I might appear fragile but really I'm not
The 4 Cardinal clans have always disliked one another, on occasions they would even have little fights that never escalated beyond a few injuries and hurt feelings. They all normally lived in relatively in tolerance to one another. Unbeknownst things were fixing to take a great turn of events.
The leader of the Southern Clan had been murdered by his own son making him the new leader. His blood lust driving him to shatter what little peace there was between the clans. Within a single night he completely wipes out the western clan and the eastern clan. On the exception of the princess of the Eastern Clan. She manages to escape the carnage but barely.
Inori jumped over the wall landing in a crouched position as to not hurt herself. All the skills she had been taught were surely in handy tonight as she ran for her life. She didn't want to run but her father told her to and the two guards that were accompanying her gave her no choice in the matter. Slowly she stood looking up to the wall as the cries of her people being Slaughtered could be heard and fires roaring as the flames devoured everything she had ever known.
Her two escorts edged her to run and all she could do was stand there as she said good-bye. One of the guards grabbed her by the arm pulling her along giving her no choice now. As they ran they were being followed and they didn't get far before one of her guards collapsed choking on his own blood as an arrow pierced him right through the throat.
Inori and her remaining guard stopped. The guard kept her close to him behind him as he scanned the area but with the cover of darkness the enemy had the upper hand seeing it was an ambush. They knew the princess would come this way and then they had purposely allowed her to escape.
The moon was sinking behind the stone walls of the palace and the ground was swathed in darkness. Esdeths puerile blue gaze drifted across the horizon. He could hear the clash of swords against metal armour. He grasped his black shruiken in one of his hands and slunk between the trees.
Behind which the castle stood, a fence of stone walls made of large grey stones which rose to the similar height of a hedge. He could smell fire and could hear something make a loud boom. He had heard of a princess who had lived in the castle and smirked at the idea, how much money would he get if he sold a princess at a black market.
He wrapped a turquoise scarf around his head to conceal his identity and leapt over the castle wall, everywhere around him he could see guards fighting bandits and assassins, black figures perched in waiting on the castle roof, however no matter where he looked he couldn't see the princess. He was getting desperate, searching round until he spotted a group of guards escorting someone beyond the trees.
He unsheathed his long silver sabre and followed after the group of people, "This will be such an easy fight." He laughed unaware of what he was getting himself into.
The echoes of laughter could be heard ringing through the trees as a tall very well built man with a greying beard stepped out of the shadows. The look in his eyes were a flame with the desire to slaughter, but was under strict orders to not harm the princess but that wouldn't stop him for having fun with the last remaining guard.
The guard himself readied for his attack as he quickly pulled out some throwing daggers, throwing them at the menacing man but not all of them made their mark as the grey bearded man moved quickly out of the way from most, for someone so large he could move pretty fast. The ones that did land managed to slow him some with one in his thigh and one in his side.
The grey bearded man cursed in pain as he dropped his kusarigama (chain sickle) quickly swinging it around and releasing it toward the guard. The grey bearded man was a master with this aiming for the guards arm which now laid on the ground. He removed the guards arm with no effect at all, but he also injured the princess as it glazed over her own shoulder. She let out a terrible scream as her hand went up to hold her now bleeding shoulder. The guard on the other hand had started moving around writhing in pain as he held his shoulder, blood just gushing out from the major wound inflicted.
The grey bearded man slowly approached " Now princess come nice and quietly as to make things easier on you." When the man was standing only a few feet from her, he reached out to the guard easily picking him up with one hand his fiery stare looking at the useless guard. The man removed the throwing dagger from his side so he could return the favour by stabbing the guard in the eye with it and the other in his throat before finally throwing him to the ground to die. His attention returned to the princess who was paralysed with fear.
"I wouldn't want my prize to be taken." Esdeth snickered. He slipped through the trees quietly and swiftly. The trees rustled quietly he could hear the scream of a princess and smiled. When he stepped into the clearing he saw the man's back turned and completely unaware of his presence.
"This is just to easy, it feels wrong, he should've noticed me by now." Esdeth thought to himself. He stepped forward but his foot stepped on a twig, with a sickening crunch the twig snapped and the man turned around. Esdeth winced.
The man almost roared with anguish and with a sickening blow a chain sickle skimmed centimetres above his head for him to parry with his sword just in time. He gulped thinking now that it could've been his head instead of his sword in the way.
