Hiko had told Tationy that they were taking a journey together. It seemed easier than trying to explain everything to her when they were in a rush to leave. Tatsuya had assured her it would be alright and she put up no resistance as they left the Retreat of the Empress. He had a nagging feeling in his stomach. It had been too easy to leave and it would be days before he would let down his guard enough for them to stop.
He was quiet, even more so than he normally was. His head lifted a moment as he heard a sound, before looking back to the small bucket he had collected from a campsite that had been abandoned quickly. “Hiko?” He heard her voice whisper.
“What are you doing?”
“Making dye.” He told her simply.
“Dye for what?”
“What is wrong with my hair?”
“Then why do I need to dye it?”
He closed his eyes and sighed deeply. “Why are you always asking questions, woman?”
“Because I can.” She voiced.
“Well you need to stop it. Where we are going women don’t ask questions.”
“Not a single question?” She asked.
He could feel his head beginning to pound. “You remain silent unless you are asked a question when in the company of others. Stand like a lady, speak like a lady.” He voiced. “Your hair is rare in Aslann, outside of Aslann we might as well turn ourselves over to the enemy.”
“What enemy?” She questioned.
He raked his fingers through his hair, “Everyone.”
“How did we make ourselves enemies to everyone.” He knew it, she was doing it on purpose now as he heard her laugh softly.
“Woman.” He broke the silence, “You need to take this seriously. After this is finished you need to run it through your hair and let it dry. Then you need to do something with your hair. Women wear it up or pinned back. Your hair too often looks like the hair of a man.”
“I like my hair.” She voiced.
He ignored her words and continued, “Never allow yourself to be alone with a man you are not married too.”
“Well I already broke that rule.” She said as she laughed to herself.
He ground more berries into the bucket, not responding to her words. There was no point in discussing it further with her. This was how it was and she just had to except it.
He had finished the dye and had given it to her. Though she stubbornly refused to use it. He packed the gear in packs while he left her to attend to her hair. He had taken the items from travelers during the second day of their journey, leaving a large amount of coin for their unknowing generosity. “Hiko.”
He frowned, “If your hair is not dyed then we have nothing to talk about.” He said as he turned to face her crossing his arms. His lips parted slightly as he stared at her.
“I don’t think I did the hair right.”
He stumbled over his words a moment, “It looks good.” The eyes of the gods were hardly noticeable with her hair now black. She hardly looked like the same girl and even stood with her hands in front of her and feet together like a proper lady would. “We should get some rest, we will try to make some distance tomorrow.” He said turning away quickly.
They laid under the stars and Hiko walked her through their story. “If anyone ask you, your name is Ako Kari born of the Anami clan. I am Tadayoshi Kari your husband. Our marriage was arranged by your father. We were residing in Bicorla, but the dry seasons destroyed the farm land so we are heading East toward Teramata to start anew. We have only been wed for a few months and had no prior contact with each other before the union. That will explain our lack of knowledge of each other.”
“What if someone ask about my eyes?”
“Tell them that such delicate matters are better left unspoken. Do not make up anything, they will infer what they wish.” He stated.
“Alright.” She said. There was more she wanted to ask, but he rolled to his side his back now to her. She took it as him having nothing more to say to her and she sighed as she watched the stars until she drifted off to sleep.
That morning Hiko had laid out for her a tattered old dress. It was a lot different than the dresses she had been wearing. Once she was dressed he helped her put the pack on her back and she instantly complained that it was too heavy. “Get used to it.” He had told her sharply.
Through their journey she complained about everything. Her feet hurt, the pack was too heavy, it was raining to much, there was nothing to look at. The non-stop ‘are we there yet’ questions caused Hiko to snap at her more than once. He was reminded how young she was the further away from the Retreat of the Empress they got.
They slept for very small periods of time, traveling by foot as much as they could trying to lengthen the distance between them and the Saitama who they had left behind. Tationy had made note that Hiko seemed to move with a purpose, as though he knew exactly where he was heading. She had tried to ask him several times about their destination, but he ‘pulled a Mikio’ on her and avoided it.
For Tationy, traveling with Hiko was just as bad as traveling with Mikio. Neither said much of anything and when he did, the two always ended up arguing. Eventually though, they had arrived at a small village during the wee hours of the night. During the day they would have been shown to the meeting hall, but considering that most of the village was sleeping a man that greeted them along the path took them to the small home of the Elder.
It really could not be called a home. It was more like a prison cell. There was hardly any room to move around. Though he seemed to have many possessions of value packed within the homestead. “Tadayoshi, you said.” The Elder spoke. He was old and had introduced himself as Erobus of the Kari. Hiko was certain that Tationy had a ton of question, she always did and was grateful when she remained silent.
“You and your wife have come a long way. We do not have much, but if your Kari blood runs true you are welcome to stay.”
“Thank you Elder Kari.”
“Iashi will show you and your wife where you may lay your heads for the night.” He stated. Hiko thanked the man as the one who had greeted them upon their arrival showed them to a small homestead.
“Baito.” The elder spoke, “You appear to be lost in thought, is your mind on the eyes of that girl?”
“Regardless of what he says, she is no Anami.”
“Yes, he is being deceitful.”
“If you knew then why are you allowing them to stay?”
“He came here because they are running from something. He thought they would be safe here. This is what I think. I do not believe he would have come here, under any normal circumstances.”
“You think he is from Aslann?”
“The eyes that girl has would suggest that is exactly where they came from.”
“So how much of their story is true?”
“Are you asking for a reason?” The elder questioned and got silence. “I would wager that the deception goes very deep.” The elder gauged him a moment, “You are rarely serious. You are probably the most genial Kari that exist and yet here you are with a look on your face that I have not witnessed in many years. This bothers you.”
“If they bring trouble to this village, I will not be happy.” He responded.
“I might be a little happy.” The elder said as he rotated his shoulders before stretching his limbs. “It has been a long time since this old man has stood the good fight.”
Baito glanced at the elder for a moment and shook his head, “I see you are going to be just as much trouble as they are.”
The elder gave a flippant wave of his hand, “It will be just like old times then.”
Iashi showed them to a small homestead. Just as quickly as they arrived, Iashi departed leaving the two of them alone. It was not the first time Tationy had stayed in a shack, the last time was with Mikio and she did get rather used to living there with him, but this time was different. She glanced toward Hiko as he took a seat at the table. He had not smoked once since they left. It was strange to see him without one. “Hiko.”
