A/N: Holy shit she's meeting mommy and daddy dearest. And what did Kouji mean by his father could be 'startling' to her? Well, let's find out in the latest chapter of A Ninja's Tale. Hikari's fate with Kouji still hangs in the balance. Should she be with him. . .or some one else!! I need reviewers to answer or I shall simply have to flip a quarter and go that way. In this chapter, you'll get to meet the fluffy and eccentric parents of the beluffled Lord Kouji and learn a bit more about the mysterious past of 'Ishida' Hikari-obviously courtesy of the title. As for Mitsukuni being more than she seems. . .We'll just have to wait and see. There will be a return of Ishida Azura-Hikari's adopted mother, Atsuma-san-her best friend and possible love interest, and Honda-sensei-her adopted grandfather- this chapter. I'm sure you've been wondering what's happening there while Hikari finds herself at the center of the havoc with Kouji.
A Dark Knight: a Ninja's Tale
Hikari is a clumsy girl, but her ninja skills reflect her high status, especially when she is angry. Still the young Hime's first assignment is a simple crummy one. Or so she thought. Her job was to seduce and assassinate a handsome Demon Lord named Kouji. What happens when the last thing she expected to happen complicates things, her past is all a lie and the one she is to kill is the one she loves? And the Shogun's men are after her village! What's a poor ninja hime to do??
Last time: "Wait, did you say PARENTS?????" 'holy shit.' She thought. 'Holy shit. . .'
"I can't believe we're almost there. I'd be so excited!" Yuri twittered. "His parents are supposed to be amazing. There are so many good things that circulate about them. Oh? Hikari! Don't look so nervous, it'll be alright. They've never been impolite or inhospitable to anyone before. My relatives have often sung their praises."
"Yeah, fantastic." She swallowed, feeling a bit sick. She had no clue what to expect nor any clue of why she should be half so nervous as she was. Then there was still the fact that no one in her village knew what was happening. They were still expecting her to kill Kouji. She had already failed, given it up as a bad job. Still, something about that pulled at her, twisting her stomach into more knots. ( Note of the Author's friend: :3 I leave my mark!)She stared off into the distance, an open field lay, bright emerald green, just within visibility. Kouji had said only hours before that when such a field came into sight they would be upon his childhood home. A shiver ran down Hikari's spine, symbolic of her growing nervousness. She was barely conscious of Yuri continuing to chatter animatedly to Mitsukuni as she brushed a strand of hair from her face that had fallen from it's place in her high pony tail.
Kouji reined his horse over to the cart Hikari, Yuri and Mitsukuni rode in. He looked at the soul demoness and smiled. Her hair shone pale violet in the bright sun and her eyes were distant. He noticed something seemed to burden her mind. "Hikari-chan, are you alright?"
"I am fine. I just have alot on my mind. Of course I am sure you know that already." She answered, not looking at him. The last thing she wanted was him reading her mind right then. She didn't want him to know she had to continue to consider ways to kill him or of her fear of meeting this family of demons. The fear of Kouji's family was more in the back of her mind, but still it was there. What she really didn't want him to know was who had hired her village to kill him, The Shogun himself.
"Sadly, I haven't had the pleasure of getting into your thoughts. Though, believe me I have tried. It's kind of like riding a horse into the stone face of a mountain or cliff: useless, impossible to succeed at, stupid, and headache inducing. Your head comes equipt with it's own built in mind-reader shield." He laughed, but his eyes betrayed that he was in fact sad that he couldn't figure out what was bothering her. Not that Hikari had noticed anything. She allowed a soft laugh in return, making him grin wider.
"If I had known earlier I could give you a headache with out speaking, I would have made use of it. I shall have to keep that in mind from now on!" She glanced at him mischeiviously. She still couldn't keep the sadness and worry from her eyes, but at least it had dimmed with their playful joking. He grinned in return and took her hand.
"Come on, we're flying again, for the rest of the way. Ride with me, Hikari-chan!" He pulled her on to the back of the black winged, horse-like creature he rode and nodded for the driver of the cart to get his horse-things off the ground. They had been out of the air for nearly an hour and the three women were not half so happy as the creatures or their escorts to be back up again. Hikari gave a high pitched squeak after being pulled on to the rising mount.
