Tationy had been sleeping a lot. She could not find many reasons to keep herself awake not considering the circumstances. The bliss that sleep brought was welcoming to her. She was in that place between the two worlds when a voice kept calling out to her. She wiped the sleep from her eyes as she sat herself up. She was certain that she had been sleeping for days.
Taku was standing at the side of her bed watching her for some time. Eventually she stirred, pushing herself into a seated position as she spoke, “How long have I been asleep?”
“Not sure. Atsuki said he woke you up this morning to eat, but then you went back to bed.”
She considered his words. She thought she had been sleeping for days, but it turned out it was only her mind telling her it had been that long. “I see.” She said.
Taku noticed the disappointment travel across her features, but he kept his contented smile as he spoke, “I was going to go out, would you like to join me?”
“I am allowed too?” She asked.
There was a tone in her voice that Taku chose to disregard. “Of course.”
She pulled herself from the bed which Taku took as a sign that she did indeed wish to join him.
As they were leaving the yard Tationy caught sight of Abe. Even when he was on the baseball team, she had never seen him work so hard. She wondered why he was doing this. She wondered if he had resigned himself to the fact that they were stuck in this world and he was one of her guardians.
Taku had showed her many things within the city. He talked about the world and the culture a bit, but she was not really listening to him. Tationy’s eyes wandered around a lot until they finally stopped at what seemed to be a small park in the center of the city. “This is Mogotoshi.” He stated.
Taku bowed his head in silence as Tationy looked around. It was a giant court yard with many benches. There were people everywhere she looked engaging in various forms of activity. When she finally turned her attention to ask Taku about this place she noticed he had his head bowed.
After several long moments of silence he lifted his head. “Taku what is so special about this place that you would bow your head?” She asked him. It was the first time she had really seen him without his contented smile. He seemed serious.
“This was once a battlefield.” He remarked. “I was about six when the New Aslann Empire was attacked by the Dragon Lords of the Shima.”
“The Shima, I have heard that word before. Tatsuya mentioned it.”
“Tatsuya of the Kari Clan?” He questioned.
“Yes, you know him?”
Taku knew a bit more about Tatsuya because he and Sohma had investigated him after he and Tationy had come in contact. “Just by reputation. What did he tell you about the Shima?”
“Nothing really. He mentioned my name is in their teachings.”
“That is true. Tationy means The Fallen and was the word generally used to describe assassins who failed the great Dragon Lords.”
“So what exactly is a Dragon Lord?”
“The Lords,” He stressed that there was more than one, “Are the rulers of a neighboring nation. The Shima, Kari, Saitama, and Sweela were all assassin clans that were loyal to the Dragon Lords. 3 Great Generals who murdered their ruler and took control of the lands. Their combined might against many nations allowed them to eventually rival Aslann in military force, power, and size once again. The Sweela and the Kari Clans abandoned the nation during our Second Great War against the Dragon Lords. The Sweela chose to work as assassins for the Divine Emperor and the Kari; well no one is really sure what they are up too.”
Tationy’s eyes shifted as she noticed Tatsuya walking toward them. Taku was able to read the look on her face and grew silent as Tatsuya Kari crossed the bridge. He simply nodded at Tationy and continued walking.
“Why don’t you go say hello.” Taku spoke.
“It is alright?”
“Of course.” Taku voiced. He had no intention of letting her out of his sight, but he did not want to smother her like the others were doing.
She had smiled. It was the first time in a long time he had seen it and he watched her walk off after she had thanked him repeatedly. His contact would be arriving soon, so he positioned himself in a spot where he could keep an eye on Tationy, but also allow his contact to find him.
“Hello Tatsuya.” She said as she found him sitting at one of the tables with the odd game upon it.
“It is good to see you again, Lady Tationy.” He remarked. She was so informal with him. Most would call him Lord Tatsuya after all he was the head of the Kari Clan. Not this girl though, she simply referred to him as Tatsuya as though they had known each other for years. Oddly it did not bother him. He was often upset when people called him Suya or even Tat. He had never been happy when people referred to him as just Tatsuya. He had often made it well-known that he was Lord Tatsuya of the Kari and should be addressed as such, but he did not correct her. “Please join me.” Tationy took a seat across from him with a slight smile. “Do you play?” He asked.
