My son and I had our usual afternoon training session that day. I parried off his attacks with ease because of my years of experience in sword fighting. Hiro, being eight years-old, easily gets pissed off every time I evade his attacks with my blade and I'd laugh at that.
"You have to try harder than that, Hiro." I teased.
"Then stand still and let me chop your head off!" Hiro yelled from across the field. I can tell that he's as pissed as hell. He raised his sword and attacked. Of course, I parried off the attack easily and swing my sword in one deadly arc. The next second, Hiro's sword flew up in the air. He was really pissed off when I disarmed him of his weapon. So pissed off, in fact, he made an unwise decision to charge at me empty-handed.
I narrowed my eyes at the foolish act.
One rule of being a ninja is to never let your feelings get the best of you. They'll lead you into making grave mistakes while on a mission. And Hiro is a very good example of that right now. His eyes are clouded with hate.
Hiro's got the same stubbornness. Oh well! All Domanashis are stubborn, anyway. Hiro is no exception. I shrugged the idea off and pushed my son harshly back on the ground. His sword landed next to him, missing him a few inches. I heard a surprised gasp. It came from my lovely wife, Nadeshiko Domanashi.
"Masahiro Domanashi! How many times do I have to tell you not to do that to the poor boy? And didn't I tell you not to use real swords during practice?" Nadeshiko growled. She's wearing the same pristine white gown that hugged her figure in the right places. Her bright orange hair flowed down her fragile shoulders and her enigmatic cerulean eyes gleamed in annoyance.
Uh-oh… I thought dreadfully. She's pissed off.
"We're in the middle of sword training. So of course we have to use real swords for the boy to be accustomed." I tried to explain my side of things, but my wife would hear none of it.
"He's eight years-old. He could get hurt." Nadeshiko whined. She puts aside her embroidery and folded her arms over her chest. The two of us had a little staring contest. It continued for some minutes and I realized that Nadeshiko won't give up until I backed down from our fight.
Sighing in defeat, I held up my hands. "Fine, fine. I'm sorry, dear. I promise that we'll use bamboo swords the next time we train. And I know that if I disobey your orders, you'd burry me down the earth up to my throat."
"Good to know we've come to an understanding." Eight year-old Hiro got himself off the ground and brushed dirt off his clothes. "Are you alright?" she asked and Hiro shook his head.
"That was too close." He shivered when he eyed the sword beside him. I walked up to him and when we stood side by side, I reached out my hand and gripped the cold hilt of the sword. With one move, I pulled it out from the hard earth and twirled it expertly in my fingers.
"Let's wrap it up for today, eh?" I tossed the sword back to Hiro and he caught it. He sheathed the sword back into its scabbard and turned his back on dad.
"Yeah, well, I'm not finished with you yet, old man." He said before darting off to Kris, his little sister paying at the swing. I just sighed.
"He's changed, hasn't he?" a voice said from behind. It was my wife and she looked crest-fallen at the sight of Hiro walking away without looking back at me.
"He has." I took a shaky breath before continuing. "I sometimes feel like I don't know my own son anymore. It's like we weren't father and son at all." I said sadly.
"It wasn't your fault, you know that, don't you?" my wife puts a comforting hand on my shoulder and I grasped it tightly.
That's where she's wrong.
I know deep down that I'm the reason for his sudden change. If only I hadn't kept that from him, then Hiro would still be the all smiles and cheerful son I knew.
Hiro continued walking towards Kris, not minding me or his mother at all. When Kris saw her brother, she held out her hands to him, begging him to lift her up. At the gesture, Hiro smiled a small smile and obliged. He sets her down on the ground and they both played with the dragon dolls I bought for Kris. My heart softened at the sight of it. Even if Hiro hates me now, he hasn't changed completely. He still remained a caring and loving older brother to his little sister. I would have to tease him about it one day. My wife and I had a strange feeling in our guts all of a sudden. The wind picked up and dark clouds started swirling around above us. Hiro must've sensed something is wrong as well because he looks worried over something.
"Hiro!" I called out. "Take Kris back inside. You better get inside too, Nadeshiko. We have a visitor." I directed my attention back to the storm clouds. Thunder roared from above and suddenly, I saw a silhouette floating in the sky.
No… it can't be him, can it?
