Realms of Destiny
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“We’re home!” called out Reina as she removed her wooden geta, placing it with her other shoes, neatly lined up underneath the raised wooden floor. This was met by enthusiastic barking from inside the house and the sound of scuttled feet. “We’ve got a guest.” She called again. She then turned towards Tora, who seemed rather preoccupied with the sign on the door. “I know you’re heading somewhere, but do have some tea before you move on Tora-kun.”
“Welcome home.” Her father’s voice called back, he was possibly in the kitchen for they could not see him yet. However, the source of the barking soon came into view, it was a scruffy black dog with a red scarf tied around its neck. The dog ran back and forth between Sousuke and Reina, greeting them both, tails wagging as they petted it and scratched its ears.
“Oh…it’s alright…I think, this is my destination.” At that, Reina and Sousuke stopped playing with the dog and exchanged confused glances while Tora continued. “I’m not familiar with the cursive, but that says ‘Soratenshi’ right?” Thinking that they have finally regained prospective student interest at last after six long years of being called ‘The Cursed Dojo’ due to the massacre, Reina pounced at the opportunity.
“Yes! Are you interested in Soratenshi no Ryu?”
“I’m looking for the Master.” Said Tora, still slightly pre-occupied, he was then distracted by the dog which decided to lick his hands. “Hey, hello.” He smiled, and petted the scruffy dog.
“Seems like Chibiku likes you, Tora-kun.” Said Reina. “And if you’re looking for the Master, that’s my father, he should be making his way here right about now.”
“Hakuda Tensaburou is your father?” asked Tora. “But your name was Aka- “ before he could finish his sentence, the Master walked into view, his trusty cane in his hands. Tora realized suddenly, Of course! She just got married! Damn, I actually liked you guys!
“Congratulations my daughter and son-in-law, at last!” The blind man beamed. “So who is our guest?” As Reina was about to introduce the exotic young stranger, Tora flashed passed her at a speed which even Sousuke found difficult to react to.
“ENGUARD, HAKUDA!!” The boy yelled as he charged forwards with his double swords drawn. Reina didn’t even notice him drop his travelling pack on the ground beside her.
On reflex, the old-man brought up his cane just in time to parry the swords, but the metal blade was digging deep into the wooden cane and it wasn’t going to hold much longer.
“Tora-kun, what do you think you’re doing?” shouted Reina, but her kimono nearly tripped her when she tried to go to her father’s aid. Sousuke, however, was already there. He fly-kicked at the youth who had to dodge with a few summersaults to give himself space. Rei quickly grabbed hold of Chibiku so that he wouldn’t charge in and get in the way.
“I don’t know why you’re here, or what business you have with the Master, Tora-kun; but attacking an unarmed blind man is not something I can let slide.” Warned Sousuke.
“The Masamune, where did you put it? Give it back!” said the boy angrily. “Out of the way Sousuke-san, it is only the Master of Soratenshi that I have a bone to pick with.” He charged at Hakuda again with even more speed than he had initially but this time Sousuke was ready.
The two clashed with a myriad of swords and kicks as the young boy refused to back down.
“You took something that belonged to my Master, give it back Hakuda!” There was a loud clang as Sousuke swung his drawn sword towards the boy’s left flank which the boy skillfully blocked with one of his short swords. However, the speed of the attack was faster than Tora had anticipated and it caught a bit of his fluffy black hair. Tora realized then that no matter whom it was that he had a bone to pick with, this opponent is not one he could fight with anything less than all of his concentration.
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Said the confused swords master. “If you’re looking for Masamune, it is not with me, but with my brother Hakuda Tonitsuba. You’ve come to the wrong place.”
“There you have it Tora-kun. Sheath your blades.” Said Sousuke pushing Tora’s swords backwards with his pure strength. The boy may be extremely skilled, but if it comes to brute strength, the taller and stronger man has the advantage.