She looked over the board. It reminded her of a chess set. “No.” She remarked. “Teach me.”
“It is not such a simple game that can be taught so easily.” He voiced.
“Are you not up for the challenge?” She asked him boldly.
He smiled very briefly before forcing it to leave his face. He was of the Kari Clan; such displays of outward emotions were forbidden.
“It is called Bagola. This piece is the Emperor. Your goal is to protect him.”
“Sounds like chess.” She said.
“Chess.” He repeated as he looked at her. He wanted to ask, but decided not too as he lifted another piece, “This piece is the prince. It is the most powerful piece. These pieces are the guardians that protect the emperor. They are made up of many different kinds of warriors such as soldiers, assassins, generals. These two pieces are the advisers to the emperor.”
Tationy nodded her head, she understood as he explained. It was very similar to chess in many ways and yet had some similarities to shogi as well. She imagined that this was a game that was meant to take hours with two brilliant minds battling each other. She listened to him talk as she examined the board. “Who moves first?” She questioned.
“You do.” He remarked.
“Well then, let us begin.” She said as she lifted a piece and held it in her hand for a moment before placing it on the board. He stared at her in disbelief. She had jumped into it so easily without allowing him to explain any further.
“Do you always jump into everything so rashly?” He questioned as he considered his opening move.
“Just games of logic and strategy.” She voiced.
He chuckled under his breath, but again quickly composed himself. She amused him to no end. “That young man you were with the other night, I thought perhaps he was your consort, but today I see you with a different young man.” He moved his first piece as he went to continue talking, but her words stopped him.
She was looking at the board intently, “They just look after me.”
Tatsuya considered her explanation. He was a great lord of noble blood and yet he hardly walked around with escorts. She had to be someone very important to have people around her constantly. He was more certain now than he had been before that she was someone very important. When he had first laid his eyes upon her he found her interesting, but it was her own eyes that caught his attention. “You have unique eyes.” He voiced as he watched her consider the move she was going to make.
“Heterochromia.” She said without lifting her head to look at him.
He stared at her blinking several times. “Het….Heterochromia.”
“Yeah, it is usually the result of genetics, injury, or disease.”
Tatsuya found her way of speaking rather curious. She used terms that he had never heard before. “Do you know anyone else with eyes like yours?”
“No.” She remarked as she made her next move.
He wondered if she really did not know that the Divine Emperor had eyes like hers. That within the New Aslann Empire that it was a sign of being descended from the Gods. As the game continued he pondered many things about the unusual girl.
He had been watching her intently, but she had barely lifted her eyes to look at him. “What do I say when I win?” She asked him as he took his eyes off of her and looked to the board. The disbelief was shown in his eyes as he stared at the board in disbelief.
Tatsuya wondered how it was that he had not seen it. She had bested him at a game he was proficient in so easily. “Are you certain you have never played before?” He asked as he looked at her.
“Yes.” She remarked, “I am just really good at games like these. Want to play again?”
“That is quite alright, I have been humiliated enough for one day.” He remarked. His words were serious and most might take them as him having been upset, but Tationy did not. “Will you walk with me?” He questioned.
“Of course.” She remarked as she stood and the two walked around the park silently before taking a seat on one of the benches.
“Are you feeling better?” He asked as he remembered how she seemed a bit lost when they had first met.
“Would you like to talk about it?”
“I do though I probably should not.” She voiced as she watched a man off in the distance.
“Something is weighing heavily upon you that much is evident. You should not carry the burden alone.”
“I just do not feel like myself these days.” She responded.
“It is nothing.” She said as she turned to him and smiled. “Tatsuya, may I ask you a question?”
“What are they like?”
“Of whom do you speak?”
“The royal family.”
He was curious why she wanted to know, “I have never had the pleasure of meeting them.”
“Why is that?”
“The Divine Emperor spends his days in his palace with his family. He only speaks to his Adviser Jin these days. The loss of his son must have impacted him greatly.”
“Yes. He was killed by a foreign nation.”
She had a look of surprise on her face for but a moment before her mouth curled in an unpleasant expression. “How do you know that?”
