Chapter 5 – Shining Light
Near the pathway bordering onto the Kisaragi district, two people lay at a young man's feet. Showing little expression, he sighs and turns his back. As if paying no mind to what he just did.
"Huh... It seems that even under the care of the Kisaragis, spots of dirt can still be found..." He thinks to himself. "But not too bad. It would be rather boring if this visit went completely uneventful." As he walks away from the area, he appears to spot the person he is looking for; right now just leaving what appears to be a flower shop. "So she was not at the manor... At least it saves me the trouble of looking for her." He thinks as he catches up.
As the girl is walking away, a voice can be heard from the distance. "You know, for a noble, you seem to have a lot of free time. It must be nice to be able to have an outing like this..." The boy calls from afar. The young noble he was eyeing turns her head a bit, revealing a slight smirk.
"Haha... I could say the same about you, Akira. You don't exactly see me coming to another district like this. So, tell me, what is your situation? It's quite rare for you to give anyone the time of day..." She responds to Akira, in a rather spiteful tone.
"Hmm, it seems you had nothing to worry about, Asuka." Akira says, looking around him, as if taking in the peace of the scenery. "Aren't you lucky. My own family's district has had a bit of a mess, lately. Not much I can do about it, sadly. They couldn't allow the future Head to disappear, so I had to escape..." Akira replies, revealing a more composed expression as he looks behind him. "These invaders of ours are quite interesting. They have a power unlike what any human should be capable of. While this problem is being dealt with, we're also looking into the meaning of this..."
"Okay..." Asuka nods, albeit nonchalantly. "So you had to escape your situation, did you? That's nice. Now tell me why you're really here." She continues, with a little more intensity. "While it does make sense for the future Head to be brought to a safer location, there was a reason as to why you wanted to see me, isn't there? The other districts are available to you. So why here? Why me?"
It becomes clear that Asuka has some trust issues when it comes to the only male noble. Even as she shows some aggression towards him, Akira remains calm as he explains himself further. "Now, now, that's no way to act to a guest, is it? In any case, we discovered a common trait between the attackers we faced: a long scar over their left eye, which also happened to be bright red. It was that way for every one of them, and so we determined some kind of connection. This is basically where you come in, Asuka..."
"Okay, I believe I understand what you're getting at..." Asuka interrupts, essentially. "That oddity about their face reminded you of me, and so you want me to come to the Akiyama district. You think that I have my own similarities to these invaders of yours..." She says, appearing skeptical.
"Heh... I don't think. I know you do." Akira responds, as he slowly approaches the girl. "You had a rather interesting past, did you not? To be honest, I'm surprised you're still able to hold out like this. Knowing what you are..."
"Fufu... I suggest that you watch what you say around here... And around me..." Asuka threatens. Electricity is suddenly seen coursing through her body, but not visible from a distance. "Or have you already forgotten that it was you who asked me for a favour?"
"Well now. That's not very graceful of you. But you're right. My apologies. I really do need you to come back with me, so I promise not to go into personal matters, if you don't want me to." Pleads Akira.
"Fufu... For someone like you to reach out to anyone, it truly must be a serious matter for you. Very well, I will help you out. You irritate me, but it wouldn't exactly do well if one of the noble clans of the region were to fall like this..." Asuka finally complies, as she starts on the way to her family's estate to announce her leave. Akira follows suit.
After formal preparations are made, the two venture into the Akiyama district. Upon their eventual arrival is where Asuka almost immediately takes notice of the situation. While there is not much devastation in terms of collateral, the entire town is on edge, with a lot of the residents missing. Still, she could see that some of the attackers did manage to be effectively taken out, letting her know that the battle was not completely uphill.
"So, are you now a little more willing, Kisaragi?" Akira comments, crossing his arms, giving off a bit of an annoyed tone. "They seemed to have mostly been after my family, which is why my own safety was top priority. I doubt that anyone was killed, fortunately. But some of the children were kidnapped, for some reason..."
Asuka nods. "Children, too... We can probably figure that part out, as well. Let's go, quickly." She says. With a nod from Akira, he goes on ahead to lead the way to his family's manor, where most of the studies on the matter are taking place. They are relieved to find out that it is not looking as bad, by the time they get there. Even so...