“Sure, it was with Hakuda Tonitsuba…” Said Tora as he double-back-stepped and proceeded to sheath his swords. He then turned away from Sousuke and walked a few steps towards the wall. He crouched down to retie his sandals, but instead of standing up, he added “…before you stole it from us!” at that moment, he pushed off from the floor, towards the wall and ricochet back with extra speed. As he did so he mumbled something under his breath and his speed seemed to have suddenly increased mid-air. Sousuke did not react in time and found that one of the swords he did not manage to block has caused a medium-sized slash on his left shoulder, his blood gave a short spurt before it began soaking his kimono.
“Sousuke!” Reina screamed, concern evident in her voice, while Chibiku barked furiously and growled. Tora turned to look at the two of them briefly but there was something different in his single amber eye. The look silenced the dog completely, causing it to cower and shiver in Reina’s arms. Rei could see why, for the boy’s lively bright eyes have been replaced with a ferocious piercing gaze akin to that of a tiger. He turned back towards his opponent.
“I expected more honour and pride from you than to play dumb, Hakuda.” Said Tora. Looking at Reina’s father in disdain.
“We’re not done yet! Soratenshi no Ryu, Tsubame no kata (Style of Wings)!” Sousuke jumped up before he attacked downwards swing his sword in a wide arc followed by an upward strike and a follow through backspin kick. His previous injury did not cause Sousuke to lose his composure and seeing as this young boy would clearly not stop to listen to what any of them had to say, he was going to make him listen. He would have to go on the offence. The technique proved effective and he was able to catch the boy on his legs. He threw techniques after techniques that his master had taught him at the stranger which he had never had to use on anyone before.
However, Kazegami Tora was skilled indeed, for half the time he was able to block, dodge, and even counter the attacks as though he knew exactly what was coming. Occasionally the boy would mutter something under his breath and his speed would unexpectedly increase, catching Sousuke off guard many times. “If you’re not going to listen, I’m gonna have to make you Tora-kun! Tenshi no Odori!”
“Sousuke-kun don’t use that!” shouted Hakuda suddenly. But he was but too late. Sousuke was only half listening for he knew that it would take his concentration off his opponent, and concentration was needed to continue the infinity effect of Tenshi no Odori.
“I was waiting for that.” Said Tora. Once again he mumbled something beneath his breath and this time Reina listened carefully and thought he said ‘wind’ and saw the gem on his choker glow slightly. His speed increased again and every swing from the Tenshi no Odori combo was successfully blocked. At the end of the cycle, Tora did exactly what Reina did to Kurogane five years ago, he found the pause in the rhythm and knocked Sousuke’s sword down causing it to embed itself on the ground. He stepped on it, summersaulted over the young man’s head and as Sousuke took his time to pull his sword off the floor Tora delivered a diagonally upward slash across his back.
On reflex, the green-eyed man pushed off with his feet and rolled forward retrieving his sword in the process and turned back to face his opponent. “You’re a tough one aren’t ya? *pant*” Despite having received minimal physical damage, the boy was beginning to show signs of fatigue. “No one’s ever made me use this much power before.” None of the people present knew what that last bit meant but Reina noticed that the glowing gem began to pulse weakly.
“You know our techniques… no, you know the Tenshi syllabus of our techniques.” Observed Sousuke, the stinging pain in his back was beginning to spread, the cut must have been deep. However, he could still fight, and what more, he needed answers. “How?”
“Chikyuutenshi no Ryu.” Said Hakuda, as soon as Sousuke made the comment. “You are my brother’s student.”
“So that’s why.” Said Reina suddenly. “You share half of our syllabus. But, I thought uncle and father went their separate ways and agreed to never make contact again. Then, why are you here?”
“So you have the Shadow Hands do the dirty work for you.” Said Tora accusingly.
“Shadow Hands!?” exclaimed Reina in anger and shock at the mention of the name, the Shadow Hands were a well-known, up-and-rising crime organization. “How can we have anything to do with the Shadow Hands? Who do you take us for?”
