, attacked the ronin from before.  “Daisuke, go!” were the only words that could come out of her mouth.

    Daisuke sent off with the other guards without hesitation.  Once the initial shock of the scene was gone, Izumi noticed that one of the Yakuza members was in fact Hideki, an ex-assassin who joined the Yakuza.  She watched as Hideki walked around the other four, who were now all fighting.  Daisuke was about half way to them when the ronin got pierced by Hideki’s katana.

    Izumi turned her face away; she did not want to see the ronin die after coming back for him.  She faintly heard Daisuke scream, “Stop, Yakuza!”  The rain muffled out whatever else was said.  After a few seconds, she turned back to the battle scene.  The Yakuza were nowhere to be seen, and the ronin was being carried back to the carriage.

    Izumi set up the small pillows inside the carriage so that they could lay him down inside.  Since Izumi was from a noble family, she had to be taught in some type of art.  Her teachings were in medicine.  Once the guards came up to the carriage, Izumi directed them what to do and sent Daisuke to get some medicine from the local doctor.  She bound up his arm with one of the sheets inside the carriage, so the ronin would not die of blood loss.

    The carriage was not going as slowly as they normally went but instead went at a running pace.  This made it hard for Izumi to sit up, so she laid down on the other side of the carriage from the ronin.  She looked at his soaked faced with an anguished expression.  Before she knew it, they had arrived at her family’s estate.

    The guards moved the ronin into one of the spare rooms while Izumi went to see Katashi.  “What is the meaning of this?”  Katashi’s voice was irate.  Izumi did not respond; she did not know what to say.  “Well?”

    Her words were faint, “I…”  Just then, Daisuke opened the door.  He came in and sat down next to Izumi.

    “I am sorry, Lord Katashi, I did not do what a guard with my rank should have done.  Do not punish Izumi for her actions; it was I who gave the order, not her.”  Daisuke bowed his head and kept it like that.

    Katashi was surprised by Daisuke’s words.  He knew that this was all Izumi’s actions, but Daisuke would take the blame over her.  “Hmmm…  Well, I will not kick a wounded man out of this house.  It is not my house to do so anyway.  We do not know if he is dangerous or not, so there’s no way I can keep him here once he is able to leave on his own.”  Katashi was still angered but could not do anything about what had already been done.  With this, Daisuke lifted his head, now that Katashi had spoken.

    “Thank you, Katashi.”  Izumi also bowed her head, like Daisuke had.  “I will prove to you that he will do no harm.”  Katashi cleared his throat.  Both Izumi and Daisuke knew that when Katashi cleared his throat, the conversation was over.  No words were spoken, and both Izumi and Daisuke exited the room.  “Thank you, Daisuke.”

    “I am here to serve you, Lady Izumi.  I am sorry, but I must leave now.  I am still in the middle of recruiting people for your guards.”  He bowed and walked away.  Izumi went in the opposite direction, towards her quarters.

    Upon entering her room, Izumi went to the window to look outside.  The rain was still pouring down, but not as heavily as it had been in during the day.  After staring out the window, thinking about the day that just passed, Izumi went to get ready for bed.  The whole time only one person was on her mind.

    A day had gone by, and there was no word on the ronin.  Izumi stopped in to see him a few times, but he had not awoken.  The nurse had given him some medicine to help ease his pain, but the wound was deep and would take a long time to heal.  Izumi was looking outside, the rain still coming down, when the nurse had ran up to her.

    “Lady Izumi!  The patient, he...”

    “He woke up?  I will go see him right away.”  Izumi tried not to run, but she was anxious to see the ronin and maybe talk to him.  She stopped at the door and composed herself.  She opened the doorway and saw the ronin trying to lift himself with his injured arm.

    “Oh!  You must not do that!”  Izumi quickly ran over to him and set him back to his rested position.  She thought to herself, “Why would he try to be moving with his arm the way it is?”

    “Who... Who are you?”  She looked at his face.  It was no longer wet and muddy.

    “My name is Izumi.  I had my guards rescue you from the Yakuza thugs you had been fighting.”  She was curious to see if he would actually talk to her.  “Can you tell me your name?”  His head turned away from her.  “I will just wait for your name then.”  Her voice was softer because she was tired, but she would not leave until he opened up to her.

    A few minutes passed, and a single word jolted Izumi back from a slight sleep, “Ryo.”

    “Oh, well nice to meet you Ryo.”  She laid her head down on the bed.  She was too tired to make it back to her own quarters, and if she slept the night in the room with him, that would prove Katashi wrong about Ryo.  Her eyes slowly shut.

    When Izumi woke up, it was a gradual awakening.  The sun shone brightly through the window into her eyes.  She looked at the bed and quickly realized that Ryo was not where she left him.  The next thing that popped out in her mind was the window.  It was open.  She stood up and ran to the window looking out in every direction.  Izumi's eyes could not find anything.