He rolled his eyes ruefully at his lack of alertness, he should've treated the man as a stronger enemy despite his age. To both of their obliviousness the princess had slunk away through the trees during their fight :D
When Inori saw her chance to run she did. She knew the area well so even in the cover of darkness she knew where she was going, but the trail of blood that dripped from her finger tips and from her bleeding shoulder would lead anyone right to her. Eventually she finds her old little secret hide out she used to go to when she was little, a cave to be exact. She quickly ran inside leaning against the farthermost wall to catch her breath.
While the princess escaped the grey bearded man was dealing with the new comer. He quickly pulled his sickle back to him to lash out again but he wasn't aiming for the boy but his sword. He was intentionally tangling his sickle up with the sword so he could either pull the boy off his feet or just simply pull the boy to him to man handle. " I see the princess has another guard and you seem to be a better challenge than those last two weaklings."
Esdeth tried to conceal his laughter but his eyes were gleaming with amusement. He wondered why the man would think he was guarding the princess. However he was forced to push aside his thoughts as the man kept tangling the chain with his sword he might've thought he was trying to snap his sword.
Esdeth narrowed his eyes, he didn't know what this man was up to but he wanted to regain his chase on the princess and he liked his sword to stay in one piece. However for some reason the man didn't hit as so hard the flimsy sword would break but the sword and the chain kept entangling and Esdeth constantly had to wrench his sword free of the chain before parrying the mans attacks.
The falling of a leaf distracted Esdeth and with a whistle as the chain cut through the air it pinned the sword into the ground, not what either of them had planned. The sword and the chain were now stuck in the ground.
Esdeths first reaction was to start pulling the sword from the ground but the chain lay heavily on top of it and both were stuck in the ground at the force of the impact. Whilst Esdeth was pulling his sword out he completely forgot about the man. He had just freed his sword when the man charged at full speed and sent Esdeth flying towards a tree, only to land in a bush.
Thorns dug hard into his skin. He tried to move but he was stuck for some reason. His arms and legs seemed paralysed as though he had crushed them. As he tried to move he saw the silver film of a sword sticking out of his chest. He was horror stricken, now how would he pull the sword out of him without dying or too much blood dripping from his wounds. The man stood tall above him, whilst Esdeth lay crumpled like a heap of broken sticks in the bush. "Wouldn't i be a sadistic killer to leave you lying there waiting for death." The old man snickered and laughed as he walked away.
The old man left the boy where he had impaled him his attention now on relocating the princess. It was easy enough for him to find her with her blood being his guide. When he came to the small cave he stood outside " Come now princess I'd rather leave your pretty face intact." Before he could make his advance inside he found himself unable to move and when he did small cuts appeared on his body on the limps he tried to move.
Inori slowly walked out of the cave with her bloody hand raised slightly. Intertwined with her fingers were some very fine strings that could be seen when the faint moonlight hit them just right. " I don't think I'll be going anywhere with you." She slightly closed her fingers making the strings tighten around the old man his cuts becoming large gashes now.
In all his pain he never once screamed but instead smirked. " Well I see the eastern princess isn't as weak as everyone says." Those were his final words before Inori closed her hand into a fist suddenly. The strings tightened suddenly on the old man decapitating him and severing his limbs in several places.
Esdeth had been lying there for awhile now, unable to writhe in pain as he had been pinned to the ground by his own sword. He grimaced thinking that now he would die from his own sword.
Daylight had settled into the sky and the princess had most certainly gone and Esdeth was feeling depressed as he knew the end was nearing. The sound of children running around and playing confused him, why were there children so close to the palace.
Suddenly a face emerged through some leaves in a bush and a poor villager kid stepped into the clearing smiling wistfully clothed in tattered rags. "Excuse me." Esdeth wheezed he was weak and exhausted. However the kid had heard him and skipped to where he was slowly fading.
The kid looked at him and smiled, almost gagging with laughter. "Who are you. You look funny." Esdeths face was pale and he was not amused. "Are you a bad person?" The kid poked him in the face. "Ow" Esdeth coughed, his searing pain in his chest increasing. "Were you going to harm the princess, she is returning now." The kid cackled. "Oh great." Esdeth sighed sarcastically he was probably going to die here whilst this kid was tormenting him and the princess was so close, and if he didn't die he would probably be hung.
"Any chance you could help me?" Esdeth replied. "Your a bad person, you have a sword." The kid replied. "Oh come on I have a sword because I'm a guard." Esdeth lied he decided he would use what the person with the grey beard has said. "A guard!" The kids eyes suddenly gleamed. "I've always wanted to be one of those, if I help you can you enrol me to be a guard?"