“Get ready for bed. They will most likely wake us up early.”
“Uhh, alright.” She said nervously as she moved behind the screens to remove her clothing. “Are they really Kari?”
“How? I mean I thought all the Kari went to Aslann.”
“Not all of them.”
“Ohh, so…uh…I thought the Kari were all assassins.”
He sighed, “There was a disagreement back then. My grandfather told Suya and I when we were little that over half the clan wanted to go to Aslann, but there was a small group that refused. Said it was not the way of the Kari to serve any lord, even if he was a righteous one.”
“Didn’t the Kari serve the Dragon Lords?”
“Served, no. The Kari were assassins for the Dragon Lords, but unlike the Sweela we did not pledge our loyalty to them. We worked for anyone.”
“Does the Kari still train as assassins?” She asked and his attention turned to the screen as he heard her clothing fall.
He held his breath a moment. He told himself to not watch her that it was not proper, but his eyes fixed on her anyways. He was not the type of man to lust over a woman. There had only been one that had captured his heart and she cast it aside just as quickly. As he stared at her he told himself that she was not that woman even though he knew and had accepted that in one life, she was. “Hiko, did you hear me?” She questioned.
“Ahh.” He responded forcing himself to look away. “Those of us left still train in the ways of the Kari, though there are no new generations to teach.”
“That is so sad. I really do not understand why the clans of Aslann have distanced themselves. All that does is limit their options.”
“Do you want children?”
Her body went stiff. Hiko turned his attention toward her again and noticed how ridged her form had become. “I never really thought about it. Why do you ask?”
“The women in this village will ask you about children, you should probably practice your response. Remember what I told you, do not give anymore information than is necessary. Keep it simple, it will be easier for you to remember and do not make anything up. That will just cause issues.”
Foolishly she had thought that she and Hiko would always be together. “Ohh. Do you want children?” She asked.
“Boys or girls?”
“Girls.” He said.
She peeked around the screen at him a surprised look on her face. “I can’t picture you with girls.”
“Well your so….uhh…hmmm.” She made a face he could not read before saying, “Tense.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“Well the first time she brings a boy home, you will probably pop a vein in your forehead.” She laughed which only made him frown.
“Get some sleep.”
Her lips pouted as she eyed him, “What about you?”
“What about me?”
“You are not going to sleep in that chair are you?”
Hiko stared at her a moment, “No I am going to sleep on the floor.”
“Are you sure you will be alright. The floor is …. ”
“I will be fine.” He said cutting her off from finishing her words.
He was not exactly sleeping. He had tried though the floor had not been at all comfortable. Hiko told himself he had gotten too spoiled through the years as the Commander for the Ruthlbahdo. When the knock came to the door he thought nothing of it at first until he heard the knob turn. He jumped up quickly and moved toward the bed.
He perched himself over Tationy in an intimate pose. He just planned on laying next to her, but somehow he put the two of them in a compromising position. Thankfully she was so ridged with fear she did not say anything as she stared up at him. Her lips parted to speak, that was when the low whistle came. “Sorry, we don’t usually knock.” Iashi said. “I will wait outside.”
They both heard the door close as Hiko stared down at her. He did not move right away and he was careful not to touch her more than was necessary. He leaned down toward her until he was capable of whispering in her ear. “Sorry.” He pulled himself away from the situation quickly, pulling his clothes on. “I will be back later.”
She nervously nodded her head. She wondered if her body was as red as it felt as she watched him depart the small homestead.
When Hiko stepped out of the small homestead their was silence. He crossed his arms and looked down the path as Iashi fidgeted. After a few moments, he rubbed the back of his neck. “Ahh, guess I should have warned you we forget to knock around these parts.”
Hiko changed the subject by asking a question he wanted to ask the night they met, “What happened to your hair?”
“Ahh noticed that did you? A few months ago I interjected myself in some business I should have stayed out of. This guy had it in his filthy hands and was not about to let it go, so I chopped it off to get myself free.” He said, then paused a moment, “Tadayoshi, sorry about walking in on the two of you, I did not see anything.” Hiko gave a brief nod of his head. “Well we better get going, Elder Kari will have a fit if we are late getting work done.”
“Good morning, Suemeli.”
“Eri, you are early.” Suemeli said as she finished making the bed and turned to look at the older woman.
“Sorry, Sorry.” She said with a friendly smile. “We have a lot to do today.”
“The laundry is not going anyplace.”
“I am not talking about that.”
“What is it then?”
“Iashi did not tell you?”
Suemeli put her finger to her lip, tapping slightly as she considered the question. “He did not mention anything, what is it?”
“That husband of yours.” Eri said with a shake of her head, “Last night another Kari and his wife arrived.”
“Really?” Suemeli asked as a smile traveled across her lips. “What is she like?”
“No idea, I have not met her. Iashi told Sesiago last night. He insisted we go and make her feel welcome.”
Suemeli put her hands on her hips, “I wonder why Iashi did not say anything. He never tells me the things he should.” She said with a roll of her eyes.
Eri chuckled softly, “Sesiago is just the opposite. He has to cover the whole day and not leave out a single detail, even the boring stuff.”
“He cannot be too boring, you do have four children.” Suemeli pointed out.
The two walked from the small homestead that belong to Suemeli and her husband Iashi, “If he has his way we will be having more.”
“You are so lucky. Iashi and I try so hard and the result is always the same.”
“Perhaps your trying to hard.”
“Is there such a thing?” Suemeli questioned.
The older woman chuckled softly at the considerably younger Suemeli.
Tationy was up and stretching. She had told herself to just stay in bed, but without Hiko around she had gotten bored not to mention she could not get the image of him on top of her out of her head. They had entered the house uninvited, Suemeli peeked through the lattice. “Suemeli behave yourself.” Eri whispered.
“She is so pretty.” Suemeli said out loud which caused Tationy to jump and scream.
The village was small, the moment Tationy screamed everyone heard it and Hiko instantly went to run to her. He was stopped, by a hand grabbing his arm tightly. “Such emotion.” The man said. “The look of panic on your face shows weakness.”
Hiko did his best to hide the fear and replace it with something neutral. His eyes kept fixed on the door. “Ahh, Tadayoshi, your heart is pounding pretty fast.” Iashi said.
“You’re angry.” The man gripping his arm remarked, “Fear stricken. These are weaknesses. Someone as old as you should know that already.”
“I don’t need a lecture.” Hiko finally spoke.
“Perhaps not a lecture, but you certainly need to be reminded about the ways of the Kari.”
