Chapter 11:

11 Crows Come to Roost 8

The Four Wheel Saga

Overlord Senju announced the end of the battle. All the warriors returned to their respective places in the pavilion. A standing ovation from the crowd greeted them.

Healers immediately rushed to the injured fighters and tended to their wounds. Attendants provided mild refreshments.

Senju spoke at length about the critical role of the deputed preceptors in preparing Mikashita youngsters for the Legacy Trials.

Senju: “Yuuki sensei certainly held back and pulled his punches. However, the battle is symbolic of how treacherous and challenging the trials are to be.”

The young Mikashita had learned their lesson, and the Overlord charged them to report to Yuuki and Keiji the following morning.

A brief prayer by a Sharin priest was followed by a few words of patronage by Senju. Subsequently, he dismissed the gathering.

Kento had his eyes peeled throughout the intense battle and had unraveled in his mind every maneuver of Yuuki and his cousins.

Battle analysis was a gift he had since he was pretty young. Kento had trained for years targeting the Legacy Trials. However, the day had come sooner than he had expected.

The boy had just left his seat to return to Mikashita palace when the Chief approached him.

Gotou: "Young master, the Overlord would like to see you now."

Kento looked around for his father in the retreating crowd and saw him treading on the eastern grounds alone.

The young Mikashita caught up with the Overlord and bowed in courtesy. Senju beckoned his son to walk beside him.

Senju: "I was surprised, son, when you did not take part in the demonstratio. Were you feeling unwell? Or have you started having doubts as a warrior?"

Kento had known his father long enough to surmise that to escape his enquiry one had to speak the truth without any corruption. Senju ferociously valued honesty and sincerity. He had instilled those virtues first in his performance as the village leader. While raising his children too, he had not failed to lead by example.

Kento: "I am perfectly fine, father. I am also confident of my combat abilities. But… I am… after all… kitsu blind. It would be unwise to rush into the Legacy Trials and risk failure. Therefore I have decided to skip this opportunity and keep on training. However, if it is your wish that I must participate this time, I will yield to your wisdom."

Kitsu blindness was a common ailment in the village. It was a defect due to which children failed to connect with raiki from birth. At least four out of ten children were born kitsu blind. Kento was one of those unfortunate breeds. His disability meant that he could never practice kitsu techniques.

In the Legacy Trials, only two attempts were allowed. Failure in both attempts disqualified one for all future trials.

Senju squinted into the morning sun and held a hand above to shield his eyes. A sudden breeze tousled the robes of both father and son.

Senju: "Tell me, son. What makes a good Overlord?"

Kento: "Well, that’s easy. Being the strongest among the kin-lords."

The Overlord sighed. They had reached the edge of the plateau. Metal railings ran all along the outer edge of the citadel. In the distance, fog still shrouded the Youjin mountains, although the sun shone bright and warm. It was fabled that snow sprites lived in the mountains, fed on snow, and breathed out haze.

Senju leaned on a railing and looked down the precipice, at the village of Karasuma.

Senju: "Come here and tell me what you see."

Kento approached the edge. The wind had picked up and ruffled his brittle hair. He had to be careful as it was a steep, two hundred and fifty feet drop.