Chapter 9:

09 Crows Come to Roost 6

The Four Wheel Saga

A bunch of Kento's cousins stepped out of the crowd. There were twelve of them. Akako and Shigeo had also joined the group. Apparently, being called a 'little lady' had irked Akako.

Kento did not leave his seat, turning a cold shoulder to the elbow nudges of the kids. As the de facto leader of the teenagers, he was supposed to lead the younger participants. They kept urging him to join in, but Kento was adamant.

Yuuki moved a hundred feet away from the pavilion and marked a black burnt circle on the ground with flaming kitsu. It was about seven feet in diameter. He amplified his voice through another kitsu technique so that his words may reach the pavilion.

Yuuki: "The objective of this demonstration is simple. Either make me step out of this circle or land a direct hit on me. The attack can be with physical contact or with kitsu. You can attack me together, or one at a time. All weapons are permitted. You can charge when I give the signal."

"Ah, I almost forgot. The winner will receive five whale tokens to the Shibai Matsuri."

Yuuki held five small blue strips of wood to the crowd. The reward was five whale tokens.

The Shibai Matsuri commemorated the annual consecration of the Shibai Sharin, the mother goddess of the continent of Kinenhi. She was feared and worshiped by all.

The Hyougi set off the festival on the following day of the consecration. It included a grand carnival, with parades of kitsu floats and dancers in elaborate costumes and masks. There were theatrical plays, beast fights, and betting games; vendors from far-off lands with exotic foods and rare trinkets for sale. It went on for three days and three nights.

A whale token could purchase an entire day of delicious food and other attractions.

The lure was encouraging enough for the young Mikashita volunteers, who looked forward to the festival every year.

Therefore, the ragtag group of aspirants was all fired up. They included a twenty-year-old bladesmith apprentice, Daigo, and a nineteen-year-old Sharin priest, Kafu. The group picked them as leaders, as they were the most experienced in combat.

Daigo had an exhaustible supply of petty knives at all times; small blades with petite handles and acutely sharp edges. A skilled fighter could throw them several at a time like darts, and riddle the enemy. Often, these were laced with venom.

Kafu was proficient in bestial kitsu, and fire was his favored element.

The aspirants split into two groups of six, each led by Daigo and Kafu, respectively.

Yuuki stood towards the east, on the open side of the training grounds, with his back to the sun. He looked gallant, his robe beating a staccato against the wind. The excited whisperings of the ladies among the kin-members and the household staff started growing.

Yuuki gave the signal with a kitsu blast into the air.


Off the groups went.

Daigo led his group head-on, but at a slow pace.

Kafu's group sprinted towards the north, in a curve, to attack Yuuki from the side.

Daigo plucked his belt, and his hands were immediately full of petty knives, four on each. He whipped his arms and flicked his wrists one after another.

Swish! Zip!

The knives flew towards Yuuki in an X contour.

The bladesmith had cast the barrage of blades to skirt through the entire area of Yuuki's circle. There was no way the preceptor could escape being hit.

Just moments before the knives would tear into him, Yuuki somersaulted a foot forward into the barrage and landed softly.

The pavilion crowd gasped. That move was suicidal; the blades must have riddled his body. What was Yuuki thinking?