The Lonely Tiger, Roaming Crow – Untitled Story (for now)

Chapter I

Lonely Tiger, Roaming Crow

            A soft sigh escaped her as she watched from her bedroom window. The sun was slowly setting over the horizon of barren trees. Yellow, red and brown fell like snowflakes as they swayed to the ground, some being taken by the autumn breeze. The once blue skies had undergone a change with orange shrouding the skies and turning the few white clouds into a darkish blue. Dusk was befalling the small town of Astrae and it was no different from all the rest of them.

Laughter grabbed her attention, pulling her from her gaze at the sky and directing it towards the children who were playing near her home. A soft sigh escaped her small pink lips while her hand touched the glass softly. She longed to have people she could talk to. People that she could call friends. Those that she could laugh and play with. But sadly, she had none. She would soon turn away only to find herself looking in the mirror. Her hair was long and white strands with her bangs sliding down to the length of her face while the rest to her lower back. The few strands that fell over her face were swept back behind her ear as her azure colored eyes traced her body.

A long dress down her shoulders, falling just pass her knees. Underneath that dress was a small white long sleeved shirt. Delicate designs of small flowers were laced into the shoulders and trim of the dress. In the middle of her chest was a blue colored rose pin that mimicked the color of her eyes perfectly.

Before she could look any further, she heard a muffled nose from her bed and knew exactly what it was. Her head tilted to the side as she chuckled softly, walking over to the white covered bed to seen abnormal hump in the middle of it. Her hand pulled back the comforter to find her black kitten on its back, meowing as it pawed at the cover. It lazily fell on its side and purred lightly as it rubbed its whiskers against the sheets. Smiling, she sat down beside her kitten and rubbed her small hand against its fur. “You’re so silly, Emiko. Com here….”

The kitten purred even louder, rolling along the bed to rest against her thigh before standing and hoping into her lap. The kitten slowly circled itself, as if it was following its own swaying tail before settling down in a ball, purring like a small motor boat to her touch.. Those large golden eyes slowly shifted closed, falling victim to the girl’s caressing touch and eventually dozed off the sleep.

“Lady Blackstone,” a distance voice called out as the footsteps approached her closed door. Her eyes rested on the door until it opened and a man stepped with in dressed in a black suit with a white tie. Wrinkled played his facial features, giving an idea of his age. His voice was somewhat aged, but soothing rather than annoying.  “Lady Blackstone, your mother wishes to see you in the kitchen. I believe she has an errand for you to run.”

“I shall be down in minute Edward,” Elegant voice spoke with the tone of a royal. Bowing, Edward would soon turn and make his exit to attend to his other matters. Lifting her kitten in the palm of her hands, she placed her on top of a pillow and brushed her hand across her fur one last time before turning to leave. She was not going to keep her mother waiting.

Stepping out of her room, she entered the long hallway and made her way to the stairs. Pictures of her family’s past hung in various pictures. Someone of her ancestors and some of her recent family meetings and get-togethers. She paid them no mind as her had grabbed the banister, ensuring that she would stumbled while walking in her small white heels.

At the end, she found herself in the main hall and quickly continued to the right, passing a couple of doors before entering the kitchen. The delicious aroma of food touched her nose as she watched her mother hum a tune while she bounced back and forth from the counter to the stove. She loved her mother’s cooking and always looked forward to dinner during the day because she was always in for a treat. She moved in further and as if her mother already knew she had arrived, she began talking.

“Reina, do you mind heading to the store. It seems we are low on bread and I will need some more for tonight’s supper.” Her voice was just like any other mother’s; kind and warm. She began to wonder why not just send one of the other maids to do her task but she realized that none of them were in the kitchen aiding her mother. That was truly a surprise. But it was not like she was complaining and eagerly smiled as her fingers laced behind her back. “No, mother. I don’t mind at all.”

A warm smile was what she saw when her mother turned; silver strands crossed her eyes as turned around. “Thank you dear, the pouch in on the counter.” Reina also enjoyed doing stuff for her mother and picked up the pouch, waving before hurrying to the main hall to leave. Before she left out, she made sure to grab her small black jacket and put it on. It was rather chilly out there.

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            Approaching the main gate of Astrae was a long line of large wagons that were being pulled along by horses. It had to be at least about seven of them. Each of them carried what appeared to be group of people except the last, which harbored their food and supplies. Walking along the caravan were several people, some managing the horses while others just seemed to be tagging along. They had journeyed all the way from the base of the waterfall to find themselves at their destination and all they stood in their way  was the large bridge that lead to the entrance and three of them led the way, with a man out front.