“The adviser announced it to the people many months ago that the prince had been lost to us. The nation mourned.” He was curious why she had such an expression on her face. “Did you hear something about the prince that I am unaware of?” He questioned.
For a moment she was silent and her expression somber, but it quickly faded as she looked to him and smiled ever so slightly. He stared at her, concerned over what that expression meant and why she switched gears so quickly, “No.” She remarked.
Her attention was drawn back to the man off in the distance. Silently they sat and Tatsuya considered many things. “I would like you to come visit me at my house.” He voiced as he stood. It was getting late in the hour and he had spent much of the day with her. Any longer and people would begin to talk though he hardly considered that a bad thing.
“I do not know if I will be able too.”
“Try.” He said with a bow. “It was a pleasure seeing you again Lady Tationy.” Before she could say goodbye to him, he was off in the distance.
Tationy looked around for Taku catching sight of him praying near an alter of some sort. Never once had she imagined him as the religious sort. It was just a sharp reminder of how little she knew of any of the people she was in this time with. She wondered only briefly who it was he was praying next to before he joined her.
“Did you have a nice time?” Taku spoke. It was getting late and he knew that the two of them should be returning home soon.
“I had a nice time.” She remarked. “Who was that man you were praying with?”
Taku eyed her finding it interesting that she had surmised that the two were together, rather than two individuals praying. He opted to speak the truth rather than say he did not know him. “Guiren of the Takahashi.”
“Takahashi, like Sadoo’s Clan?”
Guiren had looked much different from Sadoo. He was thin with hair that looked almost blue from the distance Tationy had been sitting. His skin tone was fairer. “He does not look like what I expected members of the Takahashi Clan to look like.” She remarked after a moment of considering it.
“The Takahashi are not necessarily blood related. Unlike the Hamara and Kensuku clans, the Takahashi make-up a number of different clans which are said to be descended from Cho.”
“Who is Cho?”
“Cho was a legendary warrior who was rumored to have bed a goddess, siring over 100 children. Sadoo’s family line is just one amongst 100 who claim to be descended from the 100 children of Cho.”
Tationy gave a brief nod of her head at the explanation before growing silent. Taku would say nothing at first, considering his words before finally asking. “Are you interested in Tatsuya of the Kari?”
She was surprised by his question, turning her head away from him she pouted. “I am not going to dignify that with an answer.”
Taku brought his hand up toward his mouth, his fingers lightly tapping his lips. He had a playful look on his face, “Perhaps I will tell Abe and Chochi…”
“You tell them anything I will…” She began as she turned to look at him.
“You will what?” He questioned.
“You did that on purpose to see how I would react.”
She stood up from where she had been sitting and he followed suit. She was facing him, “Please do not make things worse by telling them anything unnecessary.” She spoke.
He chuckled, “But it would be fun. You should see the look Abe gets when he thinks he is competing with someone for something. Not to mention, Chochi will not settle for being second. If it drives them to improve, then how can it be a bad thing?”
“I get the feeling you enjoy pitting those two against each other.” She remarked with a sigh.
“They are always in such bad moods the two of them. They have not changed much.” He voiced as he stared into her eyes. He had a soft smile on his face which seemed to wash the unhappy emotions away from Tationy. “Let’s get home.” He remarked as he began to walk with her.
Tationy had stopped outside the large gate that led to the inner courtyard. “You are not ready to go inside?”
“Not ready to see them.” She voiced.
Taku reached down and took her hand pulling her along with him around to the far side where they entered in through one of the other gates. He took a seat on a swing not to far away from the pond after having released her hand. She stared at him for a moment before joining him.
“Everyone is worried about you.” Taku finally spoke.
“Why should they care?”
“We all care very much what happens to you and how you feel.”
“Right, that is why Mr. Nakamaru dragged us here.”
“I think you are misunderstanding.” Taku spoke. “Atsuki did not wish to bring you or the others here until everyone remembered. It was much too dangerous to stay, so we convinced him.”
“Myself, Otoha, and Chochi.”
Tationy turned her head away. She had never considered that anyone other than Mr. Nakamaru played a part in this. “You made a mistake. I am not this prince you want me to be.”