"You ass hole! This is soo not funny!" She glowered, he merely laughed and silenced her with a quick kiss. Naturally he got slapped, but he considered it worth it. "Miiitttt-chaaaannnn!!!!!"
"Kouji!" The sparrow called in a warning voice, "Behave or your mother will hear of this and she is far worse than I, if you remember!"
"Thank you!" Hikari giggled, she received a nod from the cart that flew just be hind them. The wind whistled past her ears ans she looked out over the sky from her place in front of Kouji. Leaning back, she rested her head against his shoulder to relax and prevent her long hair from flying in his face. The sky was clear blue and it felt like all she had to do was reach up to touch one of the fluffy white clouds above them. It was beautiful, and then. . .She looked down.
Kouji resisted the urge to burst out laughing at the hime riding "side saddle" in front of him. She had looked down and immediately turned around and buried her face in his chest, clutching his kimono for dear life. Apparently she was afraid of heights, not that he would have known from the way she leaped through trees. Of course. . . this was far higher than any tree. He couldn't resist laughing any longer and he could feel her irritated gaze on him. It didn't matter, at any rate. They had already begun the descent to the palace gate. Despite her glower, she held on tight until the hooves of the creature found purchase on the ground at a gentle trot. Before he knew what she was doing, she had pulled her feet beneath her and sprung up, back-flipping off the dragon-winged horse to the grass. A shreik filled the air at the sight. Kouji reined the animal to a halt, looking up to find his mother by the gate, staring wide-eyed with both hands covering her mouth. He shook his head and got down. Hikari was already standing straight, kimono fixed, and calmly walking over to Kouji. He gulped, recognizing the glint in her large eyes. He shrank back involuntarily, fully aware that his mother was watching. Just as he thought, she was angry. She stopped in front of him with arms folded, not bothering to brush half of her high ponytail, that hung over her shoulder, back.
Yukari watched her son shrink back from the tiny girl who had nearly given her a heartattack and smiled. He needed this and she knew it. Right now he would see it as embarassing and degrading and he would wonder why she and his father did not get angry with the girl. Later, however, he would look back on it and laugh. She assumed that this would be the girl Ryuuk had told her of, as she was clearly not Yuki. Mitsukuni and Yuki had come to stand by Yukari and she exchanged a glance with the pair. She was correct to assume the little bundle of attitude growling at her son was Ishida Hikari.
"Look you pompus jerk-" Hikari growled, hands on hips now.
"Be reasonable-" he pleaded.
"Reasonable? You jerk me out of the nice, comfortable cart onto the back of that thing, kiss me to shut me up- yes, I know why you did it! And then! Then you laugh at me because I get scared because we are so high up the trees looked like ants! And you are telling me to be reasonable?!" She snapped, leaning toward him menacingly. He nearly took a step backwards. "If you ever pull a stunt like that again, you may not live to pull a third!" With that she turned on her heel and walked over to Mitsukuni, Yuki, and the woman she didn't know.
"Hajimemashite*. I am Ishida Hikari, please forgive my rudeness." She gave a slight bow to the third woman.
"It is alright. I am Hasagawa Yukari, Kouji-chan's mother. You are welcome here, Hikari-chan." She smiled, her dark green eyes warm. She was very pretty, her dark brown hair was streaked with grey, but it looked soft and healty and her skin wasn't marred by a single wrinkle. Hikari was taken aback that this was Kouji's mother.
"Ah! Gomenasai**. . .It seems I have made a fool of myself before I have even entered the palace." Hikari sighed.
"It's alright, dear. I understand that my son is an idiot from time to time, most men are that way. I can assure you that later on, while not as often as now, they do stupid things that are far worse than they could think up as young men. At any rate, please come in. You ladies look tired." The older demon smiled and ushered them into the main gate.
"Thank you. We really are. How have you been, Hasagawa-sama?" Mitsukuni smiled and gave a respectful partial bow.