“Ahh Sesiago, play nice. Tadayoshi just got here.”
“He can’t tell the difference between an actual threat and a perceived one any longer.” He responded, letting go of Hiko’s arm. “Our wives went to visit your wife. That scream probably has something to do with Suemeli.”
“Ahh my wife can be rather unusual. Saitama blood is strange.”
Hiko turned his head sharply and stared at Iashi, “Your wife is Saitama?”
“Ahh, Sesiago found her six winters ago pretty badly injured near the mountains.”
“She had been thrown from a carriage and fell down to the lower mountain path. Thought she was dead at first.” Sesiago explained briefly.
“Why didn’t she return to the Saitama?”
“Ahh, she didn’t want too.” Iashi voiced. “The elder tried many times to send her on her way, but she always returned. Eventually he gave up and just let her stay. We were married a couple of winters ago.” Hiko sighed inwardly, Saitama that was all he needed. “Sesiago is married to Eri. She and Suemeli are good friends. They will take care of your wife.”
Tationy nervously walked with the women as they showed her about the village. After they had startled her they introduced themselves as Eri and Suemeli. Suemeli had told Tationy that she was the wife of Iashi, which instantly caused her to blush remembering the circumstances of his arrival that morning. “Ohh, so pretty.” Suemeli said as she caught a glimpse of her as they walked.
“Did Iashi walk in on something this morning?” Eri was far to perceptive for Tationy’s liking so she avoided the question by changing the topic.
“What sort of work are the men doing?”
Eri smiled knowingly, “Well some of them are tending to the fields, others are chopping wood, doing repairs.” She rattled off several things then added, “If you are wondering where your husband is, we will take the long way to where we are heading so you can see him.”
Suemeli giggled softly. “I remember being like that.”
“What are you talking about, you are still like that. We would be taking the long way even if Ako was not here.”
Suemeli made a face at Eri who laughed softly. They seemed so happy to Tationy and it was a strange experience to be around people who were not on edge. “How long have you been married to Tada….Tada….”
“Tadayoshi.” Eri said.
“Think he will get mad if I just call him Yoshi?”
“Probably.” Tationy said under her breath though part of her wanted to see the woman with the little tiny child like voice that reminded her of Jennifer Tilly’s to call him that.
They shuffled down a path away from the main walkway of the village. In the distance Tationy’s eyes focused in on Hiko who was working with the other men. Though honestly to her it looked more like standing around. She wanted to call out his name and say hello, but she refrained from doing so. “Iashi, your so mean.” Suemeli said as she continued to walk, though turned and walked backwards a moment to give her husband a once over.
“Ahh, why am I mean?”
“You did not tell me about Ako.”
“Ahh, sorry it slipped my mind.” He said with a smile.
She pointed her finger at him as though she was going to say something further, but turned herself around mid-stride and sighed. “Iashi is such a pain.”
Eri laughed softly. She had not said hello to her husband, she knew well that he was working and would not appreciate being distracted. “You are not going to say hello to Tadayoshi.”
“No.” Tationy said, “He, would not like being interrupted.”
“Ohh, he sounds like Sesiago.” Suemeli pointed out.
“Many of the Kari men are like that Suemeli, you simply got one that stands out amongst his clan.”
“Is Iashi so different?” She questioned aloud.
“I think the Gods broke the mold when they made him.”
Suemeli smiled rather proud of her husband. “Ohh look it is your little ones.” Suemeli said as she jumped and waved her hand so the children could see her.
“Mother.” The oldest spoke, “We finished our studies can we head to the market? The girls want some Ormat.”
Eri gave a brief nod of her head, “Do you have coin?” She questioned and he gave a nod of his head as a nearby dog howled which caused Suemeli to jump, squealing softly. Suemeli turned and scowled at Iashi who was laughing which caused Eri to turn her attention away from her children. “Alright, do not be late getting back and stay out of trouble.” She told them as she turned her attention back to them.
“We will.” The oldest said as the children said their goodbyes to their mother.
Eri sighed as she began to walk again, “How many….how many children do you have?” Tationy questioned.
“Just the four. The oldest is Kin, he is fourteen. Then Elizie who is twelve. The youngest are the twins, Hana and Asuka who are ten. They do not actually look alike. Asuka looks like her father. I was so surprised when she was born, the first of them with black hair.”
“Do the Kari only have black hair?” She asked having noticed a man with brown hair that was working with the other men.
“Most of them do. A small number of them will have brown hair. It is pretty rare among the Kari though. It usually happens when they mix with the Maiba.”
“Baito has brown hair.” Suemeli interjected. “He is both Kari and Maiba. He and Eri are siblings, though she is not Kari.”
Eri could tell that Ako wanted to ask her. “My father died when I was little.” Eri began as she turned her head to smile at Tationy. “He gambled and drank away all the money he had. He saddled my mother with a lot of debt and people came collecting one day. A Kari who was hired to assassinate the man trying to collect the debt, took pity on her. He had not married and there was some unhappiness amongst the clan because he had no children. So the rest is history. We came here and they married. He treated me just like I was his own and a few years later Baito came along. He is pretty handsome my baby brother, but stubborn just like his father. He refuses to marry.”
Tationy looked back over her shoulder toward where the men were working. Her eyes focused in on Baito and when he turned his head to see who was staring at him she tripped over her own feet and crashed into Suemeli. Eri glanced toward her brother, a frown coming to her lips as she shook her head at him.
They had finally arrived to their destination. They worked diligently cleaning the wash and putting it up to dry. “So this is your job within the village?” Tationy asked.
“Yes and yours too now. It is the best job to have in the village.” Suemeli said.
“Why me?” Tationy questioned.
“Everyone in the village believes it takes us all day to do laundry, so they thought we could use an extra pair of hands.” Eri explained.
“It doesn’t take you all day?”
“It takes about half the day.”
“Then the rest of the day we have to do whatever we want.” Suemeli finished.
“Suemeli likes to gossip and go to the shrine, so we will probably do that, but you will need to keep it a secret from your husband. We don’t want them knowing we have so much free time.” Eri explained.
“No one checks on you?’
“Why would anyone check on us?” Suemeli asked as she brought her hand to her cheek and considered the question.
“No one. In your old village did they check on you?”
Tationy remembered Hiko’s words about not making anything up, “My mother was always watching me.”
“Well mothers do that.” Eri explained. “You will understand when you become one.”
