A Little Hope

This story was written in over about two hours as a last minute submission for my English class, It's set in a fuedal Japanese village and I've used a tiny bit of the language to enforce that.

I've checked with my Japanese teacher and all language used is correct. If you see any typo's or mistakes please inform me.

Please enjoy my short story!

Tagata Shun looked wearily up at the setting sun, his mother and father would be expecting both his sister and himself home before the sun had fully set. Pushing forwards through the thick undergrowth he was distracted by the feeling of small, sticky hands tugging insistently at his sleeve.

"Oniisan I'm tired" the voice of his seven year old sister whined, "Is home far?"

Sighing ruefully, Shun turned to face his sister.

"Home is just over the hill Akiko-Chan, would you like me to carry you?"

Grin splitting her face Akiko rushed forewords to scramble awkwardly onto her older brothers back.

"Run Oniisan, run!" She cried gleefully, spurring Shun on with her heels.

Smiling over his should, Shun adjusted his small bag of mushrooms on his shoulder and set off towards the village.

"Boku!" The voice of the Southern lord demanded, causing a tall and spindly man to step foreword and bow low to the ground at his feet.

"Yes Tonosama?"

"Whose realm does this village reside in?"

"Takahiro-Sama, the village belongs to your neighbour Sadaharu-Sama" he answered, still not rising.

"Then they shall be purged." He grunted, glaring down at the peaceful village below.

Chancing a small glance, towards his lords' face, Shinoko Yuu nodded his accent.

"Yes milord." Shuffling backwards, still bowed low to the ground, the retainer waited until he was a sufficient distance away until standing straight and addressing his lords men.

"Takahiro-Sama wants this village destroyed, he said with cold indifference, "Bring all villagers to the main square so that Tonosama may address the scum of this village before cleansing the land of their stench."

Bowing low the men showed their understanding of the order, before their captain rose and stood before his lords' retainer.

"And the woman and the children? What does Milord want done with them?"

"Bring them also." The cold voice of their lord echoed throughout the men, making many shift uneasily, by honour only a warrior class family or above were required to die with their men.

"As you wish Tonosama", the captain gulped, before turning to his men and shouting orders through the ranks, the sun had scarcely finished setting before the men descended upon the village.

"Okaasan! Otousan! Oniisan and Akiko are home now!" The high pitched squeal of the seven year old cried into their well lit house.

"Akiko-Chan, don't show so much disrespect to our home and please enter more respectfully." Their mother chastised from the table at which she was fixing a pair of her husband's broken breaches.

"Yes Okaasan" The girl mumbled before stepping back out of the entrance, removing her shoes and entering in a more civilised manner.

"Is your brother still outside?" She replied, nodding towards the door.

"Oniisan is washing the mushrooms in the well." Nodding her understanding her mother returned to her task at hand, pausing she glanced up at her daughter,

"Akiko-Chan, go wash up, uncle is coming around for supper."

Grin lighting up her face Akiko, ran to the metal tub the family kept their wash water in and started scrubbing her face before running back to the house entrance and calling to her brother.

"Oniisan! Ojisan is coming for supper!"

Straightening from where he was bent over a bucket of water, Shun couldn't help the grin that spread over his face.

"Anticipating my arrival are we?" A pleased voice rumbled from their little wooden gate.

"Ojisan!" Both children cried as they ran towards their elder, Akiko leaping into his arms for a hug and Shun stopping a few step before the older men to bow respectfully before joining his sister.

Amused laughter from their house brought focus to the children's father standing in their doorway.

"It is good to see you Ren-San" He said, bowing slightly to his brother.

"As it is to see you." He replied, bowing in return after he had disentangled from the children.

Both men moved foreword to embrace each other, but paused in their actions as they heard a scream from the other side of the small village.

Both turned to investigate, expecting that a bear or wild dog had wandered into their quiet valley.