He was a tall and well built man. His face was covered with a full thick beard with eyebrows to match. His hair was rather short, but the way it was groomed made it appear long as it fell to his neck. Attire was simple for him; nothing more but a large brown vest and pants with a pair of black boots.

Behind him was two others; both clearly younger than the male. They looked to be in their teenage years. One could be easy distinguished as a female even though her cloak’s hood covered her face by the way she was dressed. She wore a pair of brown overalls with the two connecting straps hanging off her side. A small white shirt under that hugged her full figure. Over her shoulder was a cloak that appeared to be too small for her as it fell down to her waistline. Her emerald hues looked out ahead of her as traces of her blonde hair fell around her face.

The other was a heavy set male; big-boned to the say the least. He wore large cloth pants in the color of black. His very large stripped shirt hugged his stomach that nearly fell over his waist. His black hair was worn short and his black eyes were narrow and small. As he walked, he was stuffing his face with bread.

As the three of them and the caravan that followed continued forward, they were met by the gatekeepers of Astrae, which wearing a light weight padded leather armor with a spear in hand. “Halt, please state your business.”

“I am the village chief of Dali, Shunpei Nakatomi. We are the small moving village of Dali, we are seeking refuge for the next couple of days to stock up on food and supplies.” The man answered, giving a glance back to the two behind him.

“ Ah…we were expecting you after hearing most of your village were destroyed in the last storm. We’re glad to see that most of you are ok. There is an empty area to the west of here that your caravan can occupy during your stay. Please, take your time. Times are very hard these days.” The gatekeepers bowed before returning to their post. Shunpei nodded before turning to look at the little ones behind him.

“Go inform the others that we will be staying outside the village walls for the next couple days. Tell them to head west until they see an open field. It is small, but will have to make due. The gates will be lowered tomorrow morning.” Shunpei ordered the little ones only to see them nod. Shunpei would soon quirk a brow as he took a moment to look around. “Where is he?”

“Where is who?” The heavy one questioned back. This only led Shunpei to sigh and rub his forehead. “Yukari, Tomo…I suggest you find him before I do…”  The clear warning caused them both to step away from him.

“But…but…why do we have to go? It’s not like we can find him anyway.” Tomo asked, stomping his foot and throwing down his piece of bread.

“Tomo has a point. We can never find him once he disappears. He normally finds us before we find him.” Yukari added to the pending argument as Tomo picked up  the bread he wasted and cleaned it off with his shirt.

“Not you too Yukari. After all the trouble you three caused at the last village, I would suggest you not argument with me. Think of it has punishment.”

“Hold on, don’t tell me he gets off free!” Yukari snapped.

“Of course not…but if you don’t want what he is going to get, I would get to looking.” Shunpei said in a low tone, shooting them a glare. The two of them quickly ran off without a word.

A cloaked figured could be seen falling from a branch the outstretched over the Astrae gate. As he landed, he quickly ran off to join the crowd of people by the entrance that was entering. His head was carried low; making the only thing visibly possible being the long strands of black that fell down the front and sides of his face.

The cloak he wore was tattered and worn; ripped in countless places but with its condition, it still managed to shroud his entire body. Dark crimson hues looked out through the holes in the hood to see where he was going as he wandered down the main road of the village.

They weren’t kidding when they said that this place was beautiful. As he took the time to look around, he noticed the amazing scenery. The village of Astrae was only few of its kind. It was located and integrated into the waterfall. The stores and houses build around the small pools and lakes that coursed into the weather. Small bridges build and connected into the trees made is possible to get around. The autumn season added already to the awe-inspiring landscape as they danced to the ground like snowflakes. It was truly a sight to behold and even he couldn’t help to be astounded.

As he walked, he could feel and hear his stomach growling as hand moved to favor the belly. Damn…Tomo took my last loaf of bread. I could really use it right about now… His hand soon moved about to his pockets, searching the small pouches for coin that he did not have. He sighed lightly as he shook his head. And Yukari spent the rest of the coins on some perfume. Just great…

His depression only got worse as he start walking pass the bakery and fruit market, mouth watering to the pure idea of eating one of those large juicy fruits or the fluffiness of bakery’s wheat bread. During his fantasy, he spotted a man leaving the store in his direction who was had just shoved a pouch of coins into his pocket.

He watched the man as they walked towards each other, waiting until they were just about to pass to throw his shoulder into his, sending them both stumbling in the opposite direction. Catching himself, the man glared as he raised his voice. “Did you not see me walking!?”

