They caught a taxi. When Hiko tried to speak with Tationy he was met with abrupt responses. She spent the majority of the ride staring out the window and he was left to wonder if he did something to displease her. When they entered his father’s home he turned back to say something to her and spotted her walking toward the stairs. He sighed as he moved through the house and found his father in his office. He had used Tationy’s cell to call the Kari Foundation, but they had told him that his father was at home. It was suspicious, he was spending a lot more time there then he was at the office, “Is something wrong at work?”
His father glanced up from the screen. His hand was still posed on the touchpad of his work laptop, a cigarette billowing smoke held between his lips, his eyes stern and hard as they always were. Hiko did not really expect this conversation to go well, at the very least not any better than any other conversation. “There are too many distractions at the office.”
“Since when did you start getting distracted?”
“A couple of years ago when I realized I was ready to retire.”
Hiko’s lips pursed as he considered his fathers words a moment. It was not that he was old. In fact, Tadayoshi Kari was not even forty. Was this what working at the Kari Foundation did to a man? If there was any point to turn and run it was probably that one, but he stuck his hand in his pocket and took a step forward, “About our conversation.”
“What more is there to say? You made your decision.”
“Tationy and I informed her mother of our intentions. We have not decided when, but we are getting married and going to have children someday.”
“I am aware of how you think you feel about that girl.”
“Will you just listen?”
“I have heard all of this before. I have more important things to do then listen to you tell me you like some girl you just met.”
“Just met…” Hiko snapped, “Why are you pretending she and I don’t know each other. I met her before at the Yamada estate.”
What was that look? His father closed the laptop rather suddenly as he stood, “They called her botahmo for a reason. The Tylo are not people you get involved with.”
“She is not just Tylo she is Yamada as well.”
“The Yamada are even worse.”
“Well if that is the case why are you fucking her mother?”
His fathers mouth opened and closed rather rapidly, but no sound came out initially. “I would never. That woman wants what she wants and will do anything to get it. She does not care who she steps on or ruins to obtain it. Her daughter is just like her.”
“Tationy is nothing like her mother?”
“Do you really think that display she put on the night we had dinner together was for you?”
Hiko stared at his father, “What are you saying?”
“The old-fashioned style, the way she carried herself, how she addressed me and spoke. You cannot be that blind Hiko. She is Yamada and that is how they sink their claws into a man.”
Both men stood toe to toe. Neither was willing to backdown and it was only the sound of her voice that forced both of them to turn, “Is that what you think of me Mr. Kari? If I wanted to seduce you, there are far better ways of doing so. You are a man that likes to lose control. Your day to day obligations require you to be a man above such distractions, but the truth is you like to be tempted. You want a proper girl on the surface, but underneath all of those layers of pretense you want her to tell you to fuck her harder and the naughtier the better.” Hiko glanced toward his father and realized that his hard stare was fixed on Tationy. “Telling Hiko that display was for you allows those indecent thoughts about me to be justified.”
“I am not like my mother, Mr. Kari. If I was, I would have fucked you already and taken you for everything you own.” She paused as her eyes fell upon Hiko, “Your son came here to tell you he would take the entrance exam. I was worried this path would lead to the wrong place, but it is alright to walk it if that is what he wants to do. I am content letting him lead the way, whether he fails or succeeds I do not intend to abandon him. If you fear that I am using your son in some nefarious Yamada scheme then there is little I can do to sway you.”
“Yamada women use their bodies to get what they want,” His father spoke.
“Tationy and I have not had sex. We are waiting. Well trying to anyway,” Hiko said as his eyes locked with hers.
“Hiko and I have plenty of things that need to be addressed before we have sex, get married, have children. It might appear as though we are rushing Mr. Kari, but we are just moving at our own pace. This is the speed we are comfortable with. Others might think it is excessive and condemn us for moving too quickly, but we will get to where we are going when we get there. What is important is that we are moving forward together.”
Hiko expected his father to say something, but for a time he remained silent as he paced. Eventually he spoke, “Tationy, please leave us.” Hiko’s eyes pulled away from Tationy to protest, but the way his father was looking at them told Hiko that it was probably for the best if she was not in the room for whatever was about to be said. The two Kari men stood quietly neither moving the conversation forward until they were certain she was out of earshot. “I will say this again Hiko. I don’t think you are capable of handling her.”
