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There was a lot going on in the Ishi family. It had probably already been mentioned a hundred times or more that war was upon them. Easily it had passed through the rumor mill and made its way back to him in a rather timely fashion; it was nothing new. Not to mention, it certainly did not change the fact that he was a doctor and had priorities not shared by his brothers or his clan.

The truth was very simple; the sons of Rin Ishi were all for one when someone struck out against their blood, but at the end of the day they really had no cares to give about blood. That was the brutal truth of it all and Kin would be the first to tell you that he had sat out plenty of wars that threatened his blood. Why? Some things were simply more important.

Still, he had a feeling he would not be allowed to hide in the shadows this time around and nothing really gave him that feeling more than the visitor that arrived after office hours.

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Kin looked upon the Nakamaru before him. There were some truths that were simply harder to put out there. The one regarding Hero Takahashi was perhaps the most difficult because his family would never understand. This was one of those things where it was him against them even though he had a very good reason for working with the Nakamaru.

“I thought you quit drinking coffee?”

With the silence broken by the demon, Kin sighed. Dismissively he shrugged his shoulders though the singer known by the world as Saitama kept his attention fixed elsewhere. He thought about how to answer, but then he remembered that the last time they saw each other he had quit. “I started up again a couple of weeks ago when Mikio brought up all of this war nonsense.”

“So, does this mean your brothers have finally drawn you into the conflict?”

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“Is it your intent to fish for information as the Lord of the Nakamaru?”

“No, I was simply asking as your friend.”

“Siding with the King of the Gods against my blood hardly screams loyalty.”

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“I simply heard what he had to say,” The Nakamaru responded as he ran his fingers through his hair. Kin felt the demon’s piercing stare upon him, “You are a doctor. Does that moral compass of doing no harm extend to demons. Is your loyalty unwavering? I always found it rather curious you never told your brothers about me and the request you made. Then I started thinking about it. You can’t tell them because if they knew your Elder would shut you down rather swiftly. It almost makes me laugh hearing you discuss loyalty.”

“Don’t pretend to understand.”

“There is no worry in that. Betraying your people to save them is a new one even for me. I don’t get it and won’t pretend to. It just makes me wonder how long you are going to wait before you pull a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act and start experimenting on your own. Maybe that is why Rin keeps such a close eye on you.”

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There would be a moment of silence and then a laugh, “I made you unhappy.”

“You are presuming too much,” Kin stated. He hated admitting that the demon was not entirely wrong. He was at the end of his research; every calculation, every experiment, every test a failure. Sometimes he thought he was close and simply could not see the answer, but then another Ishi would fall prey to Imitso Encephalopathy. One step forward and hundred steps back; he was frustrated and the Nakamaru knew it.

Eventually there would come a time that he might have to resort to something more drastic. He had managed to put such extremes off for millions of years. Then there came a time in the modern age when his oath as a doctor was tested. Due no harm; He thought for certain he would have no choice. Then the goddess smiled upon him and a gift was presented. Thanks to the help of Hero of the Takahashi, but even his blood did not hold the answer he needed.

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A nervous laugh distracted his thoughts, “So, is it time for you to poke and prod me?”

“Why are you in such a hurry?”

Scratching his head, “I do not know. Just seems to me that you are distracted.”

“I do not mean to be. It has simply been a long day and I was expecting my daughter to call.”

“Is something wrong with Nene?”

“No, nothing like that. All of this war talk has her on edge, so we discussed her getting away for a bit,” Kin responded casually. Though he hardly wanted to discuss either of his children with the Nakamaru. Adjusting his glasses he redirected the topic, “I left a gown on the bed. Change and I will be back in a few minutes.”

He stepped out in the hallway, leaning against the wall. Kin always cleared his office at the end of the day to deal with the visits from the Nakamaru demon. There would be too many questions and much speculation from the Ishi that worked for him if any spied Hero. Whether they knew him as the demon prince or the famous singer, he drew waves of attention. It simply could not he helped.