The boy snickered under his breath. “Well…no I didn’t. I was counting my steps and it just happened.”  The man reached out and grabbed his shoulders. “What are you laughing at boy?” The grip on his shoulders began to tighten as if he was trying to cause him some type of bodily harm…but it did not appear to work.

“Nothing sir, I’m sorry.” The boy said quickly, nodding his head.

“Take of your hood boy! Let me see your face.” The man ordered, tugging at the hood. The boy shook his head politely. “I’d rather pass.”

“I wasn’t asking your boy, I said take off ya hood!”

This made the boy sigh. He could see that the man was attracting attention to them and did not need to cause a scene…especially not over a hood and grumbled as he took it off. His bottled up wild multicolored hair of blue and gray fell around his head, covering his dim glowing dark blue eyes that looked up at the man now with a blank look. His features were timeless, unhindered by emotions or thoughts.

“So you’re a pretty boy, heh?” The man stepped back, astonished to see the boy face. He seen his eyes and instantly thought that something was wrong with the kid but played it off. His eyes carried an unbelievable sense of confidence and it nearly through the man off. “Look, I don’t want to hurt you kid so I suggest you go run along and play.”

“And what if I don’t?” He question mocking him, eyebrow arching as if he was daring him with his expression. “Then I’ll show you how I did arrogant little boys like you when I was young!”  This challenge was met as the man tried to reach forward to grab his shoulder. As if the boy knew what he was about to do, the boy swayed the left and turned his body, avoiding it and chuckling lightly.

“Pssh, whatever you say old man. See ya,” Turning around, he quickly threw back on his hood and began walking off, pulling out the pouch that the man have shoved in his pocket and grinned to himself. “Well, I have dinner for tonight. Sad though, it was almost too easy to be true.”

A little ways from walking away from the boy, the man had entered a shop to by a meal of from the local ramen shop when he realized that he did not have his pouch to pay for his meal. By the time he walked out from under the awning of the shop to look for the boy, all he could see as a running figure in the distance…way to far for him to be able to catch; especially at his age.

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            Even though Reina had to go fulfill her mother’s task, Reina made sure to stop by the playground. She could always see it from her bedroom window and it was not far from her house. It was actually in route to the bakery. She stood outside the entrance with hands on the gate, watching the other kids run around with nothing but smiles on their face.

There were two bridges that lead to the little offset ground that was used for the children’s play area. The old wooden built playground looked to be literally falling apart, but the children still enjoyed it. The two tire swings and swings that hung off tree branches were the most used with kids not being able to wait to get their turn. The tree house in the large oak that stood out in the middle had been painted in a vast array of colors. But despite what they had, most of them were content on playing with the falling leaves; piling them up and jumping from the tree into them.

She took a deep breath to gather up some courage and tugged on her jacket some before making her way inside and towards the kids. As she did so however, all the kids seemed to top and huddle up, approaching her as a group.

“What are you doing here? Didn’t we tell you royals aren’t allowed to be here?” One of the older kids stepped forward. She appeared to be the same age as Reina. Reina nodded softly, nearly turning her head. “Why not? I just want to play like all of you.”

“But you’ll get us in trouble!” A smaller one shouted to have other agree.

“Your probably to high and mighty to play with us poor kids. Why don’t you go by some friends with all that gold you have or can you even do that?” Chizumi said with an attitude, rolling her eyes.

“I don’t believe you acting like this, Chizumi. We have been friends since we were little. Why are you doing this?” Reina asked.

“No, we weren’t friends. You have it all wrong. We only played together because my mother was a cook for your mom and she had no where else for me to go. We played until your mother kicked my mother out of the house and onto the streets.” Reina could see the anger that was slowly rising in Chizumi as her hands closed into a fist.

“But I had nothing to do with that and you know it!” Reina cried as her emotions was beginning to get the best of her.

Chizumi stomped her foot, nearly screaming. “Wrong! Then why did you stop talking to me after that!? Why was it that you were the one that stop coming outside to play? I stood outside plenty of days waiting on you but you never came. You just sat there and watched from you window. Was it that!?”

“I don’t know!” Reina yelled back only to feel herself falling to the ground. She hit the dirt hard, landing on a couple of rocks that tore the white stockings that she wore underneath her dress.