“Is that your way of telling me that you are?”
“Hiko,” His father said sternly, “I am saying this for your own good.”
“You say a lot of things. Like when you told me you liked her. I guess what I heard was I am proud of you, but what you were really saying is I intend to fuck your girlfriend Hiko. Why did I even think talking to you was an option? Why did I even come back here? You are always going to be the same man. Telling me what to do, how to do, what is good for me, and then when I screw up telling me what a disappointment I am. I am tired of trying to understand what you expect from me.”
His father rarely displayed much emotion, but annoyance could be heard in his voice as he spoke, “I expect you to be Kari. How can you have a wife and children when you are incapable of even mastering yourself. A Kari man must know discipline. He must command himself and his household. We Kari are better than the trash of Aslann. We are descended from the King of the Gods himself, now act like it.”
Tadayoshi’s words annoyed Hiko. It was not even worth responding to because they had this argument hundreds of times before. It was not going to go any different this time so Hiko turned and yelled, “Tationy we are leaving.”
He could not even bring himself to stay in his father’s house as he leaned against the wall just outside the gate. It took her a bit to exit and drop the bags at his side. For a time she paced and he did his best to pretend not to notice, even though he was acutely aware of what she was doing. He banged his head against the wall annoyed with himself, “What did he say to you?”
“Of course he did. Does not give a flying fuck if he hurts my feelings, but you he apologizes to.”
“The two of you fight a lot. It almost seems random, like you two are looking for things to fight over.”
As much as Hiko hated to admit it, she was probably not that far-off. “When I was a kid, I wanted to be just like him. Tadayoshi Kari was larger than life. He was never around though, never had the time to even ask how my day went. When he did, he was always concerned with how I looked because it was a reflection upon him and the Kari. What was on the inside never mattered to him. I guess I was thirteen when I first told him I did not want to be a part of the Kari Foundation. Over night it was as though we went from a cold war to a deep freeze. He told me I was being rebellious. I suppose I was, but I felt that I needed to find my own way instead of becoming some mini-clone of my father. Now, I guess there is just too much unresolved shit and we look for reasons to pick each other apart.”
“It won’t always be like this.”
Hiko pushed away from the wall. He wished he could believe that. His eyes focused on her face, “Tationy, this morning why did you decide to go see your mother?”
She shrugged her shoulders, “I thought she might let us stay. Stupid really. I knew better, but there was always a chance. A very small chance, but still a chance. ”
“Were you mad at me for agreeing to your mom’s offer?”
“At first, but only because I know it might not end well.”
“You don’t have to worry.” He sighed, “I guess we should figure something out.”
“Or you could…”
He anticipated her words, “I am not apologizing to my father. If anything, he should be apologizing to me.”
Tationy had dropped the conversation even though Hiko had been certain she had things she wished to say. It annoyed him slightly that she was biting her tongue and the obvious tension as a result was not lost on Kuro whom Hiko had called for a ride. “Thanks again for coming to get us,” He said as the three of them entered Kuro’s family home.
“This makes the fifth time you have thanked me. I told you don’t worry about it. You would do the same.”
Hiko glanced toward Kuro, “Still, you are busy dealing with family matters it feels wrong for us to impose on you.”
Kuro laughed, “You got it all wrong. I am thankful for the break.”
Despite his friend’s assurance that it was alright, Hiko still felt uneasy. “How did the exam go yesterday?”
Kuro shrugged, “I will know in a couple of weeks. I am sure I passed, but really it was probably for nothing. It does not take a rocket scientist to work for the Ishi Shipping companies. I probably will not even go.”
Kuro ran his fingers through his hair as he responded cryptically, “Other things are just more important.”
Hiko wanted to ask what things were so important to Kuro that he would consider forgoing a degree. He realized that in all of the time they knew each other he had never asked Kuro what he wanted. Did he have a future all laid out for himself? Was it going as he intended or was he completely off the path he had chosen? Somehow he doubted he would ever get the answers to those questions even if he did manage to ask. Kuro had never been the type of guy to dwell on what could have been, at least not as far as Hiko was aware.
