I ran. Ran as fast as my legs can carry me. Following closely behind me was my cousins Eri-chan and Ryouhei-kun, along with my charmingly stupid ex-boyfriend's wife, Haruka Lunette-san, and their daughter who's also my niece, Harukawa-chan. And, let's not forget my mildly annoying twin sister, Ayumi.
Approximately fifteen minutes right after Haruka-san - or was it Kaidou now? - stopped her bone-chilling (Literally) snowstorm of death, all six of us came rushing forward; following the trail of carnage Hisaki-kun left in this once-in-a-lifetime show of the emotion called rage.
...Of course, even when there was a major war going on against us Spirit Seekers and the Seven Sentinels in the place where Hisaki-kun and Lunette-san once lived together - while it might be a bit irresponsible and selfish of me - I couldn't care less which side actually wins. And, taking a quick short glance at everyone's faces, I know that we were all thinking of the same thing:
"As long as Hisaki's safe, I don't give a damn who wins this crap."
Clutching the wooden bow tighter inside my left hand, I half-grinned and half-snarled in a mix of anger and joy. "...I can see him! He's right there!" I said, then suddenly skidded to a stop. The others followed suit eventually, and, before they even got to ask, followed my gaze and saw what - or who - I was glaring at.
"...We have been given orders to not let anyone interfere with Daisuke-sama's fight. If you want to help your eventually doomed cousin, you'll all have to go through us, first." said the guy in the tux - Jeeves, was it? - occasionally wincing every second.
I found it odd that he was gritting his teeth while sweating buckets despite the fact that the temperature here at the Palace of the Gods was currently - or was it always? - a little clammy. I also found it odd that he was desperately trying to hide his left arm- No. He was hiding his hand... Oh. Oh, God. What was THAT!?
"...Please tell me that was just my imagination..." I said, covering my mouth as it took almost all of my willpower NOT to hurl on the spot.
"I'm afraid it's not just your imagination, Ayame-san." Lunette-san said, visibly grimacing while tilting her head to the side; avoiding the grotesque scenery that just unfolded in front of us. "...I'm afraid to ask who did...that...to you, mister..."
...In case you were wondering what kind of sick, twisted thing just happened... Well, his rotting freaking hand fell off of his arm. Eww...
"I go by the name Jeeves." he said, all the while glaring at the whole six of us. "And as for who did this, you can put the blame on your good-for-nothing cousin."
"...Hisaki-kun did that?" Beside me, Ayumi slowly widened her eyes like a ballon being inflated. I almost, for the first time since we reconciled, agreed with her... But her next following words just plain wanted me to hit her on the head. "Wow... Maybe I can let him teach me that..."
I almost, almost did hit her. But instead, I just sighed, muttering "Yare yare." and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Before that, let me teach you the five Spirit Formulas that I invented."
...And that, was the first and ever heartfelt hug we've shared since, what, ten-or-so years ago...? I lost count already...
"Sorry to interrupt, you two," Eri-chan said, tapping me lightly on the shoulders. "but we have an enemy to fight."
At this, I turned red and stuttered my apologies.
Now... Who fights whom...?
...Of all the other Sentinels, why did I get to fight their Second-in-Command...?
Sigh. Well, its not like I'm not confident of my skills... Its just that I'm worried about how I'm going to fight the second most strongest of the Seven Sentinels - who, by the way, is waaaayyy out of my league at my current state (I'm not gonna lie. She's totally out of my league) - with my twin sister who's been my enemy for ten-or-so years...
The other Spirit Seekers back as HQ once - and still - called us the 'Lightning Foxes', but... I'm worried that these 'foxes' had lost their touch... I can't even remember the last time I fought alongside Ayumi...
"Don't worry, onee-chan." Ayumi said, giving me a confident grin. "I know what you're thinking. And I can perfectly say that we're still 'as sharp and as cunning as a fox'."
...Oh. So that's what the others called us, and where our title came from...
"Heh. You're as optimistic as Hisaki-kun..." I said, drawing my bow ready. "...But that's why I like him in the first place."
And, on three, both foxes lunged at their prey - a fierce wildcat.
"...Mama, you go on ahead to Papa."
Just as I said that, the blue-haired beauty I call my mother practically shouted my ears into going deaf.
"What?! Are you insane?!" Mama shouted, glaring at me like I've just stolen her favorite food right from under her pretty little nose. "I'm not going to leave you here fighting the 3rd Sentinel who's practically stronger that your grandfather!"
I just sighed. Does stubbornness run in the family? Just because I'm an 11-year-old girl who's been living with her mother her whole life, has been home-schooled to the point where I can pass high school with flying colors, has been Spartan-trained by her mother on sword-fighting and martial arts ever since I was five, and has at least six years of fighting experience doesn't mean that I should be sheltered in an actual fight where I'd actually be challenged!
"Mama, for God's sake," I whined, throwing up my hands in a rather exaggerated manner. "stop trying to keep me away from opponents who're actually a challenge for me."
"*Sigh* Haru, please." Mama said. Her tone was completely changed into a calm, parental-like one. "I don't want you to get hurt. And I'm sure your father would do the same."
At this, I raised an eyebrow.
"Not to be sarcastic, but... Oh, really?" I asked, folding my arms. "From all of the stories you told me about Papa, I'd imagine him to be a headstrong, warm-hearted, rash and selfless person. And so far, Papa has exceeded all my expectations..." I paused, then smiled lightly as I recalled the memory where Mama would tell me a bed-time story. But, unlike other girls my age, Mama's stories was about Papa - how Papa and her met; how they trained together, slept together, ate, played and laughed together... How they fell in love with each other... "Truly, Papa was exactly the person you described him to be... And, when you said that we were going to go and see him for the first time, I was... Happy. Truly, exceedingly happy...'cause our little family's finally going to be completed..."