Esdeth rolled his eyes, the kid was way to young and he himself wasn't even a guard, but he could just lie again he thought. "Alright." Esdeth grinned. "I'll go get mommy." The kid disappeared behind the trees. "Be quick." Esdeth wheezed.
Inori had found a few survivors later that night and they helped her with her wound. When the sun began to rise she decided to go for a walk and see what the southern clan has done to her home. In the distance she could see some of the children talking and messing with a man who was clearly beyond hurt. Inori ran to him as the small child went to find his mother.
As Inori came upon the man she could see he was knocking on deaths door. She collapsed to her knees beside him. She quickly grabbed the sword pulling it out she didn't give him a chance to protest or anything. She gently laid her hand over the open wound and gentle purple light could be seen coming from her hands as she began to heal his wound. It was slowly going but eventually she healed him completely. Though with her using up so much energy to help him she ended up passing out right on top of him.
Esdeth couldn't help but scream. First there was the glowing light, then the strange feeling, it was so weird and he was so confused beyond confusion. At least he had been healed, strangely. "Does this girl even know who I am." Esdeth smiled. When the confusion finally faded into a kind of loose amnesia on what had actually just happened, he forgot about the powers. Although he had the vague idea Inori was not what she had first seemed and he was panicking now.
He lifted the girl and lay her on the grass, a crowd of children running around like crazy calling Inori a witch and stuff and wondering wether Esdeth had killed her or not. "Is she dead." A child stammered before dashing away.
Esdeth could feel her heart flail and waver. "She's definitely not dead." He announced to the group of children, he glanced around, nobody else was in sight. This princess was definitely dangerous he thought, if she could heal so well, surely she could inflict damage well also. He was petrified that now maybe he was dealing with a witch. Only he wasn't sure wether the powers he had seen he had imagined or if the kids and their mums had helped heal him.
"What to do now" he muttered quietly. He could take the princess, but she may have been the one who had helped him or she could become a very dangerous enemy. But then again if he had imagined all this up the princess would sell for a lot of money somewhere, because there were a lot of enemies of hers out there.
He sighed, what other assassin or ninja could match him. The princess was neither, surely she wouldn't be a threat and he was just fussing over something as usual. "I'm going to take the princess to a place where she can heal, don't worry your princess will be fine." Esdeth grinned.
He picked up the limp fragile princess and slumped her over his shoulder. He hobbled slowly into the cover of the trees. "The guards will be looking for you tonight." he smiled "We best hide ourselves well then."
To his luck he saw a shallow chalk cave, it's entrance rising just above the hill. He carried the princess to the entrance.
"Perfect." Esdeth had just walked in when he felt something slice his arm. "Was it a guard?" He wondered. Although nobody was in sight. He stepped forward only to be cut even more and now he was stuck between something. As he tangled himself in sharp metal strings he dropped the princess where she lay beneath him her face cut with strings. He tried to reach her only to get himself more cut and more tangled. "What a day, I guess we'll stay here, for tonight, and the next...!" He narrowed his eyes, what kind of cave was this.
It felt like an icy spider's web that got himself more cut and more tangled the more he tried to escape. "How much money would I have gotten from you anyways?" He looked at her fair face. "Not worth anything when you die." He slouched his head trying to rest in all the pain, being tightly strung up.
At least the princess lay on the floor, she wasn't tangled in any of the strings. He envied her, when she woke up she would be able to leave, and he...well he could be more dead then a winter tree. A fat tear fell down from his eye he believed it was just out of sadness for himself, for he thought he was a heartless bounty hunter. Only he was actually crying for her.
Eventually she woke, to her surprise she was laying at the feet of a stranger. The same person she helped earlier. She blinked up to him noticing he was quite tangled. " Oh my I'm sorry!" she quickly stood avoiding the strings herself. She quickly looked around before reaching out to lightly pull on just one of the threads. As she pulled the thread to her the others quickly loosen falling all around them.
When he was free Inori bowed to him " I'm so sorry I forgot to take them down last night. I put them up to protect myself from my would be captors." She slowly stood her gaze looking up at him. "You're...you're the one that fought that brute last night?"
Esdeth coughed, Crimson blood spilling onto the ground. He could see that the princess was thanking him and he decided to go with it, would he get money for saving the princess instead of selling her.