A voice drew his attention and he recognized it almost instantly as the voice of Kuro’s father, “Kuro is that you?”
“Yes, sir,” Kuro had responded as he stepped into the estates library.
“Who is with you?”
Hiko reached down and took Tationy’s hand as he entered into the room. It was filled with Ishi; Kuro’s two brothers Mikio and Bak and his father Jin along with his uncle Jee. “It is me, Mr. Ishi.”
“Little Hiko Kari, well I suppose you are not so little any longer. How is your father?”
Hiko tried to hide his emotions, “He is alright.”
Jin Ishi, father of Kuro, spoke almost knowingly, “Desire to a Kari man is a weakness. To give in to temptation and passion is to allow the sinful beast of desire to override those things that the Kari feel are important; discipline, self-mastery, restraint, apathy. Our families contrast each other significantly. The Ishi embrace passion, emotion, excitement. All of those things that you Kari find so distasteful. It is amazing the burden your kin places upon itself. You and your father are still having the same fights over things that do not matter.”
Hiko bowed his head, “He does not listen.”
Jin responded thoughtfully, “Listening requires empathy. I am sure Tadayoshi hears you well enough when you speak he is simply incapable or too stubborn to understand and share your feelings. The Kari value the whole where the Ishi encourage the individuals. Neither is wrong, but gaining control means also being able to relinquish it.” Hiko’s eyes shifted toward Tationy. She had said something similar to him at one point. “So, is this the new source of conflict between father and son?”
Tationy laughed softly, “Yes, though source of conflict is such a tediously long way to address me. Tationy will suffice.”
If the Ishi in the room were amused none of them displayed it, “Tationy is my girlfriend.”
“Your father disapproves?”
“He thinks we are moving too fast among other things.”
“What is fast to one is slow to another. Tadayoshi deals with interpersonal relationships the same way he deals with business; cautious. The Ishi take risk which sometimes get us everything we want. Caution makes men fearful. Taking a risk is betting on your future. If you stand still and calculate what is the safest, then opportunities can pass you by. If you want that job, you have to fight for it. If you want that woman, you have to fight for her. Look at the faces of the men in this room. We Ishi risk it all and we have money, power, and confidence. There is not one of us that doubts he is a capable man. The Kari are afraid. Fear confines them. Their company is stagnating, and the vultures are circling. Tadayoshi and the Kari must risk everything to save what they value; but men that move slowly and proceed with caution cannot understand what is necessary to gain true power. Mastering yourself does not mean changing who you are. It means embracing the things about yourself, the good and the bad. That is true power.”
When visiting the Ishi, Hiko had always felt that Jin knew exactly how he felt. Whether or not that was the case he never asked, but when he spoke to him each word resonated deeply with Hiko. He always felt inspired and empowered, but then he would go home and his father would crush what little sense of self he gained.
Definition: Bagola – Game similar in nature to Chess and Shogi. Its pieces include the Emperor that you are to protect. The Prince is the most powerful piece. There are guardians that protect the Emperor which are made up of many different kinds of warriors including soldiers, assassins, and generals. There are two pieces on the board which are the advisers to the Emperor. It is a game meant to take hours with two brilliant minds battling each other. Silver pieces go on attack first while Onyx pieces go on defense at the start of the game.
Jin’s attention was drawn toward Tationy. His gaze put Hiko on edge, though he was not entirely certain why, “Young lady, do you play Bagola?”
“My son Mikio will teach you.”
Mikio seemed to be just as surprised as Hiko was. Jin spoke to his eldest son, “Do you intend to protest?”
His father’s question stilled Mikio, “No.” Hiko always found Mikio hard to read. His hair always covered one eye, his response to most questions that required an answer was ‘who knows’. Truth be told, he was probably harder to read then anyone Hiko had ever encountered. He was not certain why he felt apprehensive about letting Tationy’s hand go, but when Mikio looked upon the two of them he gripped Tationy’s hand tighter.
