Ghosts of the Past


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60 years after the events of Shadows of the Menschilche

Yoshiro had been back in the saddle for only a few months before he was called out on duty, he and Rogelio had been training a new group of Kitsune soldiers, but for now, they were called to investigate some rebellion within the Kitsune kingdom. Yoshiro looked back as he flew on a dragon, that he knew was Julius' sister, but he felt uncomfortable not being with his draconic brother. He looked at Rogelio, "They pulled you out of retirement, eh?" Rogelio sighed, "Let's get this over with, Lord Yoshiro." Yoshiro nodded, "We're just going to investigate this lead, nothing more, men. I don't want to see any hostilities." Some of the other wyvern knights and most of the pegasus knights called out an affirmative on that order."

Yoshiro watched as they reached the base, "Rogelio, a couple of aging soldiers like ourselves can take care of this, can't we?" Rogelio sighed, "You're making an old man get on foot?" Yoshiro sighed, "Come on, Rogelio, it's probably nothing anyhow, just some kids playing a prank on us." Rogelio sighed, "Fine, Lord Yoshiro, but only because I swore to protect you with my life. That and if something goes south, you have a child to get back to." Yoshiro sighed as the two of them directed their mounts towards the ground, "Don't talk like that, Rogelio. It makes me worried about you." The two of them dismounted and Rogelio looked Yoshiro in the eye, "Milord, I'm over halfway done with my life, I'm already six hundred and my kind lives to be about nine hundred. If I'm lucky, I'll see another three hundred years, but you... you would normally have a thousand left to go, but your holy blood slowed your aging..."

Yoshiro nodded as they walked towards a bar, he knew Rogelio was right about that and he felt bad, so he stopped his friend and turned off his communicator, "Radio silence, Rogelio." Rogelio turned off his communicator, "Got something you wish to say off the record, Milord, or should I call you General." Yoshiro frowned, "Rogelio, can you, just for once call me Yoshiro, I'm no Lord and officially, I'm a Colonel." Rogelio frowned, "You know, I cannot say that." Yoshiro frowned, "Rogelio, you're not my knight, not anymore. Ever since I realized that you're getting old, I released you from my service. We're friends, Rogelio, almost brothers even. Please, just call me by my name." Rogelio sighed as people passed by them, he noticed a few of them were giving the two of them strange looks, "We're drawing attention to ourselves. May we please go into the bar to get some information."

Yoshiro nodded slightly, he felt defeated, "Rogelio come on." The two of them started walking again, "Rogelio, I feel bad that I know that you're not going to be with me for much longer when you compare it with my remaining lifespan, but, I just want you to know that I treasure each and every one of the days I've spent with you. You're my closest friend and I know you'll always be there when you can be. When I was younger and afraid, you gave me courage, but the greatest gift of all that you gave me is that you taught me how to be a knight." Rogelio laughed slightly at that notion, "Listen to yourself, I'm not gone, yet. Look, I promise that I'll stick around and make sure that you're being a good man, milord." Yoshiro smiled softly, "That sounds good, my friend."

The two of them entered the bar and Yoshiro walked over to the bartender, placing a couple of sapphires on the bar, before leaning in, "What do you know about a rebellion?" The bartender sighed, "Put away your gems, Yoshiro. There's no rebellion going on, just some daft rumor that's being spread around. What can I get you, by the way?" Yoshiro shrugged, "Nothing for me, thanks, I'm still on the clock, just wanted to check the validity of these rumors." Yoshiro turned around to see someone walk into the bar, he recognized the woman, and his heart sank. He looked at Rogelio and knew that he was too far to get him and hoped that he'd have sense enough to get into cover. Yoshiro leaped over the bar and pulled the bartender down, whispering, "Grab your gun." Yoshiro pulled his pistol out of its holster and he listened as the woman walked over to Rogelio, "So, where's my cousin?" He heard Rogelio speak, "Dead, I'm afraid. I'm a freelancer for the Kitsune army."

