Chapter 43:

Shadows that Scream


“Grandfather!” Chiharu hung over his dead body, unable to do anything but hold his head in her lap. Saki and Yuki kept their distance at the entrance of the room. After a minute Tamotsu came over to her side pulling her away wrapping his arm around her back for comfort. He walked out of the room whispering something to her. They left Saki and Yuki unattended and staring in confusion and worry.

Saki had only met the man earlier, but she still felt some sadness for his passing. However, it concerned her the face that she saw on Chiharu. ‘There were no tears… She just lost the most important person in her life and she didn’t cry…’ She looked over at Yuki and then ran off down the hallway.

‘…what’s she thinking?’ Yuki didn't know what was going on anymore or why someone would want to kill the kind old man, but the look on Saki’s face was familiar to him. He had seen that determination before and he was not about to let her out of his sight. “Wait for me, Saki!”

Chapter 43 – Shadows that Scream

Yuki traced Saki’s shadow through the halls into even more unknown and darker areas of the mansion. The further that they went the stranger things became, making Yuki even start to question what sort of family this truly was. His answers would come soon enough as he found Saki stopped at the entrance for a room. “Saki?”

Saki had arrived shortly after Chiharu and watched the two debate on a matter that she couldn't hear. The uneasy feeling that she had been getting from the home the entire evening suddenly felt like it had gathered together in concentration. It made her stomach churn and her eyes narrow. ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this…’ She didn't even notice Yuki getting close to her or speaking to her.

“Saki?” Yuki tapped his hand on her shoulder trying to get her attention. However, the reaction wasn’t as he had hoped. Saki was taken completely off guard by it and nearly screamed before she cut herself off, but not before they knew she was outside.

“Who’s there? Show yourself!” Tamotsu shouted from the room pulling out a pistol aimed at the door.

Saki covered up her mouth and tried to cover up Yuki’s when he spoke again, but got entangled. Panic ran through their bodies upon being noticed. They lost their balance and fell over with Saki hitting the ground and Yuki landing on top of her. Their heads and part of their shoulders exposed to the doorway. “H-hey, we got lost?”

“Going with that cliche?”

“Now’s not the time!”

Tamotsu’s eyes twitched a little in annoyance at the children, but seeing that they weren’t a threat he returned his pistol back to his side. “What are you two doing here?” He started to walk towards them seeing that they were ignoring him. “Shut up!”

Yuki and Saki were quickly silenced, petrified by the loud voice and Tamotsu staring down at them. It was enough to turn their faces pale.

“What’s wrong, Tamotsu?” Chiharu asked, stepping out from mid changing her clothes.

Yuki turned his head away quickly when she saw her bare legs. “W-what’s going on here? And where are your clothes?!”

“I was changing… Tamotsu, what are they doing here?”

“I was trying to find out, Lady Chiharu.” He glared down at them, making them crawl away out of sight. Tamotsu followed them out into the hall as they stumbled over the other to stand up. “You two… I’ll have my men escort you back to your rooms. You’ll remain there until the morning when we’ll return you home. Understand?”

Yuki nodded quickly in agreement, willing to leave on his own if Saki didn't grab him by the collar. Saki stepped forward regaining her composure and stared back at Tamotsu. “There’s been a murder in the house and you just expect us to ignore it?!”

“You will.” The tone in his voice was commanding and firm. It was a voice that was used to ordering around others. He demanded those that he commanded to follow without question. Saki wasn’t one of his men though and she stared back at him unimpressed by his demeanor.

“I’m not leaving here without some answers.” She could tell that she was starting to get to Tamotsu. “There’s something strange about this family! What’s going on here?”

There was a long pause between Tamotsu and Saki as they glared at each other. Yuki kept himself behind Saki knowing that she wasn't going to let him get away now. However, it was Chiharu that broke the staring contest between the two as she stepped out into the hall covered in all black clothing. “It’s alright, Tamotsu. I’ll tell her.”

“But Lady Chiharu!” Chiharu glared back at Tamotsu making him back off from his protest.

Chiharu stepped forward meeting stares with Saki looking ready to speak, but Yuki pushed down over Saki’s shoulder getting his head in between them. “You’re a ninja! Aren’t you?” The glow and excitement on Yuki’s face made everyone a little dumbfounded. Chiharu looked like she was pouting a little with her secret revealed before she could even speak.

“The weakling’s correct…” Saki pushed back on Yuki while looking over at Chiharu. “My family, my clan has been assassins for hire for many generations and in the past our heritage traced to the ninja. We still keep that pride today.” Chiharu hung her head down for a moment, paused. She quickly turned her head up and looked forward. “And I’ll restore my family’s honor by getting revenge on those that killed my Grandfather!”

Saki and Yuki froze when hearing those words from someone so young. Chiharu pushed the two of them aside to be followed up by Tamotsu. It took time to process and accept it, but Saki moved quickly to catch up to Chiharu grabbing her by the arm. “What do you mean revenge? You can’t kill someone!”

Chiharu snapped her arm free and in the process slapped Saki back with a venomous look. “I’m the last of my clan! I have to avenge my clan!”

The slap stung more with the words. She grabbed back at Chiharu. “No! You can’t do this! You’re just a child!”

“Get the hell away from me! I thought of all the people you’d understand, but it seems that I was mistaken.” Chiharu spun around on her feet. She stretched out her leg, kicking Saki with the back side. Yuki caught Saki being thrown to the floor, dampening the impact.