I shook my head, wiping off the tears that were threatening to spill.
"I never told you this, but... My only wish was to have you and Papa by my side... Together, as a happy family." I said, giving my mother a sad, little smile. "If the circumstances were a bit different, I would've rushed straight towards Papa and help him..." Then I glanced at the lone Ojii-san standing twenty-feet away from both me and Mama. "In this situation, however... Only you have the ability to help Papa out of all of us, Mama."
"...But, I..." Mama said, pursing her lips; anxiously looking towards where Papa and that Daisuke fellow were fighting. "...I can't just leave you out here...no matter how badly I wanted to go and help Hisaki..."
"Its okay, Mama." I said, imitating Papa's trademark smile. "I can handle this... After all, you trained Papa and look at where he's gone."
...After much, much, much time of thinking and re-thinking (I can't believe that Ojii-san hadn't attacked us yet...), Mama had finally, finally sighed in defeat and reluctantly nodded, muttering "Fair point..." under her breath, which, I could still hear thanks to my heightened senses.
And, with one final goodbye, Mama rushed off towards Papa...
And that was when the Ojii-san made a move - rushing towards Mama so fast I could've sword he teleported. But, before his attack (And elbow thrust... Huh) even landed, I intercepted the hit with my own bare arms, formed in an 'X', while Mama ran ahead without even looking back.
"...Mama...Papa... Please, be safe." I thought, as I leaped a good distance back, then bowed at my opponent, who just raised an eyebrow. "Konninchiwa. Harukawa desu." I said, smiling. And, as I straightened my posture, and aimed for a karate-style position, I continued, grinning madly. "I'll be your opponent, so please take care of me~"
Giggling, I charged.
I tapped my foot impatiently as I sternly looked at my twin sister. Furrowing my eyebrows, I finally stopped tapping, crossed my arms and tilted my head to the side and asked her for the nth time this day,
Immediately, she huffed and stomped angrily on the ground.
"No means no, Ryouhei!" Eri shouted, clenching and unclenching her fists. "Even though I dislike and close-to despising him, I will not leave you here to your doom!"
That's the last straw.
"Oh come on!" I said, throwing my hands up in an exaggerated manner. "Why do you keep assuming that I would just roll over and die?!"
"I'm not assuming! It's a fact!"
"Wha-? Where are you basing this from?!"
"Your nonchalant personality!" Eri shouted, stubbornly crossing her arms and turning away from me. "You're just... Just like him!"
Gritting my teeth in frustration, I slapped my hand to my face and angrily grunted. Enough is enough. This stupid, one-sided dispute has got to stop NOW.
"Eri... Why do you have to be so damn stubborn?!" I said, clenching my fists. "When I told you that Dad was coming to back me up, I thought that you'd turn tails and run straight ahead to Hisaki, but no! You just HAD to keep this 'hating' shit up!" And, as I raised my hand and palmed my face once more, Eri finally turned back towards me - tears forming on the sides of her eyes, like she was trying hard to hold them back. I sighed. "Why, why do have to be so stubborn? Can't you just let it freaking go!?"
"NO! No, I can't 'let it freaking go' as it was onii-chan's life we're talking about!" Eri yelled, stomping her foot forward as she let the tears she was holding back rapidly flow from her delicate face. "What kind of man... What kind of person would willingly...willingly do that to his own damn son?! What kind of corrupt, unjust soul would do such horrid thing?!" And, grinding her teeth so hard I thought that it might break, Eri continued in a soft voice, "...I can't even bear to call that man my 'father' anymore..."
Again, I sighed after hearing that. I can't say that I agree with her, but I can't say that I DON'T agree with her, too. Her argument has its facts as well as its reasons, but this has gone for far too long, I can't let it slide anymore.
"Look," I forcefully said. "I know you can't deliberately forgive Dad that fast that soon like little bro, but could you at least damn try?" When she opened her mouth to say 'no', I cut her off before she even got a syllable in. "I don't want to hear any more excuses, damn it! Don't say that you can never, ever forgive him for what he's done. You can't possibly expect me to believe that you'll be carrying this grudge to the grave, do you?"
"*Sigh* You know, I might not be little bro, and I don't really understand what's going on in that head of his when he forgave Dad that easily, but what I can tell you is that, if you ask me, I haven't really forgiven Dad for what he did to Hisaki, too." I admitted, casting my eyes downward as I lowered my head. "What he did was clearly, unforgivable, but... He's our Dad."
"My point," I repeated, regaining my usual cheery tone. "is that what he did, he did for a damn good reason. And that damn good reason is that he was trying to protect the family - protect us - but got too carried away..."
"Damn straight he did..." Eri said, wiping the remaining tears of her cheeks and eyes. "That said, I still don't change my opinion about him. He's an absolute, unforgivable bastard."
"Yare yare..." I thought, then sighed. "Well, at least get this through that thick skull of yours: 'You'll never know unless you try'." I said, then walked forward and patted her on the back. "At least try to forgive him. If you really can't, then... Well, I won't pursue that matter anymore... If that happens, though, please try to be less openly-hostile towards him. It's been bothering little bro, too."
"He... I...I guess..."
"There you go!" I said, then pushed her lightly, prompting her to go. "Now, go and help your beloved onii-chan."
"...Stop teasing me." she muttered, but simply smiled and ran on ahead, but not before saying, "Don't go dying on me after saying all those things, you idiot!"
"Haha... You can count on that!"
...Now to get myself busy...