“Have you and Tada….Tada….” Suemeli sighed, “Yoshi talked about having children yet?”
She felt like deer staring at the headlights of an oncoming car, “We are…”
She did not even get a moment to finish her sentence when Suemeli squealed with excitement. “Maybe we will get pregnant at the same time. That would be so great. We can go through everything together. Ohh, Eri you have to try to get pregnant too.”
Tationy asked herself in her head ‘what just happened’ as she blinked at Suemeli. “Well that should not be an issue. Sesiago wants more sons. He would have tossed our daughters back like he does with the fish when they are too small if he could have.”
“He did not want girls?” Tationy questioned.
“No, he wanted all boys. What about Tadayoshi?”
“He wants girls, he says.”
“Really?” Eri asked.
“Most of the Kari men always say they want sons, you got yourself a good man if he is saying he wants daughters.”
“Why is that?”
“It shows he respects women.”
Tationy thought about Eri’s words which reminded her of something Pai Pai had told her about Hiko not liking places like the Petal House before her mind instantly flashed back to the small homestead and him being on top of her. He had apologized. Even though he was rough around the edges, Eri’s words seemed to make sense to her. She was blushing, she could feel it from her toes to the top of her head.
“Ohh, so pretty.” Suemeli said which caused Tationy to blush even more.
“You blush a lot.” Eri pointed out.
“There is no need to apologize it is simply not something we see often here.”
“Ahh so the extra pair of hands did help.” Iashi said as he along with Sesiago and Tadayoshi joined the ladies.
“We just did not have that much to do today.” Eri explained.
“Seeing your not busy, then you can come with us.” Sesiago voiced.
“Of course.” Eri remarked without even asking where they were going. Iashi wrapped his arms around Suemeli leaning in to kiss her. The others quickly averted their eyes, trying to look at anything that was not the amorous couple.
“Ohh, Iashi.” Suemeli said as their kiss came to an end. Her voice was excited, “Guess what, Yoshi and Ako are going to have a baby with us.”
Tationy choked as Eri stifled a laugh. Sesiago glanced at his wife disapprovingly as Hiko turned his attention toward Tationy who was trying desperately to pretend like she was invisible. “Ahh is that so? That explains what I seen this morning.”
Hiko gave Iashi a hard stare, “You said you did not see anything.”
“Ahh, I lied.” He voiced.
Hiko frowned as he stepped forward. A pink hue traveled across Tationy’s face again. “So cute.” Suemeli said which halted Hiko from moving further as his attention was drawn toward Tationy.
Sesiago gave the whole lot a disapproving look as he turned and began to walk. “If you have time to talk, you have time to walk.”
They walked slowly behind the others, “What did you say to them?” He questioned.
“I did not say anything. They asked me about children and I went to respond, but Suemeli interpreted it how she wished, before I could finish. She is exhausting.” Tationy spoke. “I am not used to being around anyone so energetic. It is not such a problem is it?” She whispered.
Hiko did not respond choosing to listen to the others talk instead.
“She is so cute. She gets this pink color to her when she is embarrassed. She is so shy, Iashi.”
“Ahh, she seems the type.”
“Do you think my hair would look good like hers?”
“Ahh, your hair would look good anyway you want to wear it.”
“I am so excited. We are going to have a baby. Yoshi and Ako will too. I told Eri that she and Sesiago have to have one too. We can all be pregnant together. It will be so much fun.”
Iashi turned his head slightly and smiled. It was not the Kari way, but he simply could not help himself as he listened to Suemeli ramble on and on, her excited little voice getting louder the more she talked.
“What do you think of her?” Sesiago questioned.
“She seems very quiet.”
“The scream this morning?”
“Suemeli got a little excited and startled her.”
“I figured as much. Your work was completed rather quickly with her assistance, perhaps I need to speak with the Elder.”
“We had a very small amount of work today. Tomorrow will be busy with all of the linens.”
“Let me know if you continue to finish early, nothing is gained by idle hands.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Where are we going?” Tationy asked Hiko.
“Don’t know.” He told her as they walked further through the village, until arriving to a small enclosed area. Surrounding it was boulders and within it, it was lined with beautiful trees, cover in pink blossoms. A waterfall was not far away and several small ponds lined the area.
Hiko’s attention focused in on something off to one corner of the enclosed area. As they approached it, his eyes widened until the small group finally stopped. “Tadayoshi, why don’t you come closer.” Sesiago said as Hiko stepped forward. Suemeli grabbed Tationy’s hand pulling her close to her so she could see. “The look on your face says your surprised.”
“I was unaware there were any shrines left.”
“Ahh, this is the only one.” Iashi said.
Tationy whispered to Ako, “Shrine to what?”
“Ohh, don’t let Eri hear you say that, she will lecture you for hours on the importance of knowing the history of Kazuma and Tearra.”
“The shrine that once stood here was destroyed during the war. One of the great turtle pillars is still erect near the Elders homestead. These two statues were part of the garden and this enclosure is probably the only reason they survived.” Sesiago explained.
There was silence as Sesiago closed his eyes. The silence was quickly broken when he head Tationy’s soft voice ask, “Forgive my ignorance, why were they destroyed?”
“Tadayoshi, you never told her the story?” He asked.
Sesiago’s eyes remained closed as both Iashi and Hiko looked toward him. “It never came up.” Hiko remarked.
Sesiago hid the fact that he was not happy with the answer he received. “Kazuma once reigned as King. All of this land from here to Aslann, from the Kingdom of the Dragon Lords to Barmiatlo was all his. He created everything. He was lonely though.”
“Where was Tearra and the other Gods?” Tationy asked.
“They didn’t exist.” Hiko told her.
“I don’t understand.”
“Ahh, Kazuma created them.” Iashi said simply.
“He created them from parts of his emotions he repressed.” Eri explained. “Hisoka was love. Ryozo was anger. Rin was envy. Tearra was compassion.”
“Wasn’t Tearra his queen?”
“She was.” Sesiago said, “He created the other Gods. Their flawed personalities caused them to battle one another and they nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Heaven. At the place of one of their many battles, it is said that his loneliness overtook him. Those that he created for companionship were only creating havoc within his realm. The devastation around him, overtook him as he fell to his knees they say he wept. That is when he saw her. Amidst the devastation, a single lovely pink flower which somehow defied the battle of the Gods.”
“Ahh, Kazuma turned that little flower into his queen and together they tamed Kazuma’s creations.”