“You do not wear denial well.” Taku voiced. “You speak and understand a language that you should not. By the way how did you fair against Tatsuya of the Kari in Bagola?”
“Of course you did. You are a master at it after all. You and Abe would spend many hours playing together when you were little.”
“It was beginners luck.” She responded.
“You can keep telling yourself that kind of stuff Tationy, but the fact remains you are Prince Tatsuya.”
“Please do not call me that.”
“Why not, it is your name?”
“My name is Tationy besides when I hear the name Tatsuya I think of Tatsuya of the Kari.”
“I cannot believe that any of you expect me to believe this nonsense. We just happen to all be in the same place. All of you just happen to have the same names. I have not ruled out the fact that this is kidnapping and you have me drugged someplace.”
“You are being cheeky.”
“How would you feel if it was you?”
“There have been many times when the others have come to me and told me this story.”
“I believed them.” He said simply. “I have never had any doubts that what they told me was true. There was always something there, lingering that I could not explain. We all felt it. As for our names, this is the first time we have all been reborn with the names you gave us.”
“Names I gave you, what do you mean?”
“None of us were born with these names.” He began, “When we became your guardians we cast aside our given names. We were nothing but nameless guardians there to protect you. When you were little you began to ask us what our names were and we would tell you that we did not have any. This seemed to bother you greatly. So for a great deal of time you considered it and when you were six, you named us: Atsuki, Chochi, Otoha, Sadoo, Taku, Sohma, and Abe. Through the centuries when we have remembered we have resumed the use of those names.”
She was silent. There was a heaviness lingering about her. “When I was born was I given a name?” She asked.
“No. Your father called you Tatsuya. He would not allow your mother to give you a name. When you and Atsuki where alone together he would call you Tationy.” She turned to look at him in surprise. “You did not think we were the only ones with the same names did you?”
“Cannot picture Mr. Nakamaru and me alone together.” She said as she changed the topic.
He chuckled under his breath. She was still calling him Mr. Nakamaru. “You spent a great deal of time together; after all you did love him.”
“You loved all of us in different ways, but it was Atsuki who you first gave your heart too. When you found out that you were to be forced into a union with a member of the Waichia to produce an heir you begged Atsuki to not allow it to happen.”
“I do not understand.” Tationy was obviously very confused by his words.
“You are wondering about you and Abe?” Her silence told him that was what she was thinking about, “It is complicated. I think that is why you are so interested in Tatsuya of the Kari because he reminds you of Atsuki in his younger years.”
She had many things she wanted to know. She wanted to ask why Atsuki was so much older than the rest of them. She wanted to know how she fell in love with him. The inner turmoil was evident so much so that Taku must have sensed it.
“You should go talk to him.”
“Mr. Nakamaru?” She questioned.
“It might make you feel better.”
“I don’t think…”
“Stop thinking. You always did too much of that anyways.”
“Do you think that is really why I like Tatsuya?” Her voice was soft and somber as she turned to look at him.
“I think that your subconscious and your body remember even if you do not. You should try to talk to Atsuki, if nothing else it might make you feel better and help you understand a little more.” He remarked as he stood and left her sitting there on the bench.
Tationy had gone to bed after her conversation with Taku. She was unable to rest though, her mind wandering from thought to thought as she tried desperately to make sense of everything. She found herself up early and searched out Mr. Nakamaru. She found him in the garden.
Silently she watched him as he diligently worked. He had been working in the garden since they had arrived. “Mr. Nakamaru, do you need some help?” She asked breaking the silence.
“Thank you, but I will get more done without you around.” He remarked.
He had said those words to her before. They where not meant to be malicious and Tationy found herself moving forward rather than moving back. She stood not far away from where he was working, “I was hoping we could talk.”
“About?” He asked though never stopped his task.
“All of this.”
“All of what exactly?” He questioned.
Tationy could feel the frustration bubbling as he maneuvered himself around the discussion.
Atsuki continued working on the garden practically ignoring Tationy. She felt like he was purposely putting a wall between them. It was an emotion she did not understand. “Please can we talk.” She begged. When he did not respond right away she screamed in frustration.