"Well, as I hope you have been Mitchan" came the friendly reply. Hikari registered little after that, sinking back into her own world of thought. She still had to decide what to do. She couldn't kill Kouji, that much was painfully clear-particularly after meeting his kind mother. That still left the bastard of a Shogun to deal with and her village to save. By now, the entire place would count her as dead and believe she had failed. Of course, she was still wondering if her grandfather really had cared at all for lying to her for so long. The sound of steps on a nightingale floor whispered in her mind. The familiar sound of Azura's spirit was near by. She could scarcely hide her surprise from the rest of the group.
"Ah, will you ladies excuse me for a moment? It seems I have a caller, from another world." Hikari muttered apologetically. The three female demons looked mildly shocked, but nodded in assent. She simply ignored Kouji.
"O-okaa-sama?" She whispered once she was sheltered beneath a cherry tree in the corner of the courtyard. The spirit of the woman floated to the ground by her.
"Oh, Hikari! What has happened? He marked you and now you're here! Haven't you been able to complete your mission? What went wrong? Father and Atsuma are worried sick about you! They thought you'd been killed!" As always Azura's words came out in a rush with her concern. Hikari almost forgot her own hurt and irritation. Almost.
"When did you intend to tell me I was a demon?" She demanded, instead of patiently answering her mother's questions as she once would have. "I would say the lies I have been told waive any rights to concern you people have. Does that mean that it was someone in the village that killed my real parents, whoever they were? Was I just to be a tool in a situation like this, when you needed a demon exterminated?"
"Child-"Azura's eyes were wide. "I never knew. My father simply brought you to me. And I know Atsuma never knew either, no one was told. Not until now."
"Of course." Hikari growled, still furious and only half believing her surrogate mother's ghost. "Well, I won't kill him. Will. Not. The end. However, I will still save the village. Our 'generous' benefactor is on my list. I will not be bullied by a demon hunting demon. Tell grandfather he'll still get what this hit was worth to them. I have places to be. So, if you will excuse me. And whenever you feel like you want to cross over, you are free." She added with a flik of her wrist. She had seen the tiny, glowing ties attatched to the spirit, holding her down, for the first time that day. Hikari felt they were easily broken and kept her silent promise in that one cold, angry moment that she walked away from the only mother she had ever known. It was like a breath of fresh, icy air when she felt the spirit leave. It was bitter sweet.
She was no longer paying any attention to anything around her as the pain of that meeting, of that parting. The next thing she knew she was running face first into something warm and solid. It was Kouji. He took hold of her shoulders and took a single step back. He ducked his head to meet her eyes, "Are you alright? Though I couldn't hear her, that conversation sounded painful."
She saw genuine concern in his eyes and was speaking before she could stop herself. She told him what her mother had said and the promises she had made to herself long ago and how she knew that that meeting would be the last she had with Azura until she crossed over in death herself. She kept talking until all of the pain she felt was reflected in his eyes. She sighed and stopped, wiping away a few unbidden tears, "Im sorry, I don't know what came over me. At anyrate, why did you follow me?"
"I was worried. You looked caught off guard just before you asked to be pardoned and then your face hardened, so I thought I would make sure everything was alright." He shrugged, releasing her shoulders. "Any how, just after you walked off Kiba ran out and told us that lunch was ready."
"Kiba?" Fang, what a name! But I suppose it is suitable since they are dog demons... She thought to herself.
"Haha, sorry. I forgot to tell you. I have a little brother, Kiba." he replied, guiding her back toward the main entrance to his parent's palace.
Hikari rolled her eyes, voice thick with sarcasm, "Please tell me he's not half so. . . charming as you are."
"Not a third." Kouji's laughter rang in her ears.
"Lovely." Her expression and voice were flat.
Walking with him back to the main house wasn't nearly as horrible as she predicted it would be. It was almost pleasant, in fact. She was certain that had anyone who didn't know them seen them, that she and Kouji would have appeared as two friends strolling across the yard. Hikari snickered aloud at the thought. Her being close with that idiot was almost too much to handle, even in imagination. She let the thought linger and soon burst into laughter. The beautiful tinkling sound carried across the grounds. She could feel his eyes on her when she had stopped ubruptly, bent double with her laughter. Even knowing she looked like an idiot or madwoman couldn't stop the joyful sound bubbling from her lips. She looked up at him with a wide smile, still laughing so hard that her eyes were partially closed and nearly watering.
