|Heart of Stone
Author: ihavealife PM
Interested in submitting a character? Details and intro inside! Thank you for your support!Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Chapters: 9 - Words: 16,380 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 08-02-12 - Published: 07-16-12 - id: 3042504
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Sakurai lowered himself to the ground, placing a large hand and knee against the moist grass beneath him. "I think they found her scent," he breathed to himself, watching as the large beasts began to growl and sniff more furiously in one direction.
"Captain," a man holding a leash approached him from behind. "There is another scent that the dogs are—"
"I know," Sakurai interrupted, slowly bringing his hand to the handle of his spear-like weapon at his waist. His wise green eyes looked up to scan the surrounding tree tops hovering ominously above them. You've been following us for quite some time now… And with ungodly speed, he pushed himself from the ground and swung the blade end of the staff viciously, cleanly slicing a thick branch and forcing a familiar figure to reveal himself from hiding. "You," Sakurai growled, landing gracefully on his feet.
The young man fell onto his back, groaning quickly in pain before he could realize what had just happened. A cold metal surface gently touched his forehead, pushing Chikoshi's flaming red bangs back. The masking potion must have worn off… he narrowed his bright green eyes against the sun to see the stern face of General Sakurai.
"I should have known you would have meddled," the General hissed, pressing the blade more menacingly against the boy's clean flesh. "I hope you realize the extent to which you have violated the Feudal Lord's orders!" He noticed, much to his surprise, a small smirk forming at the side of Chikoshi's lips. "What is your business here anyways?"
With a sudden burst of air, Chikoshi disappeared from under Sakurai's feet as the general looked up to see him perched carefully on another branch above him. His long swallow, the weapon with blades on each end of the ancient staff, was held in the young man's determined hands and pointed directly towards the army. "Sorry, but I can't let you hurt Kasumi. It's my unwritten duty to protect her life at all costs!"
Sakurai rolled his eyes as he prepared his own weapon in defense. "Are you challenging me to a fight?"
Without answering, the boy leapt from his place and twirled before the sun, casting a shadow on the annoyed general. "Wind Tear!" Chikoshi yelled, slicing the air before him and causing a formidable twister to snake towards the awed men.
"Mere child's play," Sakurai bent his knees and grasped the silver staff of his naginata, cutting through the concentrated wind with the emerald colored blade.
"He destroyed it?" Chikoshi's curious eyes widened as he retreated a safe distance from the enemy. "Then take this!" He slammed one blade into the grass, causing jet-like streams of wind to puncture through the ground and send numbers of men and dogs flying. Another appeared right before the general's eyes as he managed to slice through it once more, dissipating the attack with ease.
"Fool," Sakurai twirled the shaft in his hands and tucked it under his arms. "My weapon is capable of cutting through anything!"
I didn't expect this… Chikoshi's eyes furtively turned in the direction of the dogs' path. But it doesn't matter… I can get to Kasumi before these guys if I use my Wind Teleportation. "It's been an honor, sir!" he skillfully placed his swallow against his back and snapped his fingers, arousing a strong gust to circle around his body.
"You won't get away!" Sakurai called out, racing towards him with his arm outstretched and ready to attack. But Chikoshi was too fast and he vanished from the army's sight without a trace. "That kid," the General uttered under his breath. "You!" he pointed to an unharmed warrior. "Find a shortcut to where Kasumi is. We need to get to her before that punk does!"
"I guess if I'm going to be here for a while, I might as well find more herbs for healing," Kasumi sighed, pulling her long pink locks back into a ponytail with a piece of torn cloth. Wearing a clean, white kimono top with a long, magenta colored skirt that dragged behind her when she walked, she leaned over to grab the weave basket. "Now where did the villagers say the best herbs were again? Was it… there?" she squinted her large brown eyes against the sun and began heading in that direction.
"Good morning, Miss!" the old man she had healed the other day waved, pointing to his sturdy arm. "Good as new, just like you said!"
She bowed her head slightly, smiling at the sight of his friendly, toothless grin. It was always comical to her that someone as wonderful as him knew and cared for someone as terrible and heartless as Shouta. Village children ran past her, tugging at her skirt and laughing. Amongst them was a little boy who Kasumi treated for a life-threatening fever. "Gintaro, you shouldn't be running too much. Your cough could come back—"
"It's alright, Miss!" he freely and healthily chirped, chasing after his friends.
Kasumi sighed, fighting the urge to smile. It was confusing – she was supposed to be a hostage, but for some reason she felt as though she belonged more with these foreign people than her own. She hated to admit it, but she loved the Peace Lands and everyone in it… well, most of them anyways. Her hold on the basket became more intense as she remembered Shouta's degrading behavior and comments the day she had healed his sister. I shouldn't expect anything more from an assassin… but why do I? The gentle face of Kimi, Shouta's sister, flashed in her mind as she found herself amongst a field of strange healing orchids. If it weren't for Kimi, I really could hate him, I bet.
Hearing someone's footsteps close to her, she hid amongst the tall orchid stems and peered out at the sight of a man's back. He appeared to be looking for something he had lost – examining the ground – until he made his way towards a large, single sakura tree. Kasumi watched with unexplainable fascination as he sat himself against the old bark and rested his arm against one propped knee. Wait a minute, she shuffled closer to notice it was an unfortunately familiar face. "Shouta?" she accidently said aloud, covering her mouth in haste as she realized his dark, cold eyes were burrowing into her panicked soul.