    A deep voice came from behind her, “The rain is gone.”  Startled, she turned around.  Ryo was sitting in the corner of the room.

    Izumi smiled, “That it is.”  She walked over to where he was sitting, and kneeled on the ground next to him.  “Is your arm feeling better?”

    Ryo moved his arm around a little.  “It does not hurt as much anymore.”

    Izumi looked straight into his eyes.  “So you decided to stay?” came lightly out of her mouth, even though she did not intend to do so.

    “Do not take it the wrong way, if I left now, many people would want to kill me, and I would not be able to defend myself well.”

    Izumi smiled again.  She could tell that he had another reason in staying, but he did not want to tell her that.  “Well then, if you refuse to rest in your bed, then come, let me introduce you to some people.”  She stood up and then helped Ryo get to his feet.  He did not say anything as they walked around the house.  “You probably have never been in a house the size of this one before, right?”

    “I have, to kill the people who lived in it.”

    Izumi did not take that comment seriously, for if that was the truth, then Katashi would not allow him to stay in the house.  “Let that be our little secret, okay?”  Ryo just nodded in response.  As they approached the western part of the building, there were fewer rooms for people to live in, but more rooms for people to work in.  “I want to introduce you to the head of my guards, and a dear friend.”  She opened the door to the guards office.

    “Ah, Lady Izumi!”  Daisuke had been sitting down next to his window when they walked in.  “I heard you outside the door.”  Daisuke looked up and down at Ryo.  Originally, Izumi had said that Ryo might need a job.  This meant working in the guards.  Daisuke looked towards Ryo.  “So it seems you are up and about then?”

    “Yes.  My name is Ryo.”

    “Ah, nice to meet you Ryo, I am Daisuke.  So, Izumi thinks you might need a job, interested in working for me?”

    “I… I do not know if I am staying yet.”

    Izumi wanted to make him decide today, whether he would stay or not.  It would be pointless to get her hopes up for a week or two and then have Ryo leave without a word.  “Ok, Ryo, there is one more person I want you to meet.  Maybe he will come back later, Daisuke.”  Daisuke nodded in response, and Izumi led Ryo out of the room.

    They had reached another hallway when Izumi stopped, and faced Ryo.  Izumi turned her face away, looking worried.  “Is there something wrong Izumi?”

    Izumi was troubled.  Ryo’s meeting with Katashi had to go well, or Katashi would not allow Ryo to stay.  “Ryo, please make sure you act courteously to Katashi and refer to me as “Lady Izumi” and call Katashi “Lord Katashi” ok?”

    “Yes, Lady Izumi.”  He must have understood why she had asked this.  Again, Izumi was smiling.  This was the most she had smiled in a long time.  They continued down the hallway and stopped at the door to Katashi’s office.  Izumi put her hand up to the door.

    As the door slid open, Izumi saw Katashi.  He was sitting up straight with his hands on his desk.  His eyes scanned Ryo.  Izumi hoped that all of this would go well, for even though Katashi did not act like it, his word was the final say.

    “Lord Katashi, I am sorry if I am barging in suddenly, but I thought you would like to meet our guest, Ryo,” Izumi said as both her and Ryo walked into the room and sat before Katashi.

    “Ah yes, please, come in Lady Izumi,” Katashi wore a smile, but Izumi had thought it to be a fake.  “So, Ryo was it?”

    “Yes, my name is Ryo.  It is nice to meet you, Lord Katashi.”  He ended his words with a quick bow.  Surprisingly, Ryo acted well, so she figured that he had been raised to be an upstanding person.

    “Are you well enough to be walking?  Lady Izumi said you would be in bed for a while,” Katashi’s eyes looked over to Izumi, “or was that not the truth?”

    Ryo’s voice came before Izumi’s, “No, my Lord, it was the truth; I just do not like to be in bed for that long, and I am sorry for the inconvenience, Lord Katashi.”  Again, Ryo bowed his head.

    “Oh, no apologies, please, for you have done nothing wrong.”
     
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  7. Kaiin Retsu

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    Ryo was standing next to the window, with the wind blowing in some of the rain.  The rain was lighter now.  Thoughts had been flying throughout his head, mostly about why Izumi treated him so well.  He could leave, right at that instant, yet something held him back.  Never, since he left his parents, had Ryo been treated like this.

    The thoughts that flowed through his mind slowly changed from Izumi, who was lying on the bed, to his mother, who he had lost at an early age.  Ryo’s father worked Ryo hard so he could be strong, but after losing his mother, Ryo had fallen apart.  He hated his father, and loathed him every time he gave Ryo jobs to do, yet on the other hand, Ryo’s mother was the only reason why he lived when he was younger.  His father let his work and the work of Ryo get in the way of taking care of Ryo’s mother.  This was Ryo’s first taste of humanity since he killed his father.