“The Gods wanted to be worshiped, so Kazuma created the Shima. The teachings of the Shima tell many stories of the Gods and they built shrines for each of the Gods to honor them. Then one by one each of the Gods created more men. Hisoka created the Misomoto and Yamada who are known for their love. Ryozo created the Anami, Maiba, the Saitama, and the Kensuku all of which loved to war. He was also responsible for creating Cho who was the founding father, of the 100 children of the Takahashi. Rin created the Zenaku, Shinohara, Sato, and the Nakamaru clans devoted to the forbidden arts. Tearra created a woman called Emi who was the matriarch of the Sosa clan.”
“Tearra only created one?”
“One of the stories of the Shima, say that Emi was created from part of Tearra’s essence. Thus she was technically Tearra herself.” Eri stated.
“Ohh, that story was always so sad.” Suemeli said. “Kazuma was so cruel to her. The Shima story says that he was always cold to her even though he loved her desperately. Tearra started to resent Kazuma for how he treated her. She feared that her hatred of his behavior would consume her so they say she created Emi and locked it away within her. When Kazuma became mortal and the Kari were created, they battled often against the Sosa.”
Tationy considered the story for a moment then asked, “So why were the shrines destroyed?”
“After Soti Tylo was victorious against the Dragon Lords of the Shima, he ordered that all the shrines be destroyed. That if people wished to worship mortals they needed to look no further than the Tylo clan. That they had the eyes of the gods. One by one the world fell inline.” Sesiago turned and looked at Tationy, “I would figure someone with the eyes of the Gods would know all of this, or at least her husband who is of the Kari would have told her.”
“Ako you are a Tylo?” Suemeli questioned.
Tationy shrugged her shoulders passively, “If I have their blood I cannot say. My father is Anami and my mother is Takahashi.” Hiko smiled inwardly. He was glad she did not say Saitama like she had with the Waichia. The Takahashi were a good choice, they varied in looks and it was generally believed that many of them were not blood related. “I have heard some stories.” She said as she fidgeted a moment, “Why didn’t Kazuma stop Tearra from chasing after Hisoka, sleeping around with Ryozo, and putting an end to Rin’s obssession?”
“Kazuma was blinded.” Sesiago explained, “He believed that they were him. So it mattered not what they did. Kazuma did not realize what he was allowing to happen until it was too late. When he became mortal, he was so shamed he could not stand before her. They say he traveled to this spot, and he swore that he would never allow emotion to overtake him again and he cut his hair off which has come to represent his shame.”
“I think she would have forgiven him.” Tationy said, “Shame he would never have asked her.”
“Ahh, what makes you think he wouldn’t?” Iashi asked.
“Tadayoshi wouldn’t.” She said, “I think it is a Kari trait.”
Eri suppressed a soft laugh and Sesiago glanced toward her letting her know he was not happy with her response. “Ahh, you are probably right we Kari are pretty stubborn.” Iashi said. “Had Kazuma not been so set in his ways, he might have been able to save her from a life of misery with Rin.”
“She resigned herself to her fate. It is the trait of all Tylo’s. They only fight winning battles, then give up when things get to tough for them.”
“Ohh, this talk is so serious.” Suemeli said. “Eri can we play in the waterfall, please?”
Eri smiled at Suemeli, “With your permission?” She said as she looked to Sesiago, who simply nodded his head in response.
The girls stripped out of their dresses and laid them neatly in a pile. Tationy was reluctant to, but Suemeli insisted she would drag her in. “The water is so warm.” Suemeli said as she splashed the water slightly in Eri’s direction as she climbed herself up on a rock to sit.
“It is a beautiful day.” Eri splashed her back and smiled, “Ako, I am certain Sesiago will ask me to instruct you on the history of the Kari, but I shall give Tadayoshi a chance to speak with you on it. If he does not, you will let me know, yes?” Eri gave a comforting smile, “Suemeli was the same way. Even after I taught her the history, she still mixed things up.”
“I am getting better.” Suemeli said with a pout. “Yoshi does not talk to you much, huh?”
“We have not been married very long.”
“Your marriage was arranged?” Eri questioned.
“Yes. How did the two of you get together with your husbands?” Tationy asked as she tried to remove the focus from herself and Hiko.
“Sesiago found me.” Suemeli said. “I was in terrible shape and Eri took care of me. I had been in the village for 4 years, always seeing Iashi around, but did not talk to him until the festival three winters ago. We, sort of…lost track of ourselves and Sesiago insisted that Iashi marry me. So, the elder wed us a couple of years ago.”
Tationy at first had wanted to ask what she meant by ‘lost track of ourselves’, but after a moment of thinking about it she didn’t need to ask.
“Sesiago was right to make Iashi take responsibility for his actions, but I think that Iashi would have regardless of being told.” Eri stated.
Suemeli smiled and nodded her head, “I think so too.”
“My union with Sesiago was arranged by our families and the village elder. We have been together for seventeen years now. He is a good man.”
“What about you and Yoshi?” Suemeli questioned.
“Ahh, what is this?” Iashi said as the men joined them.
“We were just asking Ako how she and Yoshi met and got married.”
Sesiago took a seat on the grass not far from the small pond the women were playing in. Hiko joined him. “Well Tadayoshi?” Sesiago asked.
Hiko considered the question, “I went to my cousins home one night and there she was.” He knew he told Tationy to pretend they had not met prior to their ‘marriage’, but as he told her it was best not to make anything up. He knew that she would have difficulty lying and eventually something would slip out that they did not mean too, so he opted to base everything on the truth. “It was a brief encounter, I don’t think she even noticed me.”
“I noticed.” She said softly as she looked to the water and fidgeted. She was blushing again she knew it and with hardly any clothes on she felt exposed.
“Ohh, so cute.” Suemeli said, “Did you completely fall in love with him at first sight?” She asked Tationy.
“Suemeli, your embarrassing her.” Eri scolded.
“But….” She said with a pout as she sighed. “So your marriage was arranged after that?”
“There was some pressure from my clan for me to get married. I had been putting it off a long time. Everything was worked out between my clan and her father.”
“So you have been together for a short time?” Sesiago questioned.
“Ahh.” Hiko responded.
“Are the two of you trying to have children?”
Hiko looked toward Tationy, “Ahh.”