Atsuki stopped pulling fruit from one of the trees in the garden. As he turned to look at her she spoke in anger, “Why are you always doing this Atsuki. You are always putting up walls. No matter how many walls I knock down you just put up another one. I cannot keep doing this with you.” When her brain finally caught up to her mouth she brought her hands up to her face, “I am sorry, I am not sure where that came from.”
He stared at her in disbelief. He had been pushing her toward Abe because their relationship had been so strong but it was with him that something from her past came out. It brought back memories as he reached out and pulled her hands down to her side. “Why did you say that?” He asked.
“I don’t know. You just kept avoiding talking with me and it was making me angry. I am not sure why. Do you hate me?” She asked as she bowed her head slightly.
“Such a ridiculous question.” He remarked. “Our relationship has always been like a pot. You stir it one way and it flows so gently and then you decide to stir it the other way only to struggle to get the flow moving smoothly.”
He made a face and interrupted her, “What did Taku say?”
“He told me that I was in love with you.”
“An unnecessary thing to tell you.” He remarked.
“Why is it unnecessary?”
“Please do not call me that.”
“Tationy. I will have a talk with Taku about saying such unnecessary things.”
“Why is it unnecessary”
“Because you are my prince and I am the leader of your guardians.”
“You did not love me?”
“Why is this so important?” He questioned. He watched her body language as she looked to her feet. “Tell me what has brought this on.”
“Taku thinks that the feelings I had for you in the past are carrying over to Tatsuya of the Kari because you are similar I guess. Not that I believe in any of this.”
Her words were unexpected. The look on his face told her as much. He wondered what it was that Taku had seen. Why Taku thought Tationy had feelings for Tatsuya of the Kari. He felt the jealousy lurking at the pit of his stomach. It was the same feeling that he had pushed aside more times then he could keep track of.
“Lets go someplace were we can sit and talk.” She simply nodded her head and followed him.
“Tell me about Tatsuya of the Kari.”
They had been sitting there for a while before he asked the question. She was not certain how to answer it. “He is really kind. Does not laugh much.”
“Well that is understandable, he is of the Kari.”
She stared at him, “What do you mean?”
“The Kari Clan is made up of trained assassins. They are not allowed to show any display of emotion such as remorse and happiness.
“I would expect with such a rule that he would be stern, but he is not. At least not that I have seen.”
“He may be with other people.” Atsuki stated.
“Is that how you are?” She asked.
“Some might say that when it came to you I was that way, but as the years have progressed I believe that I have softened some with everyone.”
“Will you tell me about…” She paused trying to find the words.
“What did Taku tell you that you are wondering about?”
“He said that I asked you to be with me instead of the Waichia person.”
“I see Taku could not keep himself from holding his tongue.” It was obvious to Tationy that he was not happy that she was aware of these things.
He took a breath in as he closed his eyes. Thinking back on that time was not something he entirely wanted to do. It was easy to tell the story of their deaths, but to tell her this he was not entirely certain he had the strength.
“You were six. In a meeting earlier that week you met with your father who discussed at lengths the plan for an heir. The Waichia Clan was there including the man that would give you a child when the time was right. His name was Ritsu. You somehow managed to bite your tongue even though you were upset that your father was making such a decision for you though not entirely.”
“Many days later you found me in my room. I was working on an esoteric incantation. You always liked to interrupt me when I was working. You said my name, Atsuki with such sadness, but I was too busy with what I was doing.”
“You yelled at me, much as you had in the garden. Told me I was never listening and always putting up walls. You always knew what to say to get my attention.”
“You were so little then. You stared up at me. I asked you what was troubling you.”
“Your response was not what I expected. I love you. That is what you said to me. You told me that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with me and begged me to stop your father from making further arrangements with the Waichia.”
“You told me you could make me happy and begged me to not allow this to happen.”
“I told you that hearing my prince speak such words to me filled me with such honor.”
“You asked me not to call you that, to call you Tationy, but I refused. I told you that you are my prince and as the leader of your guardians such a union could never happen.”
“You were upset and paced the floor. You continued to try and convince me. You said over and over again that you loved me to which I pointed out that you were, but a child and the prince of the New Aslann Empire. Such a union between us would never be accepted.”