"Huh...? Master Akira! What are you doing here? What about your evacuation?" Exclaims a worried looking guard who meets them at the gate. Judging by the blood on his clothes, it seemed that some of the invaders could not be stopped by simply knocking them out. He seems to be feeling a little guilty about having to get more violent. The same can be said for some of the other servants. No bodies were seen, though. Which suggested that they did have time to clean up a bit.
"Right. My apologies, sir. I understand if I may have to deal with a bit of punishment, later. But, I believe I may have found something that can aid us in our research..." Akira responds. He then proudly presents Asuka, of the Kisaragi district, as if she was some kind of school project. Both her, and the guard just stare blankly, looking slightly annoyed. Slowly shaking his head in disbelief, the guard reluctantly lets them in.
"You seriously disgust me..." Asuka remarks, not remotely buying the submissive act that Akira was pulling earlier. "Sometimes, I wonder just how seriously you actually take your role as a noble...?" She comments, as the two walk to a particular room to meet up with some others.
"Very seriously. It's not my fault that I simply don't have to work as hard. But I'm not exactly complaining either." Akira jokes. He walks with his hands behind his back, looking like that of a confident businessman. He and Asuka reach the proper destination, and Akira proudly steps back to let his guest in. Asuka feels very hard pressed to say "thank you" as she goes ahead of him.
Taking notice of her face as the young noble walks in, she is initially met with a bit of aggression. The people don't even care that she is of noble blood; for they have become paranoid when it comes to those sharing the strange traits. They are quickly calmed down as Akira defends her, assuring the people that she is not an enemy. Asuka can only look at them with pity in her eyes. She had no idea the people of this area were affected this badly. Although, she understood. When a commonality is seen with their enemy, it becomes easy to jump to conclusions. Getting past the whole issue of Akira coming back to the district when he was supposed to escape the situation, he eventually lets everyone know of how Asuka can help them. Though he may have endangered the life of another noble with this plan, it was pretty much all he could do. Seeing as Asuka is the only one he can really turn to, who has similar traits to the attackers.
Asuka allows herself to be investigated closer. Luckily for her, the only real physical oddities are her face. She explains to them that it was like this for her since she was a child. It was also asked if her family hid anything about her past from her, and for how long she was like this. Asuka further explains that she was definitely involved in something when she was younger, and that she was known to exert and manipulate energy with no real limit. As such, her training was more focused on establishing proper control of herself. But that is pretty much all she knows about her history.
At this point, it can be determined that Asuka is definitely akin to the strange attackers; with her own unusual powers, and her face. With this knowledge, the people were at least a little more confident about what they were up against; that they could still easily find methods to fending off the invaders, even while at a technical disadvantage. With that, Akira and Asuka leave the room, both giving a polite bow preceding.
"Hmm... I apologize that you had to reveal some information about yourself there. It must have been rather uncomfortable for you, wasn't it..." Akira says, as the two of them make their way out. He notices that Asuka's expression has remained somewhat indifferent. While she does not have any profound sadness about her own unique factors, she does greatly dislike that fact being constantly pointed out, as if she was less than human. Which it was lucky for both of them that she did not get angry during that interview.
It is outside the gates that Asuka finally decides to speak again. "So, now that you seem to have what you wanted, what happens next? Is anyone not going to try to find where your unwanted guests came from? Or where the kidnapped children went, for that matter?" She asks with a bit of worry. Akira remains calm during this.
"That's not really a problem. Before I left for you, some of our best ninjas were already sent after them. It was those same attackers who took back the children with them, so it's pretty safe to assume that both problems are connected. If we find out where the attackers came from, we could possibly rescue the other children in the process."
"Well, that is somewhat assuring. In that case, what are you going to do?" Asuka asks, showing some concern. But then her expression immediately changes when she looks at Akira's own expression. "Ugh... Honestly..." Asuka facepalms, knowing exactly what Akira wants. He is not the type of person to be so easily read without a good reason. But with the issue he is currently dealing with, as well as her own pride as a noble, Asuka agrees to let Akira stay with her, for the time being. During this, they could also come up with some ideas of their own, which was definitely a positive.
The young nobles continue to make their way to the Kisaragi district, where they can make the proper arrangements. While they do not get along too well, it was clear that they were going to have to, especially with this odd situation. Seeing as her particular district has yet to be affected, Asuka wonders if the other nobles are dealing with a similar predicament. These types of thoughts would linger in her mind as time passed.