“It is alright, Hiko.” Was it? Somehow it didn’t feel like it was. He could feel the tension in Tationy’s hand which was enough reason for him to refuse, but Jin’s voice caught his attention, “Allow them the opportunity to sit and play. Tell me why it is you and your father cannot reach an agreement.”
For a time, the only sounds in the room were of Mikio instructing Tationy on how the game was played. Hiko found his eyes were often glancing toward them. The way Mikio would watch the board and then watch her caused tension and fear. Jin had not pushed Hiko to speak and the remaining Ishi within the library were oddly silent. Hiko finally responded as he directed his attention upon Jin, “He just does not understand.”
“I see a lot of your father in you.” Hiko made a sound of annoyance which caused Jin to glance at him rather sternly, “Many times when fathers find their sons so disagreeable it is because the child is a reflection. The Kari teach that the son will learn his bad habits from his father. The apple and the tree. I do not disagree with this way of thinking. Parents place expectations upon their children. They want their lives to be better and more fulfilling than the ones they had, but in doing so we place the same burdens upon their shoulders that were placed upon ours. It is a vicious cycle not easily broken. The Kari are the most rigid of all of the old families of Aslann. They still embrace traditions that existed during the days of wars and clans.”
“What do I say when I win?”
A very subtle and brief smile passed over Jin’s lips, “How unexpected. Mikio did you let that young lady win?”
“Who knows,” Mikio responded. Did she really just beat Mikio at a game of Bagola when she had never played before?
“I find this situation quite remarkable,” Jin spoke which drew Hiko’s gaze upon him swiftly. “Kuro told me a couple of days ago that you were involved with a Tylo girl. Did you know that the Tylo are the smallest of all of the old clans?”
“No, Mr. Ishi. I did not know that.”
“Those with Tylo blood are very rare. They are very selective in whom they breed with and they have many rules about the timing of such unions. The boy you played basketball with, Agito, is born from Hayato. My three sons; Mikio, Bak, and Kuro are born from Teslia, and your girl I suspect belongs to the one called Miroku. The Tylo are the most powerful of all of the old families. We each are unique and special, born with abilities that are descended from the gods. None of this is a surprise to any of us. We have known we were different our entire lives; the Tylo though can see things we cannot.”
“What do you mean?”
“The eyes,” Kuro responded as he took a seat next to Hiko. “The eyes of the Tylo allow them to see the past, the present, and the future. That is how she beat Mikio. Even though they have never met, they have played before.”
Definition: Emperor Miroku – Twelfth Divine Ruler of the New Aslann Empire. In historical Aslann, Emperor Miroku was considered to be the most powerful and dangerous Tylo. He became the Emperor when he was a child and held that position for thirty-four years.
“Mikio is the only son I have that bore his mother’s eyes. His intellect overshadowed all living Ishi. He was labeled a prodigy by the time he was two. He dreamed constantly. People he had never met before he knew everything about them. He surpassed his mother in the mastering of those eyes and by the time he was six he could predict what was going to happen with a near one hundred percent accuracy. He is probably more dangerous than Emperor Miroku ever was.”
Hiko found his eyes were watching the two of them as they played another round of Bagola. He felt that the look shared between them had nothing at all to do with having played before or having the same eyes. Something else was lingering, “These eyes, what exactly…” Hiko did not even know what he wanted to ask or how to ask it.
Definiton: Purasa – Precognitive ability of the Tylo known as Future Embodiment which allows them to see all possible future outcomes for any given situation.
“The Tylo call it Purasa. It allows them to see everything that could happen. If you are walking down the street, what happens if you go left? What happens if you go right? They can see it all and knowing means they can change it. In the right or even the wrong hands, it is a powerful weapon.”
Hiko watched Tationy nervously. Is this what she was talking about when she said that everyone was his enemy? He felt tension throughout his body. Why was she keeping it a secret? His lips pursed and his head was swimming with so many questions. As his eyes watched the two of them, he realized it was not worry, but fear. Abruptly he spoke as he stood, “I am sorry, Mr. Ishi. Tationy and I really need to go. We should not take up anymore of your time. Kuro, thanks man for coming and getting us.”