“See…look at you. Walking around in your fancy clothes. I hope the stain doesn’t come out…” Chizumi giggled to herself as the other kids began to join in. They started chanting leave  while some of them kicked dirt at her. “You don’t need friends. You don’t need anyone…”

Reina did not know what else to do as she curled up into a ball. She could feel the water forming underneath her eyes as she stood, glaring at Chizumi. “I hate you! I hate you all! I hope you all rot! No one wanted to play with you low-lives in the first place!” She screamed in rage before running off. She could hear the kids laugh and cheer at her departure and only continued to run as she started wiping her eyes.

She made a left with her head slow, trying the hide the tears that continued to fall. It was always the same thing. None of the kids wanted to play with her because of Chizumi and she couldn’t understand why. She had done nothing to them to hate her so but they did something to her to make her hate them. They had been treating her like that since she could remember and she was beginning to develop a bitter hate and attitude towards them even though she could stare out her room’s window for hours and watch them have fun. She hated them for it. She wished she could tear down the playground so no one could have fun.

As she desperately wiped her eyes of the tears that were falling and she could feel herself abruptly halt as if she had ran into something after crossing over a small bridge, falling to the ground yet again. Not knowing who or what is was, she quickly dried her tears and looked to see a boy push himself off the ground.

“Damn it, you should watch where you going!” The boy yelled, dusting himself off.

“What do you mean I should watch where I was going? You should have moved out of my way!” She shot back, making her way to her feet.

“The hell I shouldn’t. What’s the point of having eyes if you aren’t going to use them? You’re suppose to look before you step.” The boy countered, grumbling under his breath.

“What’s the matter boy, why do you hold your tongue to mere whispers?” She spoke tauntingly, quirking a brow. “Scare of getting in trouble like all the others?”

“I said…brats like you should be put in your place but I must of have been mistaken, no girl would ever carry themselves like you are.” Of course, he was speaking about her dirty white dress and torn stocking. Reina growled lowly as she went to smack him but had her hand caught.

“So now you try to smack me just because you can’t out talk me? Jeez, you’re really pathetic you know?”  Before he knew it, he dropped to a knee holding his shin from the well placed heel.

“Hmph, you’re not as tough as you try to appear.” She said with a smirk, pleased at her work. The boy rubbed his shin for a moment and quickly rose, sending his shoulder into hers and making her fall back on the ground.

“You should realize with your outclassed…” Hearing his words only made her angrier as she rose to her knees and dove at his legs, dropping him to the ground. “And you should not talk to so much!”

The two of them continued wrestling, both knocking each other back on the ground. In the midst of their fighting, Reina’s pouch fell out of her jacket pocket and joined them as they rolled around on the ground. The two of them continued until Reina gained the upper hand and slammed the boy into the ground, holding on his shoulders to pin him there. The boy was very surprise that someone of her demeanor could keep up with him. She was very petite and didn’t seem like she could lift a twig if she really had to but here she was.

“Do you give up?” She asked panting lightly, just as much tired as he was. The boy smirked and shifted his weight, rocking back and forth until she fell over so he could roll on top of her in the same position. “Do you?”

She cursed under her breath and arched a brow, wondering what he was staring at. When she finally peered her head upward, she caught the glimpse of brown pouch and instantly knew it was hers. A devious little grin appeared on the boys face as he pushed her into the ground and stood up to get the pouch. Reina winced in pain but quickly lashed out to grab his ankle, tripping him back to the ground as she rolled to stand up. However, it would not be enough. The boy landed on his hands and pushed up only to roll, snagging the pouch and rolling to his feet.

“Well, look what I found…” He said with a grin, tossing it up and down until she ran towards him.

“That’s mine! Give it back!” She demanded as she tried to snatch it back but always appeared to be one step ahead of her when she reached for it, moving before she even had a change to get it.

“It’s not anymore. I found it laying there on the ground and I think I will go get me something to eat with the gold I found..” He said sarcastically as he turned around only to feel her tugging and pulling on him. She even resorted to smacking and hitting him.

“Give it back before I tell the guards that you stole it!” She screamed, catching the attention of those around them. He grumbled lightly.

“Here, take the stupid thing. I wasn’t going to take it anyway.” He tossed it in the air behind him. Reina quickly pulled back and watched it. It took all of her attention to catch her it and when she did, she smiled to herself before turning to the boy who had started to walk away.

“Wait…” Reina called out to him. He listened and paused. During their little skirmish, his hood had fallen off so when he turned his head, she was able to see his wild black hair and crimson eyes.

“Why were you crying?” An abrupt question that caused Reina’s eyes to widen in response as she shook her head.