Kouji couldn't believe his eyes and was completely lost as to what was so funny that she had to stop and laugh like that. He was mesmerized, her hair fell over her shoulders and curtained around her face even in it's high pony tail. Her shoulders shook gently so that, had you not heard the soft sound like joyful bells pealing, you could have thought she was crying. She looked up at him, a dazzling smile on her face and glimmering eyes, and he thought he would crumple right there if he were a weaker male. Instead her laughter became infectious and he found himself laughing with her. He didn't know why he was laughing he just knew he couldn't stop. He had seen his parents start laughing like this-for no reason- many a time. Now he finally under stood why his father always ended up chuckling with his mother even though nothing was said. So this. . .This was love. He liked it.
"Honda-sensei, what is going on?" Atsuma's voice was filled with worry. "Is she alright?"
"Shhh. Let me hear the rest of Azura's story, Atsuma-san." The old man waved his hand to silence the ninja. There was a pause of about five minutes before the ancient ninja master spoke again. "She is well, so be at peace, Atsuma-san. However, there are complications. She refuses to kill the demon Kouji. Ah, peace a moment more, my young friend! It is my fault that she will not. My lie has been perpetuated to extinction. I have a story to tell you today. The story of how a beautiful baby girl became a hurt young fsoul demon and how such a wonderful creature came into the care of a selfish old man."
"H-honda-sensei? What do you mean?" Atsuma sat back down with a soft thud, face showing utter confusion.
"You would think my story would start seventeen years ago, with our Hikari's birth, ne?"
"H-huh. . . What are you getting at?" Atsuma was utterly lost now.
"Many years ago, when I was a young man I was badly injured on a mission. I was lying on the side of the road, in the bushes. I was bleeding to death after I botched the assasination. My vision had just started to dim, and then she appeared. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Though, even though my dying eyes I soon recognised her as a demon. Her eyes were the clearest shade of pale emerald I had ever seen and her hair shimmered different colors in the sun, as do raven's feathers. When she spoke, her voice was like chimes and served to further confirm my last thoughts.
'Young ninja, do you fear death? Do you have a reason to fight such mortal wounds as you are?' She had looked down at me with an expression of curious shock and concern.
'I have a wife. A baby on the way. I do not fear dying, even without my honor, but I am not ready to leave them behind.' I had managed to choke out, though I'm still not certain how. Her eyes had softened then, and a hand had moved over her own almost unnoticeably swollen belly. A male's voice called for her then, and she looked over her shoulder.
'My mate is calling me. I came to collect your soul, but I will save you this day, if you will promise I can count on you one day in the future, human.'
'I-I do not know what I can do, but alright. You have my word.' No sooner than I had finished speaking, she was crouched beside me and holding her slim hand over the stab wound in my side. Before I could utter my thanks, the wound was healed and she had left. I returned home, seemingly victorious, with my vow weighing heavily in my mind.
Later she would come to me with the tiny form of a toddler boy, sagging in her arms. I brought the village head of that time over, and we did all we could for her poor first child. Sadly the fever took him anyway. Her heart nearly broke in front of us. Still, though she said it was, I could not believe my debt repaid and I swore to her that I would still help her anytime she came to me. She smiled sadly at me through her tears as she gathered up the babe and nodded. IT would be another thirty or so years before I saw her again. By that time I was already over fifty years old, my wife dead, and my only baby unable to bear her own children at the age of thirty two.
She came to me in the dead of a starless night in the chill of late fall. She was shouded in a cloak carrying a small, moving bundle and her face streaked with tears. She hadn't changed at all since I had met her some thirty three years before. Her expression was like that of the living dead however, and her face was gaunt and dirty. I heard a small stream of cooing come from the tiny, pale violet bundle. Another child. I couldn't understand, from the movement and the happy sounding noises, this one didn't appear to be sick or anything at all.
