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The Elder of the Ishi stood quietly in the backyard of his estate. His mind was preoccupied. Normally there was always something rattling around in his head, but it had been a long time since his entire focus had been fixed upon his brother Mikio and Tationy. He could barely hear the words of his second in command, Nao.

“Seriously, you are pissing me off,” Nao finally stated.

Usually having someone angry at him would not even make him flinch, but the fact that Nao had sworn was attention grabbing in its own right. “Do you want me to apologize?” Kuro questioned as he turned to face his little brother.

“No, I want you to get a grip. I have never for a moment thought you were incapable of competing against our father for her hand. Trust her even if you cannot trust him.”

“I do trust her,” Kuro snapped.

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Nao stood and brushed himself off while asking, “Then why are you being like this?”

With a sigh Kuro stated, “One part of me is irritated because I am the Elder of the Ishi and she went against my wishes. Another part is worried about her safety even though I know Mikio is more than capable.” He paused a moment, “I might be territorial or jealous or maybe both. I have just been without her for so long and I have all of these questions and emotions barking at me constantly. I don’t like it.”

“Seems like a control issue to me,” Nao responded.

Kuro smirked, “Oh, is that what you think?”

“Tell me I am mistaken.”

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Kuro stared at his brother. In a way he was not entirely wrong, but it was mostly a feeling that his hands were always tied by unseen forces. He did not have the eyes of the Tylo like his brother Mikio and the Queen of the Kari, Tationy. What he did have was a gut feeling that told him there were always strings making him move.

“I choose my own path, but I would be lying if I said that I felt in control. Honestly, since she came into my life there has been lifetimes spent trying to figure out if I was the master of my own domain or if I was a mere tool in the grand plans of Rin. He never said as much; not about me. The older I get the more I find myself wondering why I was the Ishi he had chosen to raise his spawn. So, yes it is about control. I don’t appreciate my strings being pulled and I refuse to be the puppet of any god or any fate. ”

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Nao did not hesitate in responding, “I have always respected the way you move through the world choosing your own path. However, you have always been foolish in your thinking. There is not a man or woman in this world that is not a puppet; some are just fortunate enough to see the strings of manipulation while others have chosen to go with the flow or resist the tug of fates fingers.”

Each word irritated Kuro, but Nao never hesitated in speaking them. In fact, he continued quickly, “Since you met her your fate has been in a state of imbalance. While it is easy to blame on Rin, I think it has a lot more to do with you and your inability to see acceptance. Her eyes have always been on you even when the two of you were not together; how foolish a man do you have to be to not notice that? So, what if someone is pulling your strings. That invisible force that masters us all will always be there; it is not something we can change or control. Maybe it is time you stopped worrying about cutting fates hold and pay more attention to the fact that you have freewill.”

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“Freewill and puppets in the same four minute span of words. No matter how you try to sugarcoat it, what you are really saying is we will always be slaves to the gods. One cannot have freewill and still be a puppet.”

“You are mistaken,” Nao responded swiftly. “Take the word of God for example. Never once in any passage is will used in the positive. The Christians speak of freewill, but everything has been predestined by their God. Only once in the old testament is it mentioned. Never in the new testament. Not willing, resisting, refusing – these things are freewill. However, Christians are still puppets to their God. Only he can give salvation, show mercy, and compassion.”

Kuro glared at his brother while adjusting his collar, “God was created by Kazuma. What do his words mean to me?”

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Nao sighed, “Seriously, articulating things to you is like talking to a brick wall some days.”

“I feel as though I should be insulted, but I am already annoyed with you,” Kuro responded simply.

With a shrug Nao stated, “Think of it like those Star Wars movies you and Bak like so much. The force is always around you. A jedi is not a puppet to the force because it serves only to influence and guide, never control. It will not compel you to accept your path. You are always welcome to refuse that does not mean it is not going to give you other opportunities to choose your destiny.”

“Oh, the force sounds like an annoying little brother.” Nao wrinkled his nose as Kuro added with a laugh, “I get it Naoto. Fate will guide you, but accept your wishes if you refuse to follow it. Destiny versus freewill; puppet versus freedom. How exactly did we get on this conversation?”

“You were sulking,” Nao stated.

“I would hardly call it that.”

Nao shrugged his shoulders, “Sometimes you need distracted from yourself.”

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If it was possible to take a vacation from his own thoughts he would gladly accept one, but then when he returned it would simply be the same pile of stuff pushed off for another day. Not his style. Still, it was difficult to find disagreement with his brothers words. He would gladly accept a distraction.

“Where are you going,” Kuro questioned when he realized Nao was starting to wander away.

“Home,” He stated.

“Aren’t you suppose to be protecting your elder?”

“Didn’t I tell you?” Nao asked as he glanced over his shoulder, “They returned an hour ago.”

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