“Have many.” Sesiago said, “We hear rumors about the Kari in Aslann. That only about twenty of them remain and no new children have been born in two decades. We hear that the Kari in Bicorla have also suffered, though their numbers are slightly better. Willful Kari serving nations and lords instead of protecting their own.” Sesiago looked toward the sky a moment, “Eri, it is time we go home.” He said as he stood brushing off his clothing. He turned his back waiting for his wife, who quickly dressed. She stayed close to him, quiet and proper even as Suemeli hollered at the top of her lungs that she would see her tomorrow.
“Ahh Suemeli.” Iashi said, “Lets head home and give these two lovebirds some alone time.”
“Alright.” She said as she hopped out of the water, but quickly ran herself back into it wrapping her arms around Tationy’s neck. “See you tomorrow Ako.”
He sat on the bank watching her. She avoided eye contact with him and hid herself behind the waterfall. “Are the Kari in Aslann really that small.” She asked.
“Ahh.” He responded.
“Is there nothing to do to help them?”
“Only unions with other clans can fix the issue, but with the state of Aslann it is more likely the Kari there will die out or be killed off.”
“Do you wonder if the Kari of Aslann made a mistake?”
It was a difficult question for him to answer. He was the Commander of the military, he severed a lord more than any other Kari. He stood pulling his clothing from his body as he stepped into the water and moved toward her. At first he just stood behind her feeling her proximity. “I don’t know anything else.” He voiced as he pressed his body to hers. His hand reached around her, turning her to face him. Her heart was beating so fast, he could hear it. “I have always served the Emperor.”
“Would you ever give up that life?”
“Are you asking me too?” He questioned.
“I don’t have the right to ask you to do anything.” She said. He stared at her his eyes taking in her delicate features. “Mikio told me that his mother said Kazuma was incapable of feeling compassion or remorse.” He pursed his lips together wondering briefly why she was talking about another man, “If that is the case would he not be unable to weep or feel shame? I wonder why Tearra would say that about him.”
“Maybe she was angry because he did not rescue her. Why were you talking about Tearra with Mikio?”
“Oh, well. It came up because of his … well he hurts himself.” Hiko frowned. “All throughout our trip, I would catch him. I asked him to stop, even tried to stop him, but he said it was a compulsion. I asked him why he was the only Ishi that seemed to do it and he explained it was because of his parents being Rin and Tearra.”
“Did you talk a lot during your journey?”
“Not really. Most of the time he would avoid talking or respond with ‘who knows’. It really pisses me off.” She said and then blushed. “Forgive my mouth.”
He was not certain what the word meant, but from her tone he understood it perfectly. Inwardly he laughed, first because it was funny hearing her talk like that and secondly because he felt much the same way about Mikio’s avoidance response. “It pisses me off too.” Purposely using her unique terminology to describe how he felt. He leaned his head down to claim her lips, but stopped when she tensed. “The day I went to Suya’s…”
“Yes?” She asked nervously.
“It was my day off. I didn’t take them very often. Only started because Hero and Chee thought I was working to much. I didn’t plan on going there that night, but while I was taking a walk I heard some Maiba scum talking about a woman entering Suya’s place. Seemed impossible to believe. He said you met at Noron.”
“We had just arrived, I was pretty angry with everyone. So I took off, just sort of wandered. I guess Tatsuya was watching me for a while.”
“He said he thought you were with the Waichia.”
“Chochi.” She said his name. He hated how intimate it sounded as he pulled away from her turning his back. This was why he did not lust after women. They could break a man easily with games of emotion. She could tell he was not happy with her. “Do you want to know something?” He gave nothing as a response, but had halted his movement. “I had never talked to any of them.”
He turned around to face her again. “When my parents and I moved to Aslann, I had met Mai and Pai Pai right away. We became friends. They were the only ones I had, though I sometimes wonder if they were really my friends. I guess that does not matter much now, but Chochi and Taku were the delinquents of the school. Always getting into fights and skipping class. I crashed into Chochi once and ran for my life. He was the most feared guy in school, thought for certain he was going to beat me up just for running into him. Abe, Sadoo, and Otoha were the most popular guys. Every guy wanted to be them, every girl wanted to be with them. Guys like that don’t look at girls like me, that is how it is there. I was just some nobody. Sohma was kinda a nobody to. He did not really have anything going for him other than he was pretty good at sucking up to the teachers. Talking to him would have just lowered my already rock bottom social status, because that kind of stuff is important there.” She said then paused a moment, “Atsuki, well he was a teacher. He taught class and was completely boring, but outside of class there was no talking or socializing.”
He listened to her words as she spoke about them. “When I got picked to do Mr. Nakamaru summer program, I was completely bummed out. I wanted to go to the beach with my friends. Maybe meet a nice boy, have a summer romance, maybe if I was lucky get a kiss. I figured I was going to be stuck with a bunch of nerds with the worst teacher I ever had. I was pretty stupid, when I showed up there and there were the hottest guys in school. I was the only girl. I was completely ecstatic thinking that I was going to get to talk to them. Each time I tried, it blew up in my face. They were more interested in talking and arguing with each other than spending any time with me.”
“Should not really be all that surprised right? I mean look at me. I am not even pretty.” She said as she looked to her feet. “When Abe finally talked to me he was a little rough around the edges, but I thought for a minute that things might actually turn out well. Amazing summer. That was all I wanted. Then we ended up here. There was all of this talk about the great swordsmen, feelings for this person and that person, being some ancient prince, war and clans, and it was like I was invisible again even though I was in the center of everything.”
“Does not make a lot of sense huh?” She said, “When I met Tatsuya, it was different. He saw me. He might have had his own agenda, but he did not look past me, he looked at me. It was nice, but then Taku starts talking about me placing my feelings for Atsuki onto Tatsuya, and they tell me I was in love with him. I was only a little kid then, six years old. That does not seem old enough to know what love was, but I guess I begged him to take me away from Aslann after I learned about the union with the Waichia. He told me no.”
“As if things could not get any more complicated for me, there is talk of having a thing with Abe, married to Chochi in some time, and they are bickering like little old ladies. It is still like, here I am. Why are you two fighting about something that don’t exist anymore? They all wanted me to remember. Remember this moment and remember that moment. Then what?” She asked.
“If I really loved all of these people why would I want to remember? I wonder if that was Tearra’s problem, if her heart was filled with to much love and that is why she kept chasing after Hisoka, fooling around with Ryozo, and torturing Rin. She just wanted the one person she loved to see her and he just kept looking past her.”
Hiko did not want to interrupt her even though the water was getting cold and it was getting dark out, he never stopped her from speaking. He knew it, the moment he seen her again after being apart for over two years she had a hole burning through her and she needed to talk to someone, even if they offered her nothing in return.
