Chapter 3:

Chapter 3: When Paths Collide

Element U

Five years had passed since the Sun had changed poles, its iridescent yellow glow shone down on the lively spring plains of the Nezumiiro vasslands. Peace was maintained upon the steep rocky mounds as the Paladinian people awoke with their humble praises to the Sun above who granted them such dominion. Her kindness ever so abundant.

Scattered across the cliff sides, the cherrapples were in bloom, their petals a splendid vibrant pink. These trees teetered off the ashen graveled descent into the valley, interwoven fields of Sun burnt lemony vass coiled through the surface layer of the earth. The vine-like grass that bordered the edges of the dead wood forest was a colorful splash on the more-or-less bleak nature that had enveloped the world. Beauty able to rise from the ashes of the past.

The pure essence of blessed natural harmony was encapsulated within the village of Nippon, all moving swimmingly as the morn settled within the barren blue sky. Within the Sato household however, a toddler took advantage of his parents' absence. Their errands in the market his time to try and escape his maiden Ayame’s clutches.

His time to be a kid, wild and free.


A prized shiny stone shattered upon the ground in the wake of the small child. Toppled off its pedestal, the overly energetic boy scrambled up to the top of it and stared down with glee at his pursuer. The very one meant to keep him inside was left in a bitter sweat as she huffed out agitated breaths that brushed her messy golden strands aside. Exhaustion present in the dull neon stare that settled in her sunken face.

“Master—Daisuke. Get down from there this instant.”

Clink-tink. Smash!

“Master Daisuke. Stop it—now!”

“Just for a turn! C’mon!” Daisuke pleaded as he ran about.

“No, master Daisuke!”

“But Ayame, I just want to go outside!”

“That doesn’t mean you have to wreck the house! You can’t—go outside whenever you—want!” Ayame sputtered as she dashed and dived after Daisuke.


“Watch me!”

Her efforts fell short, body slammed onto the brittle wooden floor, Daisuke’s slim-self just out of reach. An opening made by her shortcomings as he hurled over Ayame and reached the stairs. His little mind, overly eager to explore the outside world, gunned for the door. Short cuts his only way to get there.



Daisuke jumped off the open wooden box staircase onto the dining room table in his maroon wrapped loincloth. Balance unsteady, his legs wobbled from the impact that sent dinner wear flying onto the ashen-gray wooden floor. Restabilized, a pinch of elated relief settled within him, yet the feeling was quickly squandered by the looming presence behind.

Face beet red, Ayame dusted off her tightly wound white and black kosode and stood behind Daisuke with a tinge of restraint. Mere ticks away from lashing out.

“Master Daisuke, why don’t we—take a nap!”


Anger huffed out and subsided, she leaned forward and dived at him, but he expected it. Daisuke quick enough to allude Ayame’s feeble attempt to end the chase.

Feet planted on the ground, Daisuke kept his focus on Ayame on the other side of the battered table. Both meeting eye to eye on opposite sides, a brutal standoff.

“Stop this—right now.” Exhausted, Ayame heaved out moist air as Daisuke stood there and bounced side to side. His never ending energy enveloped in his plump little scrunched face was the very source of her annoyance. Her thoughts centered around how he wasn't tired yet, they had been at it for hours.

“Ayame, just two turns that’s it. I promise.”

“Your parents—will report to the Chieftain if you get out again.”

“I only got to Azumi’s house last time.”

“That’s far—enough.”

“That’s next door!”

He raised his squeamish hands forward and clung onto the edge of the table. His short cut golden tipped white hair parted to the sides as he batted his green eyes swamped by his black sclera. Joy dissipated in the face of Ayame’s resilience. Her assignment from the High Priest to tutor and raise him as a marked child, the soul inhibitor of him having fun.

He just wanted to be a kid.

Both Daisuke’s parent’s entrusted Ayame to watch over him during their daily chores, each having their part to play in the clan’s societal cycle. Cho, his mother, found specialization from the Sun in plants, deemed the overseer of the crop production for the village. Botan, his father, was an established fighter, not one of the highest ranks but known well enough for his intense strengths and overwhelming morals.

“Master Daisuke. Stop.”

Daisuke, an amalgamation of their outgoing natures, was one perfect blend of young relentless controlled chaos. Too smart for his own well being.