'Onegaishimasu***. . .Take her. I can't keep her safe. She must be hidden. Give her to the care of your child. I beg you. I am being hunted. Listen, I have sealed her power for seventeen human years. She will grow at your accelerated pace until then. Use her as a ninja if you will, but promise me you will protect her. When she is old enough you must send her to the Dog demons Hasagawa Yukari and Kaname and tell her to give the name Rokujou Hikari. They will expect her.' She whispered hurridly, pushing the bundle into my arms.
'H-hai. I will. Becareful, she will want to find you one day.' I whispered back. That was the last time I ever saw the beautiful soul deomoness. From that day, Azura raised Hikari and she and her husband even gave the child their family name. I hid the truth of her identity and merely said I had found her abandoned, as per my plan to keep her hidden and safe. Even after Azura and Hitatchi's fatal accident and as her seventeenth year approached, I hesitated to tell her the turth. Now she has found it out the hard way, from some one else. She is now at the home of the demon Kouji's parents and refusing to kill him. Instead she says she will give us out payment and that the Shogun is now at the top of her list. She also cut Azura's ties to the world, so my daughter has passed on. Now, Atsuma you know the truth. Our Hikari is hurting and believes we have betrayed her and it is all the fault of this selfish old man." Honda bowed his head. Atsuma could only stare in disbelief. Hikari, his Hikari, was a demon.
Yukari sat patently at her husband's left side, waiting on her son and the young demoness to return. Upon looking more closely at this 'Ishida Hikari' she knew as immediately as Mit-chan had that the child's actual family name was Rokujou. This was the girl Shizuma had told her to expect, and the child didn't even know it. She looked from Kiba to Kaname and back. She sighed, the two were not nearly as cool and composed as her slightly more arrogant Kouji. Younger son and father were too much alike in their child-like personalities that they would fighten the poor thing if they weren't careful. At least now everyone but the missing pair knew who the girl really was. Yukari and Mitsukuni intended to keep it that way.
"Gomenasai." Hikari bowed slightly to the demons in front of her. "The spirit of my adoptive mother had called me. Please, forgive my rudeness. I hope I have not delayed your meal too much?"
"Not at all dear. Come sit here, by me." Yukari patted an empty place to her right. "This is my husband Kaname and my youngest child, Kiba."
Hikari looked at the pair. They were nearly identical. Russet hair framed a softly featured, childish face and fell messily into two sets of green eyes. The difference lay in their size. Kiba was more slight like Yukari, while Kaname was larger and built more like a wall. She gave a small bow, "It is clear who Kiba-sama resembles. I am pleased to meet you both."
"No need to be so uptight, Hikari chan!" Kiba grinned broadly. "You are an honored guest here. Oh, I know! How would you like to play a game after lunch?!"
"Yes! Let's play kemari`, ne?!" Kaname was just as bubbly as his youngets son. Hikari was totally taken aback.
She blinked, "N-nani?``" It was hard to believe how simple the two were. She looked nervously from Kouji to Yukari, just to make sure no one was trying to mess with her head. Kouji's face was hidden in one palm and Yukari was shaking her head and sighing. Nope, apparently Kaname and Kiba were really like that. All the time.
"Kemari. Haven't you ever played it before?" Kiba's face suddenly fell, like a disappointed toddler, while his father looked at her with confusion.
"N-no, I have. You two just... startled me. That's all." Hikari wasn't sure how to react to this. She had never met two grown people that acted like that in her short life.
"Great! Then we'll play after lunch! We won't have a competition game though." Kaname grinned. Yukari just sighed again and Kouji face-palmed.
"Sounds good..." Hikari answered somewhat reluctantly. Perhaps if she had known what most of the others did, she would be less surprised at being treated like family. However, it would still be some time before she came to know that she was infact the missing child of the once great soul demon clan Rokujou...
--Hajimemashite*- i don't remember the direct translation, but its something very close to 'its nice to meet you'
--Gomenasai**- I am very sorry
--Onegaishimasu***- very polite form of 'please'
--Kemari`- a game very popular in the Heian period. consists of kicking a ball back and forth without letting it touch the ground. Can be played as a competition or not. in a competition ball is kicked between two teams, the team to let it fall to the ground loses or it can be played between individuals. again, the individual that lets it hit the ground loses. for more info go to .com/archives/2006/07/18/3104/