The relationship between the two had started early on during the modern age when Hero was starting his career. He needed a doctor, simply to make sure his body did not suffer any ill-effects from the overwhelming lifestyle of a performer. Kin had not seen it as such a big deal. He was a demon; simply take another body.

That was when Hero informed Kin that he had been sporting his current body since before he was even born. Interested and curious were understatements. Nakamaru demons generally stayed in their demon form or they jumped skins. They did this because the wear and tear of their powers on the body was so great that within ten years time their demonic visage would start showing.

To be a demon that remained in the same body was unfathomable. There was simply no way for a skin not to deteriorate or at least that was what he thought. Then, he took a look at the blood from the Nakamaru and he understood that it was not like the blood of other demons. It was similar, in fact, to samples he had taken from his brother Mikio right down to a biomolecular level.

Kin had spent the better part of nearly two hundred years trying to figure out how that was possible.

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Pushing away from the wall he knocked upon the door and then entered. He stepped to the other side of the screen and sighed, “Every visit I lay out a robe for you and each time you opt to not wear it. I am starting to think you are some sort of exhibitionist.”

The demon smiled, “I am an entertainer that sort of goes hand in hand.” Kin felt it. The tug at the corner of his lips and before he realized it, he was smiling. “So, you can smile. I was starting to think the Ishi only made those sour grouchy faces like the Kari all the time.”

“For a moment there you were funny. Then, you continued talking.”

The Nakamaru shrugged, “Your Elder used to smile all the time. This devilish grin when he was slicing up enemies, licking blood off his lips, and patiently waiting for some foolish swordsmen to try to take him on. I heard he had a visitor. How did the kid do?”

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Kin’s expression changed quickly, “Still fishing for information I see.”

“I simply asked a question about how Gen Kari did. If you wish you can ask me one in return.”

“Fine, what are you playing at Hero? I have not seen you in weeks and then you show up at my office. You may have some years on me, but I was not born yesterday.”

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An odd expression adorned the features of Hero Takahashi as he stated simply, “In this war we all choose sides. The Nakamaru will stand with Kazuma and the Ishi will unite with the Queen, but I know whose side you are on. That cure is everything and if you wish to continue to experiment on my blood, I hope you will become a bit more forthcoming and friendly.”

“What is keeping me from dealing with you myself? I am a doctor. There are plenty of ways to kill you and no one would be the wiser.”

“Go ahead. If you could accomplish what other men have not, then I would applaud you.” Hero paused, “Seeing you want the truth, I think in this the demons of the Nakamaru are not the only ones standing with Kazuma. He cursed Rin with that taint and has the key to cure it. Men like you are always the same. Whatever the risk, whatever the path, whatever the cost. As your friend I am advising you to stop. Rin is not going to continue to turn a blind eye to what you are doing.”

“So, you threaten me. Tell me you are on Kazuma’s side…”

Hero interrupted, “I never said I was on his side. Only that the Nakamaru will stand with Kazuma.”

“Then what is the meaning of this?”

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“The meaning,” Hero paused a moment then stated quickly, “I trusted you with my blood and have come too far for that to be all in vain. Doctors that live a long time are hard to come by, especially ones who will always choose their work over anything else.”

“Point?”

“There may come a time when you have to choose between finding a cure to that Ishi disease and your clan. Neither of us are fools, so let’s be clear. They are not going to take too kindly to you using my blood to cure your kin.”

Kin looked straight ahead. Hero was not telling him anything he did not already know. Eventually there would come a time when he would have to make a choice. He had been lucky in nearly two hundred years Mikio had not questioned why the Nakamaru was coming to see him. Now that war was upon them, it would not be tolerated with the demons choosing to side with the King of the Gods.

No, he imagined that the reason the demon was telling him to begin with was because that time might quickly be approaching. “Thank you for the forewarning,” Kin responded as he stepped toward the demon. “Let’s hope it does not come to that.”

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