The woman sighed, "I have no time for games, if you don't tell me, I'll kill you and leave your corpse here as an example. His scent is in this bar." Yoshiro peeked out around the corner to see Rogelio sit there, "Aiko, I swore a vow to protect my lord's life, I failed that vow, why do you think I'm in a bar." Aiko growled and shot Rogelio in the chest, "Fucking fool." Yoshiro was livid, but he knew for a fact that he was outnumbered, Aiko wouldn't be alone and he made a move, he would most certainly be dead, but he heard her shout, "Yoshiro! I know you're in this bar! If you had just given yourself up for the death of my brother and putting me into a coma, Rogelio wouldn't have had to have died!" Aiko walked out of the bar and he watched as one of the patrons dragged Rogelio over to him.

Rogelio looked up at Yoshiro, he coughed up blood, "Well, my lord, I really am finally released from my vow." Yoshiro placed his hand on Rogelio's cheek tears streaming down his face, "Someone call the paramedics!" Rogelio frowned, "Listen, don't..." Rogelio gasped slightly, "don't worry about me, go to your family, they're in danger." Yoshiro placed his hands on Rogelio's wound, putting pressure on it, "Don't speak like that! You're going to live, dammit! I won't let you die, not like this!" Rogelio opened his mouth, "You... your heart... is gentle. Leave me, Yoshiro, go to your wife and kids." Yoshiro looked at Rogelio, "Save your breath, save your energy! We're going to save you!" Rogelio frowned, "Tell Balthoron, that I'm sorry. Tell... Lilah..." Rogelio's breathing stopped and Yoshiro tearfully closed his friend's eyes, taking his sword and leaving him in the bar.

He knew Rogelio was right, but he also knew that Aiko wasn't stupid, she wasn't going to attack any of the cities that his family were in because they were too heavily guarded. As he got on the dragon and flew back up to meet the others, Minerva looked at him, she recognized the scent of Rogelio's blood on his hands, "Minerva, he's gone... listen, I promise that someday, I will find Aiko and kill her personally. But for now, I have to figure out how to gain access to my old spy network and get back in contact with Lilah. Knowing Aiko, she created this rumor to draw me out of hiding and has probably gone back into hiding herself. I can't believe that bitch happens to be my half-sister." Minerva nodded and returned to the Wyverns, while Yoshiro flew off directly towards the Kitsune capitol.

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Chapter 1

Yoshiro hopped off the Dragon's back as he walked to Rogelio's house, he held his best friend's sword tightly in one hand and looked at the door, this was the hardest part of his job and of his life. He looked down at the sword and tried to keep himself from crying, but he couldn't. He knocked on the door, and whispered, "Please be home, Tatiana... please." Yoshiro sat there for what seemed like an eternity, time seemed to pass extra slowly for him. Suddenly the door opened and Yoshiro looked up to see Harumi instead, "Father, Elena and Tatiana are in the back yard. Father? What's wrong?" Yoshiro looked at her, he couldn't stop the tears, "Harumi, come on." Harumi looked at the sword in Yoshiro's hand and gasped, "Father!?" Yoshiro wiped his face on his own sleeve.

Harumi frowned and led Yoshiro through the house, and into the back yard, upon seeing Rogelio's wife and his daughter, the tears threatened to start up again, "Tatiana, Elena, I have something to tell you, this... this..." Yoshiro was overcome with grief, he figured that his best friend was going to go peacefully and he'd be the one told of this, not the other way around, the two Mofeta women looked at him, Tatiana frowning, "Yoshiro, what is it?" Yoshiro sighed and tried to internalize his grief, he wanted to look professional, but he couldn't speak confidently anymore, all he could do was speak softly, "This is never easy for me, I've always thought that Rogelio would find retirement and be happy with you. He always spoke about how he'd visit Elena from time to time, just to see how his daughter was doing, he always spoke so highly of the two of you, he loved you both dearly and now..."