“This whole thing makes no sense to me, I am thinking okay we are here to overthrow some emperor who is being naughty. I can do this. Why I thought I could do this, I have no clue. So I told Atsuki I was going to go see Tatsuya, and he completely did not want to allow me to go which is why Otoha followed. Who of course you gave the slip and I never heard the end of it for the rest of the evening. Thank you very much for that by the way.” She smiled briefly, “It was nice, normal even though being here is completely not normal for me. Sitting with Tatsuya was. It made me feel a lot better. Of course I about died when you walked in.”
He stepped in close, grabbing onto her and holding her. He masked the real reason as he spoke, “You’re shivering. I want you to finish talking, but if we stay here we are both going to get ourselves sick.” It was not what he wanted to say, it was only a partial truth, he was holding on because he was afraid of what her words meant. How did she about die when he walked in?
She managed to mumble an affirmative response. The two dressed and made their way through the village.
When they arrived back to the homestead she moved toward the side of the bed to take her clothing off. She honestly did not figure he would want her to continue. She shivered noticeably and when she turned around he was already sitting on the bed. He reached out his hand for her which she nervously accepted. She tried to recall how all of this started, but for some reason her mind was completely blank. He held her close, the goosebumps traveling along her arms as he leaned in. She thought for certain he might kiss her, but instead he bypassed her lips and moved to her ear. “Finish telling me.” He said as he held onto her tightly.
She sighed a breath of relief as she closed her eyes. “I never seen anyone that looked like you before.” She began. “You were so cool looking. A lot older, but you had this swagger about you. It made me nervous and hot at the same time. It still does.”
A lump formed in his throat, his stomach knotted, she was doing it to him again. “I was afraid. Afraid you could hear how hard my heart was pounding. It was not the same feeling as being around Chochi and Abe. They are good looking guys, but this feeling was different. Despite being a bundle of nerves I was comfortable, happy, and even though you kept calling me woman instead of Tationy I was not bothered. I still don’t think you have ever said my name.”
“It was weird seeing your world. Everyone kept telling me that it was my world, that I was this Prince Tatsuya, but it did not feel like my world. Nothing in it felt like it belonged to me. I felt no connection to anything in it except you and Tatsuya. I just wanted stay with the two of you. Then Abe and Chochi came to get me and I was so afraid you would get dragged into this mess. For so long the invisible enemy they kept saying was the Ishi and Abe and Chochi are just ready to fight the two of you. I was so afraid that you would be hurt. That is why I left with them.”
“I yelled for hours. I was so angry with them. They were so cocky and disrespectful. What gave them the right? I eventually just refused to talk to them. That was when the attack came. I still don’t really know what happened. There were so many of them.” Her voice became a whisper. “Chochi told Abe to get me out of there, I couldn’t see what happened to the others as he dragged me along, but then our path was blocked and he told me to run so I did. Just left him. Left them all.”
Hiko could hear the emotions in her voice, the way it cracked told him she was crying. So he held her tighter. “I was so naive though, thinking that they would just come find me and everything would be fantastic again. This guy called Miroku found me in the park. Now that I think about it, I think he had an Ishi with him. I was really oblivious, just laying there on the ground, singing away thinking that any moment they were going to come and rescue me like some stupid damsel in distress. I wonder to myself now when I became the dumb blonde with the big boobs in the movies always running up the stairs instead of out the door when a killer is after her.” He wanted to tell her that Miroku was the Emperor, but he said nothing, simply letting her continue. ” He seemed really concerned when I told him about this weird dagger. He said it was from the Sosa clan. Told me not to trust my guardians, told me cover my eye, and hide myself.”
“I don’t really know why I listened to him. I took somethings from a fisherman’s shack. Dressed like a boy the best I could. Called myself Tse Rio.” She said and he pulled back from her until he could see her eyes. “What?”
“You really don’t remember?”
“Did I say something?” She asked.
“Tse is what you called yourself back then.”
“I am so sorry I don’t remember.”
He wanted to be angry, but he told himself he could not be angry with her simply because she could not remember. “So what happened to you?”
She considered his question. “I wandered and then crossed paths with Oro Ishi. He is completely a fall down drunk.” She told Hiko, who smiled inwardly. It was a true statement. “I dragged him back to the headquarters of the Ruthlbahdo. The place was disgusting. I so wanted to be sick. I cleaned the place up and turned around to come face to face with Zen.”
“I stayed on, helping them. They completely needed it. My nightmares were getting worse though. Really bad, I was keeping everyone awake. It got to be a real issue. So I started staying with Zen. They moved a small bed into his room, which I think worked out well for everyone seeing he really does not sleep and I keep everyone awake.” She said. “What?” She asked when she noticed the look on Hikos face.
“Did anything happen between the two of you?”
She laughed and he could not imagine what she thought was so funny. “He was like my father. Well not my real father, but he took care of me. I think he thought of me as his child. I was happy there. Probably too much though because I kept putting off leaving. Zen pushed me to leave though. Told me it was time.”
“I went back to the Nakamaru Clan Elders Estate and that is where I ran into Chee. I never had anyone stand that close to me before. It felt so weird when he talked. Your staring in his eyes and your body just feels like it is becoming numb. He took me to his grandmothers house.” Hiko tensed, he had not realized that she had been with Chee for that and he had to wonder why Chee kept it a secret. “She knew who I was. Hated everything about my appearance, the way I sat, and even how I talked. She told me to go upstairs and change and I heard them talking. She told him to take me, that if the other clans get a hold of me they will not hesitate to take me by force.”
“He told me that he wouldn’t do that. Told me to rest, but it did not last long. The house was on fire, I don’t think I really realized right away that his grandmother had been killed. He promised to protect me and get me out of there, but he took me to the Ishi and used his eyes on me again. When I woke, Jin, Chee, and Mikio where discussing what to do. Everyone around me makes all of these decisions for me and no one ask what I want.”
“So we left Aslann arrived to Garvator. I waited. Stood outside, regardless of the weather. Mikio always picked a fight asking me who I was waiting for. One day it was pretty bad. It was one of those moments when you do not know how to react, because you can completely not read the other person. He is pretty scary. Even when he is being aggressive you completely cannot sense his intent.”
“Did he hurt you?” He asked.
“Ohh no nothing like that. It just…he said something. I said something. Before I knew it he was ripping my clothes off telling me that if I was not going to act like Prince Tatsuya he would treat me like any other woman.”