He stretched out his arm futilely trying to stop Chiharu. “Chiharu! You shouldn’t kill someone!” Chiharu was getting further away from them, but Yuki wasn't going to give up on Saki’s fight. He recognized that look. The emotions felt all too familiar. “I know how you’re feeling! Chiharu stop!” It seemed to hit a nerve with Chiharu as she paused in her step. “The rage and anger inside you is too much to contain. It speaks to you telling you this is right. That you must do it. There’s no other way. If you don't, it won't be at peace.”

Chiharu turned part way looking back at Yuki. Her fists tightened at her side and shaking. “Is that all you can do, talk?”

“It feels uncontrollable doesn’t it?”

“It’s no use, Yuki…” said Saki, pushing herself up from Yuki walking towards Chiharu.

Yuki jumped up to his feet trying to catch up to Saki, confused by her change. “Saki?! What’s wrong?”

“I’m going with you!” Everyone paused a little shocked by Saki’s declaration. Yuki closed the distance between them and grabbed her shoulder. Saki ripped her shoulder free and finished walking the distance to Chiharu. “I’m not letting you go out there alone!”

“Lady Chiharu won’t be alone, I can assure you.” Tamotsu stepped around Chiharu to intercept Saki. However, Chiharu waved back Tamotsu to step towards Saki with a change in her eye. “Lady Chiharu?”

“Let her come…” A grin started to appear on Chiharu's face. “Tamotsu give her some new clothes too. I’ll be waiting for you.” Chiharu marched off with an over-confident stride as she left the three behind.

Tamotsu turned to look back at Saki with a disapproving look. However, he said nothing and walked past her back to the room they had been in before. He expected Saki to follow him as she did with Yuki trailing behind. Saki was directed to a locker that held clothes that would fit her while Yuki just stood back waiting from a safe distance.

‘Why’s she doing this? This isn’t our fight.’ Yuki hadn’t known Saki to act like this before. She was willing to protect and defend someone, but to help in someone’s revenge. It didn't feel right to him. There was a piece he missed. ‘…fine…’ Yuki walked over to Tamotsu looking at him, he had stepped out while Saki changed in privacy. “You got something I can wear?”

Tamotsu looked into his eyes, seeing the look of determination from before. ‘He’s a strange one. A fool one minute and fearless the next…’ He walked over to the opposite side of the room pointing to Yuki a locker. “This should fit.”

A few minutes later Saki stepped out from her place only to find Yuki staring back at her in the same ninja garb that Chiharu ran off in. “What do you think you’re doing, Yuki?”

“I’m not letting you go out there alone, either! Besides, my abilities might have some use out there.”

She exchanged looks for a moment with Yuki, but could see that he was going to go with her regardless of what she said. “And can you use them when you need?”

“Well…no…but just in case!”

“Whatever…Mr. Tamotsu show us the way.” Tamotsu nodded silently and walked out. The quiet walk left them plenty of time to think about what they were getting into. Answers to the mystery of Chiharu came, but with darker implications. Saki stewed in her questions about the murder and Chiharu.

Chiharu waited for them in what looked like a hanger below the mansion, but with the cars parked it would have been more accurate to call it a garage. There was a door open on one of the cars that she stood by. Once she saw that they had arrived she entered the car waiting for Saki and Yuki to catch up.

Several cars pulled up alongside. The hunt started. Yuki waited until they were taking off from the underground garage. “If you’re a clan of ninjas…why are you using cars?”

Saki sighed out loud looking away while Chiharu looked narrowly at him. “Because the enemy is on foot within our grounds. But we won’t be able to catch up to them without an advantage.”

He took the answer though was not too pleased by it. “Seems like cheating.”

“We can only run so fast!”

“Sorry!” Yuki said, jumping a little. ‘Sharp ears…’ He decided to wisely keep quiet the rest of the time in the car until it came to a rough and sharp stop.

The panel between the driver’s seat and the back of the car opened up. The driver kept his eyes forward, but spoke back to them. “Lady Chiharu! Reports from the house say that they finally got the sensors to pick up the intruders. We are ahead of them now.”

“Very good!” Chiharu exited the car running out into the forest that surrounded the back of the estate. The road that they followed ran through the forest and around it. It placed them within intercept distance of the intruders.

All Yuki and Saki could do was follow as they caught glimpses of other black silhouettes coming out of the neighboring cars. Chiharu knew where she was going, leading everyone from the sounds of the enemy. ‘They’re making far more noise than I would have expected. But they’re very close.’ Once she was in range of them, she ordered her men to spread out. Yuki and Saki stayed behind Chiharu waiting for the moment.

Chiharu held, grinding her hand against the hilt of her short blade strapped to her back. She fought the urge to charge in knowing that her vengeance was in front of her. In the end, it was Saki holding her back that kept her from moving any further. However, in the distance the noises came to an end. ‘They’ve stopped! Why? Did they discover us?’

The answer for Chiharu came soon as she heard sounds of screaming. It was of men being killed. ‘Is it them or my men? Did they kill my men, just like Grandfather?’ Her eyes narrowed and power applied to her muscles as Saki couldn't stop her any longer. Chiharu leapt from their hiding and charged straight for the noise.

“Damn girl! Come on, Yuki!” Saki rushed to her feet following after Chiharu. They arrived quickly behind her as she had already stopped finding a dead body. It was one of Chiharu’s men from the house. They found another next to him. Chiharu ran off into the dark of the forest leaving them behind. “Chiharu! Don’t go alone!”

Chiharu's eyes could only see revenge. They had killed her Grandfather and now her men as well. She would have them die for what they had done. She kept running to where she believed the enemy to be. However, her foot tripped on a wire trap sending her to the ground completely open.

A masked shadow leapt out of the nearby brush with a blade held high to make the strike. “The Chinen Clan dies tonight!”