“Hiko, you don’t have to rush off. I can take you wherever…” Kuro offered, but was quickly cutoff.
“No. We interrupted your families evening enough. Tationy we are leaving.”
“Oh, alright. It was nice meeting…” Hiko grabbed her hand and pulled her along, not even giving her an opportunity to finish her goodbyes.
He did not let her hand go or stop walking until they were outside the Ishi estate, “Hiko, are you going to speak to me?”
“Can you see it? Can you see our future Tationy?”
He felt the tension in her hand, “Whether I can or cannot, it does not matter. The future is ever changing.”
“It matters,” He snapped. “Do you think I don’t have eyes and ears? Do you think me too dumb to understand? You told me everyone was my enemy, but you failed to mention the reason why.” He tried to calm himself, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Knowing only hinders. It brings about pain and suffering. You are going to doubt and wonder about every little look or action. It is my burden to carry the future, not yours. You just have to enjoy…”
Hiko turned quickly grabbing her arms and giving her a shake, “Do you really think I can enjoy the future blind to the truth?” He was so frustrated as he turned away, “Let’s just stop talking, call a taxi, and get out of here.” When she told him that she was his weakness he did not really understand. How were people going to use her and why? He had joked. Made a comment about knowing where his enemies would attack would allow him to defend, but really she always said odd things that didn’t make a lot of sense to him.
The more he thought about it the more frustrated he became and long before the taxi picked them up, he started walking. He could hear her breathing and there were certainly a few times she tried to get him to speak, but he just kept telling her he did not want to talk about it right now.
When they checked into a hotel they were still not speaking. Tationy had tried, but Hiko was just too angry and told her to stop. She slept in the bed and he spent the majority of the night on the couch. His mind just would not let it go no matter how much he wanted it to. At about six in the morning she got up and he was still sitting there partially in a daze, exhausted, and still plenty annoyed. She took a seat next to him, snuggling into his body and he found that he instinctively put his arm around her, despite how he was feeling, “Are you still mad at me?”
“Ahh. I feel stupid. Replaying every conversation we ever had looking for hints that you might have dropped. Tell me the truth, I mean it Tationy, don’t you dare lie to me. Mikio….that look on his face was because he saw something right? You and him?”
“Hiko, knowing the answer is not going to make you feel any better. All it will do is change you.”
“I don’t care. The more you avoid answering the more it tells me you have something you are trying to hide. Do you want to be with that snake?”
She noticeably sighed, “There is a likelihood that both he and I have seen the same future. Truth is, my eyes are still developing. I cannot always accurately predict what is going to happen. If what his father said is true, his eyes are far superior to mine. I have seen many different futures that may or may not happen. The truth you are seeking is not absolute it is just one possibility out of millions and billions.”
Tationy stood up and began walking toward the bedroom. Hiko reached out and grabbed her hand and for a moment she stopped as her fingers teased his. He felt a choking feeling grip him as he asked, “When you told me that everyone was my enemy and that they would use you against me, this is what you were talking about?”
“Many of the old families covet the power that the Tylo wield. If you can see the future you can become a king. Imagine that power in the wrong hands. People would like to think that we are better than our predecessors. The truth is, they fought because they had to and we fight because we want to. Sure, we will say things like we tried to negotiate, but negotiations are only reached when both parties are willing to compromise. In this modern age, compromise is a weakness. Everyone wants something, Hiko Kari. If it means getting what you wanted, wouldn’t you exploit someones weakness?”
“The only thing I want is you, but that really did not answer my question. This ability to see the future, how far will people go?”
“There is no limit to what men will do to obtain what they covet.”
He relinquished her hand, “Tationy, you have been unhappy with me a couple of times recently. Have I damaged our future?”
“I won’t let that happen.”
“That is not what I asked you.” That silence returned which forced him to stand, “I told you I am Kari. Some things just are and there is no changing them. The moment you became my girl I took responsibility for protecting you. I will not let you carry the future for us both, do you understand me? No more secrets Tationy. Now answer me. Did I damage our future?”
“No.” Even though she said the words he wanted to hear, he felt like she was still keeping something.
To Be Continued