"It was my pleasure to help such a fair maiden such as yourself." He bowed back, he tried so hard to hide his sinister smile. He didn't know wether he was satanic or kind and it was hard to keep what he had tried to do a secret. He had told so many lies over the past day and he had felt so much pain as well, however now he was closer to the princess than ever before and he could take advantage of such an opportunity.
Esdeth was covered in blood welts from the strings, he couldn't help wincing every step he made, and his hands and limbs were bloody and red.
Today his plans had went badly askew. He didn't want to die by letting his secrets slip out. "It's nice to know someone would go out of their way to save me." Inori thanked. Esdeth smiled. "Your hands are bleeding and look how many scratches you have." A look of concern veiled her face. "Wait before I heal you...why are we in this cave, I was perfectly save where I was by the village and castle."
"Uhh." Esdeth bit his tongue hard he didn't want to panic as it would be obvious he would be lying, besides if Inori found out his secrets he could always kill her. "Bandits...there were bandits coming to the castle, they where coming as a second attack after the southern clans brutal attack I've heard rumours they're taking advantage of the situation by looting." He lied and it was plainly obvious.
Inori nodded to him with a smile believing his story she was a very trusting person. " Well let me heal you seeing these new wounds are from my mistake." She reached out and started to heal him once she was done she smiled to him again. " I'm sorry about this. I'm Inori by the way what's your name?"
"My name is Yukino." He decided to use his last name as his identity, giving her his first name would be dumb. Then he could not be found easily if he ever stuffed up.
"Thankyou for healing me.." Esdeth was not sure wether to thank or to scream. It had happened again and it was strange. It didn't hurt but it made him feel weird.
"Do you mind heading back to the village?" Esdeth eyed his stomach nervously it wouldn't stop growling. He hadn't eaten for a few days after being so close to death he hadn't even thought about eating.
"Sure." Inori replied. Esdeth was still very curious he didn't believe that Inori could be entirely oblivious to his scheme.
Inori showed Yukino the way back to where the few remaining survivors were of her clan. They all greeted her kindly. The presents of their princess helped their moral greatly in their time of need. Inori would say small things to some of the people that approached her as she gently took their hands and gave them a sweet smile. When the little ones came to dance around her trying to get her attention she would go to their level saying a few things to encourage them or make them laugh.
When things finally settled down she looked back to Yukino with her gentle smile." I'm sorry about the delay. Follow me, before I found you they were cooking a boar so it should be done now." Inori showed him where there was a large hog skewered over a open fire that seemed to be dieing down. She reached out taking the knife that was sticking out of the hog to allow people to cut the meat off and she handed it to him. " I'll grab you a plate."
He dug his knife into the meat on the plate, the smell of acrid smelling boar filling the air. He felt the villagers eyes perforating and gazing into him.
"Ah so much good food." He smiled, however the villagers were still smiling and gazing wistfully at him. He narrowed his eyes at a group of teenagers who were suspiciously looking at him, to his surprise they turned their heads away shamefully. "Weird." He thought to himself.
He didn't like the feel of the crowd and felt strangely threatened. He fingered his pocket to make sure his Tanto (like a knife) was still there, to his relief it was.
Suddenly he felt a hand grab his and squeeze it tightly. He released his grip on the knife and let it slide back into his clothing. "What?!" He turned around only to see Inori followed his lead, she was hungry as well. She cut herself off a piece of the meat placing it on her plate. There was plenty of the boar left for the ones that hadn't had a chance to eat or for people that wanted seconds.
She went over taking a seat on a log that wasn't to far from the hanging hog as she began to eat. Normally she wouldn't eat with her fingers but in honesty she didn't care about being proper at the moment. She had gone through so much of late she figured she could 'normal' for once.
When Inori heard Yukino speak it caught her attention. She raised her gaze from her nice juicy boar meat to see who was trying to start trouble.
Esdeth smiled gleefully as the princess approached and so did the person who Esdeth now realised was an older man who looked liked he had survived the carnage caused by the southern clan. He had a long scratch down and through his eye and he had thick burly arms.
"Hello." Esdeth turned to the man. "Hmm." The man grunted. Esdeth wanted to pretend everything was normal, he didn't know what this man or who he was but he was pretty sure he wasn't an ally of the princess either and so neither of them wanted to turn themselves in. "Would you like me to serve you some boar?" Esdeth alluded.
The man grunted he assumed this was a "yes" and used this as an excuse to leave the princess and the man together. As he dug the knife into the thick boar skin he heard a wail and he wasn't sure where it came from.
To be continued..