Yoshiro tried to look Tatiana in the eye, but couldn't as he presented her with Rogelio's sword, "Rogelio was taken from us by my own half-sister. To the very end, Rogelio was a true knight, his final words were to urge me to go to my family. Tatiana, Elena, both of you are part of my family through my daughter, but even if that wasn't the case, I was close to Rogelio to the point where I saw him as my own brother. I tried to save his life, but his wounds were too severe, I want the two of you to know that he didn't die a coward, he sacrificed himself so that I could live. Though it's not in my authority to do so anymore, I respectfully request that Elena and Harumi restore Rogelio's honor guard status."

Elena looked at him, tearfully, "I can do that, but Yoshiro, why did you not fight back, why didn't you try to keep my dad from dying?" Yoshiro frowned, "There's nothing I could've done, Elena. Rogelio and I both knew that if I showed myself, Aiko wasn't going to spare either of us. Elena, he chose this, willingly. Listen, I promise you that Aiko will not get away with this, she will face justice." Tatiana looked at Yoshiro, "Rogelio always spoke so highly of you, Yoshiro. Listen, I know it will be hard for you, but can you do something for me?" Yoshiro looked at her, "If you or Elena have any requests, I'll be willing to hear them out, we're all grieving, but I know this news doesn't hit me half as hard as either of you." Tatiana nodded, "Yoshiro, please take Rogelio's shield with you." She started to choke up, her own tears starting to form, even though she held them back, "He had wanted to give you that shield for the longest time."

Yoshiro frowned and closed his eyes, "I'll have to go recover the shield, but it's something that I can do. Listen, wherever you want Rogelio to be buried, I'll have him buried. Whatever monument you wish to have placed to mark his grave, I'll have it commissioned and placed myself." Tatiana shook her head, "You were his lord, through most of his life, Yoshiro. This decision is up to you, not up to us, he made that clear long ago." Yoshiro nodded with a frown, it felt like the weight on his shoulders was only getting much bigger, he felt terrible about this and none of this was helping right now, "I'll figure everything out later. I just, I just need to be alone right now." Elena nodded as Yoshiro opened his eyes and walked over to the fence, hopping it and entering the street. He walked slowly to the Kitsune castle as he knew of a tower that he could get to.

Once at the gates, he passed through, ignoring any questions as he looked at the castle itself. As he walked into the castle, he made a beeline for the stairway to the tower itself. It took several minutes for him to get to the top at his pace, but he didn't care. He looked out towards the kingdom through the window and then down at the yard where he and Rogelio would train the younger soldiers. He felt empty inside, none of this seemed to matter now that Rogelio was gone, he no longer had his friend. Anger swelled up inside of him, he turned to throw a punch at the wall, but saw his baby sister there, "Big Brother... what's wrong?" Yoshiro looked away, "I want to be alone." Minako's voice spoke up, "That much is apparent, but you seem angry and hurt badly, wait where... where's Rogelio."

Yoshiro leaned against the window, "In a morgue. His life left him less than two hours ago." Minako looked at her youngest child, "Setsuko, I know you want to hug him, but don't." Yoshiro folded his arms as he leaned against the window sill, "I came up here to be alone, while I think. It's the sole reason I'm not with my son right now." Yoshiro thought about his son and suddenly the image of Aiko hurting him came into his mind, without hesitation he shoved his fist through the window, the glass cutting him up and snapping him out of the rage as he gasped. He carefully withdrew his hand and looked at the blood, Setsuko gasped, "Eww! You're bleeding!" Yoshiro closed his hand into a fist, "I know you're young, but I just watched my best friend bleed to death from a hole in his chest!" Minako looked at Yoshiro, "Yoshiro! She's not even an adult yet!"

