Kuriyama walked down the hall to his master’s room. Because his master didn’t appreciate having men in the same general sleeping vicinity, his room was on the other side of the private villa building. It was inconvenient. However, there was nothing to be done about that.
His feet thumped against the wooden tiles as he hurried down the hall. Unlike the rest of the hotel, this private condominium hotel resembled a traditional Japanese home. Even the doors were the traditional sliding paper doors.
Stopping in front of his master’s door, he prostrated himself by sitting in seiza.
“My Lord, you summoned me?”
“I did,” a voice came from inside. “Come in.”
Kuriyama slid the door opened, stood up, entered, slid the door closed, and then turned to Master Orochi. He was still sitting in seiza.
Master Orochi sat against a seat made from a plethora of cushions in varying shades of red. He wasn’t alone. Sitting around him, lounging as they fed him food, wine, or merely laid at his feet, were the women in his harem. All of them, including his master, were in a serious state of undress. Kimonos were askew. Chests were visible. Barely anything was covered.
Kuriyama withheld a sigh.
“I’ve come as you requested, My Lord.” He bowed his head. “What is your bidding?”
“I’ve sensed a fly buzzing around us as of late,” Master Orochi said before opening his mouth and saying “ah” as he allowed Hatsune to feed him a grape. He finished chewing, swallowed, drank from a saucer filled with wine that Kumiko served him, and then looked back at Kuriyama. “I want you to find this annoyance and take care of her.”
For Master Orochi to request something like this, at this moment, as in right now, meant that whoever this “fly” was, they had to be somewhere close.
“Of course, My Lord.” Kuriyama bowed again. “Your will shall be done.”
He stood up, turned around, and prepared to leave, but as he was opening the sliding door, Master Orochi called out to him.
“Oh, and, you wouldn’t happen to be hiding anything from me, would you, Kuriyama?”
Kuriyama froze. It was only for a second. Then he recovered himself and said, “Of course not. You are my lord who saved me from death. I would never hide anything from you.”
“Is that so?” Master Orochi paused for a moment, humming with a thoughtful air. “Very good. I appreciate your loyalty. You may go now.”
Kuriyama bowed once more before exiting the room, sliding the door shut, and wandering back down the hall to his room.
That had been a little too close for comfort. Kuriyama did regret lying to Master Orochi, but he also knew his master. While he respected his lord, Master Orochi had a bad habit of seducing women. Kuriyama wouldn’t mind if Master Orochi seduced Kuro, but his sister was still too young, and sleeping with a nekomata when she wasn’t of age could have adverse affects on them. It would be better to wait until Kuro came of age.
This is for both Master Orochi and Kuro’s benefit, he justified.
Entering his room, Kuriyama shut the door and turned to his sister with a smile.
“Sorry for leaving so abruptly,” he said. “I’ve taken care of the business with Master Orochi, so no we can… talk…?”
He trailed off, his eyes widening, breath still, heart slowing down as the room’s silence struck him. The room was empty. Kuro was gone. She was gone. Where was she? What happened/ She wasn’t here. Gone gone gone gone gone go—
He looked at the window. It was open. The curtains were fluttering in the breeze.
With a furious snarl twisting his face, he bounded for the window and leapt out, landing on all fours on the grassy ground. He tried to sniff for her scent, but he couldn’t find it. His sense of smell had been gone ever since the attack on the village. His eyesight had also grown bad. It was because of that fire.
It doesn’t matter.
Kuriyama stared at the ground, seeking, searching, looking. If Kuro had gotten out this way, then surely—yes! There! Footprints! Two sets of them. Someone else had been here? A kidnapper!
“They kidnapped my sister!!!”
Roaring in anger, Kuriyama bolted. He bound forward on all fours, keeping his eyes on the footprints, never letting them out of his sight. The wind raced around him. It howled in his ears. He was going to find whoever had kidnapped his sister and tear them apart!