“I wasn’t crying. I don’t know what your talking about?” She answered, in complete denial. The boy chuckled softly to himself as he shook his head. “Whatever you say…”

It was then that she felt awkward. She couldn’t explain why but she didn’t want him to leave. Her hands fiddled within each other as she found herself at a lost of words. What was she suppose to say? When she finally figured out what to say to him, she noticed the sky and realized that it was already dark. She was extremely late and quickly rushed back home, completely forgetting about the bakery.

She ran as fast as her legs would carry her even though she was still tired from earlier. Actually, tired was an understatement. She knew she would be in trouble for staying out so late and also knew that she would have to explain what happen so along the way, she tried to come up with a believable story.

Completely out of breath, she climb the short set of stairs to the doors of their small mansion only to have Edward awaiting at the top of them, door already behind held open. It was no telling how long he had been out there waiting on her and she felt bad for taking so long. “I’m terribly sorry Edward,” she spoke lightly, nearly a murmur only to have Edward offer a smile on his mustache and nod warmly.

Edward would soon close the doors behind them and quickly begin walking up the stairs, motioning for her to follow. “I do believe you are in need of a clean set of clothes.”

Reina smiled and nodded as she ran up the stairs behind him, taking off her jacket. She wondered where her mother and father were this late. And how come they didn’t wish to see her as soon as she got home. And as soon as the thought crossed her mind and as if he could heard her thoughts, Edward turned to her. “Once you have changed, you father wishes to see you in the den.”

Those were the words she wished he had not said. She had much rather preferred being scolded and yelled out by her mother than her father because his acts of discipline were far worse. She sighed lightly, morale instantly dropping as she entered her room to find a set of silk white pajamas already laid out on her bed for her to dress in. Emiko greeted her as the door, meowing in her light tone as she brushed her form up against her leg.

As much as she wanted to stay in her room and play with her kitten, she knew she could not keep her father waiting. “Not right now, maybe when I get back.” She said sadly even though she highly doubted she would be able to. She quickly pulled off her ripped and dirty clothes and rather than putting them in a basket with her other clothes, she shoved them in the garbage can the best she could. She didn’t want her mother or anyone else it. Once she had put on her pajamas, she made her way down the stairs and to the left, passing the closet before turning into the den.

The den’s floor was made of burgundy carpet. The walls were quite different from the white halls that were in the main hall. It was painted grin with black repeated designs on the wall. There was two large bookshelves on each side of the large lion mouth fireplace. In front of the fireplace was a large business type chair. She knew her father was sitting there and slowly walked around the chair to come into view.

Stern features made of his face; solid and somewhat haunting. He wore his very short silver hair greased back. His attire was long-sleeved white dress shirt with a black sleeveless sweater over it. His legs that were covered in black dress pants were crossed and the fire danced of his black dress shoes. He was just pulling a cigar from his mouth when he caught her out of the corner of his eye.

“Good evening my dear, how was your day?” He questioned casually in a father like tone. Reina swallowed hard before speaking, nearly stumbling over her words. “All right daddy.”

“That’s good to hear, please come closer. You act as if you’re afraid of me…” His tone lingered as if he was hinting at her own impressions with such confidence that you could not convince him that he was wrong. Reina obeyed her father and moved forward until she was standing beside him, her small hands reading on his arm rest.

“So, what did you do today?” He questioned, tapping the ashes of his cigar into the tray on the other side of him.

“Nothing really….I played with Emiko most of the day and I went outside to run an errand for mother.” She answered with hint of hesitation.

“So I heard. What happened, did you get side-tracked? You didn’t make it home in time for dinner and you came in here well after dusk.” She already knew what he was getting to and figured she wouldn’t have it drawn out.

“I stopped by the playground to play with the children and I lost track of time. I’m terribly sorry daddy, I didn’t mean to.” A small tear slid down her cheek as she spoke, sniffling lightly.

“Why do you cry? A daughter of mine should never cry,” He spoke gently, almost in a caring manner as his free hand rose to wipe the wayward tear away. “Is that all you did while you were out or is something else you aren’t telling me?” The question completely caught her off guard. She had planned on leaving the event with the boy out of her story but he sounded as if he already knew what had happened. It would be no surprise because many of the guards send in reports everyday and her father was told most of the information. She didn’t know what to do.  There was a short pause of silence before she spoke, clearing her throat. “No, I’ve told you everything.”

She wished she could take back her words because before she knew it, her father’s hand was rising; lashing out towards her face. Her face jerked back as tears began to swell in her eyes, hands rising to hold the down reddish cheek. She stumbled backward with fear controlling her. Her eyes azure hues looking up in terror as she watched her father rise from his chair with his hand above his head, preparing for yet another blow. But before he could bring his hand down, her mother intervened and stopped him, grabbing his wrist.