Yoshiro looked at Setsuko and and then at Minako, "I'm sorry, I just lost my best friend, I've known him since way before you were born, since before any of your nieces or nephews were born. He's always been there for me when I needed him, even when I didn't want him there. He died as he lived, a true knight and one of my personal honor guard." Setsuko hugged him and Yoshiro hugged with his right arm, so as to not bleed on his little sister, "Thanks, sis. You take a bit after Reiko, not a surprise as you stay near her and mom all the time." Yoshiro nudged her away and took off his shirt, he didn't wear armor that day since he figured it was a rumor and nothing more. He wrapped his shirt around his wounds and sighed, Setsuko gasping, "You have lots of scars!"

Yoshiro frowned and nodded, "I know, I've also seen lots of battles. Look, can I be alone for about an hour." Minako nodded, "You can have all the time you need, Yoshiro." Setsuko nodded, "Bye, big brother." Yoshiro nodded and turned back to look out the windows again, he was still angry and the cuts to his arm weren't making it better by stinging. He sat down against the wall next to the window and looked up at the ceiling, "If I knew that this was going to happen, I wouldn't have let you come out on that mission. I guess I'm not being fair, neither of us had any intel about the dangers we could possibly face, gathering it was to be our jobs. Rogelio, I'm sorry, I know you wanted me to stay out of active duty, but, I'm going to have to rejoin active service now, Aiko's that much of a threat. I hope you'll forgive me someday." Yoshiro sighed slightly and looked towards a window to watch as birds flew by, and he began to try to work through his thoughts and his sorrow.

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Chapter 2

Yoshiro stood up and sighed, he spent the last hour and a half trying to get his thoughts together, but he found it extremely hard. For the first time in his life, he wished that he wasn't so accustomed to people around him dying. The bleeding on his arm had stopped, but he didn't care about removing the shirt and putting it back on. He finally descended from the tower and walked back into the castle proper. He walked towards his personal room and threw his dirty shirt into the basket when he arrived, putting on a clean shirt. He sighed slightly and looked at his officer's uniform. He closed his eyes and sat on his bed for a second and finally decided to change into the uniform.

Looking in the mirror, he noticed the medals that adorned the uniform, he hated to dress formally, and the medals only served to make him more uncomfortable. He felt that Rogelio deserved all of the medals and all of the praise, he believed that Rogelio had earned his rank of General, while he was given it because he was a king at one point. As he looked into the mirror, he saw an image of Rogelio standing behind him and he turned to look, however no one was standing there. He had been so used to Rogelio being there that now that he's gone, it was unsettling. He sighed, "Great, now I'm seeing him when he's not there..." Yoshiro turned back to the mirror and adjusted his tie and his hat. He then walked out of the room and headed towards the throne room. He passed by Yoshiko and Sumiko on the way, but ignored them, he was a man on a mission.

When he entered the throne room, he walked before the thrones and then looked at Masaru, "Reiko, leave the room please." Reiko started getting up, but Masaru looked at him, "Why should she leave the room?" Yoshiro frowned, "Because this is a matter between the two of us, your highness." Masaru immediately knew that something was seriously bothering Yoshiro as he never called him that, "Reiko, please leave the room for a moment." Reiko nodded and left the room and Masaru sighed, "What is it, brother-in-law?" Yoshiro grabbed the clasp on his cape and squeezed it, the lock disengaged and he let go allowing the cape to fall, "I wish to return to active duty, Aiko is back and I'm the only one with any reasonable experience against her." Masaru shook his head, "I refuse to allow you to do so."

Yoshiro growled, "Why not, Masaru!? If you send anyone else against Aiko, she's going to kill them!" Masaru looked at him, "Look at what happened, you abandoned your own rookies to come back here." Yoshiro's left hand balled into a fist, "Minerva brought them all back, I came back alone. They weren't even supposed to be on that mission! None of us had any intel and you sent rookies into a situation where they were likely going to be killed! Instead of costing the lives of any of the rookies, my best friend paid the ultimate price! You brought him out of retirement, you called on him and I to investigate this rebellion and it turned out to be Aiko returning and creating those rumors! All of the rookies made it back alive, were you hoping that Rogelio and I would die!?"