“How low you have sunken.” Added Tora, not hearing what Reina has to say. At that, he jumped in to attack again, this time with his own technique. “Let me show you a real combo. Chikyuutenshi no Ryu, Hyakken Odori (dance of a hundred blades).” He whispered again and the light green gem glowed brightly. Sousuke had quite some distance to cover before he could go to his Master’s aid, but just then he felt a warm glow of energy surge inside him. In the heat of the moment, he suddenly felt energized. Reina watched as Sousuke’s orange gem glowed as well and in the blink of an eye, her sempai had crossed the distance and performed a technique which she herself had never seen before…or has she?
That move! Thought Rei in recognition. I’ve seen it before…but, it’s not Soratenshi no Ryu. There was a flash of light, Rei thought she saw flames, but the end result was that Sousuke had swung his sword and himself around in an arc at top speed, this successfully blocked what she thought was a very difficult offensive to counter. The light had distracted his opponent somewhat, and the force and effectiveness of the momentum of Sousuke’s defence had sent Tora’s swords flying and injuring his forearm in the process, the boy was thrown back. Wherever he learned it from, that technique seemed especially effective with Tora’s double-sword style. The boy slowly stood up and resumed his stance.
“Stop it! Both of you! Tora-kun, you clearly have the wrong people! You’re both very injured, let’s talk this through.”
Tora was breathing hard and panting heavily. That last move, the damage he received from the unprecedented attack, and having used his powers throughout the fight has drained him. He didn’t want to admit to losing now, especially as his opponent is clearly just about as drained as he was, the long-haired young man balancing on his sword. However, he could see and hear in Reina’s voice that, for some reason or other, she hated the Shadow Hands as much as he did. Perhaps these people are telling the truth. He thought.
“Very well then.” He relaxed and started to sheathe his sword. But the battle had taken a lot more out of him than he had expected. Everything went black, and the boy collapsed.
“Tora-kun!” exclaimed Sousuke as he tried to go to his opponent’s aid to see if he was alright. In his concern, he had forgotten his own injuries and nearly tripped, catching himself just in time with his sword.
“Sousuke!” exclaimed Reina with concern. She rushed to his side to help him up. She had never ever seen him this beaten up all her life. Chibiku also rushed to his side in order to lick his wounds.
“Don’t worry about me, see if the boy’s okay.” Said Sousuke. To emphasize this he steadied himself to try to prove that he could stand on his own. “I’ll go take a bath, I’ll be fine. You know that I recover quickly.” He gestured to Tora’s unconscious body. Hakuda had already made his way there, confirming that the boy is still alive, his breathing steady. “Your father will need some help.” He gave her a warm smile which she had come to trust to mean ‘everything will be okay’.
“Alright then. Don’t overdo it.” She slowly let go of him. True to his words, Sousuke was able to steadily make his way to the bathroom. Reina kept her eyes on him until he was no longer within sight. She then went over to help her father carry Tora to the living room where they can tend to his wounds. His injuries weren’t half as serious as Sousuke’s, most have already stopped bleeding, but the mumbling and his sudden speed increases seemed to have taxed him. The boy looks as though he is sleeping. Like Sousuke and herself, Tora’s regeneration speed was remarkable by human standards. Even so, she still did not neglect to clean and dress his wounds properly.
“Go tend to your husband.” Said Hakuda as Reina finished with the bandaging. “Sousuke’s a brave boy, but that fight must have done a lot to his confidence.” Hakuda turned his blind eyes towards the resting boy. “I don’t know who this boy is, but to be able to steal something from my brother and this boy together, the Shadow Hands must be something indeed. We also have to ask him what made him think we had anything to do with it. Go on, take the medical kit with you.”
“Yes, father.” Said Reina. She picked up medical kit and left her father alone to look after their visitor.