His blood boiled. “It was my fault though, I started it. I slapped him after he told me my heart was as fickle as Tearras. He wanted to know who I was waiting for, and when I did not respond right away he told me I was waiting for more than one person. I couldn’t tell him he was right, it makes me seem terrible.” Hiko wanted to know who it was she was waiting for and quickly got the answer. “I just kept waiting and hoping that you and Tatsuya would come into view and everything would be alright again. Mikio apologized and asked for my forgiveness.”
“When all of you finally arrived I didn’t know how to react. Chochi seemed so cold. Abe seemed so different. Otoha doesn’t talk. Oji I don’t really know. Hero he was someone new. Chee I just wanted to avoid. Tatsuya seemed so sad and so distant. I did not know what to do to make him feel better. The thought of talking to you completely freaked me out. No idea what to even say.”
“Bóre told me all of this stuff about meeting him before. Vision seen by Agara about a union and a child with him. He kissed me. It’s not like he is not good looking. I think I let him kiss me because I was so tired. Tired of being invisible with all of this supposed love around me. I never seen a world with so many love games played. Just say it. I love you and I want to be with you. You’re amazing. Is that so difficult? None of them do though, and then they get pissed off at me. Maybe I should just go through with this union with the Waichia.”
He pulled away from her as he sat himself on the edge of the bed. She shuffled herself around, bringing her knees to her chest as she sat there staring at him. He could tell her eyes were fixed on him. “What you seen today with Iashi and Suemeli, that is not the Kari way.” He spoke. “Such displays and emotions are a weakness. They can get you killed. It just takes one person to know how you feel about another, and they can use that person to manipulate you.”
“Sesiago and Zen, they are perfect examples of Kari men. For the most part Eri is a perfect example of what a spouse of the Kari looks like. She speaks when spoken too, she stands and acts appropriately.” He could hear her moving around on the bed, laying herself down as he spoke. “They work hard, they separate their family life from their work life. In private he is the same man as he is when he is working. His children cannot have his love. He is cold and distant with them. It is his position to make certain they are raised and trained as proper Kari. It is her job to nurture them, but only behind closed doors. She is to keep an emotional distance as much as possible in public. In private she can be their mother and love them. When they are alone together, just the two of them he can give her all of his love. He will hold nothing back from her and she is expected to accept it and return it with all of her love.”
He laid down staring up at the ceiling. “Why did you and the others leave work early?”
“We could not finish it, we were missing some supplies. So Baito went to the market to see if he could get them.” He told her.
“Why did you come to where we were?”
“Sesiago wanted to see you.” He responded.
He rolled to his side. He used his arm to hold him up slightly, lacing his fingers with hers. His freehand went to the bare flesh of her stomach lightly trailing along her skin. She was holding her breath as he watched her. “Iashi told him you are beautiful.” It was only part of what he said, Hiko did not dare tell her the rest.
“You do not have to say things like that to make me feel better about myself. I know I…” He stopped her from talking as his lips claimed hers. This kiss was different than the one with Bóre. Hikos lips were aggressive and greedy, though not in a bad way. She felt the kiss, in places she truly did not know existed. The warmth built within her as he forced himself to break the kiss and she instantly felt disappointed. “Hiko.” She managed to whisper.
“I loved Tse.” He told her. “She was funny, mysterious, and completely charming. She had a way of charming you when she was not even trying. She loved to talk suggestively, had a pouty smile. Whatever her reasons she changed me. What happened with her…” He paused. Tationy stared up at the ceiling as he talked about Prince Tatsuya’s alter-ego Tse. “I am not the man I was back then. If she were here, I don’t think she would like me at all. In fact I am pretty certain she wouldn’t. She didn’t like men that were cold and selfish.”
“That’s who I am. All I know is killing. I am good at it.” He told her. “I call you woman, because the thought of saying your name scares me. I am afraid you and everyone else will hear all the emotions that are inside of me. When I look at you, I feel something that is familiar and yet different at the same time. The thought of other men touching you, kissing you, looking at you makes me angry. Makes me violent. I will never be like Iashi. When others are around, I …I just can’t. That is meant for you and me, no one else.”
“I am Kari. That means there are things that just are and there is no changing them. I can’t promise you I will be gentle with you. I will try, but I have never felt like this not even with Tse and being close to you, looking at you, makes me lose all sense of myself. I am not the type of man to lust after a woman. I was content not having one in my life and had no need for one at all. Then I seen you sitting on Suya’s couch. I tried to fight it. I am not used to feeling these things. I am not used to losing control of my heartbeat. I went to the Nakamaru clan estate to find you. I had Hero try and track you that night. I shouldn’t have let you leave.”
His hand stopped just above the line of her undergarment. “I am not Kazuma.” He told her flatly, “I won’t share you. Not with Chee, Not with Mikio, Not with Chochi, not with anyone.” His eyes closed as he grew silent. He was not certain what she would say and half expected her to toss him from the bed.
“Are you asking me something Hiko?”
He whispered softly in her ear, “What does a man have to say for you to understand?”
She stared into his eyes as she tried to understand his words. Her body felt like it was on fire and she tried to process what was happening to her, which only seemed to make the feelings more intense as she shivered. His arms tightened around her. She had not expected to be like this, with him. She could not even imagine it in her wildest dreams as her lips parted to say something, but no sound came out. There were so many questions running through her head, like when did they stop pretending, did he really kiss her, what is this ache developing at the very core of her?
He could tell her mind was racing with thoughts as he pulled away from her laying to his back. It was probably better she did not respond. He did not know how well he would be able to hold back his emotions if she accepted him or if she refused him. His eyes closed and popped open instantly when she cuddled into his side. “Tationy.” He whispered her name and she lifted her head to look up at him. “Your still shivering, lets get you under these blankets.”
The use of her name had caught her off guard so it took her a moment to respond. When she did she gave him a simple nod as they shuffled things about to get them situated before pulling the blanket over their bodies. She cuddled back into him, “I want to stay here forever.” She told him softly. At first he thought that by ‘here’ she meant this small village, but when she looked up at him again he realized it was her answer to his words.
He laid there glancing at her now and again as she slept. He never imagined the day was going to turn out like this. Had she not told him her story, it probably wouldn’t have. He knew he was selfish, there was a part of him that said everything he did because he simply did not want her to be with or look at another. That did not mean his feelings were not real, they were, but he was a killer. Love was a dangerous luxury for a man like him.