Horrible thoughts began to fill my mind. Has he found out? Did he come here to take my children from me? Or worse, is he going to kill them? Fists balled, my body trembled with a mix of anger and fear. Fear for the safety of my children; and anger for that man to show up at peaceful times like this. I felt my wife's comforting hand on top of my trembling hand.
"I'm staying here." She said. It's useless arguing this matter with her so I didn't say anything. I looked out of the corner of my eye to see if Hiro and Kris are safely inside the palace. Once I have confirmed that my children are safe inside their home, I turned my attention back to the dark sky. "He's coming…" my wife mumbled.
An unbelievably strong gust of wind nearly swept us off our feet. More thunder crackled, filling the air with the smell of o-zone. Thunder struck again, this time, in front of us, and engulfed everything in a radiant flash of light. When the light dwindled, a figure stood in front of us. He stood at about the same height as me with smooth blue locks and his eyes deeper than the depths of the deepest ocean. His powerfully-built frame is wrapped in blue robes and black samurai armor to protect his body from attacks. Three katanas are strapped to his waist but the third scabbard is strangely empty. An evil and uncaring smile was plastered to his face.
"It's been a long time, Masahiro Domanashi."
"Susanoo…" I let out with a scowl on my face, clearly expressing my disdain at his untimely arrival.
The god of the storms and tempest chortled at the hateful glare I gave him. "My, my," he said. "Why the angry face, Masahiro? Shouldn't you be happy to see me after all these years?"
"Don't play coy with me, Susanoo."
"I beg your pardon?"
"What do you want?!" I demanded.
Susanoo made a 'tsk tsk' sound. "Is that any way to treat an old friend?"
"I'm warning you, Susanoo. I have more important things to do than to just stand here and have small talk with you all day. Make it quick or you know what'll happen next." I spat at his face. The storm god's face knotted in displeasure at my words.
"Straight to the point as always, I see." Susanoo brushed a stray lock of hair away from his face. "How utterly predictable and boring you are."
"What do you want?" I asked again.
"The mood around this place is a bit cold, eh? Why don't you say we take this chat inside over a nice cup of tea?" he made a move to go inside the palace but I made him stop on his tracks with my kunai. He was taken aback at my actions.
"I'm warning you, Susanoo," I hissed. "My patience is very thin today."
"But I only wanted a little chat." He whined like a kid and I almost gave in to his request. Almost.
"We're very busy people, Susanoo." My wife joined in. "Tell us why you're here." The tone of Nadeshiko's voice is cold and unwelcoming. Smirking, Susanoo approached us until he stood between me and my wife. He whispered into my ear.
"I came here for the two precious children you're desperately trying to hide from Me." my blood chilled at his words. So he found out about the children, after all.
"You seriously didn't think you two could hide them from me forever, did you?" he laughed. "That's where you're wrong."
"What're you talking about?" I pretended not to know although it's obvious from my quivering voice.
"Don't even try to pretend you know full well what I'm talking about, Domanashi. I'd like to see the children, please." When Susanoo took another step, Nadeshiko created a kekkai (barrier) to prevent the god from coming any further but it was easily destroyed in a blink of an eye.
"That's useless, Nadeshiko."
"I won't let you come near the children." She took out her talisman. Susanoo's glowed in a dangerous shade of electric blue and Nadeshiko's talisman was shred into pieces. After that, he used his powers to harshly push my wife on the ground. That's when my lid exploded.
"Now hand over the children so that we can get this over with." It was Susanoo's turn this time to be pushed down hard on the ground. A small bead of blood dripped down the corner of his mouth. When he met my eyes, he froze on the spot. My eyes were like an assassin's, cold and unfeeling. My once majestic orbs are now bloodshot red with black slits for pupils. In most of my battles, anyone who looks directly at my eyes would've cowered in fear. If looks can kill, Susanoo would've been fried, beaten, butchered, chopped, sliced, and burned. Oh… and did I forget to mention the word DEAD?!
"Now, you listen to me, Susanoo..." I took a step forward. "As long as I am alive, you will never ever harm my family. I advise you to stay away from the Domanashi clan from now on. If I ever found out you harmed anybody from my clan, I will kill you." Susanoo did not react to the vehemence of my voice.
Susanoo's mouth was set in a tight line. He straightened himself and brushed off dirt that landed on his sleeve. "This is not over, Masahiro Domanashi. I always get what I want. Remember that." With one last resentful glare at us, he disappeared.