“No. Bad, master Daisuke. Bad.”

Daisuke remained silent but his actions spoke volumes. A single side eyed glance toward the door the only indication Ayame needed to see the scrounging desire still present within him. His goal no more than ten steps away.

“Just—one turn!” Daisuke let out as he made a last ditch effort dash for the door.

“I said no!” Ayame clamored, fast on her feet, the lane to freedom cut off.


“Room, now!”

Daisuke sputtered back and ducked beneath her rushed attack. Ayamed left empty handed as Daisuke ran around to the other end of the table, distance maintained. Both ended up back where they were, no advancements made. Seconds were burnt up as they caught their breath, waiting for the other to make a move. One creak of a board all it too, and with that the game resumed.

This cat and mouse chase was intertwined in a never ending cycle that ensued throughout the first floor of the household. Their bodies bounced off the shaved teratoma flesh drapes that hung over the blood soaked wooden walls for the bitter winter months. A cushioned bounce for Daisuke to propel off of.

“I—got you!”

Whoosh—tink-bink. Clash!

Swords fell over and boards splintered as Ayame tripped and failed to catch Daisuke repeatedly. Even at only five years old, his potential was apparent. While reckless and free spirited, he was quick witted nonetheless.

Thud-thump. Whoosh.

From the boxed stairs to the preparation quarters, an open space with a dry rack cabinet for food storage, the two ran about. Daisuke dodged her every move as Ayame swiped at the empty wind in his wake to no avail. This base layer Paladinian home was enough for Daisuke to go with the plan to tire Ayame out. Its dried mahogany coloration from the dried blood and tar, to seal out the outdoors, left them in a sweat box. Ayame being pushed to her limits.

Shifted in front of the doorway Ayame panted in air as she slumped back against it. Escape route cut off. Daisuke, at a loss, found himself forced to come to a stop, no thinkable way around her. The teeny boy’s entire plan obliterated by a single step. But did he even have a plan to begin with?

“Master Daisuke. For the last time, no means no. I’m sorry.” Ayame wheezed as she tried to reason with the wild minded child.

“But they would never know!”

“It’s not up to you. You know that.”

“Yeah but . . . other kids get to go out.” Daisuke sulked, his spirit sequestered by reality.

Daisuke glared down at the space between them, gloom seeping out of his eyes as tears trickled onto the floorboards. He sniffled up his weary emotions and rubbed at the slight slippage. Caught off guard by his mopy face, Ayame sighed, his desire one she could relate to.

“I’m tired of this. It’s boring in here.” Daisuke admitted.

“Look, master Daisuke. It’s for your own safety. You know that.” Ayame shifted back upright and calmly gestured to him. “What if something happened to you? How would master Botan and master Cho feel?”

“I—I . . .” Wiping his eyes, Daisuke rubbed out the wet streams of bleary feelings for the desired freedom he couldn’t yet obtain. Cheeks rosy red, he held back his dejection behind a puffy pout. Needless to say it was adorable.

Unable to refrain herself, Ayame walked around the table and knelt down to Daisuke’s level. Annoyance shoved aside, Amaye embraced the role designated to her. She smiled as sincerely as she could and took his little pale hands within her own.

“What if tonight I ask them if we can go outside for a little bit some day? But just down the path to the market. No farther. Understood master Daisuke?”

Sniff. “Okay.” Daisuke agreed timidly.

Arms lifted up toward the sky, he maintained his pouty face and continued to tug at her weak spot. Ayame, an easy pushover, fell for his precious gaze. Hoisted up, she consoled his childish mindset, a few pats and a long winded hug all she felt he needed to calm down. To acknowledge the truth. Her relief in his descent into understanding a blatant blinder of a missing dinner blade from the table. The jagged limestone tool hidden neatly in the knot of his loincloth.

“You’ll get to go out soon enough, I promise. But for now, let's take a little nap, okay?”

Yawn. Daisuke nodded in aggreement.

Carried up the stairs to his little coar fur rug mat in his quarter of the house, Daisuke was gently laid down for rest. The sewn skinned hide was of a mammal herd that settled near the Nippon village in the valley. A generational mixed breed of a cow and boar descendent. Setting him down on the rug, Ayame patted the tuckered boy's head and made her exit from the room. The fleshoar skin tarp slid closed, not a sound made beside the creak of the boards beneath her feet. Their absence was the only signal Daisuke needed to hear.

