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Every morning the Ishi congregated at the elders estate. The number of Ishi varied, but by eight in the morning most of them had wandered off to handle work and errands leaving three of the Sons of Rin. Today, however, was unusual due to Bak’s late arrival.

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“Bringing her to the estate of the Elder of the Ishi was an unwise decision,” Kin argued. “Dragging her into…”

Bak cut him off, “Considering a meteor nearly dropped on my head and hers, I would say she is involved. Do you really think that Kazuma cares about the life of some American woman?”

Kin sighed, “You are completely missing the point. I am sure your emotions are running wild, but how do you expect to explain her presence to Kuro?”

“He will understand.”

“I do not think he will,” Kin argued.

“What was I suppose to do? Leaving her there was not an option. She has not stopped trembling since it happened; people were not simply killed they were turned to ash by flames that burned so hot in moments. What she witnessed cannot be unseen. Not to mention…”

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Bak noticed how his brother pursed his lips before anticipating his thoughts, “Considering how hot you said the flames were, it will be a miracle if any DNA can be recovered to identify the bodies. I am sorry that Ameya is among the missing and presumed dead, but there is nothing you could have done. It, also does not change the fact that you should not have brought Kat here.”

“I get it,” Bak snapped, “What you are really saying is I should not have expelled as much energy as I did to protect the two of us. I should have let her die.”

“That is not what I said…”

“You didn’t fucking have to.” Bak was irritated, despite the snorted laugh, “What about you? Got something you want to add?”

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Never did he let his attention fall upon his brother Mikio; it was a complicated relationship. He was kin and yet far more than that. Within him, resided his father, the Death God Rin. Certainly he thought him foolish.

It took far more energy than he had reserved to protect the two of them. Even though he was covering it well, if it came necessary for him to protect himself again, he would not be able to do so. “Kin and I have matters to attend to so we will be leaving. You can explain this to Kuro…”

“That is it? No lecture?”

Mikio stood and Kin quickly fallowed suit. His two older brothers stopped at the archway of the kitchen. Bak knew this because he could feel them looking upon him. It would be moments of silence before Kin departed and Mikio finally spoke, “Risking your own life to protect her was foolish; I am sure she is grateful and frightened. However, there is no way she could possibly understand how close you came to killing yourself. Even now the seal on your forehead is fading. I placed that mark upon you as a boy; taught you how to weave magic into it for shielding. This was for war; to fight Kazuma. It was to protect your blood…..”

Those words were not the ones belonging to his brother, but instead to his father. “What was I suppose to do, let her die? What type of man would I be?”

“Do not set your moral compass right when it needs to be askew. There is a reason you alone stood at my side. When the need comes; I trust that you will make the hard decisions when no one else is capable. Do not let big eyes and a curvy body derail you from your path.”

“My path…” Bak repeated, “What does Mikio have to say on this matter?”

“Who knows,” The voice of his brother rang out as he departed the room.

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