Masaru glared at Yoshiro, "How dare you suggest that I would do such a thing! I know you are hurt badly, but this gives you no right to speak to me like that, Yoshiro!" Yoshiro grabbed the kitsune insignia on his uniform, "Then tell me why Rogelio and I were sent into an area that was better suited for spies, not soldiers!" Masaru growled, "I thought the two of you were experienced enough to not need to send some sort of spy into there! I didn't know that Rogelio would get killed, I didn't know that Aiko was there!" Yoshiro was even more agitated, "So because you assumed one thing, you chose to send Rogelio and myself, potentially into a hostile situation with a bunch of rookies that have never seen combat in their lives!? Fuck you!"

Masaru slammed his fist on his throne, "Get out of my castle before I have the guards throw you out!" Yoshiro stormed out of the throne room, he was livid, as he stormed out of the castle, he passed by Yoshiko, who grabbed him by the arm, "Yoshiro, go to my stepfather's place." Yoshiro looked at her, "Fine." Yoshiko frowned, "You'll understand why when you get there." Yoshiro nodded as Yoshiko let go of his arm, he continued to storm out of the castle as he ripped the kitsune insignia patch from his uniform and threw it in front of the castle gate. One of the guards looked at the patch, "You forgot this!" Yoshiro didn't even turn around and acknowledge the guard as he walked to the parking lot and into the changing room where he went to his personal locker. Opening it, he sighed slightly as he changed out of his officer's uniform and into his biker gear, stuffing the uniform into the locker. He wasn't usually one for a leather jacket, but it protected him somewhat while riding his motorcycle.

Walking back to his bike, he put on his helmet and lowered the visor on it, which kept the wind out of his eyes. He started up the bike and road out of the parking garage with a roar, headed straight for Mamoru's place. He and Mamoru had never seen eye to eye, but if his clone wanted him to go see his cousin, that was good enough reason for him. Yoshiro weaved between vehicles and turned onto the road that Mamoru's place was at. Pressing the brake, he sighed slightly and looked at the house as he pulled into the driveway. He kicked the kickstand and walked over to the door, knocking on it, Mamoru answering it, "Ah, Yoshiro, you're here. Look, I want you to come in for a second, this is going to be a lot to take in, but first, I want Walthari and Yoshiko to arrive."

Yoshiro nodded and entered the house, he immediately sat down on the first couch he saw and took his helmet off, as he looked at his gloved hands. Mamoru looked at him, "Can I get you anything, Yoshiro?" Yoshiro sighed, "Unless you can bring me Aiko's corpse, no." Mamoru sighed, "Well that does answer that question, it was my daughter that was behind all of this, listen, Takeshi is coming as well, even though he and Walthari have traditionally not gotten along." Yoshiro sighed slightly, "Whatever." Mamoru frowned, "Yoshiro, I know that you lost Rogelio, and that it's very hard for you, but you need to calm down and keep a level head, this isn't like you." Yoshiro knew that Mamoru was right, but it was extremely difficult for him to do so, "Some tea would be nice." Mamoru nodded and went into the kitchen to grab some tea, while Yoshiro looked out the window.

Mamoru returned with the tea to find Yoshiro just staring at a bird that was sitting outside the window, he frowned, "Yoshiro, your tea." Yoshiro looked at him and sighed, "Sorry, just... thinking about how I'm going to deal with all of this." Yoshiro took the tea and started to sip it, it had a good flavor to it, "Did Sumiko make this?" Mamoru chuckled, "No, I make the tea around here, I'm better at it." Yoshiro nodded, "Tell me, Mamoru, what's your stake in all of this." Mamoru sat down across from Yoshiro, "Simple, Yoshiro. It pains me to do this, but I have to have my own daughter killed, Aiko is too great of a threat to us all and if she figures out that I'm friendly with you, she'll have no qualms about committing fratricide." Yoshiro nodded, "So I guess we wait til the others arrive to think of a plan." Mamoru nodded, "That's the gist of it." Yoshiro sighed and looked up at the ceiling as he started to wait for the others.

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