One eye popped open to make sure the coast was clear, Daisuke lunged forward.

“Finally.” Sat upright on his twin bed sized rug, a new plan formulated within his feeble mind. But what way out was there?

With the carved blade taken out from his loincloth, the boy stood upright. Daisuke’s gaze locked on to the holy beam of exposure that radiated from the outdoors. A diamond gateway to freedom, his only means of escape. The window.

“Okay. Now just to reach . . . it.”

Daisuke took a gander around his room for an answer. From a bolly rib cage bone carved chest, the small pig-like creature, for his belongings and a phosphorus glow stone wooden lantern hung in the upper far right corner of the square room he failed to find an option. A means of escape. The obvious slow to be realized.

A little bubbly frown puffed onto Daisuke’s face as he failed to find a clear way to scale the crimson red boards to make his great escape. Legs too short for the pre-hunter, he tried every angle he could to jump up there. It was no use, he couldn’t even manage to grasp onto the edge. It was a fruitless endeavor.

Plopped down on the center of his matted bed, Daisuke sulked in disappointment.

There has to be a way out. But what??

His gaze ran across the entire room, from the teratoma skin curtain behind him, to the dead wood gray hand carved planks coated in blood, and to the bony chest in the corner. Stuck in a gradual decline, he slumped back and sprawled out on the mat, gaze sent up toward the compact thatch ceiling. A moment of restlessness settled in, but then it dispersed as the answer clicked. The chest.

A mischievous smile spread as the pieces came together, a foolproof plan. Shot upright, Daisuke lunged over toward the chest. Yet still being a young growing boy, his little muscles strained as he dragged the chest over to beneath the window. Climbing onto it, his little toes gripped onto the bones as he pulled himself up the wall. One board at a time. Inch by inch he shifted closer to the light.

Feet positioned against the notches of wood in the middle section of the wall, he elevated himself enough to hoist up his forearms onto the windowsill. Gripped with his stubby cushioned fingers, he swung open the shutters all the way.


The golden sunlight expanded and glistened through onto his squinted pale face. A few blinks all it took to adjust to the heavy dosage of light. Head just above the windowsill, his eyes broadened at the sight of the entire Nippon village sprawled out in front of him. At his home.


The world flashed into his eyes as a grin spread from ear to ear, mind running wild with the possibilities. This newfound angle of the village one that left him amazed. He could see it all.

From the cobble path at his house’s doorstep it trailed off and meshed with the neighborhood’s, all the homes built nearly identical to each other. The blood painted dead wood housing plain and simple. Tumble vass was strung together to line the roofs, with tar from the pits in the rock canyon vasslands, a prime sourced material to hold it all together.

Engraved on every home was the clan's symbol, Nippon’s bloody Sun pierced by a single stroke. A loose interpretation of a sword that split the Sun in two. Their idea of dominion in a world carved out by the ancient tales of the fire that rained down from the skies held together by their ability to control it. That sword their symbol of dedication to uphold the blessing of life out on the surface gifted to the Paladinian people by the Sun herself.

Daisuke shifted up on his tippy toes to peek over the houses ahead to see the grand wall. The spiked wooden pillars their means of division between the housing section of the village and the outside world. One step through the main gate was all it took to get there.

Off in the distance an outline of the grand sanctuary rested on the horizon, its reflection encaptured within Daisuke’s tiny green eyes. Surrounding it laid the very fields of cherapple trees that stretched out over the cliffside that his mother surveyed over. A beautiful touch of nature that only sloped down off the rocky mound into the hazy vallies beyond it. A near endless terrain of gravel to explore.

“The wall. I can make it to—oop!”

Daisuke’s foot slipped from under him amidst the excitement. His little arms tensed, nails dug into the wood, as he re-adjusted his footing. He let out a brief huff of relief and refocused on the task at hand. Now was the time to embark.


Retrieving the stone blade, Daisuke sawed away at the wooden bars and pushed them out one by one. Freedom now within his bitty pale grasp. He could taste it.

“Errgah! Mmmmhm!”

First his right arm then his left, Daisuke pulled his body halfway through the window. The task itself a difficult squeeze through the irregular narrow diamond gap. Wooden shards chips his skin as he grappled at the thatch to drag himself through. His body shifted little by little more into the sunlight. Into freedom.