“Stop it! You just stop it!” She cried as tried with all her might to pull him in the opposite direction, but for her small frame and physique, she could do no more but struggle with his hand. Her valiant attempt would not last long however. With a jerk of his hand, she fell backwards with her foot catching the end of the chair. She fell over and watched as he closed in Reina.

Fear had completely taken over her body as she stood frozen in place. Her hands raised above her head as she shut her eyes, crouching down into a ball. The tears continued to fall as she knew what was coming. Her cheek had already turned into a small bruise against her pearl white skin. “Please,” she whispered faintly and repeatedly, not wanting to be hit again but it appeared as if her father did not listen as he struck her again across her arm with so much force that she went rolling off to the left, smacking the floor.

“Stop hitting my baby! Please, stop it! She did mean it!!!” Her mother cried helpless from the floor, pulling herself up to try to stop him again. He paused, head turning to eye his wife with a clear vision of malevolence swarming within his hues.

“She lied to me! She needs to be punished! How dare she go out to play when I told her not to speak with such lowly people! How dare they even open their mouths to my daughter, the sole daughter of the Blackstone name!?” His words came like thunder, turning back to place his attention on Reina. “Just like are being punished, they will suffer the same for disobeying my wishes!”

Reina scooted along the around, cowering in fear just as Edward approached her, extending his hand to her. “Come now, Lady Blackstone.” His voice was still as aged and calm as before, as if emotions did not bound him. She nodded and quickly took his hand, nearly leaping in his arms as he picked her up. Surprisingly, Reina and her mother carried the same traits when it came to their bodies; small and fragile.

Up the stairs they went, away from her father’s yelling and into the silence of her room. Edward carried her all the way to her bed, pulling back the covers before laying her down. His hand caressed her face for a moment as he smiled, tapping her nose to try to cheer up and stop the tears. “I’ll calm him down. You just get some sleep, all right?”

Rather than answer with her voice, she nodded and rolled over to see her cat Emiko leaping on the bed to lay with her. It had began to purr even before she reached for it, hand scratching gently behind the ear as it rubbed its face against the palm of her hand. It continued until it brushed up against Reina’s stomach, falling on its side playfully before stretching out against her. Reina continued to pet until she grew sleepy. Emiko always had a way with taking her mind off the things around her. Her fingers touched her face, where the bruise sat. A quick flash of the blow nearly made her jump as buried her head into the pillow and closed her eyes, listening the light sound of her cat purring until she finally fell off to sleep.

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Nightfall had soon taken its place in the sky, revealing the amazing stars and the alluring moon. It was a clear and cool night, like all the rest during the autumn. The water during this time of the year had an amazing attribute that could be found no where else on Gaia and was this was what Astrae was known for. During the five seasons, the water at night almost looked as if it was glowing when the moon was out. It’s radiance would reflect on the trees and create luminescent shine that carried throughout the entire village. It was a truly remarkable and beautiful trademark of the village.

Damn…I see why Shunpei wouldn’t shut up about this place…it isn’t half bad… The boy thought, crouched over on a branch in a tree with a full bag of bread on his back. His hand held on to the bag tightly with the sting provided as stood up and turned around and looked over the gate. He could see the caravan he had came with in the distance, but he had no intention on going that way. Where should I crash tonight?

The intriguing though stumped him until he remembered a small cave underneath part of the waterfall. He had seen it on his way up here and thought of it was a perfect place. It was a secluded place and he knew there he would not be bothered. With a light grin on his face, he jumped off the branch that stretched over the small trench and landed on the other side of the gate. Making sure the close was clear, he nodded as he threw back on his hood to conceal his face and started making his way down the path.

“And just were in the hell do you think your going?” The voice stopped him in his strike. It was a famine tone but it was more of a tomboy and he knew exactly who it was.

“Yukari,” A faint and nervous chuckle escaped him as he did not bother to turn around. “…going to find a place to crash for the night?”

“He has food! I want food! How does Kaito get food? Not fair!” Tomo called out, stomping his feet and pointing. As Yukari started to approach him, Kaito turned around and began to backtrack. He needed to keep his distance from her. “Uh…look, I didn’t mean have you all out looking for me. How was I suppose to know Shunpei would send you two to look for me?”

“Because he always does, you idiot!” Yukari nearly screamed. She remembered Tomo talking something about bread and looked over his form. She could smell it now; the warm and probably delicious biscuits. “How did you get them?” Yukari asked in a mother-like tone, removing her hood and running her hand through her short dirty blonde hair.