Looking across the village both men spun around to the children, "Get inside, take your mother and hide!" Their father demanded, both siblings, confused, just stood and stared until their usually easy mannered uncle turned and yelled at them, "GO NOW!"

Fire. Screaming and fire.

Villagers ran through the streets fleeing from soldiers both on horseback and foot.

People cut down where they stood and others being collected in groups and herded towards the main square.

Mothers screamed as their children were ripped away from their clutching hands and dragged away to be guarded by vicious men.

Husbands stood tall and defended their families and homes against trained warriors with only hunting bows, knives and hoes.

The village was being raided.

Tagata Akio stood and watched in apt horror as the village of both he and his ancestors was ransacked by steel clad monsters, sorting the young from the old, taking the weak and cutting down the brave of heart.

He stood and watched as the small village shrine was burned and the monk you tended it burned along with it.

"Akio, we must protect your family." His brother murmured to his right.

"We will be killed," He choked, "we have to abide to their wishes."

"No brother, this are Lord Takahiro's men, we will die by his hand, slaughtered where we stand. You know this as well as I."

Nodding numbly, Akio turned to his own Oniisan. "I have to protect my family."

Inside, Shun stood at the door to their family's bedroom, knives in hand and ready to defend his mother and sister, even at the cost of his own life.

"Okaasan?" He heard Akiko whisper, "Will father and uncle be alright?"

Smoothing back her daughter's hair, Chou looked out their small window, towards the burning village, and instead of answering, just started humming a small and melancholy tune.

Staring at his mother, Shun shook his head in horror, opening his mouth to chastise her for her disbelief only to snap it closed and the sound of horses galloping up the small path to their home.

"Father!" He cried, rushing out of the house only to come to the sight of his uncle and father grappling with two soldiers.

"Shun!" His father cried, spotting his son standing in the doorway, "Take the others and leave!"

"But Otousan, I can help you!" He cried as his uncle was struck down by one of the warriors swords, just as his father managed to land a lucky blow with his hunting knife on the one closest to him, causing him to fall to the ground unmoving.

"No Shun! You must take the others and escape, we cannot win here!"

Shaking his head, Shun slowly backed into the house, grabbing both his mother and sister, and rushing out the back entrance.

As they ran through the small spaces between the outer village buildings, more soldiers rounded the corner, causing the three of them to stop in their tracks.

"Shun…take your sister and run." Chou murmured lowly,

Staring in horror at her mother, Akiko shook her head "No Okaasan."

Nodding his agreement with his sister, Shun stepped forward.

"I will protect you mother, please take Akiko-Chan and run.", but even as he said it the knives in his hands shook violently and he stared at the men dubiously.

"No Shun, I cannot live with your Otousan and I could not live with myself if you died for the shell I will surely become. Take your sister and run."

Reaffirming her statement she shoved both children away and turned towards the oncoming soldiers.


And so both children did, Shun grabbed Akiko's hand and dragged her through the streets, reaching the woods and scrambling up a tree.

Many hours later, Shun watched the sleeping face of his sister as the Lord Takahiro's army passed merely metres below. Smoke rose from the village where they had collected all the villagers, trapped them in the square and burnt them alive.

Angry tears ran down his face as he watched the laughing faces of some, and the solemn faces of others. With all his heart he wanted to leap down and tear these men to shreds for what they had done, but knew if he tried he would die and in the process expose his sister.

So instead he remained quiet and let the anger fester inside.

As the procession moved on he watched as the lord passed, smiling smugly to himself and praising his men and the deaths of the 'scum' of his enemies land.

A man slightly behind him paused and looked up as he heard a muffled sob, spotting the two children, he smiled sadly at the boy, before murmuring just loud enough for him to hear,

"Wait until sunrise, and then perform the rights for your village."

Staring in shock at the departing man, Shun recognised the clothing of the man and realised the lords own retainer had just betrayed his master trust to save their lives.

"Thankyou…" He whispered, as fresh bouts of tears ran down his cheeks.

If you enjoyed this or have any tips for my improvement please review!!!