Almost fully out, a slight shift in his weight jabbed a loose splinter of wood right into his stomach. The miniscule prick enough to make him recoil, teeth gritted and words fumbled.

“Ouch! Just—a—little—more.”

Knock, knock, knock.

“Master Daisuke. I hope I’m not disturbing you, but I have some cherapples if you—”

An awkward silence drifted between them as a stuck Daisuke locked eyes with Ayame. No words were uttered in the moment. A blank timid realization was all that was shared between them. The hint of glee on her tone swept away in the face of his antics. Ayame’s eyes easily able to trace the path he took to get up there. To get stuck.

In all honesty she was amazed he even thought of it. But that only lasted for a moment.

“Daisuke, come down! That’s—that’s dangerous!”

Oh no. Daisuke thought as he tried to wiggle out faster.

He squirmed and shimmied through the gap to escape Ayame’s worried grasp. To go on a voyage. To go outside.



With a rushed shove against the wall, Daisuke propelled himself out on the roof. Bits of thatch flew up into the air behind him as he rolled toward the edge. Stopped only a few mere inches away from plummeting onto the cobbled earth. All of it seen by Ayame who climbed up just in time to watch the fall unfold. Nothing but horror wrinkled in her face.

“Master Daisuke!!”

A little dazed, Daisuke slowly rose up to his feet. He brushed at the thatch in his hair, long strands of the sandy dried blades that poked out of his white curls. The thin blades whisked to the side as he glanced back to the window, smiling.

“Catch me if you can Ayame!” Daisuke laughed.

“Now’s not the time for games—wait come back!”

No second was spared as Daisuke ran over to the far left side of the roof and stood on the very edge looking for his next step to escape. The final stretch of the plan. A moment's notice all he needed to find it. A support beam that lowered down to the ground beneath him.

Uhh that looks fine.

Lowering himself down, Daisuke gripped onto the support beam, arms wrapped around it as he slid down to the ground. Control haphazard, he tumbled off the beam onto the vassy graveled earth haphazardly. Little preparation given for the fall that sent a sharp spike of pain up his back.


“Master Daisuke, get back in here now!” Ayame shouted, Daisuke’s pain wiped right off his face at the sound of her fury.


Uh oh.

Each footstep boomed throughout the house as she dashed down to the first floor. No kindness or compassion to be found this time.


The door slammed open against the planks on the house, an irritated Ayame in the narrow opening as she locked onto Daisuke slumped against the support beam. Her veins bulged out from her pale sunken skin. The green pulsating lines throbbed out of a deepening rage that boiled within her stomach. Fists clenched, she stared Daisuke down. Her teeth gritted as she snarled out like a wild beast. Two simple words all she had left to say:

“Home. Now.”

Ayame sternly pointed at the ground, flustered as she heaved in puffs of the crisp air. But Daisuke had already made up his mind. With a slight shake of his head, he took off as fast as could. His legs moved on their own accord as he booked it down the street.


Quick on his feet, Daisuke bobbed and weaved past fellow Palidinians clothed in their silk gray robs. Between the mass horde of bodies, Daisuke’s plan went up in smoke. Unable to clearly navigate the cobble walkways, he found himself dashing through the crowded pathway with no end goal in sight. Escaping punishment was the only thing on his mind, but Ayame was hot on his trail. Her ravenous rage a presence that could be felt miles away.

Yet Daisuke smiled as the wind graced his face, fear simmered down by the matter of fact that surrounded him: he was outside.

With a couple snappy turns, Daisuke leapt through the open air down any dirt backway he could find. The distance between himself and Ayame only grew, and an end was in sight. Up ahead Daisuke spotted a narrow gap between two homes, one small enough to go unnoticed. Picking up his pace, Daisuke broke away from the crowd to the crevice and slipped in without skipping a beat.

His heart raced and mind became ecstatic at the thought of the prolonged chase. The possibility of escaping her, of winning for once. But could he?

Did I lose her?

Head turned back over his shoulder, Daisuke continued to dash through the back street without any regard for what laid ahead of him. Mind fully distracted by the game at hand. Too excited to catch sight of a small shrouded boy posted up against a tar patched wall.

A living roadblock.

“I lost her! I—”