“I brought them of course,” Kaito answered, pulling the back to the front of body. Tomo quickly started to run, hands and fingers ready to snag the bag for himself to eat them all but like all of the previous times, he failed miserably. Kaito stepped to the left and watched as Tomo ran pass.

“You? How? Where you get the money? I know you didn’t have any…” She asked as she played the possibilities in her head. “He stole monies!” Tomo shouted, still disappointed at his failed attempt. “But we did too!”

Yukari giggled lightly to herself as reached into her back overall pocket, pulling out a hand full of gold coins. Kaito eyes went wide as he saw the sparkle of the coins. “Tomo actually helped me. I think I have enough here to last us for awhile.”

“Where did you get all of that!?” Kaito asked excitedly.

“We took them from the guards posted out by the gate. We couldn’t find a way to get into the village and got tired looking for you, so we went to have some fun with the guards. Tomo did all the work.”

“Yep, yep!” Tomo said clapping his hands. Kaito nodded to Tomo and then to Yukari, grinning. “Well, I have dinner for tonight. Come on before Shun-“

“Before I find you?” Kaito’s body would not move, frozen in place despite his mind giving his legs to orders. Yukari quickly tucked her coins back into her pocket and pull small cloak around her chest before Shunpei could see anything as she knew he would be totally focused on Kaito.

“Shunpei! I was just getting ready to look for you, eh…but it seems you have found me first. What do you know,” Sarcasm reeked from his tone as he slowly towards around, catching glimpse of the left hook that crashed into his face and sent him swaying to the right. “Where were you?” Shunpei asked calmly, covering the ground that Kaito stumbled over to deliver a right before he could even answer. “Where’d you get the gold to buy some bread?” Kaito foot caught the earth, halting his movement. His head rose to see Shunpei’s fist rising into a uppercut to the stomach that dropped him to his knees.

Blood spewed from his mouth as his hands lashed out. Gasping for air, he quickly looked up and pushed off to the left to avoid Shunpei’s devastating downward punch that broke into the leveled ground. Rolling on to his feet, Kaito tripped into a nearby tree. He was dazed. The two blows that connected had him bobbing in and out of consciousness. It was so bad that he couldn’t speak correctly, only being able to stutter the first few words that came out of his mouth.

Yukari and Tomo watched the beaten Kaito was receiving. They knew that this was coming because it had happened before. Kaito was always the one getting in trouble when it came to Shunpei and this was how he was dealt with. But they found it amazing that despite knowing that this would be the outcome, he continued to do things as if he was not like everyone else. Each time he was struck, he kept getting back up and trying harder. It was almost as if he wanted to fight Shunpei.

Pulling his fist from the ground, Shunpei stepped forward on his right foot and swayed to the left; upper body rocking with the flow of his movements. Kaito’s crimson hues watched but it was too many of them to keep track up. His vision had him seeing triple. Closing in, Shunpei left hand hooked inward as it shot out towards Kaito’s face. It was clearly finishing blow and Kaito knew this attack all too well.

With a deep breath, Kaito quickly dropped to the ground avoiding the blow that ripped the bark off the area of the tree and left it bare. With his opening, he quickly pushed off the ground and brought his first upward to connect with Shunpei’s chin.

A soft grin appeared on his lips as he smacked them. “Nice, but your too slow..” Awkwardly leaning to the left after his hook, Shunpei’s foot pivoted against the earth which allowed him to spin and dodge Kaito’s attack. Turning completely around, he brought that same left fist downward which smashed in the back of Kaito’s skull and sent him plummeting into the ground.

Kaito’s smacked the ground with force. Yukari and Tomo winced as they literally watched his body bounced off the ground like a small ball. Shunpei wiped his hands as he walked over to him and took a knee beside his face. “You still don’t have what it takes, kid.”

Pulling up a tall strand of grass as he stood up, Shunpei turned to walk back towards with caravan with Kaito’s bag of bread in hand and chewing on the strand of grass at the corner of his mouth. “Yukari, Tomo…tell him I’m taking this bread to give to elderly. The two loaves there are you all to split. I’m sure I’ll find the man he stole this from in town and give him back his stolen gold tomorrow.”

The two of them only nodded as he walked off, waiting until he was gone to approach Kaito who had drifted off to sleep soon after being knocked unconscious. They tried everything they could to wake him but they knew from before that only one thing would get him up. Remembering the area that he had spoken about earlier, Yukari led Tomo to the small cave within the waterfall as Tomo carried Kaito and the sleeping bags.

