The nation was abuzz. On the lips of every man, woman, and child was talk. The tension and anticipation were tangible.
Kiyoshi of the Kensuku clan stood with his arm pressed to the wall. His mind heavy with burdened thoughts. This was an age of change for the New Aslann Empire. The seat of the Emperor was vacant for the first time in fifty years and there was not a candidate considered suitable for the position. The Elder’s Council was in meetings, ones he was not privy to. There was no doubt what they were discussing; who was going to take the place of the late Akizuki Kensuku, his brother. The burden most likely would fall to him, but truth be told he did not want it.
He was considered a cripple. Despite holding the rank of Captain within the Ruthlbahdo he lost much during battles against the great Thacian kingdom. A man who was once considered the mightiest of the Kensuku, barely had strength in his left hand to grip a sword hilt let alone shatter a blade with a single punch.
He pushed off from the wall, a heavy sigh leaving his lips as he found his way out of the house grabbing up an umbrella quickly as he passed the basket containing several. He wandered aimlessly, with no thoughts of where he was going other then his feet were going to take him someplace. His brother had been assassinated. There had been a strike against their nation from within and uncertainty lingered. Unit twenty-three had struck against the divine ruler and that single attack from within put the military in a state of disarray.
Nobody could be trusted. There were even questions about the Elder Council who was determining the next ruler of the Great Nation of Aslann and the Ruthlbahdo itself was subjected to extreme scrutiny. There would be heads rolling for this, Kiyoshi had no doubt about that. In fact, within this situation it was certainly the only thing that could be trusted and banked on.
“Are you going to just stand out there in the rain?”
The question and the familiar voice broke his thoughts violently and he realized he was standing outside one of the small training halls on the Kensuku property. Somewhere in the mess of his burdened thoughts he had made his way home. His head bowed a moment and when he finally looked up to gaze upon the face of his son Taku, he sighed because his son was no longer standing there.
Stepping into the training hall he did not even get a moment to respond to his sons question. He smirked ever so slightly, “Is this how it is, Taku?”
“You need distracted.”
Kiyoshi released a small breath of air that sounded more like a short laugh as he took up a stance. They did not formally bow or spend agonizing moments gauging each other as they fought the battle in their minds. This was not training or a battlefield, this was simply father and son getting lost in distraction by the only means that suited them.
By the time the sun was rising in the East, father and son had exhausted their bodies. It numbed the unwelcome thoughts for a time, but no amount of distraction would keep them at bay forever.
“Will you be appointed Emperor?”
Kiyoshi watched his son crouch down near him, before turning his attention away. “Let us hope not.”
“Unit twenty-three will be executed?”
“That seems a likely outcome.”
“That unit was filled with members of each clan…”
Kiyoshi cut his son off from continuing his words, “They betrayed the Great Nation of Aslann by standing with our enemies and assassinating our divine ruler. They deserve no mercy, no matter whose blood they have.”
“I just don’t understand it.” The strain in his sons voice was evident as he watched him stand and pace the floor.
Considering his words he finally broke the silence, “We lost a great ruler and among the Kensuku because of their betrayal we have lost two of the finest Generals and one of the greatest Captains this nation has ever known. Tien, Suetomo, and Shinshi will forever be a part of our memory, but it is best to think of them as being dead. They raised their weapons not only to their blood, but also to our Emperor. We have not seen anything of this scale since my father’s reign when ninety-eight percent of the Tylo clan was massacred. An uprising will never be allowed whether it is through a want of change or manipulation.”
There was a long lingering silence and when Kiyoshi finally looked to his son to address him once more, he realized his son’s gaze was locked toward the door.
His breath caught very briefly in his throat. Unit twenty-three had many Generals and Captains, but there was one that oversaw them all. His name was Tien Kensuku and he was the father of the girl standing near the door. “Am I interrupting?”
Kiyoshi quickly and awkwardly stood as he tried desperately to compose himself. The girl was called Pai Pai and was raised among the Kensuku only because her grandfather had been Sóme. Normally, the matriarch of the Hamara clan would have demanded that she and her father Tien be a part of the Hamara, but back when Sóme got involved with Rikku of the Hamara clan he was the Emperor of Aslann, giving the matriarch, Luna no ground to claim Tien or any of his future heirs, despite their blood. “How are you feeling this morning?”
“I have not really decided.”
“There is no rush.” Kiyoshi heard the sound of annoyance long before his son began walking out. He watched as Taku purposely bumped his shoulder into Pai Pai and Kiyoshi frowned deeply as he went to speak, but his words were halted by the look upon her face. He finally managed to convey his thoughts into words, “We all face this together.”
“My father led the charge. I do not see how we all face this together.”
Kiyoshi hung his head. Deep inside him he was angry at Tien, Suetomo, Shinshi and all of the other members of the Kensuku that betrayed the nation and assassinated the Emperor, his brother. His clan was in a shambles. The fact that he was a cripple hindered him in his opinion and yet he was the only person capable of leading his clan. He did not want to be that man. His brother, his father, his grandfather had long led the Kensuku clan, but for Kiyoshi he always felt it more a burden then a responsibility. It was too much to ask of anyone to carry such a weight and yet he was certain that he was going to be the one chosen to be Emperor and thus given no choice, but to lead the Kensuku. “With time this will be a distant memory.” He tried to keep his tone calm and neutral, but he knew by the look on her face that he had failed at doing so.
To Be Continued