“You were angry with me. You told me that you were not surprised that I would respond so callously. That I was always building walls around myself. That when we were alone together, it was alright if you were Tationy. That when we were alone, you belonged to me, but the moment others were around that I pretended like there was nothing.”
“You always knew what to say to make me hurt.”
“Does it make you feel better knowing that?” He questioned.
“Not really. It sounds like the prince is a brat.” She voiced as she directed her attention to the corner of the room and focused in on it. She could not bring herself to look at him.
“That is not it at all.” He said, “You knew what you wanted. You hated people telling you what you could and could not do. It was not that you were a brat or spoiled you just felt so confined by everyone. You were like a caged bird. Perhaps that is what you like about Tatsuya of the Kari. He does not expect anything from you. You can be yourself with no one telling you what to do.”
Her attention focused in on him. “Did you feel anything or was it all one-sided?”
“You are asking me a difficult question Tationy.”
“The truth is always difficult.”
“That is true.” He remarked, “Had I not been one of your guardians or the leader of them I would have gladly taken you away from that life they were forcing upon you. It does not change anything saying that though, I am still Atsuki, the leader of the guardians. No matter what feelings I have even if you fall in love with me again, I will never walk that path with you.”
“My position as the leader of the guardians prevents me. To keep us united my feelings need to be pushed aside.”
“You are okay with that?”
“It is necessary.”
He had been keeping his distance from her, but he stood up and moved toward where she was sitting on a nearby sofa. He took a seat next to her, their bodies close. It was not the position a guardian leader would take, but one who did in fact have feelings hidden.
“You pushed Abe away, told Chochi basically where he could stick it, and have generally been avoiding everyone. You can talk to me.”
“Is that what they said?”
“I can read between the lines.” Atsuki remarked.
She chuckled lightly. “I think all of this stuff is so ridiculous, but at the same time I kind of wanted it to be true. It was better than being home with my parents, but the more I thought about it the more I did not like the idea of Abe remembering.”
“You do not want him to be in love with you?”
“At first it was that. I wanted him to get to know me and not know me as the prince, but at night when I am alone I…”
He stared at her intently as he waited for her to finish her sentence, but when she did not he did what he could to coax her to continue, “Have you been having bad dreams?” She nodded her head.
“Are they real?” She asked.
“Most likely. Do you want to tell me what they have been about?”
“No.” She said.
“Chochi and I are not mad at you.” The look she gave him told him that he was spot on with his assumption of what she was dreaming about. “After I pushed you away you and Abe spent even more time together. At first I had never expected anything to developed between the two of you, but when I realized the two of you were in love with each other,” His words were halted as he switched gears, “When I realized you were captured, I knew what that meant.”
“I was hoping it was just fantasy and not a memory.”
“I can understand why, but we never blamed you for that. We can understand your guilt and love makes people do crazy things.”
“He did not love me back.” She said.
“Why do you say that?”
“He just kept telling me to shut up. Never said anything else. Even when they were…”
He did not want her to finish that sentence so he interrupted her, “Abe was always ambitious. He had his eyes on Sadoo’s general position and was not above doing whatever he had to, to get it. His loyalty as a guardian has always been in question. None of the others have really ever trusted him, but he has always been loyal to me and to you. Abe though is a sadist. He loves to torture people. He takes great delight in the misery of others and no matter what life we were living that remained true about him to varying degrees.”
She sat quietly listening to him. “Abe told me once that there was a part of him that enjoyed watching you being tortured. He felt so much shame over it, he was unable to say anything to you in your last moments. A man like Abe normally does not feel guilt, remorse, or shame, but your love had touched him so much that even his sadistic nature was quelled.”
“Chochi could have ruled over the Waichia Clan. He has within him many of the qualities they prize greatly, but he just happened to be on the wrong side of the clan division. Chochi has always been rather violent. He loved to battle and take on people stronger then him.”
“He knew I would be surrounded by war, you said that in one of the stories you told.”
“He did and he looked forward to it. Chochi has little regard for most people and it takes a lot to get his respect. Most people never earn it. At first it was just about war, but Chochi who was a loner by nature developed bonds with you and Taku. He would do anything for you and even though he knew that they were coming after him, he stood his ground and fought so that he might be reunited with you in another life. Chochi understands why you are pushing him and Abe both away.”
