Chapter 1: The vision
“Hime-sama got it wrong!” A ninja ungracefully leaped through a dark forest, hurrying back to his team. As soon as the trees broke apart, allowing more light into the forest, the chubby ninja covered his eyes at the sudden flash of light and stumbled, falling down from the hill. “Hime-samaaaaaaaaa!!!!” He called out again as he rolled all the way down before his body was brought to a halt by someone’s foot. The person raised a brow in amusement.
The ninja slowly opened his eyes to see where he had landed and jumped up in excitement as soon as he saw his team-captain, Mineo Takahashi.
“Hime-sama got it wrong again!” He panicked all over again making the still amused Mineo roll his eyes in a ‘what-do-we-do-with-you’ manner. It wasn’t the first time Hisa got it wrong, what was there to be surprised about?
“We heard you from miles away, you idiot!” Yoroi hit him over the head, annoyed at his loudness. What if a ninja of some clan with ill-intentions overheard how their current heiress was unable to secure their safety with her visions? “Does the whole world need to know?!”
As Bekkou rubbed his head with huge eyes, not understanding what he had done wrong this time, Mineo snorted a laugh and complimented his work. “Good job, Bekkou. Your quick investigations save us a lot of time. Let’s pack up and go back guys.”
It was a pleasant night with a chilly breeze now and then.
Hisa, who would usually stand on her round balcony to admire the stars, was admiring a man tonight. If it hadn’t been for the full moon, she wouldn’t have seen him –or more precisely–his silhouette. She wasn’t sure why, but she felt a magnetic pull of attraction. He was standing on the oriental-styled rooftop a few houses away and the moon did nothing but add to the mysterious aura he emitted.
She shuddered; a powerful aura.
As the wind blew through her chestnut hair, she placed her hands on the massive marble railing and leaned over to take a closer look.
Judging from his demeanor, she guessed he was a ninja, but not from her village. He seemed too …powerful (she wasn’t sure if that was the right word) to be from this village. And although he didn’t give a sign of acknowledgement, she was pretty sure he was aware of her presence as well.
Hisa snapped out of her trance when she heard the excited voice of her handmaid and turned around to face her.
“Aya-san?” She looked at her handmaid’s shoulder-length hair that was all over the place –probably from all the running. It was an unusual pink color, but strangely enough it suited her round face.
“Hisa-sama…” she called out again running the last few meters and doubled over in front of Hisa to catch her breath. She took a few deep breaths before her dark-blue eyes lit up and she finished her sentence.”The Sakurai ninja are here!”
“Sakurai ninja…?” Hisa blinked her ocean-green eyes thoughtfully before whipping her head around, but the ninja was no longer there. Could he have been a Sakurai shinobi? Probably.
A banquet was being held in their honor because a few weeks ago they had helped the Imai-clan defend themselves against the Nusumigumi –a group of skilled shinobi that was formed by the Miyaki-clan to steal resources from the Imai. However, they were completely defeated by the Sakurai ninja.
The Imai clan and the Sakurai clan were brother clans. Even though they’ve had their ups and downs in the past, the current leaders Tetsuo Imai and Eiji Sakurai had agreed upon a contract to never doubt each other. The Imai were a small clan, but skilled in managing resources whilst the Sakurai were strong and feared. They had quite a few ninja of the Dark Opal rank which was almost, if not as strong as, the Shadow Eye (the highest ninja rank), but that rank was only for the leaders.
The Imai clan on the other hand could count their Dark Opals on one hand.
Aya grabbed Hisa’s arm and pulled her inside, “Hisa-sama! Hurry up and get dressed, the banquet is about to start!”
As Hisa entered the hall, she was greeted by a group of Sakurai ninja who were apparently the heroes of the war. Scanning them over quickly, Hisa made a mental note to never stand in their way. They didn’t look like they were at a celebration. Hisa wondered if it was part of their duty to always have the same emotionless facial expression. The Imai ninja would get together after missions and party like crazy. There was food, music and more importantly, there was laughter.
But that was just the first impression she had of the Sakurai ninja up-close, and she didn’t believe in judging people just by that, or by anything at all actually.
Seeing her grandpa, she wanted to rush over to him but tripped over her kimono.
“Eep!” She hastily grabbed whatever she could get her hands on but landed face-first, flat on the floor anyway.
“Hisa-sama!” The leader of the Sakurai clan exclaimed as he knelt down next to her. He grabbed her arm and pulled her up, “are you okay?”
Tetsuo closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead with his pointer finger. She was always too hasty with things and they would always turn out like this.
Eiji was about to pull her up but was a little unsure of what to do when he saw the change in her eyes. “W-what?…A vision?”
“Ambush!” Hisa shouted unknowingly, startling everyone. “There will be an ambush!”
“Ambush?” Katsuro, one of the elite ninja of the Imai clan, asked as he walked over to the scene. “What did you see?
“Darkness… people screaming,” Her voice trembled and she held her head in fear, “b-blood everywhere. ”
Tetsuo furrowed his brows. He wanted to bring Hisa to a different room to ask for more details, but then he didn’t want to plant seeds of doubt between the Imai and Sakurai clan. What if they thought the Imai clan was suspecting them? That would not only be bad for their alliance but they would also be targeted by many other clans and have nowhere to turn to for protection.
“I don’t know…” she thought hard, hanging her head in shame. Such crucial information and she couldn’t even provide them of the details. She was such a failure.
No! Hisa fought the thought back. This was not the moment for self-pity! She could do it; she only needed to recall the vision and tell them what she saw.
“It’s not that difficult, just take a deep breath and think back!” she encouraged herself mentally.
Katsuro, starting to lose his patience, squatted next to her. “Hisa-sama, what was the message? Be more detailed.”
“There was a masked man standing on the roof …he was standing in front of the full moon and he was…”
“He was what?” Katsuro pushed.
“…he was on a mission to kill the Imai clan.”
Katsuro froze and so did several other people in the room, before they broke out arguing.
“Are you sure?” Katsuro raised his voice a little. He was one of the people who couldn’t take her half-true visions anymore. He’d rather not rely on her at all, but the fall of the Imai-clan is not something Hisa would joke about.
“I…yes, I saw that for sure.” She paused for a while when her eyes fell on the object she had grabbed earlier in attempts to break her fall. “A sword!…I saw him holding a two-handed sword.”
Mineo, Bekkou and Yoroi walked in right at that moment.
The room fell silent. No one uttered a word, but they were all thinking the same thing.
Bekkou, not being the brightest one, blinked at the awkward silence before he decided to break it: “Isn’t that a specialty of the Sakurai-clan?”
“Bekkou!” Mineo warned, also earning a glare from Tetsuo. “Don’t get involved in things you haven’t witnessed from the start.”
Yoroi, who was standing next to him, whacked him on the head and shook his head in disapproval. “So dumb.”
Not quite grasping the situation, Bekkou rubbed his head and remained quiet after that.
As the tension in the banquet hall between members of the two clans rose, Hisa hoped that she hadn’t caused the beginnings of a potentially fatal discord.