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In a daze she moved. Blood stained hands as she walked across the wood floor of the home belonging to Hiko. He had gotten there too late and the men searching for Sesiago and Tationy were about to take her. She sat upon the ground clinging to the body of Sesiago who was bleeding to death. He made a judgement call one he was certain she was not happy about. The Kari had made the most aggressive move they could and shot Sesiago to get to her. He tried speaking with her, but she just continued walking. He was certain she was unable to process the situation as it was. There were very few times in their relationship that he had seen excessive amounts of emotion from her. As he drove in a hurry away from the scene, she cried and screamed as she kept her eyes fixed on Sesiago’s prone body until she was no longer capable of seeing it.

When Sesiago had called him, he was surprised. He thought for certain he would not ever see the two again. Romance and love would whisk them around the world and securely out of the reach of the Kari. There were many that would assume he played a hand in this. That those men, belonged to him. He was certain even she had considered it. Despite all of his faults, the monster that he was, kin was everything. It was one thing to blackmail a family member into giving up something, it was another entirely to kill them in cold blood. Was this about the Kari pride or their desire?

Hiko wondered if he truly understood the situation at times. He could only imagine what would have transpired had he not gotten there when he did.

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He kept seeing the face of his cousin, Sesiago. Tationy refused to leave the bedroom she had locked herself in and was not speaking to Hiko. He had a lot of time to sit and maul this situation over. Such a bold power-play, would cause a ripple through his family. This move was only the first, he had no doubts and eventually he was certain that someone would move against him. His phone distracted the many thoughts he had going on in his mind, “Speak.” He responded as he answered it. His father, Tadayoshi informed him that Sesiago had been killed. Hiko held off saying anything as his father talked about the funeral having been scheduled for tomorrow. The fact that it had been rushed, told Hiko that someone with influence had made the shooting go away. “Do you know any information about what happened?” His father had given him nothing, simply telling him no. He wished he could see his fathers face at that moment, read his eyes, know if his words were true.

Hiko sighed when the conversation ended and he moved toward the room Tationy was hiding in. “His funeral is tomorrow.” He responded after having knocked upon the door.

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For Sesiago’s funeral Tationy wore the dress, shoes, and even jewelry that Hiko picked out for her.  Truth was, she would be seen as his trophy. With Sesiago’s death, people would assume with her at his side that he played a hand in his cousin’s death and that he was putting her on display, so that everyone would understand that he had the right to be called Kazuma. There was no surprise when all eyes were on them. Not a single individual approached, not even Hiko’s father, Tadayoshi. This was the power of Hiko Kari, feared and hated.

Hiko noticed that Tationy purposely tried to not look at the faces of the individuals that were there, but Hiko on the other hand was closely observing all of them.

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Iashi Kari had a smile upon his face. It was not uncommon for Iashi even in the worst of situations to behave outside the norm of society. He was, in his own right, a powerful figure among the Kari. Called the Hand of God, he assisted Katsu Kari in more than his share of dirty deeds and underhanded power-plays. Was he capable of killing his own kin? Hiko did not believe so. Iashi was loyal. Certainly he would go to great lengths to do what he needed to when asked by his ‘master’, but even he had a moral compass, though it was often slightly askew.

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He could hear the conversation between Seiji and his son Osa. He was telling Osa, that uncle Sesiago was going to a better place. Seiji and Osa, to Hiko, seemed to be the most broken up over the death of Sesiago. Seiji and Sesiago were blood, thicker then most, given that they were brothers. Seiji was not Kari, so to what extent he understood the situation was uncertain, but Hiko had no doubt that the intelligent leader among the Shima was well aware that this was a massive push for power.

Yayoi on the other hand was more, then willing to do what was needed for the benefit of his family. Even though Sesiago was Shima, Yayoi was always quick to point that he was also Kari. For Sesiago there would always be a conflict of interest and the struggles for power and Kazuma’s kingdom, were always a cause for concern for Yayoi. To end such a struggle, Hiko had no doubt that Yayoi was capable of killing someone.

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If Katsu cared anything about his son, Hiko could not see it on his face. Hiko was more, then willing to wager money that Katsu was the responsible party, after all, he was once believed to be the heir to Kazuma’s kingdom. Hiko did not know the particulars, but the Tylo woman whom they believed was Tearra, refused him. What happened to her, was only speculation, but Katsu had lost a lot of respect from his kin over the situation. That was not to say he was not without considerable power, but there was a reason he was not associated with Kari financial interest these days. He was an intelligent man though and picked the most powerful woman to stand at his side, endeared himself to her father, and because of that was given a portion of the Shima Corporation upon the death of her father, under mysterious circumstances. The person with the most to gain from the death of his son was the man who believed himself to be the god Kazuma.

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His father, with Suemeli at his side spoke softly about what a great loss it was. He seemed more heartbroken over the loss, then Sesiago’s own father. He had never witnessed such emotion on the face of his father Tadayoshi Kari. The man, whose very life revolved around tradition softened at that moment. Hiko felt a heaviness. He had only ever known the strict Tadayoshi Kari, never in his life had he gotten to see the sensitive side of the man he both feared and idolized. Something in him, told Hiko that Tadayoshi knew something about the death of Sesiago, but he could not see his father killing his cousin for power that Hiko already had.