    His feet moved slowly, bringing him to the corner of the room.  Ryo had sat down, staring out the open window.  Although his slumber was very shallow, Ryo slept for a while, until Izumi had awoken him.  She had gotten up suddenly, which aroused Ryo.  If you slept too heavily, someone could kill you in the night.

    Izumi stood at the window, which now had only rays of light coming in.  Ryo knew she was looking for him.  “The rain is gone.”  She turned around, and looked relieved to see Ryo sitting there.

    “That it is.”  She walked over to Ryo, and kneeled down next to him.  Ryo was still thinking about his mother.  “Is your arm feeling better?”

    Ryo moved his arm around to check whether it hurt or not.  “It does not hurt as much anymore.”  He was still looking into her face, just as beautiful as when they had passed each other for the first time.

    “So, you decided to stay?”  The words reached Ryo’s ears softly, and almost too faint to hear.

    “Do not take it the wrong way, if I left now, many people would want to kill me, and I would not be able to defend myself well.”  That was not his true intention.

    Izumi was smiling at him, “Well then, if you refuse to rest in your bed, then come, let me introduce you to some people.”  Ryo watched her stand up, and she stuck out her hand.  He was hesitant for a second but willingly took her help.

    They walked around the building, with her showing him different rooms, but he had not been paying much attention to it all.  “You probably have never been in a house the size of this one before, right?”

    Not thinking about the question, Ryo answered straight forwardly.  “I have, to kill the people who lived in it.”  He quickly realized that was not a good thing to say.

    “Let that be our little secret, okay?”  Ryo nodded.  He knew that no one should know about that, or this better life would no longer be an option for him.  “I want to introduce you to the head of my guards, and a dear friend.”  Izumi slid open the doors to what appeared to be an office inside.  

    “Ah, Lady Izumi!”  A man was sitting next to the window as Ryo and Izumi walked in.  “I heard you outside the door.”  The man inspected Ryo, yet Ryo did not know why.  “So it seems you are up and about then?”

    “Yes.  My name is Ryo.”  Ryo was set back by the man's attitude.  He did not seem to be acting noble.  Upon closer inspection of his attire, Ryo could tell he was a guard.

    “Ah, nice to meet you Ryo, I am Daisuke.  So, Izumi thinks you might need a job, interested in working for me?”

    “I… I do not know if I am staying yet.”  Thoughts of his mother returned again.

    Izumi seemed anxious to bring Ryo somewhere else.  “Ok, Ryo, there is one more person I want you to meet.  Maybe he will come back later, Daisuke.”  Daisuke nodded to Izumi, and she led Ryo out of the room.

    They reached another hallway when Izumi suddenly stopped in front of Ryo and faced him.  She looked worried, and Ryo could not tell why.  “Is there something wrong?”

    “Ryo, please make sure you act courteously to Katashi and refer to me as “Lady Izumi” and call Katashi “Lord Katashi” ok?”

    Ryo quickly realized that this person was not like Daisuke.  This was a person of great importance.  “Yes, Lady Izumi.”  Izumi just smiled at him.  They continued to walk down the hallway and stopped at another door.  Izumi slid the door open, just like before.

    As the door slid open, Ryo saw Katashi.  He was sitting up straight with his hands on his desk.  His eyes scanned Ryo.  This man was instantly intimidating, even to Ryo.

    “Lord Katashi, I am sorry if I am barging in suddenly, but I thought you would like to meet our guest, Ryo.”

    “Ah yes, please, come in Lady Izumi.”  Katashi seemed to be smiling, but seemed to be more of a formal smile rather than a smile for happiness, “So, Ryo was it?”

    “Yes, my name is Ryo.  It is nice to meet you, Lord Katashi.”  Even if Izumi had said nothing to Ryo, just the presence of this man would have demanded a formal tone.

    “Are you well enough to be walking?  Lady Izumi had said you would be in bed for a while,” Katashi’s eyes looked over to Izumi, “or was that not the truth?”

    Ryo spoke out quickly.  “No, my Lord, it was the truth, I just do not like to be in bed for that long, and I am sorry for the inconvenience, Lord Katashi.”

    “Oh, no apologies, please, for you have done nothing wrong.”

    “My Lord, if you do not want me to stay here, that is fine by me, but if you do not mind, I would wish to stay here.”  Not realizing that he had admitted what he refused to earlier, Ryo saw the smile on Izumi's face.  So did Katashi.

    “Very well then, I shall permit you to stay in this house, as long as you do work in some way or form.”  Katashi seemed to be a little less intimidating than when Ryo had first walked in.

    “Yes, my Lord, I have decided to put my only skill, my sword, into Daisuke's guards.”  Ryo looked over at Izumi, who was still smiling.  More thoughts of his mother flooded his brain.  Izumi had the same smile.