“I look at them and I see all of this unwanted stuff.” She explained. “I like feeling normal.”
“Tatsuya of the Kari makes you feel that way?”
“He does. It is nice to have a friend.” She voiced. “I know that all of you are here for me, but it’s not the same. There is so much baggage lingering all around us. Every time I look at each of you all of this unwanted emotion comes up. You are worried, I can see it in your eyes.”
“The Ishi Clan has many allies and we cannot be certain that the Kari have not aligned with the Ishi.”
“Tatsuya said that the Adviser Jin said the prince was killed by a foreign enemy.”
“That is not too surprising after all they cannot admit to killing you.” She shivered noticeable, “It is a tough thing to deal with. We are talking about our own mortality. I don’t regret the decision I made in performing that incantation, protecting you is all that ever mattered.”
She called him by his name. It brought him a little bit of joy, but he did not let it outwardly cross his features. “Yes?”
“I would like to visit Tatsuya. He invited me to his home.”
“I do not know if that is a good idea.”
“Please, trust me and let me go.”
“Going with no protection…”
He sighed noticeably, “It’s against my better judgment, but you may go.”
“Thank you.” She sat silently before looking into his eyes and smiling, “I know you will have someone follow me, could you, well could you not ask Chochi or Abe.”
He wanted to ask her if he was alright to watch her, but he asked instead, “Who would you prefer?”
“If you have to send someone, I would prefer Otoha.”
“Are you certain?”
“He remembers and he was an assassin. Who better to keep an eye on me against another assassin clan than someone who is also an assassin?”
“I will have him shadow you.” He remarked. She had considered it, he could tell. Otoha certainly was the best choice for such an assignment. He would be capable of moving about unseen not to mention he was highly adept at all forms of assassination which one could conclude he would be able to spot such an attempt and prevent it with ease.
“Please do not worry about me.” She said when she noticed the worry in his eyes. “You brought me here for a reason, I cannot imagine it was just to keep me cooped up in this house. If this was a game of chess, I would figure that we are the opposing force against the enemy which is the emperor.”
“Are you denying it?” He grew silent. “I imagine that I could have run away when we were still in our time. I think that the others could have as well, but yet none of us made any attempt to do so. I will not deny my unhappiness, but there is no way to return and while I might not be a genius at military stuff like Sohma or a great general like Sadoo, I do know a thing or two about strategy. Coming back here does not make any sense unless you plan on overthrowing the Emperor at least, it doesn’t to me.”
“You have put a lot of thought into this.”
“I did a lot of sleeping and thinking.” She remarked. “I do not know why I want to be back in the time I was accustomed too, probably because it was familiar. I miss it and I will not pretend to be happy about being here no matter the reason. I might not understand all of the particulars, but logic dictates that this is the course of action all of you planned on taking, otherwise there would be no reason to return. I am sure you know what happened to Aslann and its people through the centuries and I do not want you tell me because I am certain it is bad.”
“Tationy, I don’t…”
“Atsuki.” She said his name which caused him to stiffen, “Going against an Emperor and his Adviser is bold and cannot be done alone, right?”
His shoulders slumped forward as he closed his eyes. Even at her lowest point she was still well ware of what was going on around her. He doubted she would have mentioned any of this to anyone else. She most likely would not have even mentioned it to him had she not made the request to go see Tatsuya.
“You trust this Tatsuya that much?”
“I have a good feeling about him.”
“Why did you not say anything sooner?”
“I have no intention of being your prince.” She voiced. Her words caught him off guard. He had considered seeing she brought up the impending war against the Emperor and his Adviser that she understood that there were many that would expect her to be the leader. “So there was no need for me to say anything, but you seem frustrated. I do not know why, but I can tell. It worries me and even knowing what I know I cannot understand these feelings. I think he is a good man, Tatsuya of the Kari. If I do nothing else here, I will find a way to reach him and bring him to your cause.”
“Will you be playing ignorant again or will you live in the here and now?”
She turned to look at him, cocking her head to the side, “I have a feeling I never do what is expected of me, or am I wrong?”
“No, somehow you always find a way to confound and amaze.”
“Being ignorant of what is going on around me helps me sleep at night. I don’t sleep very well when I understand what is going on.”