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He realized that the only person that truly seemed to shed a tear over the loss was Tationy, who in retrospect, barely knew Sesiago. They had known each other for just over a week and then they were separated by time for nearly nine months. Yet, her emotions were genuine, and the tears that trailed down from her eyes, were filled with the loss of this man that Hiko was certain she had grown to love. His body betrayed him when he grabbed a hold of her, pulling her into him. He imagined that he was the last person she wanted comfort from, but despite, what had transpired between them, she relaxed in his arms and he forced himself to be gentle with her. Truth was, he liked her in this state, which of course made him the worst sort of man. What type of family was this, when the self admitted monster was the only one with any sympathy?

The stress from the escape, the shooting, and the funeral was too much for Tationy. Hiko found himself rushing her to the hospital when she went into labor. He had realized early on that it was odd considering their history, but for the most part it had only been passing thoughts that would crop up when something would remind him of what he did. There were times during and after that he felt like he was having the child as he ushered his people to prepare his house, get a car seat, and any number of items needed for a baby. He did not know why he was jumping through hoops until she was wheeled out, with the baby in her arms. He will never forget what she said on the ride home, “How sad is my life when the only person I have to rely on is the person who caused me the most pain.” Her words hurt his pride and made him feel guilty all in one blow.

Katsu tried often to visit Tationy and the baby, but Hiko always refused him and told him to be on his way. He had guards posted around his estate, told them in no uncertain terms if they betrayed him, they would be killed. She was to be protected when he was not around. With two companies to run he was very busy so he was certain it made it easier on Tationy, not having him underfoot.

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When he was home, however, he took every opportunity to play with the baby that Tationy had named Kazuma. He realized on this particular day he had been caught when he turned about, child in hand, and Tationy was staring at him. “He was trying to escape.” He explained, having caught Kazuma crawling his way around the house.

“We need to talk.” Her words were devoid of any emotion and he realized for the first time since the day he met her, he could not read her.

“Alright.” He moved with child in hand, sitting Kazuma on the floor near a toy as he took a seat on the sofa.

She had joined him, sitting on the same couch much to his surprise. “Thank you.” Her words caught him off guard. “This year and a half has been the worst of my life and you contributed to that both in good ways and in bad. I have thought about this considerably and I need to ask a favor of you.”

“I am listening.” He responded.

“First I want to ask you a question. I expect truth. You have no reason to lie to me.”

“Go on and ask.”

“Did you play a part in Sesiago’s death?”

The question had not surprised him. He had been wondering how long it would take her to ask him and since the shooting of Sesiago, he had been considering how he would answer her when she finally found her courage to ask. “I believe I did.” He responded, “I did not shoot him or order his killing, however, when I tied his hands and forced him to choose between his family and his woman, I believe it was enough reason for those to think him weak and strike against him. It was not my intention to see my kin killed, but I do believe I had a hand in it.”

She responded with a short nod at first. Hiko deduced that his response gave her whatever answer she was truly seeking by that question. “I want you to destroy them.” He was not expecting those words from her. “The kingdom is no longer Kazuma’s, but all of the Kari think they have the right to do as they wish. There is only one who deserves to have that power and all others should bow down before him. I want you to put the Kari in their place and pave the way for Kazuma.”

He controlled his reaction, “You wish for me to lay siege to my kin?”

“Not just your kin. Anyone and everyone that willfully stood against Sesiago.”

“A strike against the Shima, Yamada, and Kari. How embolden of you. What do I get for making such a power-play?”

“What do you want?”

He considered it a moment and then responded simply, “You will remain at my side, always and forever, until the day you die just like Tearra did with Rin.”

“If I refuse?” She questioned.

“It would not bother me if you did, one way or another you are staying. I am not above using force to keep you close.” He paused a moment and asked, “Are you afraid of me?”

“Yes, that is why I am asking you this favor and not someone else. I imagine I am not the only one that is afraid of you.”

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Her words settled within him. She was honest and he was already well-aware that to some degree she was afraid of him. “You and Kazuma cannot continue to hide in this house. If I am to strike against them, they must believe this child is mine. Those that had no part in Seisago’s killing, must be made to believe that you and I worked in consort. They must have no doubts that we plotted against the king. You have to be hated and feared as much as I am. I wonder if you are capable of being hated.”

“I will do what I have to, anything I have to.”

He felt the sincerity of her words. Hiko could not help, but admire her commitment to vengeance. His attention stayed fixed on her for some time, before it was quickly drawn away. Kazuma was pulling himself up by Hiko’s pant legs. “Da….da…dada.” Kazuma said and for the first time in Hiko’s life he was completely stunned silent. Hiko noticed that Tationy did not seem surprised, which told him that this was not the first time Kazuma had spoke and more importantly she had already prepared herself for Kazuma calling him daddy. It led him to wonder, just how long she had been planning to ask him this favor and what lengths she was willing to go to accomplish it.

To Be Continued

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