After setting up their little area of tonight, they started a small fire to bring light to dark cave until they were ready to go to sleep. Tomo had went out a caught them three fish for their dinner, roasting the fish over the open fire. Yukari placed Kaito in his sleeping bag which was against the cave wall where she knew he would want to before sitting in front of the fire with Tomo.

Stirring in the warm confines of the sleeping bag, Kaito slowly awoke from his slumber with a throbbing pain in his stomach and head. The pain alone caused him to clinch his head and wince from the sharp suffering. He groaned lightly as he pulled him up to a sitting position, yawning loudly as he looked around. His nose picked up food just as he stomach began to growl. He would smell the very thing he had been carving for the past two days and quickly scurried over to the blur of light which he knew was the fire.

As he moved, his vision became clearer. The pain that had only appeared in his head and stomach began to expand to other reaches of his body until it virtually stopped him in his tracks. His mouth felt sore as he recalled the punches and his body ached from slamming into the ground. Although he was in pain, he crawled his way over to the fire as Yukari and Tomo watched curiously to see whether he could make it. Unfortunately, he couldn’t.

“You need help?” Tomo asked helpfully, ready to aid his friend. Kaito chuckled lightly as he collapsed back on the stone floor of the cave and nodded. “Thanks.”

“When will you ever learn?” Yukari asked rolling her eyes. “You should really stop trying to get on Shunpei’s bad side or he might really hurt you.”

“Hmph, the only reason he able to land all those blows was because I hadn’t eaten.” Kaito said confidently after Tomo had placed near the fire. “He took advantage of the situation..”

“Uh huh, then what happen all the other times? Were you hungry then too?” She said with a giggle, arching her brow.

“Whatever, I know one of these days I will land a blow. A good clean blow…” Kaito said as he started to daze off, visualizing the connecting blow in a crowd of people surrounding him. A clean knockout which dropped him to the floor with no contest. The crowd roaring his cheers as they congratulated him on his victory…

“In your dreams. You need to stop it. I’m getting tired of having to treat your wounds.” Yukari explained almost in a concern matter, hands running through her now visible short blonde hair.

“Yeah, Tomo tired of carrying! You heavy!” Tomo added.

Kaito sighed deeply as he adjusted himself the best way he could without invoking the pain throughout his body, seeing how had it a calmed. “You know, you would have gotten caught if I hadn’t tried to hit him..”

Yukari shook her head. “He took what I had after he got through with you.”

Kaito shook his head and grew silent. Despite all that had happened, he mind was being drawn elsewhere; on the thought of the girl that he had tussled. Yukari watched him for a moment as his chin sunk down below his arms that were resting on his knees, flames dancing off his eyes.

“Kaito, what’s up?” Yukari asked to break the silence. “I haven’t seen you this quiet before.” It seemed like her question didn’t quite reach his ears as continued to stare off into the fire mindlessly. Irritated from him ignoring her, she took her stick that was resting near the fire and drove it into his arm.

The heated tip sent that impulse of pain through out his arm that made him jump and, nearly glaring at her as he picked up a small pebble and tossed at her head. “What the hell was that for?”

Yukari head tilted back like a small push from a bobble head, hands rising to the rub the spot. “You were ignoring me.”

“Was not…” Kaito said under his breath, looking away. “You just want attention…”

“What was that?” Yukari asked leaning in, hand enveloping her ear.

“Tomo join!” Coming over the small fire, Tomo fell directly on top of both of them, smothering them into the cave ground cheerfully. Though very much in pain, they all laughed amongst themselves and continued to play around.

“All right, I’m going to call it a night.” Kaito said relieving himself from the wrestling pile as Tomo and Yukari stopped as well.

“Awww…we just got started!” Tomo sadly stated.

“Yeah, it’s not like you to leave so early in the night. What’s with you?” Yukari added, noticing the change in his behavior.

“Nothing really, I guess I’m kinda of tired.” Kaito answered in a faint voice. Yukari gave him a stern look; eyes searching for something. She knew that something was out of place but just could not pin point it. As her attempt slowly leaned to failure, se finally gave up and wave her hand at him. “All right, see you tomorrow.”

Tomo looked at Yukari, not understanding why she had not tried to make him stay to play with them but Yukari soon shot him a wink as Kaito turned around, waving them both off as he left the cave.

His walked would lead him a little bit further down the mountain side of the waterfall to small area where some of the fall’s waters fell to make a small waterfall and pool just left of the large one. He sighed lightly as he removed his cloak from his body and laid it out in front of a tree, near one of the roots.

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