He understood what she was telling him as he stood. “I will inform Otoha.”
“Thank you.” She responded. She did not ask all of the things she had wanted too. She was still confused on so many issues. Somehow she knew that he would not give her all of the answers she wanted in one sitting. Tationy had a feeling that he wanted her to learn this stuff on her own.
He had spotted her from his window. She was standing outside his estate looking around. When he asked her to come visit him at his house he had expected he would be sending a messenger to make arrangements. That was the proper way of doing things. He should have known that, that would not work with her.
“I was not expecting to see you so soon.”
“You did invite me.” She spoke.
“I did. Would you like to come in?”
“Thank you that would be nice.”
They entered the home together where he led her to a small sitting room.
“Your home is not what I expected.”
“You expected a grand estate?” He questioned.
“Are you disappointed?”
“No, just surprised.”
“The Kari have many grand estates around the New Aslann Empire though I have never been the type of man to have more then I need.”
Tatsuya could tell she was not alone. There was a man lurking in the shadows around his small estate. He was quite adept at hiding and had Tatsuya been from a non-assassin clan he would not have noticed the man lurking. He thought that it was surprising that she had not arrived with anyone in tow, but knowing that there was an assassin lurking around put his guard up.
“Is he a friend of yours?”
“The man that is lurking about my house.” He commented.
She chuckled, “They would not let me go without someone and to make them feel better, he seemed the most logical choice considering the little bit I know about your clan.”
“It was a good decision. He moves like he is from the Sweela.”
“How is it that all of you are able to tell what clan someone is from?”
“A lot of factors go into it. Some are easy to spot by how they look, such as the Waichia Clan who is considered the most beautiful of all of the clans. Other clans can be identified by how they move, by the garments they wear, or even by how they speak.”
“Can you tell what clan I am from?”
“My first thought upon seeing you was that you were from the Tylo Clan, but that would be impossible. The Tylo Clan is of Royal birth and they would hardly let one of their own wander about. Also they are well known and each living member of the clan is easily identified, but you, I had never seen you before.” He watched her face looking for any hint of what she was thinking. He found her expression hard to read.
“Royal birth, well that certainly would be something.” She remarked. It was a curious statement as he watched her. “I do not think I would want such a life. I feel caged and smothered enough as it is with how things are now, I could not imagine living in a bird cage for my entire life. No control over what you say or what you do. People always expecting you to be this way or that way. Are you a different man when you are not with me?” She questioned him.
Tatsuya took a small intake of breath. It was such a bold question and he was not certain how to answer it. “There are things expected of me.” He stated simply.
“It is alright to be stern and violent when the need arises.” She responded.
“Sometimes it is necessary.” She smiled at him and he could feel the corner of his mouth twitch slightly. He wanted to smile at her. “May I ask if you have someone in your life?”
“Are you interested?” She teased.
He chuckled under his breath before quickly composing himself. “As the leader of the Kari Clan I am forbidden. My mind must always be on the task at hand. However, I have a couple of good friends who have had difficulty finding a young woman to grace their lives.”
“So you are playing matchmaker?”
“I suppose I am.”
“I do not have anyone.”
“Why is that?” She questioned as she stifled a yawn.
“You are tired?”
“I do not sleep well these days.”
“I will make us some tea.” He said as he stood and excused himself from the room.
She told herself she was only going to lay herself down for a moment and rest her eyes.
Tatsuya had returned while the water for the tea heated. He sat himself down and found himself staring at her. She was a different sort of girl. He had a feeling she was from the Tylo Clan, but it only opened up more questions. When he met with his friends Oji and Takuya of the Waichia after his first encounter with her they were both surprised to find out a member of the Waichia was operating independently and that there was a young girl with the eyes of the Gods.
He was surprised that she could lay herself down and fall asleep so easily in the home of a stranger. He knew that her friend was lurking about. This made him certain that if he even attempted to harm her that he would come face to face with the other assassin. He had no intention of harming her though.
The Emperor and his adviser had been doing bad things and destroying the New Aslann Empire. He knew he should not use this girl, but he had already set into motion a push. He was going to use her to bring down the Emperor and his Adviser.
To Be Continued