    “Yes, if that is what you plan on doing, you must go see Daisuke about that now.”  Katashi cleared his throat, and both Izumi and Ryo stood up, bowed, and left the room.

    “Do you remember where Diasuke’s office was located?”

    “Yes, but I do not understand how I am going to help in your guard with this.”  Ryo raised his arm into the air.

    “Well, regardless, Katashi has made his decision, and told you to go see Daisuke right now, and if I know Katashi well enough, he will be asking Daisuke when you talked to him.”

    “Ok, I will go talk to him now.”  Ryo bowed to Izumi and walked away.  As he walked down the hall, many people walked by him, nodding and saying hi.  This was something Ryo was not used to.  Something was bothering Ryo, but he could not figure it out.  Once he found the door to Daisuke’s office, he opened the door and stepped inside.

    “Well, it seems you have decided to stay with us, Ryo.”  Daisuke now sat at his desk, looking over some papers.

    “Yes, I have, but I have a quick question.”

    “Hmm?”

    “Why is it that there are this many rooms, and a lot of people, here?”

    “Oh, I see Lady Izumi did not discuss this with you, eh?   The West Wing, where we are now, is also a public building.  Izumi’s parents put a lot of money into this village, when they were alive, and they donated this part of the building for many purposes, such as a town hall and a conference room.”

    “Conference room?”

    “Yeah, the men who are more prestige in this town all gather up and discuss what needs to be done in the town, something like this in Japan is a rare sight.”

    “Thank you, for explaining that to me, but there is still one problem.”  Ryo raised his arm, just like before.

    “Ah, do not worry about that, I have already seen your skill in battle, and I can help you train your arm back to strength.”

    “Thank you, Lord Daisuke.”

    “Ok, if you are going to be under me, there is one rule you have to learn, do not refer to me as Lord Daisuke, Daisuke will do fine.”
     
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  8. Kaiin Retsu

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    “Oh, no apologies, please, for you have done nothing wrong.”  Katashi held his smile, being polite to someone he most likely did not like.

    “My Lord, if you do not want me to stay here, that is fine by me, but if you do not mind, I would wish to stay here.”  Izumi smiled.  Ryo had decided to stay.  She looked at him, hoping she could learn more about him, even if he did not talk.

    “Very well then, I shall permit you to stay in this house,” Katashi’s voice was not as strict anymore.  “As long as you do work in some way or form.”

    “Yes, my Lord, I have decided to put my only skill, my sword, into Daisuke's guards.”  Izumi was still looking at Ryo, smiling, as Ryo looked at her.  Her head quickly spun around to face Katashi as he spoke, embarrassed.  She had hoped Ryo did not notice her face going red.

    “Yes, if that is what you plan on doing, you must go see Daisuke about that now.”  Katashi dismissed them in the same way as always, the clearing of his throat, and both Ryo and Izumi got up, bowed, and walked out of the door.  Izumi wondered how Ryo had figured out that that was the way Katashi dismisses people.

    She was not thinking about the question she asked, but it came out anyway.  “Do you remember where Diasuke’s office was located?”  Anything to get Ryo to start talking.

    “Yes, but I do not understand how I am going to help in your guard with this.”  Ryo pointed out his arm being bound in bandages.

    “Well, regardless, Katashi has made his decision, and told you to go see Daisuke right now.”  Izumi did not want Katashi to have any reason to rethink his decision  “And if I know Katashi well enough, he will be asking Daisuke when you talked to him.”

    “Ok, I will go talk to him now.”  Ryo bowed to her and walked away.  Izumi stood there, watching Ryo walk away, and did not notice Katashi open his door.

    “It surprised me at first, Lady Izumi.”  Katashi’s voice came out to her and made her jump.

    “Katashi, is there something wrong?”

    “That man, Ryo, he looks a lot like your father, is this why you have helped him?”

    “No, I did not notice that he looked like my father until he came to see you.  Once he was acting proper, he reminded me of my father.  I am glad I was not the only one who noticed.”  She smiled at Katashi, and looked back down the hall.  Ryo had already left her sight.

    “Ok, please go to your room and get some rest, Izumi.”  She just nodded, and bowed to Katashi, as he did to her.  She walked off down the hall, towards her room.  Thoughts of her parents filled her head while she was walking, although they were strict in her upbringing, they were both loving parents.  Once Izumi reached her door, she stopped, and put her head against the door.  She started to cry because it was hard to think of her parents.  They were both assassinated.  The reason why Izumi has the guards with her at all times is because of this.

    She slid the door open, and looked out her window, into the large forest behind the building.  She thought about when her and her father would play, even when he had to stop doing the important things he had to do.  She was too young to understand exactly what he had to do back then, but it was comforting to think about how he could stop all of his duties to play with Izumi.  She shut her window and walked towards the bed.
     
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