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Hero and his brother Atsuki had arrived to Shimragata early that morning and spent the afternoon having tea with the Elder of the Kari. There came a point during the pretense that Hero had walked out leaving Atsuki alone to handle things. For a time he simply wandered around the grounds of the elders estate enjoying the serenity. It would not last forever.

Hero was a Nakamaru demon among the Kari clan. All eyes were upon him. So, it was not long before the Elder himself located him, “Your brother is beguiling Gen with tales of war and conquest. I think he might corrupt him.”

Such a light tone the words were spoken in. A lie; a mask of deception. Hero’s attention slowly fell upon the Elder, “He allows his killer intent to hang out like the dick of an exhibitionist. There is no way a beast like him could be corrupted.”

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The contented expression upon the elder’s face disappeared quickly, “How crude a way to put it, but you are not wrong. I am impressed by your observational skills, though I imagine it is not such a difficult thing when it comes to Gen. He loves to kill and feels no need to mask that part of him.”

“Why the pretense?” Hero boldly asked, “You brought us here because you need us. There is no need to beat around the proverbial bush. Get to the point of this meeting already.”

The Elder of the Kari’s stare cold be cold and hard when he wished it to be. It was not unusual for men that were dangerous to hide that part of them behind a mask of nonchalance or lightheartedness. There were plenty of them; Kuro of the Ishi was probably the most known.

They seemed like they were happy or having a good time, but at any moment they could strike you down without hesitation. This made them different from warriors like Abe Sosa and Hiko Kari. A caged beast is dangerous, but he is still caged. Somè and Kuro had relinquished their shackles long ago and there was nothing and no one that could stand before an unleashed monster.

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Knowing that did not change the fact that the elders lack of a response was worrisome. Men like him felt no need to chose their words carefully. They said what they said and meant it never with hesitation or remorse.

“I wonder if she has come to see you yet…” Somè‘s words lingered there and Hero was unable to hide the discomfort it brought him. “She will seek you out for some purpose. I wish I could say what it will be.”

Just a few days prior at The Black and Gold Gala, the Queen of the Kari had asked him to be her God of War. Hero frowned deeply when he realized he was unable to hide his reaction, “What did she offer you?”

“Perhaps y0u should simply get to what you offer the Nakamaru. After all, we are here because you need us.”

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Somè offered a smile, “Need is such an ugly word. It suggests that we cannot do this without you. That is very far from the truth. I would rather you not help her. That is why you are here. Nothing more and nothing less. If we are being frank, I would just soon wipe you and yours from existence. Sleeping with my queen, taking her blood, creating the Takahashi,” He rattled off a long list. “You have sinned against me far greater than that brother of yours.”

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Hero turned suddenly to face the King of the Gods. “All of this is because she did not want you. How jaded you are, Kazuma. It must really piss you off to have your queen hate you so much.”

Somè tilted his head and then responded with a casual shrug, “A god cannot control his creations if he gives them freewill. A mistake on my part. This entire world…don’t you want to return to a simpler time?”

His lips parted slightly, but at first he did not respond. It was true. He was a restorationist. The modern and future ages certainly had their perks, but the days of old were a time when a man could be a man without restraint. “A time when men believed in something,” Hero  said mostly to himself.

“A time worthy of men,” Somè added.

“What is this going to cost me and my people?”

“Your people, it will cost nothing. I wish I could say the same for you. It will require the mighty general to stand against the nation he loves and the woman he desires. This is what makes you different from the Ishi. You will gladly sacrifice your queen to take the game. Won’t you, Hero Takahashi?”

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There was nothing Hero could say to Somè and the fact that the Elder of the Kari had turned on his heels and wandered off said as much. The King of the Gods was well aware that there were no arguments Hero could make in defense of his honor. If it meant protecting the values and traditions of the old ways there was nothing he would not sacrifice; friendship, love, even his own blood.

Did that make him a heartless bastard? That is what she called him when he told her that she would have to offer him more than some worthless title. God of War; who did she really think he was? What he wanted was for her to protect Aslann and the values and traditions of their people. He wanted to go back to a time when things were simpler and men could be men. Hero wanted her to understand that. Want it as well. It was too much to ask for. A foolish romantic notion that was a remnant of what little humanity he had left.

The King of the Gods was offering them war and a return to an age where the things of value where called honor and hard work not cellphones and computers. How could he refuse? “Did our host say something quite profound or simply say something that irritated you? I can never really tell what sort of face that is,” Atsuki spoke upon his arrival.

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Hero sighed, “What he offers would take us back to an age we desire. When demons can run free and hunters are a thing of the past. A time when we were part of society and there was no need to disguise our sin. I feel, however, there is a string attached to this offer and a betrayal lurking when victory is within our grasp.”

“That would hardly be a surprise. Kazuma speaks the right words, but his tongue is far more forked than ours.”

“I wonder if his offer is worth the unspoken conditions. Even as these thoughts pass through my mind, I am certain my answer to him will be that we accept.”

“War is war and betrayal comes in many forms. It is harder when it is not expected. Does it really matter which side we take in this battle? I think it does not. All that should matter is that what we want is nonnegotiable,” His brother stated.

Hero forced himself to stand, “You are right. At the end of the day it does not matter if Somè intends to betray us. We know that is a high possibility. So, it is necessary that we ensure what we desire is rewarded to us for our efforts in this war.” There was a momentary pause as he added, “If Somè chooses to betray us he will be made to understand why it is I created the Takahashi using the blood of his queen.”

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