"You have some nerve," he called out towards her, closing his eyes and squeezing the bridge of his nose in an irritated fashion. "If I were you, I would be running for my life instead of following me around…"
Kasumi bit her tongue as she emerged from the flowers with petals and leaves stuck in her fine hair. "I was just picking more herbs," she answered collectedly. "I can't imagine why you'd think I was following you." Swiftly turning from him, she crossed her arms and gulped, silently hoping he wouldn't attack her from behind. Surprised by his silence, she cautiously looked back to see his eyes closed and his chest peacefully rising up and down with sleep.
Even assassins get tired, I suppose. Kasumi quietly placed her basket down beside him and studied the ground, trying to find what he was looking for. There was nothing there, but the faded paw prints of wild canines. Instantly, she remembered the wounds she had cleaned on Kimi's body, and the ones on Shouta that she noticed on the night of his infiltration.
"I can take you home," his smooth voice suddenly interrupted her thoughts. "If that's what you really want."
She stared at him with trembling brown eyes. "You… do you mean that?" she gulped, unsure about what to feel.
"Isn't that what you want? You won't stop complaining about being here," he opened one eye and smirked at her with his arms held behind his head. For the first time, Kasumi noticed that his eyes weren't completely black as she had thought. Maybe it was because had had smiled, or the sun was kissing his face, but there were flecks of gold that taunted her even more than his words.
"Stop it," she scowled, choking back tears. "Stop playing with my head!"
Both eyes opened now, as he sat straight against the tree. "You've done what I asked, and my plans on killing you can't happen anymore with my sister so attached to you… there's no use for you anymore."
"What about the villagers? You don't even have a medic in your village…"
"And why do you care?" he raised a dark eyebrow up and loosely crossed his arms, feeling the breeze against his sculpted face. "We don't mean anything to you. In fact, I don't feel particularly safe having such a dangerous stone here."
"So it's not even about me," Kasumi smiled emptily, looking down at her bare feet. "It's about whether or not you should take the Emerald back."
"Well, what else would it be?" He shrugged. "Unless you don't want to return to your caretakers that is."
She glared at him, reaching out to slap him once more. But before he could even try and stop her, he saw the sparkle of tears falling from her eyes. "What the—"
Kasumi slowly lowered her hand and dabbed the sides of her eyes with her large sleeve. "You're right," she finally said. "I don't want to go back, but I have no choice. It's where I belong."
His lips twisted into a confused line as he scratched the back of his neck. The only time he had ever seen a girl cry was when Kimi was sick in bed… not even his own mother had cried while she was killed. "So pack whatever you want," he said in a more gentle tone. "And leave me alone. We'll leave before the sun sets, alright?"
But before he could even finish, Kasumi was already far away from him with her ponytail swaying back and forth behind her in constrained defeat.
"You can't leave, big sister!" Kimi held desperately onto Kasumi's cold hand and waited for the healer's response. "You just got here… and everyone loves you!"
"Not everyone," Kasumi bitterly muttered, folding her borrowed robes and placing them on the small blanket-bed. "Besides, I don't belong here. My people back home need me… and they must be so worried that I've been kidnapped."
Kimi's small fingers held even tighter as the small girl shook her head vigorously."But what if I get sick again? Or my brother? What if… what if we're attacked again!"
Attacked? Kasumi stared at the devastated child and sighed, lowering herself to hold Kimi's tear stained face in her hands. "Everything will be alright. Your brother will know what to do and how to take care of you. Even if means kidnapping some other healer. You will live."
Shouta appeared through the bamboo screen door with a hard look across his face. "I heard that," he said, watching his sister's tears start to fall again. What is it about tears that make me so… "Kimi, get off of her. She needs to pack so we can go soon."
"This isn't fair," Kimi's small voice began to crack with sorrow. "Kasumi makes me feel safe, like mom is still with us."
Shouta's eyes widened as he turned away from them. "Don't be ridiculous," he gulped, angrily biting his lower lip. "Kasumi is just a hostage, and now it's time to free her. Okay?"
"He's right," Kasumi made her way to the door and paused to breathe in the scent of the musky hut once more. "I mean nothing to you… but eat your vegetables if you want to sustain your health. And get a lot of sleep, because you're still growing. If your wounds ever open up again, use the herbal bandages I prepared for you… they're in the cupboard by your bed."
Shouta frowned and placed a gloved hand against his forehead. "Are you done?"
Kasumi ignored him and tucked her pink hair behind her ears. "Take care of yourself, Kimi—" she stopped to see Shouta's ears twitch slightly and his face become sharp with concern. "Is everything alright?"
Shouta pressed his finger to his lips and motioned for the girls to step back from the door. And in a breath stifling second, he drew his long sword and pierced through the bamboo, striking something equally as hard and metallic on the other side. "I knew it," he grunted, bringing the sword down and pulling the screen out of the way to reveal a red-headed figure with a large weapon.
"Kasumi!" the attacker cried, blocking another swipe from Shouta's sword with his swallow. "I knew it was you!"
"Chikoshi?" she breathed, watching as Shouta held out an arm protectively in front of her.
"You know this clown?" Shouta's thin brows furrowed with anger. "You didn't call for help or anything, did you?"
"No, he's a friend!" she pried through his stance and made her way towards Chikoshi, wrapping her arms around his muscular torso and pressing her cheek against his chest. "Why on earth are you here?"
"It's a long story," he smiled, resting his hand against her soft hair with relief and watching with amusement as Shouta never faltered to point his sword at his face. "But you need to get out of here, Kasumi. Your life is in danger."
(a/n): I promise chapters to come faster if you review, review, review! :D